Students go to national theatre conference

By Murphy Obershaw, Copy Editor

Professor Mark Mannette and seven theatre students attended the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, last week.

Anyone could register for this week long theater festival, but some people were chosen to come and not only attend also compete in the competition for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship.

Matthew Clark and Rebekah Lipinski qualified for the scholarship competition part of this festival because of their performances in “The Winter’s Tale.”  Roo Rusk and Lucas Farney qualified because of their performances in “The Dark at the Top of the Stairs.”

Each of the qualifiers were allowed to take a performance partner.  Clark and Rusk each partnered with Allison Williams, Farney partnered with Brenden Schwartz, and Lipinski partnered with Austin Schwartz.

Though none of the teams advanced past the preliminaries, Clark said that the responders, people in charge of giving feedback, said really good things about the different Newman pairs’ performances.

Clark said that along with the competition, the week was also filled with different workshops, shows, musicals, and play readings.  The workshops included topics such as playwriting, choreography, acting, etc.

Clark said they learned a lot from these workshops, and they have helped prepare them for everything that is coming up in the theatre department this semester.

“We’re all just so ready.  We have this new information, this new motivation to proceed in directing and acting and writing, and really honing our crafts.  And I think that’s sort of what the experience was all about,” he said.

Rusk was sick during the festival, so she was unable to compete.  However, she still took the opportunity to enjoy the other events the festival was offering since she was already registered.

“I would go to shows, and I would go to workshops and stuff.  I was not going to just sit out on the whole thing.  I just didn’t want to be like coughing during my audition.  It’s like it’s not worth trying to power through and know I’m not going to advance just because of this,” Rusk said.

Rusk said that being there at the festival is the important part, not competing.

There was one major drawback from the trip and that was the cold weather, Rusk said.

“The whole time, everyone kept kind of clinging to the idea that, ‘Okay, at least it’s not North Dakota’...I think the warmest it got was maybe in the 30s, but other than that it would be like in the negatives,” she said.

Overall, Clark said he found this trip enriching.

“The week was a very surreal experience and it proved how powerful theater as an art form is...and it really made me think about how right I was when I took the decision to start studying Theater and English and the arts in general,” he said.

PHOTO: Courtesy Photo, Lucas Farney