While most of the Goshen College community was beginning classes last week, members of the theater department travelled to Indianapolis for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, or KCACTF. 14 students and three faculty members attended the event, which ran from Jan. 9-14.

Regional festivals are held nationwide. Goshen College is a part of region three, which covers Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and parts of Ohio. At KCACTF, theater students from across the region compete in acting and design competitions, present work from previous productions, attend workshops and see performances. Anna Kurtz Kuk, professor of theater at Goshen College and faculty chaperone for the festival, states that KCACTF is “a week packed full of amazing theater opportunities.”

Several Goshen College students were nominated to compete based on work they had previously done on productions on campus. For example, Lauren Myers, a sophomore, Ben Meyer-Reimer, a junior, and Jessica Croy and Kailey Rice, first-years, were all nominated to compete in the Irene Ryan Scholarship Auditions. Meyer-Reimer noted that it is always enjoyable to see what and how students from other schools perform, despite them being his competitors.

Riley Woods, a recent alumni, presented his work as a lighting designer in Kindertransport and was chosen to be one of the stage managers at the festival. Claire Mitchel, a junior, presented her work as a dramaturg, and Jonathan Bontrager-Waite, a first-year, submitted a one act play he had written.

“Jonathan was one of four (out of 45) chosen to have a reading of his one act play at the festival,” said Kurtz Kuk. “He was chosen to be a regional finalist, meaning he will now compete to move on to the national festival. To my knowledge, Jonathan’s recognition is a first for us.”

Aside from competition, the festival also brought opportunities for students to attend classes, performances, talks from professionals and other events, including full and partial productions brought by other colleges and universities.

“It’s really easy to get caught up in what your own school is putting work into, but so many colleges and universities are presenting stories that deal with really tough concepts and issues,” said Myers. “For me, this is what theater is all about. It’s a collaborative art.”

For anyone interested in theater, the opportunities at KCACTF are endless. Jonah Yoder, a junior, said that “this festival is every theater person’s dream. People come to compete for scholarships, learn from professionals, and simply celebrate the art that is theater.”

“It’s a little intense,” said Meyer-Reimer, “but it’s also a really fun place to be for anyone in college who enjoys being immersed in theatre.”

After two years in Indianapolis, the annual week long event moves to Madison, WI next year. Goshen College plans on sending a similar sized group of representatives.