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Why I’m going to every single Kennedy Center American Theatre College Festival

As of writing this, I recently attended the Kennedy Center American Theatre College Festival (KCACTF). I wanted to take this time to express why I will, from this point on, go to every single festival. Not only are the workshops themselves worth it, but I’d also argue that they showed me plays that really changed my perspective on what it means to be a person. 

A lot of the trip, for me at least, was going to different workshops that were offered there. They varied in topic and discussion, with some explaining how one goes about storyboarding a theater show or creating personal stakes for the characters you write. These workshops covered all forms of theater from dancing, acting, stage management, and all aspects of being involved in theater. Now while the workshops themselves are very good, I think it’s also important to just simply recognize the amount of talent that is available at this kind of festival. 

Photo: Ethan Windt
Photo: Ethan Windt

First, it must be said, that every single performance at the festival was fantastic and worth seeing in its own right, but the standout performance had to be, Stupid F##king Bird by the University of Minnesota Duluth. An adaptation of the Anton Checkov play, The Seagull. Now I can’t imagine how much this new play changes parts of the original play itself; However, I’m hoping to read through both scripts to find out for myself since this show was so good. This play has phenomenal character writing, build-up of character, motivation, wants, and needs, in only a few amount of scenes. All the characters feel so real, and I find myself relating to different aspects of different characters during the show. Mash (Pronounced Mosh) is a person that has this love for someone who will never love them back, so she just has to settle for a nice life, but a life that could never even barely scratch the surface of the dream life she wishes she could have. Nina, in the show, realizes she’s ruined all of her friends’ lives in some extreme way, and she can’t bear to go on and is stuck with the same terrible roles that she can’t escape from. Eugene is a doctor in the later years of his life who over the course of the plays, comes to the realization that he’s never actually felt real feelings. When he brings this to the attention of the other characters he poses the question, “Have any of you felt anything real?” This scene alone had me haunted by the realization that I wouldn’t be able to answer the question if Eugene had asked me myself. 

These are the great experiences that I had at KCACTF. I wouldn’t have gotten them anywhere else, and I wouldn’t want them from anywhere else either. They are now mine to cherish forever. I just hope I have the chance to gain and cherish even more next year.

Ethan Windt is a staff writer for The Buzz.