A top-honors finish in a recent theatre regional event led Rebecca Chan ’22 to an even bigger stage in April.
Chan, a theatre major from Howell, Michigan, has returned from the week-long Kennedy Center American College Theatre National Festival in Washington, D.C., where she was one of only four students from around the country to participate in its Institute for Theatre Journalism Advocacy (ITJA) events. There, Chan engaged in a series of seminars with well-known journalists from publications such as the Washington Post, American Theatre and National Public Radio, focusing on theatre criticism and how it’s changing with technology.
The opportunity meant extending the experience she received at the regional festival in Madison, Wisconsin, where she wrote deadline-oriented critiques and responses about shows she watched each night. The event, which included students from across Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin, was where Chan received her first experiences in theatre journalism and became one of just eight students from around the country to earn top honors. From those eight students, four were chosen to attend nationals.
“I was taken aback by the opportunity,” Chan said. Before this year, “I didn’t have a background in journalism. This validated my experience from regionals on a second level. I felt really blessed to have the opportunity. The fact that the seminars sparked so much conversation was something I enjoyed. I loved to see people sorting through my ideas.”
Chan credited her theatre classes in her first year at K for helping her develop the skills that enabled her to write so successfully.
“I took three theatre courses involving fundamentals of acting, playwriting and stagecraft,” she said. “Those three prepared me to evaluate a lot of different things, including the technical aspects and structures of a play. They really bolstered what I was able to do.”
From there, Chan ensured she maintained her skills independently from the end of regionals until nationals.
“I made sure that I practiced writing every so often,” she said. “I wasn’t sure how to practice specifically for theater journalism, but I made sure I had a good foundation going.”
The ITJA aims to develop arts journalists who can advocate for excellence in the arts through a variety of media—web, print and broadcast. Chan was one of two first-year students selected to attend the national event among the four participating. The other two were seniors, including one from California who soon will pursue a Ph.D., and one from Missouri who majors in journalism.
“I liked having (the journalism major) in the room because she had that student perspective and she’s in the process of finding a job,” Chan said. “It was neat to be on an equal playing field with someone with so much experience in the field.”
Chan said she would like to pursue another opportunity with the Kennedy Center events in the future. As a first-year, she’s not certain which area of theatre will be her focus, but “journalism is another form of writing for me to play with and explore,” she said. “I like to stay open to possibilities.”