May 24, 2007 -- University of Wyoming student Anna Brownsted of Dallas, Texas, and a small UW cast were invited to perform a scene at the recent annual William Inge Festival in Independence, Kan.
During February’s Region VII Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) and Northwest Drama Conference, Brownsted won a new fellowship from KCACTF and the William Inge Center for the Arts. The fellowship recognizes the most outstanding student-directed and student-acted scenes written by famed American playwright William Inge or by a past William Inge Festival award winner.
The festival, widely attended by industry professionals, celebrates Inge's legacy with an intensive four-day series of performances, readings, workshops, panel discussions and retrospectives.
Brownsted and five UW acting students performed one of three student-directed scenes. The other students were Megan Antles and Claudine M. Nako, both of Laramie; Cheyenne Christian, Mitchell, Neb.; Jake Staley, Cheyenne; and Steven Rotramel, Thornton, Colo. They performed a 10-minute cut from A.R. Gurney's play, "A Cheever Evening."
The UW scene was presented seven times to standing-room only crowds of festival participants and theatre, television and film professionals.
"It was an honor to have our work seen by professional luminaries," says Brownsted. "We received compliments all the way around, but the highlight was the moment when Sheldon 'Call me Shelly' Harnick took my hand, looked me directly in the eye, leaned in, and said with complete sincerity that it was an honor for him to see our work," she adds.
As festival invited guests, the UW students participated in master classes with theatre legends including Tony-award winning actors Elizabeth Wilson and Michele Pawk, and Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright Theresa Rebeck.
"The Inge Festival was far more exciting and amazing than we expected -- it's a real gem for the theatre industry," says Brownsted. "Many talented working professionals gather in this small Kansas town to honor the generative artists of the theatre world -- the playwrights.
"It was wonderful to have an opportunity to make connections. The theatre world is a lot smaller than most people would expect," she adds.
Brownsted notes that many industry professionals at the festival were very supportive and eager to help new artists develop professionally.
"In a conversation with J.T. Rogers (winner of the Otis Guernsey New Voices Playwriting Award for this year's festival) I mentioned how impressive it was that everyone was being so generous and was actively interested in the UW students," Brownsted says.
"His reply was, 'When one finally gets a few rungs up the career ladder one should help those coming up behind you. Lord knows I've had a lot of help a long the way.'"
Posted on Thursday, May 24, 2007