Skip Navigation

Keene State to Host Kennedy Center Theatre Festival

KEENE, N.H. 1/14/02 - Keene State College will host the New England regionals of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (ACTF), Wednesday through Sunday, Jan. 30-Feb. 3, on the KSC campus. The five-day festival is expected to draw more than 500 faculty members and students from colleges and universities throughout New England.

The ACTF Region I festival involves the production of eight plays, more than 32 workshops in theatre arts, numerous student-written, one-act plays, and daily competitions for the prestigious Irene Ryan acting award.

Well-known stage actress Alice Ripley, who recently starred in “The Rocky Horror Show” on Broadway, will be the festival’s keynote speaker and will conduct an acting workshop in musical theatre. Other workshops deal with stage and lighting design, audition techniques, stage combat, theatre critique, costumes and makeup, choreography, and physical improvisation.

The Irene Ryan acting competition involves daily rounds of student actors vying for semi-finalist and finalist positions on the regional level. The winner then goes on to compete for the coveted national award at the ACTF National Festival at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., this spring.

The festival also includes daily rehearsals of five 10-minute student-written plays at various locations on campus and at Keene hotels, where the more than 500 festival participants will be housed. The five plays will be performed on Saturday, Feb. 2, starting at 5:30 p.m. in the Young Student Center.

Ronald Spangler, chairman of the KSC Theatre, Dance and Film Department, and Daniel Patterson, associate professor of theatre, are co-chairs and hosts for the Region I ACTF festival in 2002 and 2003. The festival is part of a national theatre education program to identify and promote quality theatre production at the college level.

Eight plays were chosen from among 54 produced and submitted for performance at the Festival during 2001 by colleges and universities throughout New England. Each play was adjudicated during the production by a regional ACTF representative, whose input was weighed by the Region I selection committee as it chose the plays to be presented at this year’s Festival. One of the plays will be selected for performance at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., this spring.

Each of the following plays will be presented during the Festival in Keene State’s Redfern Arts Center on Brickyard Pond. The plays and all other events are open only to people who register for the festival. On-site registration is available for $50 for the full 5-day festival or $25 for one-day. For registration information, call 603-358-2196, or check the ACTF Region I festival web site at

Kindertransport by Diane Samuels, presented by The University of New Hampshire, directed by Deborah Kinghorn, on Thursday, Jan. 31, at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. in the Wright Theatre. This touching drama follows one of 10,000 German Jewish children sent to England during World War II in a little-known rescue operation called Kindertransport. It tells the tale of 9-year-old Eva Schlesinger who, more than 45 years later, is the quintessential English woman, her origins from everyone, including her own daughter. The play probes the complex emotions of those who must lose everything in order to live and looks at what grows out of a traumatized past.

Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury, presented by Stonehill College, directed by Patricia Sankus, on Thursday, Jan. 31, at 8 p.m. in the Main Theatre. Ray Bradbury’s reflection on growing up in small-town Illinois is dreamlike, bittersweet, tragic, and funny, with darker elements just beneath the surface. It is a play about the events that change one’s life, about the inability to change the past coupled with the ability to learn from it. And while it features some Bradbury-esque surreal touches, it is at heart a humanist work that in many ways hits close to home.

The Lepers of Baiile Baiste by Ronan Noone (student playwright), produced by Boston University, directed by Sidney Friedman, on Friday, Feb. 1, at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. in the Wright Theatre. This original student play takes place in a quiet Irish town on Baiile Baiste, “come day, go day.” When Daithi O’Neil returns to sort things out, a violent churchyard theft and the requisite sip of ale unleashes a backlash townspeople don’t expect.

_Heroes Never Die_by David Anthony MacNiven (student playwright), produced by Southern Connecticut State University, directed by David Anthony MacNiven. A staged reading of this student-written play will be presented on Friday, Feb. 1, at 4 p.m. in the Alumni Recital Hall.

Keely and Du by Jane Martin, produced by Central Connecticut State University, directed by Josh Perlstein, on Friday, Feb. 1, at 8 p.m. in the Main Theatre. This play looks at abortion from the points of view of a pregnant woman and her right-to-life kidnapper. What would you be willing to do for something that you believe in? This is the question at the center of this drama, which goes to extreme measures not to take sides but rather to give human form to an issue usually painted in black and white.

The Conduct of Life by Maria Irene Fornes, produced by Salem State College, directed by David Allen George, on Saturday, Feb. 2, at 12:15 and 3:30 p.m. in the Wright Theatre. The play tells a tale of unchecked political power gone awry with devastating consequences to one family. It deals with the psychology of torture inside and outside the home and shows how humanity as a whole hangs on each individual’s choice of conduct.

Bondage, a one-act play by David Henry Hwang, produced by Southern Connecticut State University, directed by Daniel Gookin (student director), on Saturday, Feb. 2, at 12:15 and 3:30 p.m. in the Wright Theatre. “Bondage” is a political drama that just happens to take place in an S&M; parlor. The play revolves around two characters trying to find a stable relationship within the walls, and behind the masks, that protect them from the rocky world.

The Good Woman of Setzuan by Bertolt Brecht, produced by the University of Southern Maine at Gorham, directed by Minor Rootes, on Saturday, Feb. 2, at 8 p.m. in the Main Theatre. The play’s plot revolves around the fable of three gods in search of goodness in a corrupt world. The gods visit the city of Setzuan, whose inhabitants are too concerned with survival to struggle with issues of good and evil. A prostitute, who would like to be good, but must sell herself to pay the rent and put food on the table, is the only one who will give shelter to the gods.

Related Stories

Contact Keene State College

229 Main Street
Keene, New Hampshire 03435