EAC’s Repertory Acting Company invited to perform at the Kennedy Center Theatre Festival

By Lori Dugan

THATCHER — Students in the Theatre Department at Eastern Arizona College are beaming with pride over their most recent accolade: the Repertory Acting Company was invited to share a scene from their recent production of Stories Onstage: A Celebration of Traditional Folk Tales at the Kennedy Center’s American College Theatre Festival for Region VIII.

From the thousands of shows which are entered by colleges and universities in Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California, Hawaii, and Guam, only 10 outstanding scenes are chosen for the Evening of Invited Scenes, which opens the festival.  EAC students in the Repertory Acting Company and their work on the Hawaiian folktale, The Strange Sled Race, will be featured in this performance.  This year’s festival will be held in mid-February in Mesa, Arizona.  The Fall 2017 Repertory Acting Company members included Stefan Baker-Horton, Bailey Bickmore, Megan Codling, Stuart Kieren, Nikolas Mase, Emily Nagy, Madelynn St. Peter, Alyssa Ruiz, Christian Teague, and Angelique Woods. The stage managers for the production were Camryn Hansen and Devon Tyrrell.

The Repertory Acting Company, structured and implemented by the professor of theatre arts, Steven Higginbotham, is a college course intended to model the structure of a professional theatre company in which members of the ensemble collaborate to stage creative performance projects.

“Students in ‘The Rep’ work together to devise, adapt, script, design, produce, and perform their work for local audiences, Higginbotham said. “This semester, the ensemble was tasked with reading and researching traditional folk tales from American, Native American, Hawaiian, Alaskan, and Mexican heritage and to devise a performance for young audiences based on these magical stories.  After crafting their performances for audiences on EAC’s campus, The Rep toured to several local elementary schools in the Gila Valley in December as a community outreach project with Stories Onstage. I am so proud of the outstanding, original work these dedicated and talented students have worked so hard to create.”

Megan Codling, a freshman in the theatre arts program at Eastern Arizona College, served as the playwright and student director for The Strange Sled Race, the Hawaiian folktale, which The Rep will perform at the Festival next month.

“I chose this particular story because I found it to be dramatic and compelling, but it also offered many opportunities for creative staging and design,” Codling said. “I thought that the children would really enjoy it, and the actors would be pushed to create something really captivating.”

When asked if she experienced any challenges in staging this story, she responded with an immediate, “Yes! I felt like this story needed a sense of precision in the action onstage in order to make it magical.”

In regards to the invitation to perform the scene at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Megan shared, “The entire Repertory Acting Company is thrilled to be able to share our work and creativity with this large community of college and university theatre artists.  They will get to see the kind of great things we stage here at EAC.”

In addition to having the Repertory Acting Company perform their original scene at the Kennedy Center’s American College Theatre Festival, eight of the Fine Arts Division’s students have been selected to compete in the Irene Ryan Acting Competition for their outstanding performances in EAC’s fall shows. Cameron Byrd, Megan Codling, Nik Mase, Martin Moreno, Emily Nagy, Alyssa Ruiz, Joseph Speers, and Angelique Woods will bring scenes and monologues to perform in hopes of winning this scholarship competition.

For more information about EAC’s theatre arts program contact Higginbotham at steven.higginbotham@eac.edu.