Kennedy Festival Offers Students Opportunity

Sara McGuire

Every year, New Englanders and New Yorkers alike gather at a local university for a celebration. Only a privileged few are invited, but the opportunity to become one of those few is great. This gathering is known as region one’s Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. This year, the festival occurred at the end of January at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, NH.

The festival, which occurs in numerous regions around the country, is a celebration of theater. There are numerous workshops, performances, classes, and training sessions for actors, stage crew, and technical crew. Hundreds of colleges and universities located in New England and, most recently, New York compete for the honor to perform their dramas, comedies, and musicals in front of their peers. Only six shows are chosen each year. Two years ago, the University of New Haven’s Columbinus was selected as one of these pieces. This year, as is every UNH Fall drama,

The Pillowman was nominated, held, but unfortunately was not selected to be performed.

Several actors involved in the University of New Haven’s theater department were chosen to compete in the Irene Ryan acting scholarship competition. Robert Ceriello, A. Michael Forgette, and Alyssa Biggs were nominated for their work in The Pillowman (Ceriello and Forgette) and A Flea in Her Ear (Biggs). The actors performed their chosen scenes for the competition for Kennedy Center judges. None of the UNH actors won, but all who attended the festival had an excellent time, learning much by watching various stages of the scholarship competition, attending workshops, and in networking with actors and tech from schools throughout the region.

With the festival over, the winning play, the winners of the acting scholarship, set design award, lighting award, costume award, and numerous other awards will, in April, be going to the national Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in Washington, DC. Here, they’ll have the opportunity to compete for even greater scholarships, awards, and earn the prestige and merit they deserve for their hard work. Last year, UNH’s own Jessica Emerson and Emily Gorecki won the regional award for set design for Two Rooms, and traveled with head of the Theater Department Robert Boles to Washington for the national competition.

This spring, the university will be putting on Christopher Durang’s Baby with the Bathwater. The actors in the show will again be eligible for nomination for the Irene Ryan scholarship competition. Should any reader be interested in acting and the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, feel free to investigate the university’s theater department. And I expect to see a good deal of you at the spring play. Yours truly will be a particularly interesting educational figure.