Dec. 21, 2009 -- The University of Wyoming's original production of "Six Songs from Ellis" has been selected as one of four Region VII finalists for the 2010 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF).
Conceived and choreographed by professor Marsha Knight and directed by Knight and assistant professor John O'Hagan, "Six Songs from Ellis" is an original work that uses dance, film and audio interviews and actor re-enactments to capture the voices of immigrants who passed through Ellis Island as children. Each "song" represents a different stage of the immigration experience, and efforts were made to preserve the stories as originally told.
"'Six Songs from Ellis' showcases many aspects of our program," says Knight. "We appreciate the opportunity to take this on, as it provides another occasion to work the piece and improve."
"Six Songs from Ellis" was chosen as one of four KCACTF regional finalists from a pool of approximately 50 productions. The regional event, which is part of the Kennedy Center's annual competition for student actors, directors and playwrights representing colleges and universities nationwide, will be held Feb. 15-19 at the University of Nevada-Reno.
"I'm thrilled that the extraordinary efforts, work, time and dedication of our students, faculty members, and Marsha, in particular, have been recognized by our region and will have the opportunity to be showcased at the regional festival," says director O'Hagan. "It's a unique opportunity for many of the students and a real honor for all of us."
The other regional finalists are "Twelfth Night" from Sacramento State University, "The Marriage of Bette and Boo" from Humboldt State University, and "The Servant of Two Masters" from the University of Portland. These shows all have the potential to advance to the KCACTF National Festival in April at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
A special public performance of "Six Songs from Ellis" is tentatively scheduled for Friday, Jan. 29, at 7:30 p.m. in the UW Arts and Sciences auditorium. Proceeds from this performance will be used to offset costs of taking the production to the regional festival.
Two UW student playwrights have also been selected as Region VII finalists and will compete for a bid to the national festival. Finalists in the one-act play division are Jaime Cruz Laramie, for "Cuarto # Cuatro" and Christopher Wolter, Denver, Colo., for "Veiled Inspiration."
Also, 15 UW student actors have been nominated to participate in the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship competition. They are:
Afton -- Ryan Archibald
Arlington, Texas -- Lindsay Neinast
Canandaigva, N.Y. -- Phil Kelley
Cheyenne -- Harlan Post, Ian Rowe,and Katie Stearns
Littleton, Colo. -- Jonathan Hallowell
Loveland, Colo. -- Katrina Despain
Orange, Calif. -- Alex Gibson
Pasco, Wash -- Cameon Rush
Riverton -- Hannah Osborne
Santa Rosa, Calif. -- Mary Higgins
Sheridan -- Dan Cole
Westminster, Colo. -- Noelia Antweiler and Mark Mieden
Several UW design and technical students will also take part in KCACTF and the Northwest Drama Conference (NWDC) design competitions at the 2010 Region VII festival.
Region VII of the KCACTF comprises Wyoming, Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Washington, northern California and northern Nevada.
Mark Mieden of Westminster, Colo., portrays an immigrant in the University of Wyoming Department of Theatre and Dance production "Six Songs from Ellis."
Posted on Monday, December 21, 2009