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GC hosts Kennedy Center theatre festival

GC hosts Kennedy Center theatre festival

Grayson College is hosting the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) Texas I State Festival Oct. 14-17. GC and five other colleges will present their plays in Cruce Stark Auditorium, located on the college’s Main Campus in Denison.

           “This is the college’s first time to host the festival although Grayson students have directly benefited from KCACTF for more than 20 years in the form of skill development and scholarships,” said Robin Robinson, GC theatre director. “We have such a beautiful facility, and we have a really good group of students who are capable of doing what’s required to host a festival of this significance.”

            The GC event is one of only two state festivals in Texas. The second takes place in late October at San Jacinto Community College in Houston. Winners from these state festivals advance to the KCACTF Region 6 competition in February at Angelo State University in San Angelo. Region 6 includes participants from Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas. Region 6 winners advance to KCACTF’s national event in April 2016 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

            During the state festival at GC, each college presents their full-length plays and KCACTF respondents (judges) meet with each company to give them a critique. Respondents, in collaboration with  KCACTF Region 6 committee members in attendance, then recommend one or more productions to be considered to move on to the region festival.

            In addition to the productions as a whole, individual awards are given as well. Three students per play are selected to receive the Irene Ryan Acting Award, and they advance to regional competition.  Other awards are given for playwriting (scripts of original plays), technical and design elements, ensemble acting, and other categories as determined by the respondents and committee members.

            The festival also includes acting and technical workshops for student participants only.  Workshops include: Broadway dance, vector works (computer-assisted designs), how to create and build 3-D models for set designs, production portfolios (building a visual resume), how to design for a whole season, acting technique (ways to approach acting), film acting, and how to “cut” Shakespeare (directing and cutting scenes to shorten length).

            “I love KCACTF because it gives our students an opportunity to network with other students and faculty of other colleges. They see how other companies do things,” Robinson said. “Awards are significant because students are recognized for excellence in their craft, but it really is a festival more than a competition – a way for artists to gather and learn from each other. They’re going to learn so much.”

            The experience of working with the other colleges, hosting the event and competing in the festival as individual artists and as a company makes this an educational event, which is part of the mission of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Because the festival attracts theater departments from community colleges and four-year institutions across Texas and the United States, it allows Grayson College theatre students to network with other schools, develop their acting and technical skills, be exposed to all genres of theatre, and gain attention to earn scholarships to four-year institutions.

            Performances are open to the public (see ticket prices below), but the plays are for mature audiences only. Audiences see how six different colleges approach productions and what they’re doing with their students on their campuses. They are full-length plays and each school will have four hours to load their sets and lighting.

            “The festival is not for children. It’s designed for adults in the community who want to come and enjoy a challenging experience – those who want to come to the theatre to think,” Robinson said. “Everybody in the festival wants everyone else participating to succeed because good theatre encourages people to GO to theater.”

            Festival performances are schedules as follows:

  • Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. “Our Country’s Good” by Grayson College
  • Oct. 14 at 9:45 p.m. “Hamlet” by Southeastern Oklahoma State University (a “traveling trunk” production designed to be minimal)
  • Oct. 15 at noon “Chemical Imbalance” by North Central Texas College
  • Oct. 15 at 8 p.m. “Keeping Abreast” by Angelo State University (features an original script)
  • Oct. 16 at noon “The Love Song of J. Oppenheimer” by Sul Ross State University
  • Oct. 16 at 8 p.m. “Comes the Storm” by Richland College (features an original script)

            The festival is open to the public and anyone can attend the plays and critiques, although workshops are limited to festival participants only. Tickets are $5 per play or $15 for a festival pass for all shows. Admission is free for those with a GC ID. Group reservations are available. For more information about the festival or to make group reservations, contact the GC Theatre Department at 903-463-8609 or .