In January, 26 Valpo students, accompanied by four faculty mentors, traveled to Indianapolis to compete in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) regional event. Represented in a multitude of KCACTF competitive categories, students received top recognition in many areas, with some students advancing to the national competition, held April 16–22, 2017.

Founded in 1969, the KCACTF is a theatre program involving 20,000 students annually from colleges and universities nationwide, which encourages and celebrates the finest theatrical productions. Through this festival, students have the opportunity to submit their work and receive critiques, developing the caliber of university theatre programs throughout the United States.

This year Valparaiso University students presented and competed in acting, design, stage management, musical theatre, playwriting, and devised theatre, where a new work is developed collaboratively by the performers. In the acting competition, Chris Gierymski ’17 and Daniel Ferenczi ’17 were both recognized for their outstanding performances, becoming the first Valpo students to place in the semi-finals and advance to the final round. Valpo students were further honored as one of only three groups selected to perform their devised theatre piece at the regional festival. And, three of the limited group of 25 chosen to perform in the dance portion of the cabaret were Valpo students.

Acknowledged for their set and lighting design work on “God of Carnage,” Allison Granat ’18 and Rachel Borgo ’17 were among the 24 who advanced to the finals in the design, technology, and management competition. Allison and Ethan Gasbarro ’17 both competed in the finals for their regional design projects, with Allison becoming the first Valpo student to advance to the national competition for her scenic design in “Slaughter City.”

Unlike any previous Valpo student, the playwriting competition saw Allison finish seventh out of 127 for her 10-minute play and Michelé Strachota ’18 advance to the national competition, finishing first amongst 33 for her one-act, “Sloppy Seconds.”

The accolades were not limited to the students as Ann Kessler, MFA, theatre department chair and professor, received the Faculty Service Award, with one participant recognized annually per state.

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