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Students take deeper dive into theatre at regional festival

MONMOUTH, Ill. – Each year, the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival showcases the finest in university theatre across the nation, and Monmouth College students were once again a part of it.

Led by theatre professors Doug Rankin and Todd Quick, 11 students participated in the 52nd annual Region 3 festival, which was held Jan. 7-12 in Madison, Wis. Monmouth students interacted with and competed against students from other colleges in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Through eight regional festivals plus the national festival in Washington, D.C., the festival celebrates artistic excellence and offers students individual recognition through awards and scholarships in playwriting, acting, dramatic criticism, theatre management, directing and design.

Monmouth students Amelia Chavez ’21 of Chicago and Allie Bryan ’22 of Abingdon, Ill., took part in the Irene Ryan Acting competition; Elliot Grady ’23 of Plainfield, Ill., presented his costume designs for She Kills Monsters; and Rebekkah Gebe ’21 of Sandwich, Ill., presented her stage management for A Child’s Christmas in Wales.

Quick responded to several Irene Ryan auditions and led the “Shakespeare on Your Feet” workshop. Rankin was also a responder, assisting with the design competition.

Much of Melanie Delbridge’s time was taken by the one-act play Displace, which won an award at the festival.

“I attended the production meetings and director cohort meetings, auditions and casting and then had three scheduled rehearsals as well as performances,” said the sophomore from Galesburg, Ill. “I also attended the other staged readings and spent time chatting with the playwrights and directors.”

Delbridge said interacting with other theatre students from across the region was a highlight of the festival, particularly an international student she met.

“Most exciting to me was working with a playwright from the United Arab Emirates and learning about the plight of refugees in Europe,” said Delbridge. “As a director, I think the most important thing I took away from the conference was a discussion that the playwright, Zoha, and I had with our actors discussing using actors that were not from the culture they were representing and how Zoha felt about it representing the story she had written.”

Gabriela Madu ’23 of Montego Bay, Jamaica, said seeing a staging of Lauren Gunderson’s comedy The Revolutionists was a highlight of the festival for her, and she also enjoyed Quick’s workshop, a hip-hop workshop and a performance of American Griot. In April, a production of The Revolutionists will be staged by the College in Wells Theater, directed by theatre professor Vanessa Campagna.

Added Molly Wintermute ’22 of Oswego, Ill., “I went to multiple workshops, saw performances and engaged in conversations with people I wouldn’t have otherwise met.”