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The 2012 Irene Ryan competitors

December 2011

With the end of the semester approaching, students are cramming to get everything done. This statement applies especially to students of the theatre department, who are involved in all aspects of production for the huge children's musical as well as the student-directed one act plays.

In addition to these huge projects, some students have been granted the opportunity to work their tails off in the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Competition. This competition takes place at the annual Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF), which will be hosted at Iowa State University in January.

The competition has three rounds. The preliminary round gives each set of partners (around 300 sets) a total of 3 minutes to perform one scene. From those scenes, 64 are chosen to participate in the semi-final round, in which they are given 5 minutes to perform two scenes. The number is then whittled down to 16 finalists who have 6 minutes to present their two partner scenes and a monologue. From these 16, two winners are selected to compete at the Kennedy Center against the winners from the other regions around the country.

Other awards also are given, such as Best Partner, Best Musical Theatre, and Best Classical scenes. Six SAU Theatre students have been given the honor and duty of participating in the competition, with two more nominees to come from the children's show. The current nominees are: Michael Kline '11, Anthony Stratton '12, Aaron Randolph '12, Stephanie Seward '13, Tim Stompanato '13, and Kyle DeFauw '15.

Michael Kline '11, who was nominated for his role in SAU's columbinus, will perform in two scenes with partner Dan Hernandez '10. The first scene will be from Sam Shepard's "A Lie of the Mind," the second from "Bromance: The Dudesical." Kline's monologue has yet to be decided.

Kline is excited to hear what the SAU crowd has to say about his scenes as well as the judges at KCACTF. "I really enjoy getting criticism," he says. As far as fears, Kline has none–only good nerves. "Nerves can be good to help keep you sharp," says Kline.

Anthony Stratton '12, also nominated from SAU's production of "Columbinus," has narrowed his search for a partner but has not officially made a decision yet. Stratton will be performing a scene from SAU student Aaron Randolph III's original play, "The Plagiarist," as well as a Shakespearean scene.

"It will either be a scene between Richard III and Lady Anne from ‘Richard III', or a scene between Angelo and Isabella from ‘Measure for Measure,'" says Stratton.

Following these partner scenes, Stratton will be performing a musical monologue from the song "Run Away with Me" from "The Unauthorized Biography of Samantha Brown." Stratton is excited about his choices and feels they show a lot of variety. "I really like the sharp contrast brought about in going from a friendly, fun-natured couple to a dark scene of manipulation to an honest song of desperate needing."

Aaron Randolph III '12 was nominated for his role in "Lady Windermere's Fan" and has chosen Grace Allen '12 as his scene partner. Together they will perform a scene from "Doubt," by John Patrick Shanley, as well as a scene from "The Plagiarist." Randolph will follow that with a solo performance of a monologue from Shakespeare's Henry IV part II.

Randolph is excited to make his experience worthwhile. "I have always been a partner, except for my sophomore year back when I was originally in school, and I didn't really take it very seriously," he said, "so I am excited to get a chance to redeem myself."

Stephanie Seward '13 was also nominated for her performance in "Lady Windermere's Fan," and will be partnering with Molly Conrad '14. Seward has chosen a scene from "Lady Windermere's Fan" as well as an excerpt from the short play, "Anything for You," as well as a musical monologue from the song, "How Did We Come to This?" from "The Wild Party."

"It's really exciting to have been given this opportunity again," she says. However, after making it to the final round at last year's KCACTF, Seward has a lot of work to do. "It's intimidating to feel that not winning is a failure, since last year was so successful and anything else would be a step backward," she says, "especially because there are so many factors you can't control."

Tim Stompanato '13 was nominated for his role in SAU's "A New Brain," and will be performing his scenes with Jonathan Smith '13. Stompanato and Smith will perform a scene from Shakespeare's "Othello" and Neil Simon's "Brighton Beach Memoirs," followed by a monologue from "Red," by John Logan. Stompanato is both excited and intimidated by this opportunity. "After seeing a lot of my friends before me give it their all, I'm excited for it to be my turn to represent the department," he says. "I just don't want to let anyone down."

Kyle DeFauw '15 was nominated for his performance of the leading role in his first-ever show at SAU, "A New Brain."  DeFauw will be performing two scenes with partner Molly Conrad '14 but has not come to a concrete decision on which ones yet.

"I have several dramatic scenes picked out from which I have to choose, along with a musical scene and a musical monologue," says DeFauw. Even with no prior knowledge of this competition, DeFauw is aware of the greatness of this honor. "It's quite exciting to be a freshman who was nominated for such a prestigious award." When asked what scares him about this experience, DeFauw spoke for all of the nominees when he answered: "Time."

We cannot wait to see what nominees arise from "Dakota Jones," and we wish all nominees the best of luck in their endeavor!

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