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Students Move up in Theatre Scholarship Competition

The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) is a national theatre program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide. Over 600 academic institutions throughout the country showcase their talents at this competition. The Kennedy Center strives to encourage, recognize, and celebrate the finest and most diverse work produced in university and college theatre, to provide opportunities for participants to hone and develop their theatre skills, and to improve the quality of college theatre throughout the country. Here at UMD we've done just that.

Students Selected - Two to Perform at the Kennedy Center in April

Four UMD Theatre majors were selected by outside respondents to compete in the KCACTF's Region V competition for the Irene Ryan Scholarship. The Irene Ryan Scholarships provide recognition, honor, and financial assistance to outstanding student performers to further their education. This year, 290 actors from the seven-state region (Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota) vied for the top honors. Remarkably, all four of UMD's actors - Ben Elledge, Brittany Parker, Annie Ragsdale, and Sarah Schmitz - made it to the final round of 16, where they each presented two scenes and a monologue to an audience of twelve hundred people and a panel of national judges. Photo above: From the The Man of Infinite Sadness. Right: Ben Elledge, Irene Ryan Scholarship winner.

In the final round, Ben Elledge was named one of the two winners of the Irene Ryan Scholarship for the region. He and his scene partner, Matt Olsen, will travel to Washington, D.C., in April for the national competition at the Kennedy Center. This marks Ben's second time he has won the top acting prize at the regional level, and is also the fourth time in the last six years a UMD actor has won this honor.

Additionally, Brittany Parker was named the second runner up, and Annie Ragsdale was awarded the TVI scholarship. She will receive two free weeks of classes and workshops with agents and casting directors at the TVI studios in New York this summer.

Casey Martin was the another UMD student awarded top honors, when she was named the Stage Management Fellow for Region V. She also received the Silver Wrench award for best student contribution in the Stage Crew Showdown.

One-Act Play Crew Receives Award

Lastly, The Man of Infinite Sadness by Brian Tanen was deemed one of the best shows at the regional competition and is one of three KCACTF Region V productions being held for the national festival in April at the Kennedy Center for the Arts in Washington D.C. The crew of The Man of Infinite Sadness also received the Golden Handtruck award, UMD Theatre has received this award for the second time in three years. By the first week of March, UMD Theatre will be notified if the production of The Man of Infinite Sadness will be presented at the national competition in Washington D.C.

written by Sherise Morgan

UMD home page editor, Cheryl Reitan,
NEW RELEASES, UMD media contact, Susan Latto,, 218-726-8830


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