Sunday, March 3, 2013

An Unexpected Adventure - Responding to Student Work at KCACTF Region 6

I had an unexpected adventure at the end of February.  I received an inquiry from a colleague, asking if I might be interested in responding to student work at the Region 6 finals of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in Shreveport, Louisiana.  I said heck, yeah!  And off I went to see plays, analyze plays, talk about plays, teach a workshop about writing plays, and eat a heck of a lot of gumbo.  It was fabulous!

I'd heard of KCACTF.  It's a nationwide competition that honors college theater student's work in all categories, from acting to directing, writing, and design.  Several of my friends who teach bring students to the competitions regularly.  I was honored to be a respondent for the playwriting students.  There was so much smart, funny, fabulous writing!  And I love having the chance to support young playwrights in their journey.  People have been so kind to me along the way.
With Jim and Billy at the closing gala.  (They both had the flu at this point, though, poor fellas.)
When I arrived in Shreveport, I went to work almost immediately, shaking hands with the head of the playwriting group, David Blakely, and his second in command, Jim Tyler Anderson, and with my fellow respondents, Guillermo (Billy) de Leon and David Moberg, and then walking straight into the room to listen to the first one-act play we would be critiquing.  Luckily, our little team worked very well together, and I think we gave the student playwrights in all categories -- ten minute plays, one acts, and full-lengths -- good feedback throughout the week.
Sharing food and stories with Heather Helinski, who was running the dramaturgy unit at KCACTF Region 6.
The week was chock full of work and fun, as we responded to plays, watched the mainstage shows (two per day), taught workshops, and talked shop.  Region 6 is comprised of six of the southern central states, but there were theater professors and professionals from all over the country participating.  The food was fantastic.  I'd never been to Louisiana before, and found the gumbo to be exquisite.  I was also able to see Harold Hynick, from Missouri Valley College, and some of his student actors and designers who had worked on the production of "Heads" in the fall, which was lovely.  The actors presented a scene from the play in front of the entire festival, and the designer won an award for her work!  I saw Mark Charney there, who I'd met at the Great Plains Theater Conference.  And I made some new friends -- including dramaturg Heather Helinski.

I hope that I'll be able to be a respondent again next year!

With Sam and Tommy, who played Caroline and Harold in the Missouri Valley College production of "Heads."  We had a lovely talk about the play, and their plans for after school.
Me and designer Katie Combs, who won an award for her work on my play "Heads" in the Missouri Valley College theater production in fall of 2012, at KCACTF Region 6.

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