Students participate in 49th Annual Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival

Reading Time: 3 minutes

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The ancient city of Troy has fallen, and the Greeks are busy divvying up the spoils of a drawn-out war. Most of the Trojan men are dead and the remaining women are waiting to learn of their fate. The terrible news arrives; they are all being sold into slavery. Trojan Women, a Greek tragedy written by Euripides, tells the story of these brave women as they await their horrible fate. Theatre students accompanied Lisa Hagen, associate professor of theatre, to perform and present her version of the tragedy during the 49th Annual Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in Mesa, Ariz. Feb. 17-18.

“Our focus was to think about the incredible strength of these women, and the little world they built for themselves as they wait to find out what fate has for them on the other side of the tent as they go away with their Greek masters,” said Hagen. “We were using a lot of movement techniques. We had a student choreographer and movement specialist named Chantelle Wells out of the dance department. She helped us design this movement-based performance with lots of lifts and lots of climbing.”

The group of students accompanying Hagen were a mix of play writers called dramaturgs, stage managers and production designers. To meet the three-hour performance time limit set by festival, they practiced building the set, performing the show and tearing it down for two months.

“All of the students involved in the production go down and present their work. They hope for an opportunity to get feedback and perform the show,” said Hagen. Not everyone who participates in the festival is an actor. The festival provides a chance for all involved in theatre production to showcase their skills.

The theatre department competes in the festival every year, but they don’t always bring an original or adapted production. For those competitions, students are pre-picked to compete in different categories that include areas like set design, costume design, acting, etc. The festival also holds workshops that students can participate in to hone their skills.

After the show, some students win scholarships that go toward professional trainings or graduate school. Whether they win or not, the festival presents opportunities for students to receive feedback on their work from professionals in the field.

“They all can get recognized with awards and scholarships,” said Hagen. “Also, really the biggest thing is that … our designers who go down there to present their ideas get feedback from professors and professionals from other schools and other areas. They learn to communicate about their design to other people.”

The theatre department won nationals twice during the 2013-2014 season. “I consider it a really big deal that we get to bring out shows and have the opportunity to compete and perform,” said Hagen.

*Update* Here are the winners from the competition:

Performance Awards:
Irene Ryan semi-finalists:
Courtney Park, Ardon Smith, Thayne Caldwell
Irene Ryan finalists:
Jillian Ormond and Becca Ashton
Irene Ryan Best Partner:
Carter Walker
Irene Ryan Alternate:
Jillian Ormond
Music Theatre Initiative Cabaret (by audition):
Becca Ashton, Thayne Caldwell, McKell Petersen, Coulson Bingham, Kiersten Zundal, Mckelle Shaw
CSU Summer Arts Musical Theatre Workshop Scholarship:
Becca Ashton

Design, Technical, Management Awards:

“Golden Wrench” award for best load-in and load-out:
Trojan Women
DTM Semi-Finalist in Lighting:
Laicey Gibby-Brown, for Trojan Women
Award for First-Time Design competitor:
Carolyn Urban, Costume for Rez Sisters
Honorable Mention for Sound Design:
Alex Rettie for Trojan Women
Honorable Mention for Stage Management:
Megan Johnson for Trojan Women
Regional Winner for Scenic Design, will compete at Nationals:
Maddy Ashton for Trojan Women
Regional Winner for Dramaturgy, will interview to compete at Nationals:
Laura Dexter for Trojan Women
Directing Semi-Finalist:
Laicey Gibby-Brown