“Noah? Noah? Noah?”

“Oh, she’s with the theater group.”

Ever wonder what those theater people are doing the first week of classes? Where do they go? Why do they get to miss class?

Try to imagine waking up early in the morning to attend an hour-long workshop on basic unarmed stage combat, followed by a nice grueling round of acting competitions that last a few hours. Then, throw a quick sandwich in your mouth as you run down the halls of some unknown campus searching for the theater where you will watch an area college perform a full-length play. Afterwards, you are running again to get to another workshop, this time on how to audition for professional plays. Next come the playwriting competitions, dinner and then, yet another full-length play.

Now, imagine this happening four days in a row. Does this sound fun? To many theater majors and minors, this is the opportunity of a lifetime—a chance to see as much theater as possible and learn new and exciting things about their field of study. This is what many Goshen College theater majors and minors do the first week of second semester.

This year, the American College Theater Festival (ACTF) was held at Saginaw Valley State University in Saginaw, Michigan.

Jay Mast and Aaron Kaufmann were nominated from their roles in “The Gondoliers,” while Beth Glick and Angie Noah were nominated from their roles in “Big Love,” to compete in the acting category.

Goshen College students also competed in other categories such as stage management, sound design and costume design.

Patrick Maxwell competed in the playwriting category, while Doug Hallman and Aaron Kaufmann competed in an event called the Tech Olympics. This is a series of technical tasks that need to be done as quickly as possible, including adding color to lights and setting the lights up in their proper theatrical positions, as well as various other challenges.

Sophomore Emily Bowman explained why the trip was so valuable when she exclaimed, “It was awesome. We got the chance to see what other universities have been doing and what other audiences in the region have been experiencing. It was excellent to see new shows, or see old shows done in a new way. It was a place where we could affirm other schools and be a part of an affirming theatrical community.”

Emily showed a desire to see more students on the trip in the future.

“I think anyone who likes theater would love ACTF,” she said. “It’s not just for theater majors and provides practical information for many job-seeking individuals.”

Overall, students said it was a long and exhausting four days filled with nothing but theater. While the first week of classes was exciting and invigorating, they did not get a nice relaxing break from learning. Instead they were exhausting themselves in workshops and competitions in order to gain practical knowledge and insight into the theatrical profession.