Eleven students from Northwest Mississippi Community College’s theatre program attended the Region 4 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) in Albany, Georgia Feb. 3-7. During the festival, Northwest competed against community college, university and graduate students from Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, southern Virginia, Tennessee and Mississippi.
Northwest student Wesley Williamson of Olive Branch, who was nominated for his work in Northwest’s productions of “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” and “The Miss Firecracker Contest, ” became the first Northwest student to ever advance to the semi-finals of the Irene Ryan Acting Auditions. Northwest was also the only community college out of at least 50 colleges and universities to advance to the semi-finals.
Theatre Instructor Sadie Shannon explained that winners of the auditions earn scholarships. Northwest took four teams of two students each to the competition. The teams are composed of a nominated student and a partner, who act out a timed scene. “The students were given their scenes before Christmas break and had to memorize them before they came back. We rehearsed them about three times per week and timed the scenes, because points will be deducted if they go over the time,” Shannon said. She explained that the festival consists of various competitions and workshops that the students attend in their area of interest.
Other students nominated for the Irene Ryan Acting award were Heather Pate of Greenwood, for “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” Ashley Simon of Senatobia for “Story Theatre” and Jenna Taylor of Walls for “The Miss Firecracker Contest.” Williamson’s acting partner was Aaron Brasher of Como. Charlotte Malone of Lake Cormorant served as acting partner for Pate and Taylor. Chip Malone of Lake Cormorant was acting partner for Simon.
Hannah Herring of Horn Lake was nominated for her talents in stage management. Herring was accepted into the Stage Management Fellowship and stage managed an event at the festival, Shannon said. Herring has served as stage manager for several productions during her time as a student at Northwest.
“I am so proud of all of our students. It is very validating to me as a teacher to know that I am picking the right material for them, and that at this high level of competition they are moving forward. I feel like we are doing what we are supposed to do in our program,” Shannon said.