December 21, 2007

Students to compete in regional theater festival

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale theater students will represent the University at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Region III Festival in Milwaukee, Wis., from Jan. 8 through Jan. 13.

The festival, now in its 40th year, welcomes about 1,500 students and faculty for a week highlighting performances, workshops, symposiums and scholarship opportunities. This festival is one of eight regional festivals taking place in January and February.

A handful of productions compete at the regional festival for the honor of being performed in the national festival, which is held at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D. C., in the spring. SIUC is one of those with a featured performance. The entry is "dREAMtRIPPIN'" by recent SIUC graduate Thomas Campbell (Arvada, Colo.). This year's regional festival is not Campbell's first time in the spotlight. As an undergraduate, he saw his play "Blind Date Gone Good" go on from the regional to the national festival. This year, "dREAMtRIPPIN'" was part of the summer production schedule at the prestigious New York City-based new play venue, the HB Playwrights Foundation. Campbell describes "dREAMtRIPPIN'" as a "comical and surreal trip through the hits and misses of new relationships as two colleagues travel together cross-country and into one another's dreams."

SIUC Assistant Professor Susan Patrick Benson directs 'dREAMtRIPPIN'" at the regional festival. The short play features Lee Trovillion, a senior in cinema and photography from Simpson, and Rachel Goffinet, a senior in theater from Hurst.

The featured play competes with others from DePaul University, Hope College, Marquette University, Michigan State University, North Central College, University of Toledo, Western Michigan University and Wisconsin Lutheran University.

Three other playwrights from SIUC are part of the festival's play-writing competitions. They are: graduate student Steven Ackerman, from Kernersville, N.C.; Randall Colburn, a graduate student in theater from Rochester Hills, Mich.; and recent graduate Laramie Dean from Missoula, Mont.

Ellen Conn, a junior from Neoga, will compete for the Irene Ryan (Acting) Scholarship. A total of 16 regional and two national scholarships go out each year. The regional scholarships are $500, while the national scholarships are $3,500 each. There are eight regions.

Assistant Professor J. Thomas Kidd said nomination for the Irene Ryan Scholarship is an honor itself, as is having a featured performance at the regional festival.

"This is not a competition per se like an athletic competition, but it is an honor to be chosen," he said. "The goal of the festival is for college theater departments to share what they are doing and to recognize what is outstanding."

Also attending the festival from SIUC are graduate student David Schneider, senior Aaron Clark and David Rush, professor of theater.