This January, the St. Ambrose Theatre Department traveled to Lawrence, Kansas for Region V’s annual Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. The festival brings together theatre departments from colleges and universities all over the Midwest for one week of competitions, workshops, auditions, and scholarship opportunities.
Twenty-eight students and faculty members left Davenport on the morning of Sunday, January 18 and returned on Saturday, January 24. The students participated in many different activities, including the Irene Ryan Acting Competition, the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers (SSDC) National Fellowship Scene Audition, summer stock auditions, a Theatre Management Challenge, and the popular Stage Crew Competition.
SAU Senior Rachel Mayer was selected as the winner of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers National Fellowship Scene Audition, allowing her to attend this year’s National Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) in Washington D.C. on a directing scholarship. Prior to attending the Region V KCACTF, Mayer prepared a scene from Melanie Marnich’s "Quake" with actors Jessica Denney, Seth Kaltwasser, and Michael Kline. After rehearsing the scene and preparing a prompt book with text analysis, dramaturgical research, and visual materials, the scene went to the Region V festival in Lawrence, Kansas. The winner of the competition was announced on Friday, January 23 at the final awards ceremony. Mayer’s scene was then selected as the regional winner. She, along with mentor Dr. Corinne Johnson, will be attending this year’s National Festival in Washington D.C. in April and has also been given a one-year Associate membership in the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers.
Mayer’s triumph was not the only success for St. Ambrose. Students Jaci Entwisle, Andrew Benson, Josh Tipsword, and Matt Carney, took home the top prize in this year’s Stage Crew Competition, which challenged technical crews from many different schools to showcase their skills in changing sets, costumes, and lights. St. Ambrose’s crew received the first-place trophy, "The Golden Wrench." SAU Senior Emily Kurash was named runner-up in the Theatre Management Challenge, which aims to celebrate and develop the skills of students interested in theatre management.
Also, SAU Senior Jessica Denney advanced onto semi-finals in the prestigious Irene Ryan Acting Competition, an honor received by only 64 of the 308 competing actors. On top of all of this, many SAU actors received callbacks from theatres across the nation. Jovon Eberhart also received a Certificate of Excellence in Stage Management for her work in last spring’s production of "Pippin."
SAU Senior Seth Kaltwasser has attended the festival four times now. Of his experience, he says, "KCACTF is always such a great chance for the theatre department to come together, display their hard work, and grow together. Every time I leave KCACTF, I leave with an increased pride in our small (but mighty!) department and a new respect for my friends and their many talents."