UNL to host Region's Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Jan. 20-26

(From left) Billy Jones, Jessie Tidball, David Michael Fox, Lucy Myrtue and Jenny Holm star in Theatrix's Melancholy Play, which will be performed at the Region V KCACTF.
(From left) Billy Jones, Jessie Tidball, David Michael Fox, Lucy Myrtue and Jenny Holm star in Theatrix's Melancholy Play, which will be performed at the Region V KCACTF.

The Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film will be hosting more than 1,500 students and faculty from more than 70 colleges and universities from around the region at the Region V Kennedy Center/American College Theater Festival Jan. 20-26 in Lincoln. It’s their first time hosting the festival in about 10 years.

Region V covers North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota and Iowa. UNL will host the Region V festival in both 2013 and 2014.

“Region V is the largest geographical region and because Lincoln is in the center of our region, attendance will be great,” said Brad Buffum, production manager for the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film and festival coordinator.

Filling nearly four hotels downtown, participants will provide an economic boost to Lincoln.

“It’s like when the Thespian Festival is here in the summer, only they won’t be eating in the dorms. They’ll be supporting downtown establishments,” Buffum said. “I can’t imagine it won’t be a huge boon for downtown Lincoln for a week in January.”

The KCACTF is a gathering of students and faculty from universities who are interested in theater to share ideas and view one another’s work. In addition to performances and competitions, there is a wide range of activities that include workshops and seminars on topics such as playwriting, auditioning, set design and more. More than 18,000 students participate nationwide, including eight regional festivals and a network of more than 600 academic institutions.

“It’s important for our students to see the work of their peers at institutions that surround us and to meet and interact with other people who are pursuing the same thing they are pursuing,” said Paul Steger, director of the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film. “I remember meeting people at the festival I attended in graduate school and seeing their work continually over the course of the years. There’s a core group of people that you end up meeting, working with and remaining in contact with. It’s a great way for students to build continuous job placement opportunities.”

One of the events at the festival is the Irene Ryan Scholarship auditions for actors. Last year there were around 400 nominees, which eventually get whittled down to 16 finalists by the end of the week. Two from each region then get invited to the Kennedy Center in April for the national festival.

Likewise, costume, scenic, lighting, props, directing, dramaturgy, playwriting and stage management all have events.

“Really every concentration has national opportunities that arise from being promoted from the regional festival,” Buffum said.

Last year, Nikki Kelly (B.F.A. 2012) was the regional recipient of the National Stage Management Fellowship in Region V. In 2010, Shannon Cameron (M.F.A. 2011) was recipient of the Directors and Choreographers Society Directing Fellowship.

Around 4-5 full productions from the region will be performed during the festival, including Theatrix’s “Melancholy Play.”

“The invited productions are responded to by nationally recognized theatre professionals, who can give the students honest, unbiased feedback,” Buffum said. “It’s also an opportunity for the students in our region to see the work of their peers.”

Other activities include a Design, Technology and Management Expo, which will take place in the Lied Commons.

“The Lied Commons will be full during the Design and Technologies Expo, where designers from all over the region, who have been invited to participate, will show their designs,” Buffum said. “And some of them will be magnificent.”

Lincoln provides nearly an ideal location for the festival.

“The host hotel is across the street from all the venues. Across the street the other way is downtown,” Buffum said. “We have five theatres we are using within a block.”

It’s also a chance for the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film to show off their renovated facilities in the Temple Building, made possible by the donations from UNL alum Johnny Carson in 2004-2005.

Attendance at all events is by registration to the conference only. For more information, visit: http://go.unl.edu/lincolnkcactf.

More details at: http://go.unl.edu/lincolnkcactf