University News

WIU Students Return from Regional Theatre Festival with Honors

January 15, 2020

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MACOMB, IL – Students and faculty have returned to campus from last weekend's Region 3 Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) in Madison, WI.

WIU results from the event included:

• Theater and Dance Professor Bill Kincaid, head of performance at WIU was named a winner of The Kennedy Center Gold Medallion Award. Each year, the eight KCACTF regions honor individuals or organizations that have made extraordinary contributions to the teaching and producing of theatre and who have significantly dedicated their time, artistry and enthusiasm to the development of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. Award recipients have demonstrated a strong commitment to the values and goals of KCACTF, and to excellence in educational theatre. It is the most prestigious regional award given by KCACTF, and is considered one of the great honors in theatre education.

• MFA graduate student James Tweedale, of North Bend, WA, and MFA graduate student Bobbi Bye, of Carmel, IN, both auditioned for Cal State Summer Intensive - both won their auditions for doing Chicago-style improvisation. They will both be doing their intensive work in voiceover. 

• Nissi Shalom Smith, a May WIU graduate in musical theatre, from South Holland, IL, and Kaela Dawn Massey, a senior musical theatre major from Winfield, KS, were both finalists in the Musical Theatre Intensive Voice Competition. Smith won the alternate slot for the Open Jar Institute in New York City, which came with either a $200 cash prize or $600 scholarship to the institute. 

• Senior music theatre majors Eric Clemons, of Sellersburg, IN; Joe Collins, of Sherrard, IL; Jessica Patrick, of Evergreen Park, IL, and Massey all participated in the Musical Theatre Intensive Dance competition, which was the opening number at the final ceremony – "Put a Lid on It," from the musical "CONTACT." Collins had a featured solo at the top, and Clemons was featured prominently throughout the piece, which was based on the Lindy Hop. 

• Senior theatre major Keyshawn Steele, of Chicago, auditioned for the Ten-minute Plays Festival, was cast and performed in "HIP-HOP HEAVEN," a student-directed and written piece about a black DJ in purgatory who greets a young black man who has been killed, exploring themes of black lives matter. 

• Ondreya Seahorn, a senior musical theatre major, of Winfield, KS; Clemons; Smith; MFA graduate student Austin Roach, of Wasilla, AK; MFA graduate student Brandon Herring, of Grimes, IA; Bye; and Steele all participated in Next Step Auditions (auditions in front of professional theatre companies); nearly all of the students got called back for at least one thing. Smith was called back by a company in Milwaukee, WI, and is negotiating a contract. 

• MFA graduate students Kaitlin Findley, of Mason, OH; Anthony Karpinski, of Macomb; Sam Meyerson, of Easton, PA; and Rebecca Holcomb Rankin, of Macomb, all participated in the Design Competition and made it to the semi-finals. Rankin moved on to the finals, with one of the final-round judges saying she had a great design and concept for "PIPPIN." 

• Smith and Steele advanced to the semi-final round of the Irene Ryan acting competition. 

• Senior theatre and broadcasting and journalism student Audrey Gniech, of Algonquin, IL, participated in the Institute for Theatre Journalism and Advocacy (ITJA) for the second year.

• Meyerson and Karpinski won the Tech Olympics as Team Trash Panda. Karpinski won fastest light hang and focus, and Meyerson won fastest button sewing and fastest knot tying, and together they won the all-around competition. 

• Assistant Professor Hadley Kamminga-Peck and Associate Professor Lysa Fox both adjudicated/responded to Irene Ryan Acting Competition in the first round of competition. Kamminga-Peck also responded to the student directors of the Ten-minute Play Festival and co-selected the winner. 

During the festival, students and faculty attended a variety of performances, workshops on everything from performing the song to intimacy work to dance to arts advocacy and theatre management. Students also explored downtown Madison,WI, including visiting the Art Museum. 

"Our students handled themselves with dignity and integrity; they approached a plethora of new opportunities with bravery and an open heart," said WIU Department of Theatre and Dance Chair Tammy Killian. "They demonstrated the type of theatre artists they are growing into - collaborative, generous, responsive, supportive and courteous. They represented WIU well through their work ethic and positive attitude - who could ask for a better team than that?"

For more information about the WIU Department of Theatre and Dance, visit

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