Students Thrive at Regional Theatre Festival

A Photography News Feature by Taylor Nyman

Winona State University students participated in the annual Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region 5 for a week in January. Winona State has been a part of the festival for 17 years. This year, 17 WSU students traveled to Des Moines, Iowa, to attend workshops, compete for scholarships and submit their talents for feedback.

KCACTF is an opportunity for networking in the theatre community with six surrounding states, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. Winona State Theatre Professors Jim Williams and Heather Williams-Williams selected students to participate in festival activities.

Musical Theatre Intensive participant Kayla Williams-Schwarze has been attending the festival for the past three years. Kayla said KCACTF is a place to get to know the people from the department. Kayla auditioned for the category Musical Theatre Intensive and made it into the final round with a song called “Nothing Short of Wonderful” from the musical “Dogfight.”

KCACTF had an attendance of about 400 students across the region. Winona State Theatre Professor Williams-Williams said that this year went better than she expected.

“…students were highly successful in all aspects.” Senior, third time Irene Ryan nominee Cody Anderson presented his scenes for the judges at all three rounds and snatched a seat on the final round list. Heather said, “efforts put forth before the festival were rewarded.”

Heather mentioned that Winona State Theatre department requires students to submit something in order to go to KCACTF. This allows students to be more motivated. Students are required to submit scenes they wish to present at KCACTF before winter break. After winter break students attend strict scene rehearsals with feedback from Jim Williams and Heather Williams-Williams.

Anderson said, “Their dedication to the process is the reason that anyone from WSU ever advances in the Irene Ryan competition.”

Throughout the week Cody Anderson and his scene partner Sam Scherrer worked diligently to perfect their scene for the final round. While Cody waited for the lights to go up on the stage to perform his scene he reflects on his favorite parts of KCACTF. He said, “Making the audience laugh and making our professors, peers, and WSU proud was all the fantastic part of an amazing final KCACTF.” Although WSU did not have an Irene Ryan placed winner, students had a week full of making connections and learning from their peers in their field of study.

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