Theatre students excel at KCACTF

Doane student Sheila Murphy at KCACTF

Last week marked a busy but rewarding week for Doane’s theatre department.


Fourteen students and three full-time faculty members were in Sioux Falls, South Dakota from January 20-26 for the Region 5 Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. The annual event, which brings together over 1,500 people from dozens of colleges in a seven state region (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota), gave Doane students the opportunity to compete, network, and learn from theatre professionals in the area.


“I thought it was a great festival,” said Joel Egger, assistant professor of theatre. “We had really good student involvement. The amount of exposure these students are getting to all kinds of opportunities, the people they’re meeting, seeing other students work is great. It’s a celebration of what we do in the theatre arts.”


In addition to the competitions, presentations, and shows offered at the festival, there were a number of workshops students could get involved in, including workshops on acting, directing, stage management, costume design, and prop-making, among many more. For the students and faculty alike, this week-long festival served as a educational and professional development experience.


“It was a great experience for all of us,” said Sheila Murphy ’21, a business administration and theatre major. “It was a great week of bonding with each other while also working together in a professional environment.”


Murphy was one of Doane’s students recognized as she was awarded a scholarship to attend The Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas for a week. The scholarship was awarded in recognition of Murphy’s lighting design of The Christians.


Doane had a number of students receive multiple callbacks, auditions, and interviews at the festival. Shelby Bauer ’19 was one of those students. The senior theatre major did professional auditions and received callbacks from The Black Hills Playhouse, Stella Adler Studio of Acting,  Brownville Village Theatre, Paul Bunyan Playhouse, and National Theatre for Children.


“On individual bases, our students are able to take away and appreciate more than what other schools do,” Bauer said. “Even though we don't come back with the most awards I feel confident that our productions match up to all invited scenes and shows; even at times we over excel. I know how amazing the Doane professors are and know that they are teaching me skills I will need for my future.”


While comparing the number of awards won isn’t necessarily the most accurate way to determine who took away the most or performed the best at the festival, one Doane student who was recognized with some awards was senior theatre major Alex Hollman ’19.


Hollman presented his scenic design for The Snow Queen and won 1st place in the Regional Scenic Design Category. This marked the third year in a row Hollman has taken 1st place in a Scenic Design award. Additionally, a scene he directed from The Importance of Being Earnest advanced to the final round in the SDC Directing competition.


“Doane always does well at the festival,” Hollman said. “During the opening night slideshow that shows photos from every production in the region in the past year, I am always thrilled to see how professional Doane's work looks compared to most other schools. We strive for high quality, and I think that shows in all our events at KCACTF.”


He added, “KCACTF is an amazing networking opportunity for me to interview with professional theatres, meet new people from other schools, reconnect with past colleagues, and grow my relationships with other Doane students. As a senior, the festival has also made me realize that Doane really has prepared me for the professional theatre world, and I'm ready to take that next big step after graduation.”

To learn more about Doane’s theatre department, visit their program page here.