The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) is a gathering of schools, their theater departments and students from all around the country. Northwestern is part of the Midwest region and participates in this weeklong annual festival.
This mouthful of an organization invites collegiate-level theater students and participants of the fine arts to their geographic region where students and professors get to share work from their theater and celebrate with people in all walks of theater. This work can range from designs in lighting, sound, costumes, makeup, stage, projections, props and more. Students can enter their designs in a contest at the festival and thus show their work to many theatre lovers. There are even opportunities to enter an entire show into the festival, where it would all be showcased like a performance at their own college.
“They describe [KCACTF] as a week of summer camp for theater kids in the middle of winter,” said senior theatre major Becky Ochoa.
Junior Randyl Lynn Getz actively participates in theater as an actor, designer and crew member along with Ochoa. Getz is going to KCACTF specifically for the acting portion. The festival features acting awards called Irene Ryan nominations, named in honor of the actress who played Granny on the “Beverly Hillbillies” television show. Actors are recommended by theater professors at each school and by a respondent who is an administrative member of KCACTF. Respondents go to shows and give brief critiques. There are usually two nominations given out for each show performed.
Getz received the award for her role as a child fox in “Fantastic Mr. Fox” by Roald Dahl.
“I enjoy acting because you get to step into someone else’s life and express their person through your own interpretation,” Getz said.
As an actor, Getz had the opportunity to select a partner for competition at the festival, and she chose Ochoa.
Ochoa loves acting and designing for the theater. In fact, Ochoa entered her costume designs from the comedy “Museum” by Tina Howe and is anxious to present her work at the festival.
There are many different workshops in the realm of theater that take place during the festival, but different students prefer different ones.
“I like being able to verbally process the art with my friends,” Getz said.
Getz enjoys analyzing different designs and performances she sees and discussing how the artists justify their works.
Ochoa also enjoys the analytical aspect of the festival. She appreciates that KCACTF has opportunities for every realm of theater.
“I think every part of the production is important in its own way,” Ochoa said. “We need to encompass all of the work in the theater into one show, whether that would be scenic, costume, lighting or sound. They all need to work together to create a beautiful, whole production.”
The 20 students and three faculty members going to KCACTF will be leaving for Des Moines, Iowa, on Sunday, and staying there for the week.