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Students heading to Kennedy Center theater festival

Posted 01/27/14

More than 60 Fitchburg State University students are headed to Cape Cod this week to compete in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival’s regional competition. Among the entries invited to compete in the festival is the university’s first submitted production written, designed, directed and performed by students.

“LYLH,” written by and starring Fitchburg State student Thomas Karner and directed by fellow student Matthew Rindini, was among a handful of student productions accepted into competition. The crew is also comprised of Fitchburg State students.

The university has a strong record of success at the festival, according to Fitchburg State faculty member Kelly Morgan, but the inclusion of a student-created piece is a significant milestone. Morgan coordinates the university’s theater program within the Communications Media Department.

“Fewer than 9 percent of the invited productions over the past 46 years are student-written plays, and less than 2 percent are student-written, directed, produced and designed,” said Morgan, a former regional director of the festival. “It’s letting us know that our students are able to do it on their own and be recognized.”

“LYLH” is a playful show with a serious message about finding genuine happiness through our lowest moments. This one-man show, inspired by Karner’s own life experiences, features the actor playing seven characters, six of which are presented on screens built into the set. “LYLH” will per formed at 1 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31 at the Tilden Studio Theatre at Cape Cod Community College. “LYLH” was performed on the Fitchburg State campus last fall.

Fitchburg State students will be attending the festival on Cape Cod, competing for the prestigious Irene Ryan acting scholarship as well as in categories including directing, stage management, lighting design, scenic design, costume design, sound design, technical direction, makeup/hair design, dramaturgy and poster design. A full schedule of events for the regional festival can be found online at http://www.kcactf1.org/.

The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival is a year-round program in eight geographic regions in the United States. Regional activities are coordinated through eight KCACTF regional chairs and eight KCACTF playwriting awards chairs. With funding and administrative support from the Kennedy Center, the regional chair coordinates with the Co-Managers of KCACTF all aspects of the adjudication of productions on the local and regional level and supervises regional-level KCACTF award competitions. The playwriting chair works with schools that have entered new and student-written plays by providing expertise in the development of new scripts–assessment specifically designed for a developing play—and by providing information on the numerous playwriting awards offered. In January and February of each year, regional festivals showcase the finest of each region’s entered productions and offer a variety of activities, including workshops, symposia, and regional-level award programs. Since its inception, KCACTF has given more than 400,000 college theater students the opportunity to have their work critiqued, improve their dramatic skills and receive national recognition for excellence. More than 16 million theatergoers have attended approximately 10,000 festival productions nationwide.

The goals of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival are to encourage, recognize, and celebrate the finest and most diverse work produced in university and college theater programs; to provide opportunities for participants to develop their theater skills and insight; and achieve professionalism; to improve the quality of college and university theater in America; to encourage colleges and universities to give distinguished productions of new plays, especially those written by students; the classics, revitalized or newly conceived; and experimental works.

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