Marian University Theatre Students Shine on and off stage at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival

by Mikayla S. Jette '25 | Feb 23, 2024

Congratulations to the Shining Stars of Marian University’s Theatre Department. Six talented students, Aiden Powell ’25, Ava Kalscheur ’25, Emily Reyes ’26, Jacob Harris ’24, Jada Radford ’26, and Mikayla Jette ’25, led by Professor Kristopher Steege, M.F.A., Director of the Theatre Department and assistant professor of theatre, took the stage to compete in the 56th Region III Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) at the University of Michigan Flint.

KCACTF offers college theatre programs the opportunity to compete for scholarships, audition for professional agents and graduate programs, attend workshops, and network within the field. But the ultimate purpose was to share their art and receive feedback on improving to become a stronger designer, actor, dancer, and stage manager.

By attending KCACTF, participants compete with top theatre and design students from other colleges and universities in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio. Kalscheur first discovered this through her experience with the Stage Management Intensive, saying, “It was so amazing to work with 14 other people making the festival run.” The intensive consists of helping run the festival to ensure everything runs smoothly. The Business and Theatre major said, “I learned to adapt to each situation quickly, showing leadership.” Kalscheur even went on to earn Merit for her experience and the stage management work she submitted from "A Midsummer Night’s Dream."

The Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship auditions offered Radford, Jette, and Powell the opportunity to show their acting skills. A KCACTF adjudicator nominated Radford and Jette for their performances in Marian's fall production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Radford even moved on to the Semi-finalist round, where Jette performed alongside as Radford's scene partner for the audition. After each round, Radford shared, "I received valuable feedback and tips on my acting and overall performance skills."

Kristopher Steege led a workshop for festival participants and was a respondent to the Irene Ryan auditions and to scenic designs from Design Storm.

The "A Midsummer Night's Dream" costumes were also chosen and featured in the Costume Parade, where Reyes' designs from the fall production were brought back to life for one night only to share the talent with the KCACTF community. "Often am too hard on myself and my artistic capabilities that I don't notice my talent or have that "perfectionist mindset" on things, that obstruct myself from valuing or crediting myself with what I do," Reyes shared, "This experience has shown and taught me how to be easier on myself and trust my instincts. I truly cherish these moments and appreciate all the love I got from this experience!

Students also had the opportunity to audition for professional agents and graduate programs or summer intensives. Both Powell and Jette received multiple callbacks from schools and programs. These opportunities blew away Jette, learning, "You need to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. Even on off days, show up, and walk through the door. Society needs people with potential and a willingness to push yourself out of your comfort zone, not someone scared to even try."

This opportunity opened the eyes of these actors and designers to a whole new world beyond Marian University. Powell shares, "Everyone was always so welcoming and supportive no matter where you were in your theatre career. There are so many opportunities out there to at least get your foot in the door and because of KCACTF, some people in New York have pictures of me which doesn't seem like much but it's better than staying in the Marian bubble."

Students also heard from renowned playwright Lydia Diamond and experienced four performances from colleges within.

Congratulations again and Keep Shining Bright both on stage and in the world!

News Media Contact

Brad R. Wucher
Vice President of Enrollment, Marketing Communications
(317) 955-6307
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