By Jack Greenwood
Winter break is coming up, which means most students will use that time to detox from the stresses of the semester and spend time with family. However, a handful of students from Hutchinson Community College’s theatre department will be finding scripts, rehearsing scenes, preparing portfolios and presentations and perfecting performance pieces.
In January, four students will be competing for the prestigious Irene Ryan Scholarship at the region give American College Theatre Festival. The festival is an opportunity for theatre majors to be submerged in their craft and work on improving through workshops and competitions.
To compete for the scholarship, the productions that HutchCC put on had to be entered and judged. A judge would then choose two of the actors to compete, whom he felt exceeded performance quality. For their performances in the September’s “Gruesome Playground Injuries,” students Jack Greenwood, Valley Center, and Gabby Hernandez, Hutchinson, will compete. They are joined by nominees from the November production of “The Importance of Being Earnest” Jocelyn Reed, Hutchinson, and Isaac Glover, Hutchinson.
In addition to acting, students also can also explore stage makeup, costumes, playwriting, directing, stage managing, set design, dance, lighting and sound design.
Greenwood will be competing in the acting competition but has also written a 10-minute play that has been submitted for consideration for scholarship, and will possibly receive a staged concert reading.
Reed will be competing in acting and stage managing.
“It’s an honor to be representing a college that really values the success of its students and understands the importance of live theatre,” Reed said. “Theatre can expose people to different walks of life and social issues. It teaches us how to be empathetic to the plights of those different from us.”
Each acting nominee will take a partner to act with them in the competition. Partners include Dylan Kramer, McPherson, who will be Greenwood’s partner, Hannah Gomez, Hutchinson, who will be Glover’s partner, Lauren Couchman, Newton, who will be Reed’s partner and Alex Acosta, Hutchinson, who will be Hernandez’s partner.
“It’s an exciting to have this opportunity, I’m thankful,” Acosta said.
“I’m excited to get to do the workshops and to make connections,” Couchman said. “I’m also really excited to compete with Jocelyn in the Irene Ryan competition, it will be interesting to see how far we get.”
The festival also an opportunity to make professional and school connections. HutchCC students fall into region five, which consists of Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa. Most four-year colleges will be represented at the festival and have recruitment opportunities for students.
The festival also attracts theatre professionals from across the country, including Broadway. This year, famed playwright Neil Labute will be a part of the festival.
Some schools also enter their shows to be transferred to festival and will be performed again in Des Moines.
“Last year, the festival gave me the opportunity to bond with the people who are now my best friends, so I’m excited to see how the new students enjoy it,” Hernandez said. “It also helped me realize that I want to be involved in theatre for the rest of my life.”