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KCACTF Region 1: Don’t It Go To Show You Never Know… Part 1

February 19, 2013

I have been a little quiet for the past month or so, and I promise there is a reason for it. I was hard at work prepping for my “last hoorah” of college: to represent my alma mater at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival for Region 1, held in Hyannis, Massachusetts. I want to share with you all a few very important things that happened to me while I was away.

A little background: I was nominated to compete for the Irene Ryan Scholarship in my final semester for my role as Julia Tesman in Hedda Gabbler in my last semester at school. I was extremely proud to earn this honor because of the amount of stage time the role required was minimal in comparison to the other characters, so it meant a lot to even be recognized, and I fully intended to see through. (Really quickly: The Irene Ryan Scholarship Auditions take place in each region and cut down lists of 200+ down to 2 nominees and 2 alternates through 3 rounds of auditions. These winners go on to represent the region in Washington, D.C. through partnering scenes. You never get to see your overall ranking, just if you move forward or not.) I have participated in these scholarships on 2 other occasions. The first time was as a scene partner and the second as a nominee. Both teams did not advance, but to be honest I really wasn’t that confident in our work or myself at the time. This time was different. I trusted my partner. I trusted the work. My coach knew we could do it. I really thought we had a shot. The audition could not have gone better! I remembered my number, I didn’t flub up the introduction or sound like robot reciting the pieces. It was great. Unfortunately, I did not make the cut to advance to the Semi-Final Round, but what did happen changed the way I am looking at myself as an actor and a person. It began to shape my week.

What is so great about KCACTF is that it’s all about learning and bettering yourself as an actor. This year we got our responses in a group format, meaning everyone hears each response for the 18 teams that were in my time slot and room.

The respondent said, “You were beautiful.” -Ummm what? No one has ever said that to me that I haven’t known on a personal basis. ESPECIALLY not in an audition situation. I mean, yes, after a production where you are in full costume and makeup for two and a half hours and bore your soul on stage, but not in a two and a half minute version of the Olivia/Viola Scene from Act II of Twelfth Night.

He said, “You had a musicality to your voice and a full and complete understanding of the text that we never doubted for one second that you loved that man, and you were going to get what you wanted.” -Excuse me?!? Do you mean that I actually achieved my objectives in a classical piece without the hand-holding of a professor or a syllabus?

If you aren’t on the same page as me, that’s okay, but let me just say that at that moment in my week, my career, no, my life-it was like Broadway called. To receive honest feedback that supportive and in such a candid way? And in front of my peers? To hear that I might actually be worth something? It meant a lot to say the least. And it really changed the way I am feeling about myself and my future. It means that I am finally not a student anymore! I am free! I can figure it out on my own (with my coaches of course-but you get the idea), and make bold, messy, and raw acting choices that get me noticed.

Maybe it’s because I have been out of school for almost 9 months and still have been feeling a little stuck? Even though I have had a few Regional Credits since graduation, maybe because the theatre is so close to where I went to school I don’t feel like I have really broken out on my own? All I know is that my world is shifting, it’s terrifying, but I think I am ready for some changes.

How did you make the transition from undergrad to the theatre scene?

Check back for the rest of my week at KCACTF Region 1: Everyday Another Door… Part 2!

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. February 19, 2013 9:24 am

    Congratulations! How wonderful to have this feedback, and what a great experience.

    I think you may be right: that because of the proximity of the theater to your undergrad, you may still feel like you’re in that “school” mindset. But in truth, it’s usually very difficult for anyone to be satisfied with where they are–it’s difficult to not look back or too far forward. Just try to enjoy right where you are, and how that bodes for your future in this industry.

    • February 19, 2013 10:56 am

      I think you just explained it – “It’s difficult not to look back or too far forward…” Hits the nail right on the head! I think that is why I feel “stuck,” but I am really trying to enjoy and stay present these days. Thanks!

  2. February 19, 2013 10:50 am

    Awesome feedback, Passionate! Congrats. Celebrate it! I’m from Mass and I went to ACTF a bunch of times myself. Don’t sweat not moving on (though it looks like you’re not which is great); I never moved on either even when I felt my partner and I deserved it. Then I’d go watch the semis and the finals, and more often than not, the quality of a lot of the work was just horrible. I mean horrible. There’s simply no rhyme or reason to ACTF and it was always about the experience.

    Go to as many workshops as possible and enjoy!

    PS- Tony who often comments on GRB posts, is a friend of mine acting in Chicago these days. We call each other “partner” in every situation to this day. That originally came from being partners in ACTF in winter ’09. These relationships and memories are the best parts about acting competitions like ACTF.

    • February 19, 2013 10:58 am

      Thank you! And it’s so true! I will never understand the selection process, but I chose not to go watch Semis and Finals this year in order to flush it out of my system and keep the feedback from getting jaded. And I love that you still refer to each other as partner!!! It’s such a crazy process that you can’t help but bond in that high stress situation. And you meet so many people!

    • February 19, 2013 12:08 pm

      (not so), I have been attending the Ryan auditions in Region 1 since 1974, and you are absolutely right about the process. As I tell my students every year, whether or not you move on is, to a great degree, one big crap shoot. All you can do as a candidate is to work hard and to prepare as best you can. Beyond that, the results are out of your hands. As long as you can say that you have given your best effort, advancing or not advancing means little. It’s certainly not going to get you or cost you your next role. Enjoy the experience, regardless of the outcome, and chalk everything up to experience.

  3. California Triple-Threat permalink
    February 19, 2013 4:46 pm

    This is so fantastic! What lovely feedback! Congratulations!
    My first year out of college was rough… it was a full year and a half before my career really picked up. It takes time to find your own wings, but you are on track!

  4. LM Stern permalink
    February 20, 2013 10:52 pm

    I am a past participant of KCACTF as a stage manager. It is a truly rewarding experience for any theatre student. I highly encourage my peers to attend whenever possible. Not only do you get the opportunity to attend professional development workshops but you get the chance to see productions from other universities.

    You are completely right when it comes to the ‘competition’ portion of KCACTF. Everything is subjective. Especially for Irene Ryans since there are different respondents in each room. I was very honored to be selected as the finalist in Stage Management and attend the national conference but I can’t tell you what I did to stand out the respondent.

    Regardless, its a program that every student should attend. Its an excellent organization that can encourage students to think proactively about their career.

    Go theatre education!

    Lauren

  5. The Growing Artist permalink
    February 21, 2013 5:40 pm

    Congratulations! That’s wonderful! 🙂

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