Wooster Students Excel at Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival
Three theatre and dance majors receive impressive awards at regional event
WOOSTER, Ohio — Three College of Wooster students distinguished themselves in a competition against thousands of students from larger colleges and universities at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) earlier this month in Saginaw, Mich. Junior Sidney Martin, along with seniors Kent Sprague and Ben Pfister, were recognized for their achievements in specific categories. Overall, eight Wooster students attended the weeklong festival with Wooster Professors Dale Seeds and Jimmy Noriega.
"Our students competed very well," said Seeds, professor of theatre and dance and film studies at Wooster. "It was good for them to see what others are doing and to build confidence through the realization that their work is as good as or better than other students from much larger schools."
Noriega, assistant professor of theatre and dance and film studies as well as Latin American Studies and women's gender and sexuality studies, added, "Our theatre students compete at the festival every year and do an excellent job of representing the type of work we do at the College. Watching them excel and grow professionally is a real motivation to everyone in our department."
Martin, a theatre and dance major from Columbus, was awarded the Best Prop Design by the Society of Properties Artisan Managers for her work on the Frederick the Great bust from The Golden Age, a Shirley Huston-Findley production that was staged at Wooster last fall. "Her project was very well done," said Seeds. "It was a well-deserved award for her."
Martin was pleased with the recognition and grateful for the experience. "It is absolutely wonderful knowing that my work was recognized out of all the amazing entries, and I am very grateful for the support my colleagues showed me through the process," said Martin, who received The Prop Building Guidebook, which she plans to donate to Wooster's scene shop. "Overall the entire conference experience provided many useful seminars, an expo filled with other works that inspired me, and a chance to bond with my colleagues in the department in a way that I might not have been able to do on campus."
Sprague, a theatre and dance major from Dexter, Mich., who specializes in lighting design, was part of a team that received an award for the best design work at the festival. The competition involves reading, analyzing, and presenting a complete production design with just six hours of work. "He and his team of fellow students were given a play and then asked to develop a design concept in a very limited time frame," said Seeds. "He was the only lighting designer, and his work was very well done. He also exhibited one of his own designs, also from The Golden Age, which was nominated by a respondent."
Sprague said that the award fits well with the Wooster mindset. "It rewards critical thinking, and demands tight teamwork, in-depth analysis, and quick action," he said. "I think it shows that Wooster's theatre students are able to use their liberal arts education to great advantage when collaborating with their peers. I am honored to receive this reward for my team's project."
Pfister, a theatre and dance major from White River Junction, Vt., was awarded the KCACTF Stage Management Fellowship for his work on Life is a Dream, which was directed by Noriega last spring. The Fellowship is one of the highest awards given to students at the festival and provides the recipient with an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C., to participate in the national festival week at the Kennedy Center where he will work with professionals and represent the region as the outstanding stage manager, from April 15-19. "We were told that this year there was a record 49 entries in the category," said Noriega. "This win speaks to Ben's achievement and promise as a theatre professional. I have worked with him on three shows now, and I can honestly say that he is one of the best stage managers that I have ever worked with in the theatre. I am very proud of him."
Pfister described his experience at the KCACTF as incredibly valuable. "There were many workshops in various fields, numerous amusing shows to attend, and countless displays and auditions to learn from," he said. "Receiving the National Fellowship in Stage Management was not only extremely rewarding, but it also gave me an incredible opportunity to continue with my passion professionally and continue my never-ending education as a theatre artist." Pfister is currently applying to MFA graduate programs in stage management.