Mesa Community College (MCC) will host The Kennedy Center’s regional festival starting today, Feb. 13, going through Feb. 17 at the main Southern Avenue and Dobson Road campus.
“Last year and this year, MCC is actually the host for that regional competition,” MCC Theatre venue manager Chris Tubilewicz said. “Last year, we had over 70 colleges in Region VIII…right around 1,500 participants that came and did their competitions on our campus.”
The Region VIII Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) will include competitions, workshops and awards in honor of the work of participating colleges’ theater programs.
“KCACTF is The Kennedy Center’s theater education program,” Tubilewicz said. “There is a national competition, but there is also regional conferences.”
Students are selected from each region and invited to perform at a national level in April, according to a Kennedy Center press release.
Arizona, Hawaii, Central and Southern California, Guam, Utah, and Southern Nevada make up Region VIII, and MCC students compete against four-year and postgraduate students.
“They have competitions in everything from theatrical design, to acting, to musical theater…anything you can think of, any parts of the craft, it’s all in there,” Tubilewicz said.
The regional conference is annual and moves to different locations, according to Tubilewicz.
“The nice thing about having it here at MCC, the travel is much cheaper, because we would just be paying for registration; money is always a limiting factor in how many students we can send,” Tubilewicz said. “It is much more economical to have our students participate, so we can have far more of our students participating in the conference.”
The curriculum for designers is designed around the benchmark methods and criteria that KCACTF uses to evaluate competitors, which Tubilewicz said has helped keep that program running strong.
He said it is also effective at getting students more interested in design, which can lead to them gaining access to the opportunities that the festival offers them.
“We participate traditionally by entering our theatrical productions in to be considered both for the different students that are working on the show in whatever capacity, and also for the show itself either to be invited in its entirety or to have a scene invited from it,” Tubilewicz said.
The theater and film arts department send many theatrical practitioners each year to compete, and Tubilewicz added that MCC usually has a good showing at the festival.
“For a community college, we mop up quite a few nominations and wins at these competitions,” Tubilewicz said. “Which is good, because depending on what it is there can be scholarship awards or networking opportunities or other opportunities for the students when they win.”
The Irene Ryan Foundation offers students one of the many opportunities during the festival to compete, with a chance to be recognized with acting scholarships, according to the press release.
Winners receive $500 at the regional event with the possibility of winning $3,500 scholarships if invited to compete at the national festival.
Those interested must audition with a partner because the competition involves two-person scenes and will need to be prepared for three rounds of different material that also include monologues.
Tubilewicz also discussed the Musical Theatre Initiative and Cabaret, a competition for scenes from musicals that the MCC music department competes in, which provides scholarship funds to winners.
He stressed that the focus of students involved in the festival should be the experience.
“It allows our students to see what is out there,” Tubilewicz said. “It’s not about winning…it’s about the experience, and going and seeing other ways of tackling the work. You’re going to learn a ton just from seeing what has been done around your region.”
He said that the workshops are a big element of the experience; an example he gave from last year, Cirque du Soleil held 40 workshops at the festival.
“Any of the participants can take advantage of any of those workshops they want,” Tubilewicz said.
Only festival registrants can participate in some elements of the festival, but anyone on campus or in the community could register to be a part of the festival, and the public could also attend to see the invited productions performed, according to Tubilewicz.
“We’re happy to have them back, and to be able to get as many of our MCC students involved with us as we possibly can,” Tubilewicz said.
The MCC Southern Avenue and Dobson Road campus is located at 1833 W. Southern Ave. For more information on the festival, visit: https://kcactf-8.org/.
– Mesa resident Kian Hagerman is a Mesa Community College journalism intern for MyNewsMesa.com.