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Crunch Time for Irene Ryans

December 2010

There's a little over a month until show time for these Irene Ryan nominees at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF). Here's how things are progressing for a few students.

Abby Van Gerpen '10
Nominated for ensemble role in Oedipus Rex
Partner: Grant Legan '10
Scene 1: Reasons to be Pretty by Neil Labute
Scene 2 (song): "I Remember Love" from The Drowsy Chaperone
Monologue: Medea by Euripides
"The best thing about being an Irene Ryan nominee is the excuse to sit down and read a ton of plays. Usually I don't make time to read, so I love when I have to force myself to make time. It really broadens my view of what all is out there to choose from (and makes the decision all the more difficult!). The worst thing is the stress! It's hard to pick two scenes and a monologue out of so many different choices. It's also difficult to find time in a busy life to get together and rehearse and block scenes and see what works and what doesn't! It's hard, but in a good way. I wouldn't trade this kind of stress for anything! The way Van Gerpen has found her scenes is through word of mouth. "One of the reasons I love SAU so much is because we all are in this together and therefore all help each other out. There is no trying to push one down to get ahead. We have all helped each other and have offered so many suggestions and opinions. It helps so much." What she thinks she can achieve from being an Irene Ryan is a lot of experience and contacts. "And the scholarship itself is awesome (especially for grads stuck in the real world who want to go back to school!). I think it also gives each nominee a chance to push himself or herself and see what they are capable of."

Val Zawada '13
Nominated for ensemble role in Oedipus Rex
Partner: Grace Allen '12
Scene 1: Hedda Gabbler by Henrik Ibsen
Scene 2: The Kathy and Mo Show: Parallel Lives by Kathy Najimy and Mo Gaffney
Monologue (song): "Someone Else's Story" from the musical, Chess
"The best thing about this experience is working with new people and getting closer with my partner, Grace Allen. The worst thing is the anticipation of everything that's coming up. Just thinking back on last year–when the names of people we're announced for best partner, final winner, etc.–when they went on stage you could just see the gratitude, shock, happiness, excitement, and all the other things that went with it. And likewise–when their names weren't announced– there was still a mix of emotions that was very palpable to those around them. I think that's the most I could get out of it: that wave of emotion, good or bad."

Stephanie Seward '13
Nominated for Janet van de Graff in The Drowsy Chaperone
Partner: Aaron Randolph III ‘02
Scene 1: The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
Scene 2: The Shape of Things by Neil Labute
Monologue (song): "See I'm Smiling" from Jason Robert Brown's The Last Five Years
"The best thing about being an Irene Ryan nominee is the fact that it's such an amazing honor and really makes you grown as an artist. The worst thing being all the pressure involved with the entire process. But this is a positive thing because the pressure is what makes me work harder and helps me grow more as a performer. One of the scenes I will be performing is from the same script my ten-minute scene for directing class was from. I think that you can gain a great deal from this experience. Just being seen at any level of the competition is beneficial for anyone because you never know who's watching!"

Nathan Scheetz '10
Nominated for Tom in The Glass Menagerie
Partner: Katie McCormack '10
Scene 1: Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad by Arthur Kopit
Scene 2: A.R. Gurney's Sylvia
Monologue: In a Dark Dark House by Neil Labute
"The best thing about being an Irene Ryan is the great honor the experience comes with. To see that someone appreciates your hard work from a previous show feels really good as a performer. The worst thing is you only have six minutes to show people what you can do. To go through different emotions and three different pieces in a short time frame is a challenge, but one that is a thrill and helps you grow as a performer. It may be challenging but it's worth it in the end."

Scheetz found plays just by reading lots and lots of scripts. He would ask around to his other theatre friends and they would give suggestions of scripts to read. He would go through certain parts and if he thought there was potential would read the whole thing to find a certain scene. The most interesting way he found a monologue was through Tyler Reinert '12 as he was in Acting Voice and Body last year looking for a monologue to perform and asked advice on the certain show. He feels that the thing to be gained from this experience is the contacts, different people get to know you and you get to know them.

Monique Vos '10
Nominated for: Laura in The Glass Menagerie
Scene Partner: Anthony Stratton '12
Scene 1: Silence by Joe Feldman
Scene 2: Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare
Monologue: TBA
"In my opinion, the best thing about being an Irene Ryan is being acknowledged for exceptional acting. The worst thing is finding the material. It is so overwhelming and there are too many things to take into consideration when deciding scenes you can perform successfully. The most interesting place I found materials is from the Curtainbox Theatre Company library (which is filled with many of the overflows from Cory Johnson's library). I always feel that any chance you get to perform makes you a stronger individual and experience is what gets you to the top. The Irene Ryans is great for putting what you love into six minutes to show people what all you are capable and doing, while building relationships and make contacts."

Andrew Benson '11
Nominated for: Ensemble in Oedipus Rex
Scene Parter: Katie McCormack '10
Scene 1: London Assurance
Scene 2: William Mastrosimone's Extremities
Monologue: Henry VIII
"The best thing about being an Irene Ryan nominee is getting a chance to perform your work for your peers. The worst thing is choosing material! It's SO STRESSFUL. I found my London Assurance piece as well as my monologue from Henry VIII while in London this summer with the Theatre in London class trip. I hope to achieve fame and fortune from this experience. Just kidding. It's a great chance to grow as a performer."

Dan Hernandez '10
Nominated for: Aldolpho in The Drowsy Chaperone
Scene Partner: Aaron Randolph III '13
Scene choices: Theses are going to be a surprise...I don't want to ruin it for everyone.
"I think the best thing about the Irene Ryan is that you get to connect with other actors from different states, especially if you make it to further rounds. Getting to discuss theatre with new people is really great. The worst thing is that you have to find scenes to do the whole thing. I call the Irene Ryans the 'Awesome Burden' because being nominated is a great honor but trying to find the right scenes is terribly difficult. The one thing I hope to accomplish with this process is to just put out three scenes that show off great acting. That's it. My goal is not to win but to go out knowing that I did something that I was proud of."

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