Northern Exposure: CSU Theatre Travels to KCACTF Regional Conference

Bing Crosby Theatre marquee says "Theatre Arts Convention All Week"

The Bing Crosby Theatre in Spokane, Washington is hosting many of the week’s events. Photo by CSU student Lela Smith

By Jennifer Clary Jacobs with Laura Jones

For Laura Jones, one of her favorite weeks of the year is happening right now!

The long-time theatre professor is spending Feb. 19-23 in Spokane, Washington at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival’s regional conference, taking more than three dozen students and faculty with her to the final conference before her retirement from Colorado State University in May.

Throughout 2017, local KCACTF representatives attended each CSU theatre production, giving response ratings, which qualified students for regional competition. Categories include Design and Technology Awards and the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship auditions for monologues and two-person scenes, however, the top honor is being selected for a production presentation. Only three universities are invited each year with CSU’s production of Love and Information, directed by Laura Jones, receiving one of the coveted production slots.

At competitions occurring throughout the country this month, young theatre practitioners are competing with students from theatre programs from across each region; CSU is part of the eight-state Region VII.

“The honor, the experience, and the opportunity for theatre students is what a bowl bid, or an invitation to the big dance is for student athletes,” explains Jones with excitement! “It’s ‘as good as it gets’ and ‘the best of the best’ in terms of collegiate theatre competitions,” she added.

Since 1969, the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) has set a high barre for college theatre yield, giving student attendees the chance to gain perspective on their own talent and aspirations. Since theatre is a “live medium of artistic expression,” Jones believes it is imperative for students to gather face-to-face in order to appreciate and better understand the work of their peers.

“They gain invaluable perspective on their own accomplishments by having a rare chance to compare notes, techniques, and opinions with theatre people outside of the University Center for the Arts’ ivy-covered walls,” stated Jones.

CSU Theatre’s KCACTF contingent came in at thirty-nine, and is comprised of four faculty, two staff members, and most importantly, thirty-three students, who are all competing as members of the touring company of Love and Information, and as designers and technicians who have prepared physical examples of their research, concepts, and execution on CSU productions during the 2017 calendar year. Additionally, nine of the CSU students, plus their partners, are competing in the prestigious Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship.

For more than a decade, CSU students have distinguished themselves as regional award-winners, followed by attending the national competition that is held each April in Washington, D.C. There, judged by highly visible theatre professionals, they compete for national awards; many CSU students have been successful at the highest level.

“The exposure for our program on a regional and national level is significant,” concludes Jones about the competition entries that have consistently brought recognition to CSU Theatre, resulting in substantial program growth. “No event offers the same amount of street cred, as both peer and professional adjudications validate the excellence of CSU Theatre.”

For more about the 2018 KCACTF results and news follow along on Instagram at csusmtd.