Sixteen Theatre and Dance students attended the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, held in Hyannis, Mass., from January 28–February 1. Lukas Dimitrios Theodossiou earned stage management finalist for his work on Spring Awakening. Cara Gerardi is an Irene Ryan Acting semi-finalist, Alissa Toscano won a Meritorious Award in Allied Craft for her exquisite Mad Hatter marionette, and Taylor Ciambra is National Dramaturgy Award first runner-up for her work on The Tempest.
As you might expect, the students find attending the festival richly rewarding. “I always enjoy bringing my work to the festival and having industry professionals respond to it,” claimed student Michael Portrie. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to have somebody look at your work outside of an academic setting.”
Taylor Ciambra gained a lot of confidence from the workshops and having her presentation judged. “I realized that this was not about competing with the girls around me; it was about individual enhancement that would advance the community and the field,” she said. “Not only did I learn a lot of practice-related information and new ways to think about plays critically, the festival gave me a more personal gift. The people I met and the work I did all corroborated that I was becoming a good dramaturge, a good artist. No matter my doubts, I’m onto something.”
The workshops often created real-world scenarios for these up-and-coming performers. A Broadway choreographer for Chicago led one of them. “She was so helpful in telling us exactly what she, as a choreographer, looks for in a dancer at professional auditions,” said Ally Doyle. “She then taught us a phrase of dance from Chicago and critiqued us one by one, telling us why she would or wouldn’t hire us. Because Keene State doesn’t have a musical theatre program, and it is my individualized major, I found it extremely helpful to be able to get that feedback.”