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SMC theater group attends festival

Ashley Charnley | Monday, January 19, 2009

While most students used their winter break to relax and prepare for the second semester, seven Saint Mary’s students spent part of their time attending workshops, performances and competitions at the American College Theatre Festival (ACTF) in Saginaw, Mich.

Activities are held in areas such as playwriting, auditioning, voice, movement, stage combat, theater for children, scene painting and scenery construction and are offered to students and faculty members.

ACTF is one of eight similar festivals held nationwide during the months of January and February and includes workshops in playwriting, auditioning, voice, movement, stage combat, theater for children, scene painting and scenery construction.

“While there were some long days, the festival was a very helpful experience for those who had never gone before,” said senior Annaliese Furman, president of Thespians Unplugged, a theater group on campus.

Furman joined senior Miranda Baxter in competition during the five-day festival. Baxter participated in a competition where she submitted her stage management prompt book from the play “Lend Me a Tenor,” which was performed at Saint Mary’s last Fall. Furman presented the lighting design she created for the same show. The design won a Barbizon Award for Theatrical Design Excellence.

A third student, sophomore Kristina Marinelli, was nominated to compete for the Irene Ryan Acting Award as the character Maggie in “Lend Me a Tenor” but was unable to participate due to illness.

The festival helped students gain an understanding of what it is like to work in theater and allowed them to possibly bring back some ideas from other schools at the festival.

“Upon leaving [ACTF], I felt more in control of what will be expected of me as an artist,” said junior Jackie Cattie, another Saint Mary’s student in attendance at the event.

The club’s members also enjoyed being able to meet people from surrounding states and discuss their shared interests.

“It was an absolute blast to be in a place surrounded by so many people who were as passionate – if not more so – about the same things I’m passionate about,” Baxter said.

The theater department will be using the skills they acquired at the festival to help stage their spring production of “Candide.”