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Saint Mary’s College students attend national theater festival

| Wednesday, January 17, 2018

For the seven Saint Mary’s students who attended the week-long Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF), there’s no business like show business.

The festival, which ran from Jan. 8 to 14, aims to celebrate college drama programs and give students special opportunities. Though KCACTF festivals happen across the country, the Saint Mary’s students attended the festival that took place at the University of Indianapolis and Marian University in Indianapolis.

“The festival offers a variety of workshops for multiple fields in theater, shows from participating colleges, as well as competitions which can provide scholarships and performance opportunities,” junior Stephanie Johnson said in an email. “I attended the festival because it gives me the opportunity to strengthen my skills and meet new people who are also interested in my field.”

Johnson said her continued participation in the festival has contributed to her learning and growth as an artist. She also said her Saint Mary’s education has played a key role in her theater experience.

“I feel my Saint Mary’s education impacts me in everything I do, from how I interact with others to how I perform as an artist,” Johnson said. “Specifically, I feel my education pushed me to pursue opportunities such as these.”

Sophomore Sandy Tarnowski said in an email the College has given her the courage to get involved in the theater program and ultimately attend the festival.

“Saint Mary’s gave me the confidence to go to something like this,” she said. “I’m usually very shy, and I’ve definitely grown away from my shyness at Saint Mary’s. The theater classes and shows here have helped me improve for the next year’s American College Theater Festival and helped me feel confident enough to be part of it. I had more courage to talk to strangers and proudly explain why I liked going to an all-women’s college.”

Tarnowski auditioned for the Musical Theater Intensive, a performance that took place near the close of the conference. Though she did not make it past auditions, the personalized experience the judges offered encouraged her to continue developing her skills.

“One of the judges stopped me as I was leaving because she remembered me from last year and told me she was so proud of how much I’ve improved from last year,” she said. “That felt great and has motivated me to work even harder for next year’s ACTF.”

Tarnowski said these interactions with the judges are the basis of her improvement and are one of the biggest benefits of attending the festival.

“I’ve improved in ways I didn’t know I could,” she said. “What I think is awesome is that the judges of the auditions take the time to talk to every single person that didn’t make it and tell each person what they personally can improve upon and what they did great on. It gets you excited to show them next year how you’ve improved with their advice.”

Citing the encouragement she received at the festival, Tarnowski said students should attend ACTF even if theater is not something they typically enjoy.

“Everyone should go,” she added. “Even if you think theater is not your ‘thing,’ you never know. This festival exposes all the different areas of theater you may not know about. You may end up discovering more of yourself at ACTF.”

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