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OUC Students attend theater festival
January 18, 2017 : OUC Theater program takes on Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival


OUC Theater program takes on Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival


While the rest of the Ohio University – Chillicothe campus enjoyed the long winter break, the OUC Theater program descended upon Montclair State University in New Jersey for the Region II Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival from Jan. 3rd through 7th.


A record seven students from OUC attended this year’s event with OUC Theater program director Lance Mekeel in tow. The festival, now in its 49th year, is a national theater program involving 20,000 students from colleges and universities annually that serves as a catalyst in improving the quality of college theater in the United States.

OUC Theater group attend Kennedy Center American College Theater festival.

“The students really appreciated being around other students who understand and embody theater,” said Mekeel. “Having the opportunity to participate in workshops and activities with others who are invested in the theatre community is entirely different than the experience they have in the day-to-day classes at OUC.”


This year, OUC entered their Fall production, “We (don’t) Remember: Cultural Memory in South-Central Ohio,” created by the cast, for recognition at the Region II Festival, which in turn allotted them three nominations for students to compete for awards. The annual awards in each region honor excellence of overall production and offers individual recognition for playwriting, acting, criticism, directing and design.


Three OUC students, Levi Kelly, Konner Kersey and Taylor Malone, were nominees for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship auditions this year, which is based on the school’s participating entry or production. To compete, each student chose a partner and together prepared two scenes for presentation, a two-minute and three-minute scene and a monologue. After presenting their pieces during an audition, students received feedback from respondents which determines if they advance to the next of three rounds. Unfortunately, OUC students didn’t make it past the preliminary round this year, but are hopeful for future placement. The winners of this portion of the program move on to compete at the national festival in Washington, D.C. for scholarship money.


“It’s so important for our students to be around other students who love theater as much as they do and to experience it in ways that they can’t necessarily experience here,” Mekeel said. “Even if it’s just for giving them a look at how theater happens elsewhere or getting them feedback on their work from other theater faculty. It’s a tremendously useful program for college theater students.”


OUC Theater program director Lance Mekeel significantly contributed to the success of the Festival by presenting a workshop on acting. The two-hour workshop focused on the Michael Chekhov technique of acting, for which Mekeel holds a national certification to teach. Mekeel also took part in a mentoring opportunity by directing one of six, 10-minute play entries for the National Playwright Program.


“I feel like it is of critical importance for those who are interested in theater, whether they’re majoring, minoring or are just curious about it, to be able to have exposure to events like this. I’m thrilled to help give that opportunity to our students,” Mekeel noted.


OUC students, through the work of the Student Theater Organization, will be holding fundraisers between now and next January to help cover the costs for program registration. Events will include a STO performance this Spring of “Sordid Lives,” dubbed “a black comedy about white trash.”


Mekeel said he plans on entering this year’s Spring & Fall productions into the 2018 festival. The Spring theater performance of “Ghosts” by Henrik Ibsen, will open April 6th and run through April 8th in the Bennett Hall Auditorium.