55th Annual KCACTF

This past week, I had gotten to experience an event I have not gotten to attend since my freshman year: KCACTF. KCACTF stands for Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. The University of Jamestown is part of the Midwestern region, Region 5, which includes the states of North Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Dakota, with there being eight regions in total in the United States. The festival has been in the running for 55 years, and includes a myriad of events, from other universities putting on their own shows, acting, technical, and directing classes, informational seminars about careers in theater, and so much more.

Some of my favorite events was a Stella Adler acting workshop. Stella Adler was a foundational actor who created her own workshop that anyone could attend, and her school has been running for over 60 years. The class included participation and lecture, discussing how the best way to act is to play pretend and to not use your own emotions to express, as that can be harmful to your own emotions. The goal should be to put on a believable performance and be able to walk off the stage feeling like you were before you stepped out to begin with.

In total, I saw seven different performances, all with a fantastic crew of actors, effects, stagehands, and directing. The show that stood out from the rest was an emotional piece called “Wounded Healers”, a poetic performance depicting and journeying through the struggles of Black men and women since being forced into America as slaves. The emotion, passion, and pain of these young actors were palpable, but the show ended on a positive note, saying that the healing is not done, but that the people who have laid down their lives for the new generation to get where they are now will never be forgotten, and we will never forget their names. Truly an awe-inspiring piece. And to add to the power of the piece, the performance was written, directed, and the music was all under the same person, Timothy Barry, the vice president for faculty affairs and equity initiatives at Minnesota State Mankato.

After reading this article as a current/prospective student, you may be wondering “do I have to be involved in theater productions to go?” The answer is simple: nope! Anyone is encouraged to come along! Regardless of major, year, or involvement in theater, it is a fun and enriching experience for everyone. The 56th Annual KCACTF will be during the week of January 14th-19th in Des Moines, IA. The registration fee is $80, and the room fee is TBD based on fundraising, and the number of people attending.

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