Senior Shelby Vander Molen, along with several other Northwestern College theater students, visited the University of Nebraska-Lincoln January 20th through the 26th. They competed at the Region V Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, or KCACTF, receiving 14 certificates of commendation.
Vander Molen, a theater and writing major at NW, was a finalist as a critic and will move on to the national stage at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., in April.
Vander Molen’s original play “Some Five Women” was also selected for presentation at a regional competition.
“I think what surprised me more than how well it turned out was that people wanted to work on my script as a production,” Vander Molen said. “That was just something that blew my mind.”
The KCACTF is a nationwide organization that invites only the top productions and theater crews to perform and/or compete in different festival activities. Region V includes seven Midwestern states. NW was invited over all universities in the seven state region to participate in this event.
Vander Molen received an award for playwriting for “Some Five Women,” her first full-length play. She thinks critiquing her own work would be very difficult.
“It would be really hard for me to think of things that are bad about our production,” Vander Molen said.
Junior Sheric Hull received an award for first-time display and most promising light designer for his help with “Some Five Women.”
“One thing I think is special about our production is that people say ‘Who came up with this idea?’ and we say ‘Well, kind of all of us,’” Vander Molen said. “I think that was really a strength for us.”
NW students received a record number of commendations at the festival in several different categories, led by Hull and Vander Molen.
Dr. Robert Hubbard, professor and chairman of the theater department, and the rest of the staff took on more “cheerleader” roles in the preparing and producing of “Some Five Women” which was completely student-led and student-acted, save for two older community members in the cast.
Hubbard was pleased with the results and impressed with Vander Molen’s work as a writer.
“I thought it was a beautiful play,” Hubbard said. “I thought it was rich and incredibly elegantly written, and I think Shelby has a real future as a writer. It’s not a traditional play. Instead of working toward a single climax, it’s cyclical. It was really beautifully done.”