December 21, 2010

Festival to include SIUC playwrights’ creations

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Department of Theater at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will represent the University at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival early next month.

Two plays written by SIUC playwrights are among those invited to the Region III conference, which will take place Jan. 4-8, 2011, at Michigan State University in Lansing.

The plays are, “Everywhere You Look,” a full-length play by Jeff Nichols, a graduate student from Liverpool, N.Y., and “Unser Zuverlassiges Haus,” a short play by Kiri Palm, a 2010 baccalaureate graduate from Normal. Nichols’ play was part of the SIUC New Play Festival in November of this year.

James T. Kidd, associate professor of directing and acting, noted that participation in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival is not only an honor but also the highpoint for collegiate theater recognition.

“It’s the one thing we look to for recognition of our department and our students,” he said. “It’s a festival, and so there is an element of competition, but it is also where we are seen by other colleges in several states. We have a high profile in our region, especially in playwriting and also in dramaturgy.”

Both plays will be presented as full productions, Kidd said, adding that to bring two full productions in one year is an honor.

“Each year, there are eight to 10 plays performed at the regional festival. This year, we are two of those plays,” he said. “Though productions of our original short plays are almost always invited to participate in the festival, this is the first year a full-length play has been invited in many years.”

In addition to the full cast of each production, several SIUC students will participate in other elements of the festival, including acting and dramaturgy.

In addition to the two full productions, other SIUC theater students will be part of the regional conference. Kidd noted that SIUC theater students typically make a good showing at the festival, and in recent years, several have gone on to the national festival in Washington, D.C.