Theatre Finalists Play Their Parts in National Competition

El Vaquero Staff Writer

Finally, the event that GCC theater students have all been waiting for. The day that every drama student loves to talk about and cannot wait to participate in.

The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival is held annually in February by different colleges throughout the country to allow students to perform in various plays, permitting the winners to progress into the final stages of the festival.

This year, from Feb. 9 through Feb. 15, GCC drama students, who were finalists chosen to attend the festival, along with Ken Gray, the head drama instructor and director of the GCC theater department, as well as Region VIII Chair in the festival, went to San Bernardino for a long anticipated festival full of great talent, ambition and winners.
Although GCC students did not continue to the next levels of the festival, Gray said he is not disappointed with his students’ efforts and results.

“The festival is one semester of theater in six days,” said Gray. “It is the most exciting, compact, demanding week that a theater student can image.”

The festival gave a chance for determined and talented students to look outside of their class and interact with other inspiring performers from the thousands of schools throughout the country.
There were many categories for finalists, including the Barbizon Design finalists, Ten Minute Play finalist, and Irene Ryan finalists, and schools such as Cal State Fullerton, Utah State University, CSU Bakersfield and Arizona State University all had their eyes on the same prize.

Some of the shows selected for the event included “Medea,” “Stealing Pens,” “Kyogen 3” and “Colin Grey.”

Four-hundred two students, including 17 from GCC, were nominees for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship. Some of the nominees included Mitchell Neill, Tina Woodhall, Ace Frame and Selin Mehrabian. Plays that were presented by GCC students were “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Cabaret,” “Keeping Up With the Jonses,” “Random Acts of Theatre,” and “The Laramie Project.” From those plays, 13 GCC students, out of 208 students from different regions, were included in the category of Meritorious Achievement Award winners.

The festival was particularly special for three GCC students who won recognition in the categories of: Kate Drain Lawson Design Awards, Makeup Designers, Audio Designers, and Properties Designers, along with other students from different schools. Fernando Vasquez won recognition in the Kate Drain Lawson Design Award for “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and an Audio Designers award for the same play.

Rachelle Horak also won recognition for the Kate Drain Lawson Design Award for ” Midsummer Night’s Dream” and the Makeup Designers Award for the same play. Josh Brow won recognition in the Properties Designer category for his work in “Cabaret,” and “Keeping Up With the Jones.”

Overall, the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival was what Grey calls a fantastic experience for inspiring actors who came to see quality performances. The participants not only got to meet new actors, but they also gained more ambition and hope for their future acting careers.