Will engage in thespian arts for scholarships

Students from the U theater department will have a chance to show off their skills this week, as they’ll be competing in acting, sound and set design at the American College Theatre Festival for Region VIII.

Held in Cedar City on the Southern Utah University campus, the regional portion of the national festival will include competitors from California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Hawaii, Guam and American Samoa.

Actors must be nominated by an adjudicator in order to participate in the festival.

“A judge from ACTF attends all the shows in the season for the Babcock Theatre and nominates students to compete,” said Robert Shand, a senior in the Actor Training Program. Shand was nominated for his performance as Stanley Kowalski in the October production of “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

Shand, one of nine U theater majors traveling to the festival, will be attending ACTF for his first time.

“I haven’t been lucky enough to get a nomination until now, but I am very excited and prepared to go to this festival and turn some people’s heads,” Shand said.

Students will compete for scholarships within their varying disciplines, and the selected winners will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. to compete at the festival’s national level.

“There is going to be a bunch of serious acting talent competing, (along with) representatives from all over the region looking at college talent,” Shand said.

While Shand said he anticipates long days of hard work and stress, there are activities outside of competition in which students may take part at ACTF.

“They do workshops with all kinds of elements of theater, from lighting to stage combat,” he said.

“I have heard it is very fun,” said festival first-timer Gabrielle Gaston. “I’m looking forward to the workshops and meeting like-minded peers…and swimming in the hotel pool,” she said.

Gaston, a freshman in the Actor Training Program and Chronicle writer, will be participating in the festival as a scene partner to Erica Richardson, a sophomore in the ATP who was nominated for a performance at Utah Valley State College.

Unlike actors, students looking to participate in ACTF within the field of design need only be adjudicated to enter into competition, said senior Jennifer Johnson, who is studying sound design for live theater at the U.

Johnson will be presenting her sound design for her work with last November’s production of “Urinetown,” during which she was able to receive both input and criticism from an adjudicator.

While Johnson is new to ACTF this year as well, she has heard encouraging accounts from peers.

“The abundance of workshops, presentations by other students from different states and plays seems to have been an extremely valuable educational opportunity for past participants,” she said.

File Photo