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Theatre students compete at Kennedy Center Theater Competition

In early January, a group of IU South Bend theatre students traveled to Saginaw, Michigan to compete at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) Regional Competition.

Marlon Burley, Amanda Benham, Emily Beck, Thomas Neff, Jeremy Weyer, Jess Alexander, Jerry Sailor, and Earl Brown competed for the Irene Ryan Award, funded by the late actress who portrayed “Granny Clampett” on The Beverly Hillbillies.

Over 150 students from region Indiana, Michigan, Illinios, and Wisconsin participated in the Irene Ryan competition. Marlon Burnley made it through the first round.

Kyle Techintin was entered in the Design Competition for his lighting design for SMASH. Two of Jason Resler’s costumes from SMASH were displayed.

The attending students were selected for competition by a KCACTF responder that came to watch and critique past IU South Bend Theatre and Dance Company productions SMASH and HMS Pinafore.

The students were accompanied by Upstage Production Assistant Justin Amellio and Area Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Theatre Tim Hanson.

 “Overall, our students did an incredible job,” says Tim Hanson. “Marlon Burnley and Jess Alexander both were cast in the 10-minute play competition. This was a chance for our students to show their work and get critiques and feedback from professionals from all over the country. They also had a chance to talk with other theatre students and make contacts.”

“It was my first trip to KCACTF, and will not be my last,” says Alexander. “The competition of the festival was intense, but it had a very friendly atmosphere…I was able to audition to be cast in a play that was entered into the playwriting festival portion of the week. I was cast in the play entitled ‘Bread Hands’ and ended up winning best play and best director.”

The students also watched performances and attended workshops.

“My experience was mind-blowing.” says acting student Emily Beck. “I had never been to an acting competition. I was able to network with people from professional venues such as Open Jar Institute and The Louisville Apprenticeship Program, which are venues that are well-known for preparing young artists for the world of show business… I definitely felt that the [information] I learned at the festival gave me the tools to continue being a more well-rounded performer and educator,” she says.