The festival, held Jan. 22-28, involved more than 1,500 students who were invited to compete based on outside nominations from regional representatives.
Molly Wiebe Faber, a senior from Hillsboro, and Reuven Isaac, a senior from Wichita, were nominated to compete for their performances in Tabor Theater’s production of “Proof” by David Auburn last spring.
Scene partners Austin Calam, a junior from Hillsboro, for Wiebe Faber and Michael Adamyk, a post baccalaureate student from McPherson, for Isaac also participated in the competition.
In the first round, each team of actors presented a short scene and the nominee presented a monologue. Isaac and Adamyk advanced to the semifinal round of a pool of 66 actors.
In the semifinal, the actors presented a second scene for evaluators. While the team did not advance to the final round, this was a huge accomplishment for Tabor’s group.
“It was refreshing to see how Tabor Theater compares to theater at other colleges; it became very apparent that we’re doing excellent work here,” Isaac said. “Noticing and reflecting on what did and didn’t work is incredibly valuable, not just for me as an individual, but also for Tabor. I can bring these things back to the theater department and share them. We can all learn something from it.”
In addition to the competition, students attended workshops, shows and other events to gain knowledge in all aspects of theater production including costume and set design, lighting and sound technology, acting technique, musical theater, directing, writing and more.
“There is far more to do than can be done, and the students can explore something new as well as pursue existing interests,” said Laurel Koerner, assistant professor of theater and director of theater at Tabor. “The learning packed into this week is unparalleled, and we’re pleased to offer this experience to our students.”
Attending the festival is a key component to Koerner’s philosophy that students in Tabor’s program benefit from experience, instruction and critique from peers at other colleges and universities and professionals in the field.
“We had several opportunities to meet as a group and discuss what they did, analyze what we saw, and process together,” Koerner said. “We valued this time to reflect together, and to shape our sense of what theater is capable of and what we ought to do as artists within Tabor’s program and beyond.”
Wiebe Faber said her time at the festival opened her to new possibilities.
“ACTF expanded my view of what theater can look like,” Wiebe Faber said. “I had the opportunity to go to a workshop led by a group of students who use theater to visit schools, hospitals and businesses to teach people how to better relate to one another.”