Last Tuesday, Bellevue College students Danny Lacker and Elise Swanson were nominated for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Irene Ryan Scholarship in Acting. Liz Craswell was awarded a certificate of merit for her stage management of Bellevue College’s production of “Little Shop of Horrors.”
Over the last twenty years, the Theatre Arts Department has had an active involvement with the KCACT festival. In February, BC participants traveled to Sacramento to showcase scenes and monologues from the past year.
BC is part of the seventh region of the festival, which includes nine states across the northwest. Students had the opportunity to pursue their acting ambitions and improve on an individual level. At the festival, the department had opportunities to spend time together, learn new skills and meet theatre students from all around the northwest.
In addition to bringing scenes from “The Foreigner” and “Spring Awakening,” the theatre department devised an original piece. Every college at festival is invited to bring original compositions, but BC was one of the only participants to finish one.
One of the most important parts of the KCACT festival is watching performances by other colleges. In this process, BC students have the opportunity to meet professors from four-year universities.
Tammi Doyle, chair of the theatre department elaborated on the vital importance of making these connections. “It helps them become accepted into the department and to get to know teachers before they go there,” she said.
In the five weeks spent preparing for the KCACT festival, students refined and polished monologues six minutes in length. Intense, focused rehearsals of these selections proved as great educational tools for students. “Everyone always takes a step towards better acting in this process,” said Doyle.
Workshops are useful instruction for BC students. Some modules aren’t skills and concepts taught at BC, making involvement very beneficial. “They got to take workshops and see things that they only know a little bit about, like puppetry, fight choreography, costume and lighting displays,” said Doyle.
Students also had the opportunity to see a Japanese style, Noh theatre piece, featuring actors in masks. One of the most intriguing performances in Doyle’s opinion was from “a play we’ve done called “Dog sees God.” They cast a deaf student actor in one of the roles, who really made the heavy stuff in the show believable and meaningful,” she said.
Students came back from the KCACT festival with ambitions for great production of “Little Shop of Horrors.” With two lead actors and one stage manager recognized by the Irene Ryan scholarship, the festival has enriched the experience of those in the BC theatre arts department.