While most students spent the weekend before the start of winter quarter preparing for their classes, I spent it packing. During the first week of the quarter, I only spent one day in Kalamazoo before heading to Indianapolis for the 2018 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.
The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) is a national theatre festival that allows theatre departments and students from over 600 academic institutions throughout the country to showcase their work. (Kalamazoo College is a member of Region III, which includes schools from Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.) In addition to attending panels, workshops, and productions, students can enter competitions related to different areas of theatre (performance, technical, etc.). Many Kalamazoo College students have earned recognition for their participation in these events: Grace Gilmore ’15 won the regional Irene Ryan Award (for Performance) in 2015, Lindsay Worthington ’17 won the regional award for “Best Sound” (in the “Theatrical Design Excellence” category) in both 2015 and 2016 (for her work on Peer Gynt and Carrie: The Musical, respectively), and Jane Huffman ’15 placed first in the “Critics” category at the National Level in 2014.
This year was my third year attending KCACTF, and each time it has been one of the highlights (if not the highlight) of my winter quarter. Our professors warned those of us in attendance that we would be exhausted by the end of the week, but I didn’t mind the early mornings and late nights, for they allowed me to fully enjoy every minute of my time in Indianapolis. I spent the week attending workshops (ranging from “On Camera Acting/Auditioning Technique” and “NYC For You And Me” to “LED Tape; A Designer’s Journey” and “Life After Graduation”), auditioning, networking, and watching shows that other schools had brought to the Festival. Not only did I bond with the other Kalamazoo College students at the Festival, I became friends with other theatre students from programs throughout the Midwest (and have remained in contact with many of them since coming back to K). I even reconnected with a girl whom I had not seen since we performed in a show together at age thirteen; now both seniors in college, we had a fantastic time catching each other up on the adventures we’ve had while pursuing the art that we both love.
Though I dreaded the end of the week, the conference ended in the most wonderful way possible: I had the opportunity to watch some of my closest friends showcase their talents onstage at the University of Indianapolis’ Ransburg Auditorium. Having been cast in an off-campus show that conflicted with the Festival Playhouse of Kalamazoo College’s production of Fun Home, I hadn’t been able to see the show this past November, when it was originally staged at the College. Needless to say, I was ecstatic when the news broke that Fun Home received an invitation to perform at this year’s KCACTF, because I finally had a chance to see it! The show exceeded my expectations—I was in tears at the end, both overwhelmed at the power of the story and bursting with Kalamazoo College pride/love for the department that has been my home four the past four years. I wasn’t the only one who felt that way; I saw many other audience members wiping tears from their faces after the show, representatives from the Festival awarded the company of Fun Home won the “Golden Handtruck” (which recognizes the production that had the most organized load-in/load-out at the festival).
I would be lying if I said that coming back to Kalamazoo after such an incredible week wasn’t difficult, but I also returned to campus feeling reinvigorated, and excited for everything taking place in the Theatre Arts Department during my final two quarters at the school. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend my last KCACTF, and highly encourage all students who are interested in theatre to attend KCACTF at some point during their four years at Kalamazoo College.
Lauren Landman ‘18