January 21, 2020
SVSU theatre students shine at regional competition
A group of 17 Saginaw Valley State University students and theatre faculty members took their passion for theater to the annual Kennedy Center American College Theatre Region III Festival (KCACTF) Jan. 7-12 in Madison, Wisconsin.
The event included colleges and universities from Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin participating in workshops and competitions. Numerous SVSU students walked away with awards, internship offers, valuable networks established with industry leaders as well as advice on improving their performances and theater craft.
At her first regional conference, student Jaden O’Berry won a lighting design competition for her work on the fall 2017 SVSU production of “She Kills Monsters.” The theatre major from Flint also received second place in the Tech Olympics. In Tech Olympics, five events such as lights, sound, knots, wardrobe, and scenery/carpentry are judged on time with reductions for errors and omissions.
For the second year in a row, Joshua Lloyd, a communication major from Bay City, was a recipient of the Irene Ryan Scholarship, worth up to $500. Out of 270 auditionees, Lloyd — with the help of his partner in the competition, Clayton Singer, a psychology major from Frankenmuth — advanced to the final 16 auditionees in the region.
“Attending this conference has always been a highlight of my year and has graced me with fond memories to last a lifetime,” Lloyd said. “Without it, I would not be who I am today.”
Rhiannon Hall, a theatre major from Bay City, was the recipient of the Regional Dramaturgy Award for her work on the fall 2019 SVSU production of “Proof.” Hall’s materials will be reviewed and four dramaturges from the nation will be invited to Washington D.C. to participate at the national level for the Kennedy Center.
Jessica Hurley, a theatre major from Essexvile, interviewed with seven theater companies and received valuable feedback on how to better market her work. Hurley already possesses experience in producing shows. In summer 2019, Hurley received a grant from SVSU’s Undergraduate Research Program to produce performances of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” under Rebel Theatre Co., a theatre ensemble she founded with a mission statement promising to “enact social awareness and change.”
“Besides receiving great responses and advice regarding my work, I also gained more confidence in myself, my beliefs and my ability to express those,” Hurley said. “This festival also allowed both myself and others to expand our professional network within the field.”
Abby Burgess, a theatre major from Commerce, auditioned at the Next Step auditions and received callback auditions at several theaters. Melanie Frasca, a theatre major from Waterford, also auditioned for eight theatrical companies through the Next Step auditions. The Next Steps program allows students to audition and interview at the festival with casting directors and artistic representatives of theatre companies, potential summer employers and graduate schools in the region.
Natasha Nash, a December 2019 graduate, also participated in the festival.
“The overall experience of KCACTF has further increased my drive to be a part of this industry and has aided in my pathway for which direction I want to take,” Nash said.
SVSU students participated in workshops taught by professional artists and faculty from five different states.
The following is a complete list of SVSU students who attended the festival:
- Abby Burgess, a theatre major from Commerce
- Joshua Lloyd, a communication major from Bay City
- Jessica Hurley, a theatre major from Essexvile
- Melanie Frasca, a theatre major from Waterford
- Conner Wieland, a theatre major from Essexvile
- Holly Houck, an international studies major from Saginaw
- Erica Close, a theatre major from Essexvile
- Jaden O’Berry, a theatre major from Flint
- Rhiannon Hall, a theatre major from Bay City
- Lucas Inman, a theatre major from Saginaw
- Natasha Nash, a theatre major from Saginaw
- Jared Kaufman, a communication and theatre education major from Bay City
- Alexandra “Lexie” Schultz, a music major from Saginaw
- Hannah Ducolon, an elementary education major from Bay City
- Indigo Dudley, a music major from Saginaw
- Olivia Greanias, a theatre major from Saginaw
- Clayton Singer, a psychology major from Frankenmuth
KCACTF is a national theater program involving college students across the nation dedicated to improving the quality of theater. The festival honors excellence of overall production and presents student artists individual recognition through awards and scholarships in the categories of playwriting, acting, criticism, directing, and design.