The University of South Dakota's Department of Theatre captured numerous awards at the regional competition of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (ACTF), Jan. 22-27 in Ames, IA. Approximately 1,200 students, representing 181 colleges from a seven-state region that includes North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska, competed for awards in acting, design, technical production, playwriting and criticism.
In the area of design, undergraduate student Amanda Fehlner of Tabor, IA, won first place in the Barbizon costume design competition for her work on Urinetown, The Musical. Fehlner, who has won this award for a remarkable three consecutive years, will now advance to the national level of the ACTF Barbizon competition to be held at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, in April. Fehlner will compete for cash awards and will attend master classes conducted by some of the country's top professional designers for theatre and film. Graduate student Aaron Laudermith of Pierre, received a Meritorious Achievement Award for his scenic design for Crimes of the Heart and a second place award in the Tech Expo Allied Crafts Competition for his poster design for Urinetown.
Graduate student Patrick Stone of Tyndall, and undergraduate students Fehlner and Cameron Stahlheim of Sioux Falls, tied for first place in the Tech Expo Allied Crafts Competition. Stone's entry was a highly customized desk with two sets of descending stairs. The unit, which was constructed for Urinetown, was pneumatically controlled and capable of rising, lowering, pivoting, and rolling quietly. Fehlner and Stahlheim collaborated on a specialized prop – the gruesome decapitated head of Macbeth which was constructed of state-of-the-art modeling and makeup materials. Graduate student Emily Forsman of Helena, MT, received Honorable Mention in the Barbizon competition for her scenic design for Macbeth.
"It's wonderful to win something like this. I worked very hard on the desk, and it's nice to hear that others appreciated it. It's funny to think about how much time we put into props, but in the end it is that kind of attention that takes a show to the next level," said Stone. Students who excelled in the Irene Ryan acting competition include Dacia Dick of Phillip, and Ellie Satter of Yankton, who, along with their acting partners Miles Brindley of Belle Fourche, and Jonnie Stapleton of South Sioux City, NE, advanced to the final round of 16 actors out of an original pool of 323 competitors. Dick also received second place in the musical theatre component of the competition. Mandi Jung of Rapid City, and Ryan Henderson of Box Elder, and their acting partners Paul Petersen of Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and Tyler Hudson of South Sioux City, NE, advanced with the previous mentioned actors to the semi-final round of 35 competitors. Certificates of Merit were also awarded to the cast of Crimes of the Heart for its work as an ensemble and to undergraduate student Kyle Wasserman of Chamberlain, for his fight choreography for Macbeth.