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Cornish Actors Cruise to KCACTF Regionals on First Go-Round

Cornish Actors Cruise to KCACTF Regionals on First Go-Round

: Courtesy Cornish College of the Arts.

This year’s Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival included, for the very first time, students from Cornish. Mark it down as a success.

PICTURE: (l-r) Leila Jacobson, Kayla Walker, Benjamin Wippel, Michael Feldman at ACTF Regionals in Sacramento, Calif.; photo by Jan Hubert.

This week, for the first time in its history, the Cornish College of the Arts theater department participated in the regional meeting of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF). Traveling to Sacramento, Calif., for the Regionals, Cornish’s first effort has to be counted as a success.

In acting, seniors Michael Feldman and Ben Wippel advanced to competition for the prestigious Irene Ryan scholarship award. They were nominated to attend based on their work in Cornish’s production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. In the playwriting competition, junior Leila Jacobson entered her play, Shades of Blue.

The Irene Ryan competition was fierce, pitting 254 actors from 9 northwestern states, including Washington, Oregon, Northern California and Colorado. When the dust settled after the first round, Feldman, with his scene partner, alumna Kayla Walker [TH ’12], had advanced to the semifinal round of 33. After this round, came the waiting. At last the final round of 16 was announced, and it didn’t include a Cornish student — this year.

“Although they did not go through to the final round of 16 … we are all very proud of their achievement and talent,” says Jan Hubert, Cornish theater resident producer, who accompanied the students to Sacramento. “Michael, Kayla and Ben all received extremely positive feedback on their work.”

Hubert adds that, as a result of their work in the Irene Ryans, all three were invited to audition for professional companies. These included an invitation to Kayla Walker to try out for the prestigious apprenticeship program at the Actors Theatre of Louisville.

Leila Jacobson made some waves among the young playwrights presented at the KCACTF. Students were invited to submit 10-minute plays with western themes. Her play, Shades of Blue, received a public reading and a positive response from theater professionals. As a result of this, the play will receive a professional reading in April at the Seattle Repertory Theatre and a production in Tacoma has been discussed. Publication is also on the horizon.

The KCACTF, formerly known as the ACTF, has for many years been the pinnacle of academic theater accomplishment. Participating students are first selected to compete at one of eight regions nationally,” writes the KCACTF. “The regional, or in some instances the state, festival is a gathering of people to see one another’s work and to share ideas. In addition to performances, there are a wide range of activities that in the past have included workshops and seminars on such topics as playwriting, auditioning, voice, movement, stage combat, theater for children, scene painting, scenery construction, and so on.”


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