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Meramec Theatre Program Makes Impressive Showing at Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival

February 02, 2010

Courtney B. Jackson and Brian J. Rolf  

Courtney B. Jackson and Brain J. Rolf, lead actors in the Meramec
Production of Closet Land.

Students, faculty and staff in the Meramec Theatre program received honors and moved to the top levels of competi

tion at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF), held January 17-23, 2010 at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, KS.

Meramec’s fall production of Closet Land, written by Radha Bharadwaj and directed by Associate Professor Michelle Rebollo, was chosen as one of four plays to be performed at the festival from over 30 productions submitted by universities and colleges across the Midwest Region. Closet Land was formally screened by the National Selection Team and has been held for possible performance at the National Festival, held April 12-17, 2010, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The Kennedy Center also awarded commendation to Darren Thompson for Scenic and Lighting Design, to Michelle Rebollo for Direction and to Terry More for Stage Management of this production.

In the festival’s Irene Ryan Competition, three Meramec students—Brian J. Rolf, Samb Ratzlaff and Evan Willmore—competed among a group of 280. Willmore with his partner, Katie Robinson, advanced to the final round of 16 competitors who performed in a prestigious closing ceremony, a first for the Meramec theatre department.

Theatre student Dennis Corcoran was selected to have his original 10-minute play, “The Sniper” produced in a Concert Reading competition.  Dennis then worked with a student director, James Rose from the University of Central Missouri and two student actors from other universities. With only three hours of preparation, Corcoran’s play advanced to semi-finals. If it continues to advance in competition, Corcoran will have the opportunity to study for one week at the Kennedy Center with prestigious playwrights in the field and have his play staged with professional D.C. actors. In addition, Corcoran received a one-year membership to the Playwright’s Center.

Started in 1969 by Roger L. Stevens, the Kennedy Center's founding chairman, the KCACTF is a national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide which has served as a catalyst in improving the quality of college theater in the United States. The KCACTF has grown into a network of more than 600 academic institutions throughout the country, where theater departments and student artists showcase their work and receive outside assessment by KCACTF respondents.

The Irene Ryan Acting Scholarships provide recognition, honor and financial assistance to outstanding student performers wishing to pursue further education. The Irene Ryan Foundation awards sixteen regional and two national scholarships annually.

Vernon Kays, dean of Communications and Mathematics at Meramec, expressed his deep admiration for the students and for his faculty and staff who competed and attended the festival: “This has been an incredible achievement by our Theatre program. I was given the opportunity to observe our students’ work during the festival. Our college and campus is proud of their professionalism and dedication to their artistic craft as evidenced by their many honors. We are privileged to have supported their extra efforts and the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region V’s recognition of our excellence. The Theatre program is another wonderful example of how we expand minds and change lives every day."