December 07, 2006

SIUC playwrights gain high profile at festival

by Sun Min

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale playwrights will take center stage at one of the nation's premier theater events.

SIUC student playwrights penned four of the six one-act plays selected for reading at the regional Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, set for Jan. 9 in Milwaukee.

The festival is a theater program involving 18,000 students from more than 600 colleges and universities nationwide. Each year, regional festivals showcase the finest of each region's entered productions and offer a variety of activities, including workshops, symposia and regional-level award programs.

This year, judges singled out four SIUC playwriting students in the one-act play category: Thomas Michael Campbell of Arvada, Colo. (9546 W. 74th Way) for "Risata, Sciocco . . .Risata;" Michael A. Rose of Minot, N.D. (909 19th Ave. S.W.) for "Skinless; Boneless;" Randall Colburn of Rochester Hills, Mich. (926 Langley Road) for "Svetlana" and Laramie Dean of Missoula, Mont. (2020 Trail St.) for "We Are Not Monsters." Colburn's "Ravishment" was also selected as a standout in the 10-minute play competition.

"We are very proud of them," said Mark K. Varns, chair of the theater department, part of the College of Liberal Arts at SIUC. "It is dedicated students like these that continue to place our playwriting program prominently. We must be doing something right!"

Since its inception, the festival has given more than 400,000 college theater students the opportunity to have their work critiqued, to improve their dramatic skills and receive national recognition for excellence. More than 16 million theatergoers have attended approximately 10,000 festival productions nationwide.

"It's a great opportunity to get your work reviewed by a wide audience," said Colburn who attributes his success to SIUC's theater program.

"SIU Theater has always made playwriting an integral part of our production programs," Varns said. "Our students receive ample opportunity to hone their talents not only as playwrights but as creative collaborators in other areas of the discipline. Of course, Dr. David Rush, head of the playwriting program, deserves much credit for this success as well not only as advocate and mentor for our graduate playwrights but by example as well, through his own work as a playwright."

Promoting excellence in undergraduate and graduate academics is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.