The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) is a festival attended by students in Alma College’s theatre department.
This week-long, annual festival that takes place in two sections. The first phase is regionals, which takes place in different cities each year within each region. If you compete at the festival, which most attendees do, you have a chance to place and make your way to Nationals—the second phase. In order to attend you can be on either side of the show, actor or tech, but the requirements for each are different.
In order to attend the festival as an actor you have to be invited by a scout in the previous months. Theses scouts come to shows put on by the college, and if they think you in particular did an exceptional job, they can nominate you for the Irene Ryan.
The Irene Ryan scholarship is a $500 scholarship given to first and second place actors in each region. And the top two actors at the national level.The award recipient needs to not only claim first place, but also needs to be a registered college student and get through all 3 levels of competition.
Getting to attend the festival is quite an honor. This year the school only took twelve participants, ten actors and two techs. “I got to go to the festival because I was partnered with Dan Chalice (’21) and Merek Alam (’20) for the Irene Ryan competition and I was paired with Alena Ramos (’22)” said Daniel Barr (’22). Barr also said “If I can go every year, I will. It was so much fun.”
On the tech side of things, there was more of the same. However, the techs who went from Alma did not have to go on an invitation. “Because I am one of Terry’s student assistants and I had a theoretical scene design entered, I was able to go without invitation” said Sam Moretti (’21).
Tech members can also compete. Stage managers can submit prompt books, designers whether it be light, scene, costume or prop can enter their designs and general technicians can look at all the designs and go to lectures and shows.
Competition is one of the biggest aspect of the festival. “I got to compete in the Irene Ryan scholarship competition and the Music Theatre Intensive. I didn’t get to move on to the next round, but my group got incredible feedback so we can improve for future KCACTF,” said Ramos.
Even though the main aspect of KCACTF is to compete for the scholarship, there are also several workshops and events for the students to take part in.
“My favorite part of the festival was probably the grad school workshop I took. There were a set of exercises in which we went inside ourselves and visited the past while bringing that part out. I hadn’t felt emotions like that in such a long time” said Chalice.
Unfortunately, most groups didn’t get to move on. “Although we did not move on to the next round, I got to work with such an amazing person and we’ve become closer friends thanks to the festival and our wonderful scenes” said Carly Christie (’21).
In the students’ free time, they also get to explore the new city they are in. Many groups, while not moving on, also agreed that even though they did not get to go on to compete for the scholarship that the trip was well worth it. “I would attend again in a heartbeat. The festival is always in a different city and state and I get to have a good time going around the city doing what I love” said Christie.
The national competition takes place at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. during the week of April 15. Even though our students will not be in attendance this year, they will strive to go in the coming years.