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Thespians Attend Regional Theater Festival

By Molly Exner
UW-RF News Bureau

FEB. 18, 2005--UW-River Falls students and theatre professors descended on the place to explore, expand and enhance their theatrical skills at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (ACTF III) held at Illinois State University in Bloomington, Ill. in January.

The 2005 festival was the biggest ever in ACTF Region III, attracting nearly 1,700 college thespians. The festival featured 11 productions, 350 actors competing for scholarships, the work of 217 designers, and 140 workshops.

UW-RF theatre Professors Robin Murray, Ken Stofferahn and Meg Swanson attended the festival with students. "One of the most important things about the festival is the chance it offers students to work with theatre professionals and faculty from other schools," said Swanson.

UW-RF faculty also connected with old friends and former colleagues. In attendance at the festival were UW-RF theatre alum Mike Lussenden (B.S. '83) and former UW-RF faculty member Rick Goodwin.

Among the UW-RF student group were Denise Baker, a theater major from Hudson, Wis., who was a finalist in the national design competition and Kortney Simpson, a theatre major from Hudson, Wis., who made her acting debut in the 10-minute-play festival. Brad Jennings, an English major from Chetek, Wis., directed a 10-minute play; and Hope Yeager, a theatre major from River Falls, Wis., participated in the national critics competition.

Participants in an acting scholarship competition include Mike McKay, a theatre arts major from Hibbing, Minn., Theresa Flaherty, an art major from West St. Paul, Minn., Nate Messina-Anderson, a speech communications major from Madison, Wis., and Jennings, along with their scene partners, Adam Helbach, a speech communications major from Brule, Wis., Jordan Cassavant, a psychology major from Mahtomedi, Minn., and Sarah Martin, an English major from Mounds View, Minn.

"The spirit of support and generosity combined to create an unforgettable event," said McKay.

The festival productions represented diverse types of theatre, including new plays by students and professionals as well as classical plays, musicals, contemporary classics seldom-produced pieces and new favorites.

In addition to attending productions, students participated in a wide array of activities, such as attending workshops, studying the design exhibition, meeting new friends and making contacts, and observing the overwhelming talent in the region.

Cordell Wesselink, a theater major from Beldenville, Wis., learned much from an unrehearsed Shakespeare workshop. "I now see Shakespeare in a whole new light and have a fuller understanding of the plays," he said.

Acting competitors performed in a packed room before judges and peers and received personal feedback from respondents. The region's best faculty members mentored directors, the national critics competitors worked directly with a nationally known theatre critic, and four professional designers offered practical advice.

Swanson says, "What really matters about the festival is that people get together to honor dramatic work and celebrate the power and excitement of the theatre."

Wisconsin Students
Denise Baker, a theater major from Hudson, Wis.
Adam Helbach, a speech communications major from Brule, Wis.
Brad Jennings, an English major from Chetek, Wis.
Nate Messina-Anderson, speech communications major from Madison, Wis.
Kortney Simpson, a theatre major from Hudson, Wis.
Amber Webb, a music education major from Hudson, Wis.
Cordell Wesselink, a theater major from Beldenville, Wis.
Hope Yeager, a theatre major from River Falls, Wis.
Dusty Yeager, theatre arts major from River Falls, Wis.

Minnesota Students
June Berg, theatre arts major from Sauk Rapids, Minn.,
Jordan Cassavant, a psychology major from Mahtomedi, Minn.
Theresa Flaherty, an art major from West St. Paul, Minn.
Kate Garlock, pre-major from Little Canada, Minn.
Sarah Martin, an English major from Mounds View, Minn.
Mike McKay, a theatre arts major from Hibbing, Minn.
Kristy Reid, marketing communications major from Waconia, Minn.

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Last updated: Tuesday, 22-Jun-2010 16:21:19 Central Daylight Time

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