Hope College’s Department of Theatre received a variety of honors during the Region III Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, held in Indianapolis, Indiana on Tuesday-Sunday, Jan. 9-14.

The department’s “The Line Between,” which was staged at the college in April 2017, was one of only seven productions invited to be performed during the festival.  In addition, Hope theatre students received three top awards, including the prestigious Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Audition Award.

The annual regional theatre festival is a gathering of more than 1,300 theatre students and faculty from 70-plus colleges and universities, who join together to showcase and celebrate the best artistic work of the five-state region of Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. In addition to featuring invited productions that are juried and selected to perform the festival provides theatre students with the opportunity to display their work in dramaturgy, design, stage management, directing, playwriting and musical theatre, as well as acting.

Senior Akia Nyrie Smith of Grand Rapids received the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Award for her acting audition with her scene partner, senior Sam Hill of Grandville. Sophomore Emmie Sandstedt of Lake Zurich, Illinois, received the Stage Management Fellowship; and junior Rachel Dion of Clinton Township was selected for the Aspire KCACTF/Lort Leadership Award for artistic administrators.

The four students will represent Hope and attend the National KCACTF festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in April.  While in D.C., the students will attend masterclasses and workshops, and have the opportunity to present their work and be eligible for additional awards.

Other special recognition at the festival included participants and their scene partners who advanced to the semi-final round of the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Audition Award: sophomore Gracen Barth of Dallas, Texas, and her partner junior Shanley Smith of Holland; junior Rachel Dion of Clinton Township and her partner sophomore Maxwell Lam of Holland; and senior Kierney Johnson of Seattle, Washington, and her partner senior Elizabeth Schoenfeld of Oxford.  Senior Nathan Gingrich of Potsdam, New York, was a Stage Management finalist and sophomores Teresa Cameon of South Lyon and Katie Joachim of Dearborn were finalists for the Musical Theatre Intensive that included an opportunity to perform in the Musical Theatre Intensive showcase.

Other accomplishments at the festival included additional Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship nominees and their scene partners who participated in the preliminary round: junior Jose Angulo of San Francisco, California, and his partner junior Brynne Fritjofson of Granby, Connecticut; junior Katrina Dykstra of Walker and her partner sophomore Katie Joachim of Dearborn; and junior Olivia Lehnertz of Bloomfield Hills and her partner senior Griffin Baer of Holland.  Olivia Lehnertz participated in the Dramaturgy program as well.

The KCACTF is a national program designed to encourage excellence in college and university theatre in the United States.  Started in 1969, the program involves 20,000 students from more than 700 academic institutions throughout the country.  The program is divided into eight regions.

The college’s Department of Theatre has been selected to tour to the regional event eight times, and was twice chosen to tour to the national festival.  The festival no longer chooses full productions to tour nationally, instead inviting students from regional productions in March after all eight regional festivals have concluded.