Whittier College’s Theater Department just returned from the region eight Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCATCF) held in Mesa, Arizona. Accompanied by theatre departments from Arizona, Central and Southern California, Hawaii, Southern Nevada, and Utah. The festival has offered numerous educational and scholarship offers for 46 years. The opportunities for theatre students also include scholarships as well as many performance options with in-festival productions and once-in-a-lifetime workshops put on by countless prestigious companies, such as Cirque Du Soleil.
The festival offers a scholarship called the Irene Ryan award, which gives 16 regional and two national awards annually. This year’s Whittier nominees included senior Jocelyn Lopez, juniors Ruben Sanchez, Gunner Joachim, and Cristian Perez, sophomore Oliver Bineth, and first-year Lauren Estrada. The festival also provides opportunities for faculty, as Whittier College’s own Associate Professor of Acting and Directing Department of Theatre and Communication Arts Gil Gonzalez is the KCACTF region eight chair.
In addition to this, a scene from Whittier College’s fall production The Good Person Of Sichuan, directed by Jennifer Holmes, was invited to be showcased at the festival. The actors featured in the scene were Jocelyn Lopez, Ruben Sanchez, Alyse James, Oliver Bineth, Nikki Knupp, Jacob Shore, Cristian Perez, Jourdan Zelaya, Jessica McCollum, Samantha Paladini, Oscar Nova, Gerard Power, Sydney Summers, and Stephee Bonifacio.
Not only does KCACTF present opportunities for actors but there are tech based workshops such as handling lights, creating costumes, and building sets and competitions as well. Senior Mimi RuthStiver was awarded honorable mention for her dramaturgical work researching the historical, pop culture, and time-period components or references within a play on Dollhouse, and sophomore Charlotte Quarrie presented her lighting design for The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged.
“It was a great way to network and meet new people,” Quarrie said about the festival as a whole. “I was able to see what people in my industry were doing and was able to learn about future careers in a more in-depth manner. I was able to connect with both students and members of the working community.”
Lopez went on to be awarded an internship in Washington D.C for her incredible artistic work in the Arts Administration category. Sophomore Sydney Summers reflected on the experience and said, “I thought it was chock-full of interesting opportunities and learning experiences. It was great to connect with so many people who share the same passion for theater but have completely different life views and techniques and acting styles.”
Whittier College certainly had a successful run in Arizona this year, and the faculty and students could not be more excited for continued endeavors at next year’s festival.