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Grissom brings home top directing prize from festival; Rankin honored

Barry McNamara
Doug Rankin and Amanda Grissom
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MONMOUTH, Ill. – A Monmouth College student and faculty member brought home awards from the regional Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, held earlier this month in Madison, Wis.

Amanda Grissom ’19 of Eldridge, Iowa, won the Best Director Award for the event’s 10-Minute Play Festival. Theatre professor Doug Rankin was honored with the 2019 Region 3 Faculty Service Award of Illinois for his many years of service to KCACTF.

Before winning her event, Grissom first had to be selected to be a participant in the competition. Only six directors were chosen from the five-state region.

“This was my third time participating in KCACTF, but my first time doing so as a director,” she said. “I was very honored to even be chosen as a director because of how many applying directors there can be.”

The competition features short plays written by students, so part of Grissom’s experience was working with a playwright on a new piece of work, Fourth Date by Anusha Bansal.

“I loved getting to meet people from all over our region and work with them on a new piece,” she said. “When I heard my name called as the top director in my region, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride and love for my school. Without the experiences I’ve had at Monmouth, I know I wouldn’t have been able to be so successful.”

Grissom participated in several KCACTF events. She was one of five Monmouth students nominated for Irene Ryan Acting Awards who competed at the festival. Others were Amelia Chavez ’21 of Chicago, Terry Harris ’19 of Chicago, Noah Harshbarger ’21 of Cameron, Ill. and Miles Rose ’19 of Princeton, Ill.

Grissom and Natalie Curtis ’18 of Arlington Heights, Ill., presented their scenic designs as part of the Design, Technology, and Management Theatrical Design Excellence national competition. Grissom’s design was from the College’s production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, while Curtis’s entry was from The Pitchfork Disney.

Grissom also participated as an actor in the Next Step Auditions, allowing graduating seniors a chance to audition for professional theatre companies from across the Midwest.

In all, 12 Monmouth students, ranging from seniors to freshmen, traveled to the festival.

“They all enjoyed attending a variety of featured productions, as well as attending performance, design/tech and pedagogical workshops taught by faculty and guest artists from the region,” said Rankin.

One of those performance workshops, titled “Jump Rope Acting,” was presented by Monmouth theatre professor Todd Quick