By Jeremy Binning
This past January the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival was held in Haverhill, Massachusetts. This conference is designed for theater students in college to give them a chance to showcase their talents as well as work with others in the field.
With a huge selection available such as acting, musical theater, directing and playwriting, these students come to strengthen their skills in these professions through workshops.
ReGina Sutphen is an actress whose involvement in the festival includes scheduling workshops where she “learned so much valuable information.” Sutphen said there are a total of eight regions around the country.
Sutphen was nominated for the Irene Ryan scholarship, a scholarship awarded to exceptional performers, awards twice, but declined both nominations to experience the festival by itself, leading to her being in charge of setting up the workshops at the conference. The annual event in January sets the stage for the national festival held in April, to which the finalists for the Irene Ryan competition are invited. Sutphen said her favorite part of the festival was seeing other people perform and showcase their talent.
What caught Sutphen’s attention most is the musical theater showcase, mainly because she does theater herself. Singing is her instrument of choice, ever since Sutphen began doing theater in middle school. After taking a break from art, she returned to theater in her junior year of high school. Sutphen has been involved in theater ever since and is now majoring in music and minoring in musical theater.
The theater life brings many together through their works and the festival is a place for them to expand their horizons in the art. The event originated in 1958 when former president Dwight D. Eisenhower signed bipartisan legislation that would create the Natural Cultural Center. Four years later, President John F. Kennedy and his wife launched a $30 million campaign to fundraise for the construction of the center. On Jan. 23, 1964 the center was dedicated to Kennedy two months after his assassination signed by Acting President Lyndon B. Johnson.
The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival showcases theater students’ talents. It is also for those who enjoy the arts of theater for entertainment. The chance to make connections in this world and gain opportunities is just one of the many reasons why this festival plays a massive part in the culture of theater throughout the country.