Students shine at annual Kennedy Festival
Victoria Bresnahan – General Assignment Reporter
The only short come of theatre is time cannot be stopped, or at least that is what JT McLoughlin said when describing his award-winning sound design performance at the annual Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF).
“It’s tough because we are presenting at a festival,” said McLoughlin, senior and double major in communications and theatre. “You’ve [only] got a minute to talk [in the first round].”
According to its website, KCACTF is an annual competition which welcomes 20,000 students nationwide. The website stated the KCACTF recognizes students through awards and scholarships in playwriting, acting, dramatic criticism, directing, and design.
As a sound designer, McLoughlin said his presentation consisted of exhibiting audio he had created for “Stop Kiss”—a play performed at the Lyman Center during the Fall 2017 semester.
After winning the second round of the competition, McLoughlin will now progress to the national round held in Washington D.C. this April. He will be representing the Northeast as he presents his audio again.
“[My presentation] relied a lot on describing what I did and my intentions,” said McLoughlin. “I think that is what got me in.”
McLoughlin said it would mean a lot to him if he wins the national competition. Regardless of the outcome, McLoughlin said he would like to attend the festival again next year.
“[In] this [show] I was a part of the story; I was a part of the narrative,” said McLoughlin.
Theatre professor Michael Skinner said 14 students attended the Kennedy Festival and overall the group did wonderful. Skinner said three students received Merit Awards, in addition to McLoughlin advancing to nationals.
“The last person we sent to nationals for sound design was me when I was a student in 2006,” said Skinner. “So, it’s come full circle for me.”
Skinner said the students could always be more prepared when competing in this competition. Some of the students, such as those from ‘Stop Kiss’ only had a month to prepare, he said.
“They do very good jobs and I am proud of them,” said Skinner. “But I always want them to work a little harder. I thought we represented the school very well.”
Olivia Davenport, junior and sociology major, performed two scenes at KCACTF and said the energy of the event was fun, but also scary.
“You would think it would be a competitive feeling being around everyone you are competing with,” said Davenport, a theatre minor. “It was just more fun. Everyone was really nice to each other and supportive.”
Davenport performed two scenes with her partner Steven Belli—one was a romantic encounter and the other a British farce. Davenport said they were competing in the Irene Ryan Scholarship and were the only ones to make it to the second round from that category.
“I feel like a lot of us did not take it seriously because you go into it thinking ‘I am probably not going to win,’” said Davenport. “One of my best friends actually won the singing competition. So, then you open your eyes and say, ‘Oh wow I could win this if I actually put in all this effort.’”
If Davenport returns to the Kennedy Festival next year, she said she wants to practice more and keep an optimistic attitude towards how far she could progress in the competition.
“It is really good experience for theatre people,” said Davenport.
Photo Courtesy: Brook Tollefson