SAU Buzz

Curtains Closed on Another Successful Theatre Competition

by Jessica Karolczak
Posted on Feb 02, 2018

St. Ambrose students weren’t “playing” around at a week-long theatre festival that displayed the Ambrosians’ hard work and success.

The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival embodied the theme of “Equity, Diversity and Inclusion” as it brought college students and faculty from Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. The festival took place from Jan. 21 to Jan. 27 in Des Moines, Iowa, and was a week of theatre performances, workshops, competitions and awards.

Twenty SAU students competed in the festival this year by acting, dancing, writing play reviews, designing and/or participating in the tech crew showdown. This was in addition to seeing many plays and attending workshops about the presence of this year’s theme in theatre. Theatre Department faculty Corinne Johnson, Kris Eitrhiem and Daniel Rairdin-Hale mentored and encouraged the students, and Aaron Hook and Thea Engelson accompanied the students.

“It is a good chance to hone your craft and see new ways to do things,” Bryan Woods, SAU freshman, said. “It is a great way to bond with your own department and make friends with people from other theatre departments.”

This year, the festival recognized many talented SAU students. Senior Hannah Donovan earned the Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas award for a larger-than-life, comical painting of William Shakespeare that debuted in SAU’s 2017 production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare [abridged]. She received an all-expenses-paid trip to Las Vegas to work with theatre professionals. In addition, she won the stage management competition and will travel to Washington D.C. in April for the National KCACTF Festival at the Kennedy Center.

“It was my last ACTF so it was a heck of a bang to go out on,” Donovan said.

How did Donovan win every event she participated in?

“Cory [theatre professor] never accepts anything that isn’t your best and always had faith in me,” Donovan said. “Kris [technical director and professor] was always by my side and always had my back.”
SAU shined in the Tech Team Showdown, which resulted in taking home the Golden Wrench and a yet-to-be-announced endorsement prize. Donovan and senior Jackson Green served as captains and junior Kendall McKasson and freshman Anthony Duckett completed the Star Techies, who proudly represented SAU in Star Trek attire.
The team completed two rounds, which included a knot tie, curtain hang, costume quick change, props set-up and light hang. Each event translated to points based on time minus penalties such as lack of safety and/or faults in the product. After competing with 11 teams in the first round and four in the second, the Star Techies long practices and minor injuries paid off, and they came out on top.

“It started off as a group of strangers that became my best friends. We went to the competition so prepared that I wasn’t really afraid of messing up,” first-time teammate McKasson said. “It was amazing to know that all the hours we put in paid off, and that we truly earned the award.”

Six students and their partners competed in the Irene Ryan acting competition after being nominated for outstanding acting in SAU productions. All the nominees prepared two scenes and a monologue, or solo act, to be observed by two judges and two respondents. Senior Sam Jones and partner Augustana College senior Keenan Odenkirk earned third place after advancing through the preliminary and semi-final rounds. Senior Brian Leibforth with partner Woods and seniors Megan Clarke with partner Kelci Eaton also progressed to semi-finals.

Leibforth and Jones prepared a 10-minute scene each with SAU student actors for the SDC Directing Initiative. Jones staged a scene from Street Car Named Desire, and Leibforth directed a scene from an adaption of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull. Both advanced to the finals after performances in front of two judges and interviews.

After the long week of numerous accomplishments and performances, the students left exhausted and proud.