Senior theater major Jenna Grubaugh recently placed in the top 10 percent of actors in the regional theater competition, American College Theater Festival (ACTF)–the first GC student in 6 years to advance this far in the competition. Grubaugh and her stage partner Kelly Frey, a junior, were able to progress through two rounds of competitions, being among the top 36 students in the Great Lakes region to advance up to that point.

The GC nominees competed against students from the theater programs of universities such as Purdue, Michigan State, and Illinois State University.

Grubaugh, along with 5 other Goshen College actors, were nominated by ACTF representatives to participate in the competition. Additionally, Patrick Ressler, a senior, was given a certificate of merit for his original screenplay, Home of the Trojans. Meg Kennel, a senior, was also awarded a certificate of merit for her set design for Tartuffe.

All performers and their scene partners were assigned to prepare and present two scenes and a monologue to advance in the competition. Each piece is to showcase the diversity of the actor’s ability, range, and talent. Grubaugh chose scenes ranging from comedy to drama.

Doug Liechty Caskey, a Goshen College theater professor, was available for technical direction and observations for Grubaugh and Kelly from time to time. “Her personality came through [in the scenes].  It just so happens that one is realistic and the other is a more stylized comic performance. It’s relaxed, but compelling,” said Caskey.

Leading up to the festival, Grubaugh and Frey kept their priorities on enjoying the experience rather than on the competition itself.  “I made a conscious decision to try to keep the process a fun one. I didn’t want to get wrapped up in the idea of the ‘competition’, but rather wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to improve my acting skills and to enjoy my time with Kelly,” said Grubaugh.

With goals set on the process rather than outcome, the acting duo, along with the rest of the Goshen College participants, were able to enter into the competition well prepared. “ACTF has given me confidence in my abilities as a participant in the theater world. It has also exposed me to theater of all kinds, ingraining in me the assurance that ‘good’ theater can take many forms and serve many different purposes,” said Grubaugh.