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44th Annual Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Lineup Announced

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts will host more than 120 outstanding theater students from colleges and universities across the nation as part of the 44th annual Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF), April 16-21, 2012.  In January and February of this year, these artists from eight regions presented their outstanding work and were selected to travel to Washington, D.C. for an expense-paid trip to participate in National Festival events taking place at the Kennedy Center.  

The National Festival will include Short Play Readings featuring the finalists of the John Cauble Award for Outstanding Short Play and the KCACTF Ten-Minute Play Award; public auditions for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarships; the opportunity for participants to take part in master classes and engage with colleagues from across the nation and the Washington, D.C. theater community; and a closing day ceremony for awards in production, directing, choreography, acting, writing, design, stage management, dramaturgy, and theater criticism. 

Developed by Roger L. Stevens, Kennedy Center Founding Chairman, KCACTF is dedicated to encouraging, recognizing, and celebrating the finest and most diverse work produced in college and university theater programs.  The eight regional festivals and national festival provide an opportunity for college and university theater departments to present their work, especially new or student-written work, and to receive outside assessment.  Since its establishment in 1969, KCACTF has reached all 50 states and almost 18 million theatergoers, students, and teachers nationwide.


The Short Play Readings include four of the national finalists of the John Cauble Award for Best Short Play and the National Finalists of KCACTF Ten-Minute Play Award.  Awards will be announced at the closing day awards ceremony at the Kennedy Center at noon on Saturday, April 21.

The John Cauble Short Play Awards Program 
This program recognizes outstanding one-act plays.  Four finalists have been selected to have their work showcased at the national festival at the Kennedy Center.  One playwright will be awarded a $500 prize.

2012 national finalists:

  • The Lost Slipper, by Amanda Newman, University of Missouri
  • Down by the Highway Side, by Lupe Flores, Texas State University-San Marcos
  • Honest to God, by J.C. Pankratz, DePauw University
  • White or The Musk Ox Play, by Jonathan Fitts, New York University

The KCACTF Ten-Minute Play Award
Approximately 120 student-written Ten-Minute Play submissions are received at each of the eight KCACTF Regional Festivals (totaling nearly 1,000 submissions).  Each of the eight regions will typically select only 10 playwrights to be showcased at the regional festival and a select few will be chosen as a national finalist.  One playwright will receive a cash award of $500.

2012 national finalists:

  • Starf*cker, by Adam Pasen, Western Michigan University
  • Unnamed Lands, by Nicholas Sawin, University of Missouri-Kansas City
  • Somewhere in Between, by Zdenka Turecek, Florida State University
  • Jars, by Brittany Taylor, Abilene Christian University


Short Play Reading Schedule


Wednesday, April 18, 4:00 p.m. Kennedy Center Family Theater (By Invitation Only)

Starf*cker by Adam Pasen, Western Michigan University

Featuring Jenna Sokolowski and Joe Brack


Honest to God by J.C. Pancratz, DePauw University

Featuring Melissa Flaim


The Lost Slipper by Amanda Newman, University of Missouri

Featuring Jenna Sokolowski, directed by Jessica Burgess


Down by the Highway Side by Lupe Flores, Texas State University-San Marcos

Featuring Michael Willis, directed by Jason King Jones


Thursday, April 19, 4:30 p.m. Kennedy Center Family Theater (By Invitation Only)

White or The Musk Ox Play by Jonathan Fitts, New York University

Featuring Frank Britton, Rick Foucheux, Michael Kramer and Jennifer Mendenhall

Directed by Colin Hovde


Thursday, April 19, 6:00 p.m. Millennium Stage (Free and Open to the Public)

Unnamed Lands by Nicholas Sawin, University of Missouri-Kansas City

Featuring Jim Holmes and Bobby Smith, directed by Shelly Elman


Somewhere in Between by Zdenka Turecek, Florida State University

Featuring Alejandro Rodriguez, directed by Rahaleh Nassri

Jars by Brittany Taylor, Abilene Christian University

Featuring Alejandro Rodriguez and Joe Brack, directed by Rahaleh Nassri

Scenes from A Swing of the Sea by Molly Hagan, Ohio University, premiered by Arcadia University, recipient of the Harold and Mimi Steinberg National Student Playwriting Award featuring Rana Kay.

The Irene Ryan Acting Scholarships provide recognition and financial assistance to outstanding student performers wishing to pursue further education and professional development.  Each year, up to 300 nominees audition at each of the eight regional festivals. Two performers and their scene partners from each region are invited to attend the National Festival to audition for the national scholarships.  Each of the 16 regional finalists receive a $500 scholarship and week-long, expense paid trip to the National Festival, where an adjudicating panel made up of artistic directors, actors, producers, and casting agents  view the audition presentations of monologues, scenes, and songs.  Two $3,000 scholarships will be awarded and scholarship finalists are also eligible for prestigious summer fellowships.  The national scholarships and performance awards will be announced at the end of the audition evening on Friday, April 20 in the Terrace Theater.

2012 finalists:

Owais Ahmed, assisted by Carlos Kmet, Illinois State University

Andrew Burnap, assisted by Benjamin Hill, University of Rhode Island

Anthony Cloyd, assisted by Celia Rivera, Santa Monica College

Kaitlyn Frotton, assisted by Jillian Carucci, Rider University

Jessica Hill, assisted by T.K. Habtemariam, Columbus State University

Becca Ingram, assisted by Ted Bushman, Brigham Young University 
Jacob January, assisted by Ross McCorkell, Wichita State University

Haely Jardas, assisted by Michael Poandl, American University

James McGrath, assisted by Francesca Betancourt, Western Washington University

Kenneth Murray, assisted by Camisha Farquharson, Southern Connecticut State University
Kevin Percival, assisted by Laurel Sein, University of Oklahoma
Max Reinhardsen, assisted by Ivey Lowe, Savannah College of Art and Design

Angeliea Stark, assisted by Emily Love, Texas State University-San Marcos
Tiffany Streng, assisted by Anthony Schliesman, Winona State University

James Udom, assisted by Brian Smick, Diablo Valley College
Abby Vombrack, assisted by Carlos Kmet, Illinois State University



Regional nominees and award-winners in the categories of performance, directing, playwriting and dramaturgy, design, dramatic criticism, and stage management take part in master classes with artists from across the nation and the Washington, D.C. theater community. 


The 2012 master class and workshop leaders include: 



Matt Chapman, TCG Next Generation Leadership Awardee, physical theater specialist

Kari Margolis, Margolis Brown Company, multiple NEA Artist Grant recipient

Rick Foucheux, Helen Hayes Award-winning actor

Jennifer Mendenhall, Helen Hayes Award-winning actress

Edward Gero, Shakespearean Text, four-time Helen Hayes Award-winning actor

Lynn Watson, Voice and Speech Trainers Association



Evan Yionoulis, resident director, Yale Repertory Theatre

Curt Columbus, Artistic Director, Trinity Repertory Theatre

Daniella Topol, director, premiere of Rajiv Joseph’s Monster at the Door, Alley Theatre

David Muse, Artistic Director, Studio Theatre

Howard Shalwitz, Artistic Director, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

Joy Zinoman, Founding Artistic Director, Studio Theatre


Playwriting and Dramaturgy

Beth Blickers, Literary Agent, Abrams Artists

Jocelyn Clarke, Abbey Theater, Sundance Theater Lab, playwright and dramaturg

Carl Hancock Rux, Obie Award-winning playwright, performer and recording artist.

Kirsten Greenidge, Yale Repertory Theatre’s Bossa Nova, La Jolla Playhouse’s Milk Like Sugar

Samuel D. Hunter, Obie Award-winner for A Bright New Boise

Heather Helinsky, dramaturg, theatres include: Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Philadelphia Theatre Company where she worked with Terence McNally on the premiere of The Golden Age , subsequently featured in the Kennedy Center Family Theater

Gavin Witt, Associate Artistic Director and Senior Dramaturg, Centerstage

Jason Loewith, Executive Director, the National New Play Network

Miriam Weisfeld, Director of New Play Development, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

Adrien Alice Hansel, Literary Director, Studio Theatre

John Baker, Literary Manager, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

Drew Lichtenberg, Literary Associate, the Shakespeare Theatre Company

Patrick Tuitt, Head of Dramaturgy, Catholic University of America


Scenic, Costume, Lighting and Sound Design

Beverly Emmons, distinguished lighting designer for theater, dance and opera, most recently represented on Broadway byStick Fly

Eric Cornwell, lighting designer, Patti and Mandy on Broadway

Robert Kaplowitz, Tony Award®-winning sound designer

G.W. Mercier, Tony®-nominated scenic designer

Tony Cisek, Helen Hayes Award-winning scenic designer


Dramatic Criticism

Nelson Pressley, Washington Post

Bob Mondello, NPR and Washington City Paper


Stage Management

Brad Buffum, Production Manager, Nebraska Repertory Theater

Taryn Colberg-Staples, Production Manager, Woolly Mammoth Theater Company

Martha Knight, Production Stage Manager, Arena Stage




Award finalists from the regional festivals attend the National Festival to participate in the week’s master classes and activities, and as well as being eligible in each discipline for awards, residencies and scholarships.  Awards will be announced at the closing day awards ceremony in the Kennedy Center Family Theater at 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 21.


The SDC Student Directing Fellowship

The eight student directors-in-residence at the National Festival have been awarded associate membership of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) and are also nominees for this fellowship.  The recipient of the National Fellowship will receive a grant of $1,000 from the SDC to offset the costs of a professional development opportunity to be arranged in consultation with the recipient.


2012 finalists:

Mathias Brown, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Tony Cintrony, Johnson County Community College

Crystal Faye Franz, Texas State University

Tommy Iafrate, Western Illinois University

Jeremy Lewis, California State University, Fullerton

Samantha Marsh, Emerson College
Robin C. Martinez, University of Florida
Rachel Rosenfeld, University of Idaho

The KCACTF Awards for Excellence in Scenic, Costume, Lighting and Sound Design

Designs of the regional finalists will be on display during the National Festival and the National Design Respondents, distinguished artists in theatrical design, will select the award recipients in each category.  All National KCACTF Design Award recipients will receive an honorarium of $500 and an expense-paid five-day design immersion trip to tOur Studios and production facilities, and meet with designers.  In addition, regional finalists will be eligible for design fellowships at the O’Neill Theater Center’s National Playwrights’ Conference, the Williamstown Theatre Festival, and the Shakespeare Theatre Company Costume Internship.  The United States Institute for Theater Technology (USITT) will publish information on the national design winners in Theater Design and Technology.


2012 finalists for Scenic Design:

Xiaonuan (Kim) Dai, SUNY, University of Buffalo 
Charles V. Fisher, University of Nebraska at Omaha 
Hana Goff, University of Oklahoma

Moon Jung Kim, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Benson Knight, University of Central Florida

Polina Minchuk, Adelphi University
Chris Mueller, University of Idaho
Mauri Anne Smith, Utah State University


2012 finalists for Costume Design:

Delena Bradley, Ball State University
Charles V. Fisher, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Juliana Gregori, Emerson College
Shelby Luke, Brigham Young University

Maya Ogasawara, Slippery Rock University
Adrienne Perry, Western Washington University
Caitlin Rain, Southern Methodist University
Grace Schmitz, University of Southern Mississippi

2012 finalists for Lighting Design:

Robert Brown, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Brad Gray, University of Oklahoma

Katie Gruenhagen, University of Northern Colorado

Jessy Henning, California State University, Fullerton

Tannis Kapell, SUNY, University of Buffalo

Paul T. Kennedy, The University of Mississippi

Kirk Miller, Emerson College
Kim Williams, Doane College

2012 finalists for Sound Design:

Mark Caspary, Illinois State University

Tracy Cowit, Adelphi University
Natalie Kinsaul, The University of Alabama at Birmingham
Kevin J. Peek, The University of Alabama at Birmingham
Jonathan Posthuma, Dordt College
Vincent Quan, California State University, Fullerton

David Sanford, West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Jeffrey R. Sherwood, Oklahoma City University
Parker Stegmaier, Colorado State University


The National Partners of the American Theater Award for Design Excellence

This award is presented to one of the Design Award finalists, and is funded by members of the National Partners, many of whom are present or former members of the KCACTF National Committee.  The Design Excellence Award is co-sponsored by the Korean National University of the Arts (KNUA) and the award recipient will spend an expense-paid week in Seoul, Korea visiting theater design and traditional arts classes, various design studios, and attending performances.  This year’s recipient will be selected by NAPAT founding members Lin Conaway and Andy Gibbs. Also this year, KCACTF will host a student from KNUA, scenic and lighting designer Ae Rae Kim, for the design master classes on offer at the National Festival.


Stage Management Fellowships

These fellows attend the National Festival in Washington, D.C. as recognition for their outstanding achievement in stage management at the regional festivals. 


2012 recipients:

Shanna Allison, Emerson College

Dylan Bollinger, Columbus State University
BJ Brooks, University of Evansville
Kaylen Higgins, Colorado State University

Nicole Kelly, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Noelle Michelle Molinar, University of Texas at El Paso

Lauren Pennington, Montclair State University

Alycia Perez, Santa Monica College


The LMDA Dramaturgy Award in Association with the Association for Theater in Higher Education

This award is the result of a unique collaboration between Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA), the Association for Theater in Higher Education (ATHE), and KCACTF.  The winner of the LMDA Dramaturgy Award will receive a one-year membership in ATHE, a one-year membership in LMDA, and will be considered for a residency at the O’Neill Playwrights’ Conference, The Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis, the Kennedy Center, and the National New Play Network’s MFA Playwrights’ Workshop.


2012 nominees:

Austin Bolay, Georgia Southern University

Tierra Bonser, Emerson College

Anne Fleming, Villanova University

Julia Chinnock Howze, Texas State University

Angela Hunt, University of Colorado Boulder

Abigail Ropp, Northern Michigan University
Maggie Wilken, University of Nebraska-Omaha


The O’Neill National Critics Institute Scholarship

At each of the KCACTF regional festivals, students participated in the newly named Institute for Theater Journalism and Advocacy. This new name reflects the Kennedy Center’s interest in developing articulate, highly-informed and well-trained arts journalists who can advocate for excellence in the arts in print, web-based or broadcast media. Eight regional finalists were selected to attend the KCACTF National Festival to participate in a series of master classes and symposia on dramaturgy and theater criticism.  One national scholarship recipient will receive a full fellowship to attend the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut during its National Playwrights’ Conference in July 2012, working with leading professional newspaper and magazine critics from across the United States.  In addition, up to two finalists will be eligible for a $1,000 matching grant from the O’Neill National Critics Institute to attend the summer institute program.


2012 finalists:

Rita Anderson, Texas State University

Hannah Baxter, University of Missouri-Columbia

Gabriela Fleury, James Madison University

Nicholas Hale, University of Michigan-Flint
Stephen Mrowiec, Middlebury College

Susanne Parker, Clemson University

Sebastian Roundtree, Phoenix Community College

Annie Staats, University of Idaho




As the national center for the performing arts, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is committed to increasing opportunities for all people to participate in and understand the arts. To fulfill that mission, the Kennedy Center strives to commission, create, design, produce, and/or present performances and programs of the highest standard of excellence and of a diversity that reflects the world in which we live—and to make those performances and programs accessible and inclusive.

Education at the Kennedy Center includes resources from its presentations and productions and those of its affiliates: the National Symphony Orchestra, Suzanne Farrell Ballet, VSA (the international arts and disability organization), and Washington National Opera.  The focus, locally and nationally, is on producing, presenting, and touring age appropriate performances and educational events for young people and their families; school- and community-based programs that directly impact teachers, students, artists, and school and arts administrators through professional development; systemic and school improvement through arts integrated curricula, inclusive classrooms, and universal design in facilities and learning; creating partnerships around the issues of arts and arts integrated education; creating and providing educational materials via print and the Internet; developing careers in the arts for young people and aspiring professionals; and strengthening the management of arts organizations.

The education programs of the Kennedy Center have become models for communities across the country and have unlocked the door to learning for millions of young people. This has been accomplished by fostering creativity, teaching discipline, improving self-esteem, and challenging students to think in new ways, as well as offering them experiences in the pure enjoyment and excitement of the performing arts. For more information, visit the Center’s website at

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