GCCC Students Attend Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival

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(Story by Ashley Salazar, GCCC Director of Public Relations)

GARDEN CITY, Kan. — Five Garden City Community College students returned from representing GCCC in Sioux Falls at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) last week.  Darlene Bennett, Steven “Wade” Freeman, Monica Hernandez, Tobi Mitchell, and Rheann Rodenbur all attended the event after the play, Alone in the Mind of Edgar Allen Poe, written by Freeman, was submitted and up for consideration to be performed at the festival.  Although Alone was not ultimately selected to be performed at the festival, Freeman received a Certificate of Merit from KCACTF for his work with Make Up on the production of Alone.  In addition, three GCCC students were nominated for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship competition after their performances in Alone.  Darlene Bennett, Tobi Mitchell, and Rheann Rodenbur, along with their acting partners, Freeman and Hernandez, attended the festival to compete in the Irene Ryan competition.  While none of the GCCC students were selected as one of the sixteen regional scholarship winners, they each felt that they gained something valuable after participating in the festival. 

Monica Hernandez, who is only in her second semester of participation in theatre at GCCC said of the experience, “It was really cool to be in an environment where everyone enjoyed the same type of things. People were very accepting and supportive.”  Monica also attended a breakout session called “The Business of Show Business,” which was led by an actor who had been in the industry for some time.  She appreciated how he reassured the students who were interested in the field by sharing his personal experiences.

Tobi Mitchell shared, “You learn a ton in just the brief hour in one of the workshops.  Rheann and I participated in a stage combat workshop, and we learned quite a bit there.  They taught us how to fall properly on the stage without hurting ourselves, how to throw a punch without actually hitting anyone, and how to protect ourselves from those kinds of things, too.”

Steven “Wade” Freeman, who competed in one act playwriting, full playwriting, dramaturgy, and professional acting at the festival, said that he spent much of his time in sessions on varying topics.  He said that while he did learn some things, he was encouraged that much of what was being taught in the sessions was what he had already been taught by Mr. Hoke at GCCC.  “It gave me a lot of confidence in this department preparing us.”

The students reflected on their opportunity to attend the festival, despite only being on a community college campus and only having as little as one semester of collegiate theatre under their belts.   Freeman commented that community college drama gives students the chance at bigger opportunities and earlier in their collegiate career.  Especially the benefit of getting to act.  “At Universities, until you are a junior or a senior, forget it, you are going to do background… the performance aspects are left for the upperclassmen.” 

For some, community college theatre provides access to those experiences even earlier.  Mitchell, who is still a high school senior, has been participating in GCCC theatre since her junior year of high school. 

All five students who attended the KCACTF are now busy preparing for the upcoming Dinner Theatre event at GCCC, featuring “Deathtrap” by Ira Levin.   Be sure to catch these up-and-coming theatrical artists February 21st through 24th at 7:00PM in the Pauline Joyce Fine Arts Auditorium.  Tickets are $25 and include both a meal and the show.  Contact Mark Scheopner at mark.scheopner@gcccks.edu or at 620-276-9540 for tickets.

Garden City Community College exists to produce positive contributors to the economic and social well-being of society.