by Cathy Gastelum
In January and February of each year, regional festivals are showcased by the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festivals to encourage and recognize the finest work produced in university and college theater programs. Theater students from the University of La Verne participated in the event, which took place at California State University, Fresno.
Regional festivals are intended to showcase the greatest production that each region entered. The festival offers a variety of activities, including workshops, symposia and regional-level award programs. There were five states that entered region eight of the festival, which were Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada and Utah. A panel of three judges selected by the Kennedy Center and the KC/ACTF judged their productions. These judges select four to six of the best productions to be showcased at the national festival.
Actors had a 15 minute audition and could not surpass that limit because they would be automatically disqualified. Actors had to do two contrasting pieces, one with a partner. The nine students who competed from ULV was graduate La Velle Wilson, seniors Jessica Wotherspoon and Ryan Landmann, juniors Obren Milanovic and David Rojas, sophomore Nancy Mendez, and freshmen Tirzah Rodgers, Samantha Kern and Ken Britton. Wilson, Milanovic, Britton and Kern were partners in a 15 minute play. Landman, Rojas, Mendez, Wotherspoon and Rodgers design work was presented to the panel.
“We entered top 10 of the case, for which we brought out two respondents to view the production which gave some comments to the actors,” said Beth Pietrzak, theatre technical director. “There was one respondent who came up to talk to Landman our lighting designer.”
The production that the ULV students presented was a Thomas Paine play based on the American Revolution.
“Through that process they nominated three actors to go up to the festival before the Irene Ryan competition. We also had the lighting designer, Landman, and the stage manager, Rodgers, nominated to go up and present their designs. This was a very stiff competition, none of the students advanced to go to the national, which is in May. Milanovic got cast on an audition for a short one-act play.
“Over all they all did very good,” said Pietrzak.
There were several points why ULV Theater students attended the festival.
“One is to see the work of other college students because you could get a sort of insular prospect of life if you don’t get off of campus and see the work of other colleges. You get to see that there are students at other colleges that are doing the same kind of work and the same level of work as ULV. It gives students thinking a moral boost that ULV is a small school, but it is not just a small school, ULV provides them with every thing else that the other schools provide and some times more. It helps them see what other students are doing,” said Pietrzak.