By Jessica Joy Laursen, ’17
Seven St. Bonaventure University students and their theater professors attended the Region II Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) at Cleveland State University in Ohio from Jan. 2 through Jan. 6.
KCACTF is a nation-wide program that provides opportunities and workshops for university theater students to improve theater skills and compete for acting and technical scholarships.
Students had the opportunity to enter their work for a chance to receive an acting scholarship, receive feedback on projects they produced, and see shows put on by other colleges and universities in Region II, which covers Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Northwest New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.
Rebecca Misenheimer, associate professor in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts at SBU, has attended the festival 10 times and chaperoned this year’s trip, along with the director of the theater program, Dr. Ed. Simone.
“Our students don’t have many opportunities to see and interact with other theater students,” Misenheimer said, “Our students realized that their training is comparable to that of other programs.”
St. Bonaventure theater majors Lea Battaglia, a senior from Seneca Falls, N.Y., Victoria Lanzillo, a senior from Victor, N.Y., and Chernice Miller, a junior from Brooklyn, N.Y., attended the festival, along with theater minor Bryce Spadafora, a freshman from Shortsville, N.Y., and SBU theater participants Clarissa Ahumada-Aubert, a sophomore from Blasdell, N.Y., Whitney Downard, a junior from Vestal, N.Y., and Nathan Cass, a sophomore from Toledo, Ohio. Lanzillo, Battaglia and Downard were entered in the Irene Ryan acting competition; Spadafora and Ahumada-Aubert were their scene partners.
Cass entered the “Allied Design and Craft” competition, which includes a broad range of students who worked with projection, scenic art, technical direction and more. Cass presented his sculpting and scene painting work from the SBU Theater production “Dancing at Lughnasa.”
In his presentation, Cass discussed the process of creating various scenic elements for the production, including how paints, textures and tools were used, and he received feedback on his presentation. Cass won the USITT Chesapeake Region Award. The award comes with a scholarship to attend the United States Institute for Theater Technology National Conference in March.
“I was highly critical of myself,” said Cass. He and the other students were not expecting this award, but his classmates were overjoyed to see Cass run to the stage to receive it. The students responded saying “it was really cool,” and they were proud to bring home an award to share with the St. Bonaventure community.
“It’s always wonderful to see our students achieve in both technical theater and performance,” said Simone. “They create theater together in a supportive and rewarding ensemble. That’s always our goal.”
Misenheimer looks at this experience as a “chance to learn from other theater professors and professionals,” and she looks forward to taking another group of students next year.
For more information on KCACTF Region II, please visit KCACTF2.org.
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. We are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition. Our students are becoming extraordinary.
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