Theatre Students Shine

January 29, 2019

The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival’s Region 3 Conference took place in Madison, Wisconsin, from January 8th-13th. KCACTF Region 3 encompasses the states of Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, and parts of Ohio. From the KCACTF Region 3 website:

"Through state, regional, and national festivals, KCACTF participants celebrate the creative process, see one another's work, and share experiences and insights within the community of theater artists. KCACTF honors excellence of overall production and offers student artists individual recognition through awards and scholarships in playwriting, acting, criticism, directing, and design.” ... "In January and February of each year, regional festivals showcase the finest of each region's entered productions and offer a variety of activities, including workshops, symposia, and regional-level award programs. Since its inception, KCACTF has given more than 400,000 college theater students the opportunity to have their work critiqued, improve their dramatic skills and receive national recognition for excellence. More than 16 million theatergoers have attended approximately 10,000 festival productions nationwide."

Bradley was very well represented at the KCACTF Region 3 Conference this year! Our students took part in many of the over 150 workshops, seminars, and lectures offered by professional theatre artists at the conference throughout the week. They also had the opportunity to see full productions, as well as the performance, design, research, and technical work of hundreds of colleges and universities from around our region.  Students were led by Department of Theatre Arts faculty, Dan Matisa.

Some highlights:

  • Bradley Theatre Arts took part in the KCACTF Celebration of Associate Productions by performing a scene from our Fall 2018 production of She Kills Monsters, by Qui Nguyen, directed by Theatre Arts Chairperson Scott Kanoff. Bradley was the only representative scene at the conference from the entire state of Illinois. This was a great honor. Our students acquitted themselves very well, and got an immense response from the audience. Taking part in the scene were Africa Hill (junior), Jake Winkle (junior), Grace Sergott (sophomore), Ashleigh Owens (sophomore), Susan Falk (sophomore), Laurel Burrington (sophomore), and Joseph King (sophomore). Trevor Baty (senior) served as fight director for the scene.
  • All of our students who attended the conference took part in the Irene Ryan Scholarship Audition From the KCACTF Region 3 website: "The Irene Ryan Scholarships provide recognition, honor, and financial assistance to outstanding student performers wishing to pursue further education. The Irene Ryan Foundation awards 16 regional and two national scholarships annually.”

The six Bradley University Irene Ryan nominees and their acting partners were: 

Trevor Baty (senior) and partner Ashleigh Owens (sophomore)

Africa Hill (junior) and partner Kiana Baylor (senior)

Jake Winkle (junior) and partner Joseph Parker (sophomore)

Jody Holtz (sophomore) and partner Susan Falk (sophomore)

Laurel Burrington (sophomore) and partner Joseph King (sophomore)

Grace Sergott (sophomore) and partner Emma O’Mahoney (freshman)

Two of our Irene Ryan nominees, and their partners (Trevor Baty/Ashleigh Owens and Africa Hill/Kiana Baylor) were honored to be among only 47 who advanced to the semi-final round, out of a first-round field of nearly 400 nominees from around the region. Of those 47, Trevor Baty, and his partner Ashleigh Owens, received the tremendous honor of advancing to the final round, which was comprised of only 16 nominees, and their partners. Congratulations to the Theatre Arts students who advanced to the semis and the finals, as well as all of our Irene Ryan nominees and their partners, for the distinguished way in which they represented Bradley.

  • Freshman Emma O’Mahoney took part in the KCACTF Devised Theatre Project, in which she and students from around the region created a brand new work without a pre-existing script. They were lead by professional theatre artist Genesee Spridco, Co-Artistic Director of the Chicago- and Milwaukee-based theatre company Imaginez Ensemble. This year’s devising prompt was “No Entrance Without Papers”. Over the course of the week, Emma and the other student performers created a powerful and timely piece of theatre which incorporated movement, dance, voice, visual image, sonic landscape, spoken and written text, and scenic environment. The performance was nearly sold-out, and Emma represented Bradley extremely well, taking on a major role in the creation and performance of the piece.
  • Senior Kiana Baylor took part in the Open Jar Institute Scholarship Auditions. Open Jar is a musical theatre actor training intensive which takes place in New York City each summer, and whose Board is comprised of Tony Winners Joanna Gleason, Susan Stroman, Lynn Ahrens, and Stephen Flaherty, among others. It consists of five days of high-intensity workshops in acting, singing, dance and audition technique. Students work one-on-one with Broadway directors, casting directors, choreographers, actors and agents during the day, and at night they go to Broadway shows, participate in talkbacks with casts, and take advantage of backstage opportunities. We are thrilled to announce that Kiana received one of the very few, and very coveted invitations to attend Open Jar as part of their Summer Intensive! This is a stupendous honor, and Kiana will be one of only 60 students from around the world who will attend Open Jar Institute this summer. At KCACTF, Kiana sang and danced her way right into New York City!

All in all, Bradley Theatre Arts had a very productive and exciting week of learning and fun at this year’s KCACTF Region 3 Conference, and look forward to participating again in 2020!