The second week of the semester, 14 students and Professor Tracy Salter attended the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF), which was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota and hosted by Normandale Community College and the Aims Center. To compete at KCACTF regionals, students must be nominated for a role in a school production in the past year. Each show, two students are nominated, one by the director, and the other by a guest adjudicator who comes and gives feedback on the show.
The nominees this year were Kyle DePriest (junior) and Braden Austin (senior) for My Name is Asher Lev, Andy Rumbaugh (junior) and Kenzie Cox (senior) for Stop Kiss, Jillian Ford (senior) and Lindsay Foster (senior) for Big Fish, and Rebecca Perryman (senior) and Gracie Wardle (senior), who was unable to attend, for Nickel and Dimed. Each nominee selects a scene partner who has not been nominated. The scene partners this year were Chris Ortiz (sophomore), Derek Burton (senior), Haley Johnson (freshman), Olivia Utley (junior), and Morgan Dietrich (junior). Jenna Pitstick (sophomore) also attended the festival for workshops on stage managing and technical theater. At the competition, each pair performed a scene and the nominee performed a monologue or song. The competitors can not take over three minutes for both sections combined. Jillian Ford and Braden Austin opted to sing in place of a monologue. Shelby Cox (freshman) was their accompanist.
The group arrived in Minneapolis on Sunday night and rehearsed for the competition the next day. Every pair competed in the preliminaries on Monday. There were 339 pairs at the competition, and only 64 could be selected to compete Wednesday. On Friday, it was narrowed down to 16, out of which one pair was selected to go to Nationals in Washington D.C. Evaluating each performance were two selectors that decided who would continue to the next level, and two respondents to give feedback to the performers on how to improve. Tracy Salter served as a respondent for the preliminaries. Although none of the Graceland attendees advanced, the trip was an excellent learning experience.
In addition to the competitive aspect of KCACTF, there were also numerous workshops that pertained to all aspects of theater. There was also a theater graduate school fair, and opportunities to audition for graduate programs and professional acting jobs. While in Minneapolis, Graceland students had the opportunity to network with other theater students from the region and to visit the Mall of America.
Tracy Salter says, “It’s great to see what other colleges and universities are doing around the region.” Graceland has been participating in KCACTF for approximately 3 years, and students and faculty have appreciated receiving input on Graceland’s theatrical productions from outside resources.