Huntington, Ind. — Fourteen Huntington University students attended the regional Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival during Jan. 4-10 at Michigan State University in Lansing, Mich. They joined hundreds of other students, faculty and theater artists from a five-state area for competitions in playwriting, acting, technical design, dramaturgy and related specialized disciplines.
The students were accompanied by Jay Duffer, assistant professor of theatre and department chair; Michael Slane, assistant professor of theatre arts; and Mary Zellers, costume shop supervisor.
Huntington students distinguished themselves in competition with other students from Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and western Ohio, with several reaching top final awards. They represented Huntington quite well amid much larger and well-known theater departments from across our region.
Prior to the festival, Huntington students received certificates of merit for outstanding quality of technical and acting work. Amber Dawn Katulic, a junior theatre tech and design major from Winter Garden, Fla., was awarded for her prop design of “The Mikado.” Amber Kessler Freer, a senior English major from Noblesville, Ind., was awarded for her wig and hair design of “The Mikado.” The cast of “Picnic” was awarded for its outstanding performance by an ensemble.
On Jan. 8, awards were presented to students for excellence in the following various competitions:
In the realized production prop design competition titled “Prop-a-Palooza,” Amber Dawn Katulic was recognized among the many participants with an Honorable Mention for her outstanding work on props for “‘Tis the Season: A Christmas Celebration.”
In the dramaturgy category, Elaine Stoughton, a senior history major and theatre minor from Xenia, Ohio, received the top award for Program Notes for our fall production of “Picnic” as well as the Region III 10-Minute Play Dramaturgy Award.
The Irene Ryan Scholarship competition honors those students who demonstrate high quality in the craft of acting. More than 300 students competed this year in the preliminary round. Only 32 were chosen to move onto the semi-finals. From that 32, then 16 were chosen to compete in the final round and were judged by nationally recognized actors and directors. From this 16, only two are selected to compete at the National Festival, held in April at Washington, D.C. An alternate is chosen should one of the final two not be able to attend. Philip Black, a senior theater performance major from Goshen, Ind., and scene partner Bethany Edlund, a senior theater performance major from Roanoke, Ind., advanced all the way into the final round. He further impressed the judges and was selected as the alternate for the National Festival.
Other Irene Ryan Scholarship nominated candidates competing in this competition were Mary Russell, a senior theater performance major from Columbia, Mo., and scene partner Samantha Freeman, a senior theater performance major from Portland, Ind.; and Kate Smith, a junior theater performance major from Centerville, Ohio, and scene partner Courtney Swenson, a senior theater performance major from Landenberg, Pa.
“All of the students that attended were enriched by a week of theater and were challenged by the work of their peers among the various activities and competitions. They represented Huntington University quite well and all deserve a hearty congratulation,” Duffer said.