Four Students Win Honors at Region II Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival

Posted by: Elizabeth Richardson on January 30, 2018, No Comments

Four students from East Stroudsburg University’s theatre department earned honors at the Region II Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF).

Founded in 1969, KCACTF is a national program that serves as a catalyst to improve the quality of college theater through its network of more than 600 universities throughout the United States organized into eight geographic regions. Last year more than 1,300 productions were entered in the KCACTF involving more than 200,000 students nationwide.

Nichole Seul, a senior majoring in technical theatre from Milford, Pa., earned the Don Childs Award for Technical Merit and honorable mention for Theatrical Design Excellence for her lighting design for the recent production of The Laramie Project.

A one-week, expenses paid, intensive workshop in a technical theater area of the recipient’s choice at the Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas is part of the Childs Award. The nationally recognized Stagecraft Institute specializes in hands-on, state-of-the-art training in all aspects of technical theatre.

“I’m looking forward to taking a course in drafting,” Seul said, “because it will give me a chance to expand my skills in a critical area.” Stage lighting is “a lesser known and appreciated art,” she added, “but I just love every aspect of it, especially design. Only about one in every 10 people working in technical theatre is a woman, but I know that this is where I belong.”

Seul credits Christopher Domanski, associate professor of theatre, for showing her “how to work with the director and the other production designers, and how to create light renderings and a design statement.”

Two students, Sarah Bauch, a junior majoring in technical theatre and secondary education with a concentration in history from Effort, Pa., and Katherine French, a junior majoring in theatre from Springtown, Pa., earned honors for stage management. For the second year in a row, Bauch received the regional award for stage management, this time for her work on The Crucible. French earned an honorable mention for The Laramie Project, the first show she served as the primary stage manager.

“One of the evaluators told me that my calling script was so detailed that he could have picked it up and used it to run the show without a rehearsal, and he had stage managed a national tour. My jaw just dropped,” Bauch said.

“I transferred to ESU from another school where there were fewer opportunities for beginning stage managers and little mentoring,” Bauch added. “At ESU, I was given a chance to prove myself by doing, which I think is the best way. I’ve learned how to be myself as a stage manager and to adapt so I can work with a range of directors and directing styles.”

French, who has acted, directed, and served as an assistant stage manager, was “shocked in a good way” by her award. “It was really important to get that kind of feedback as I’m starting to focus on stage management,” she added.

“Though a lot of stage managers are men, I don’t think that it will be an uphill battle to be a stage manager,” French said. “Women know how to get a job done, and how to treat people fairly and with respect.”

“In the past five years, ESU theatre students have won both regional and national stage management awards at KCACTF,” noted Margaret Ball, D.M.A., professor of theatre and department chair. “Our stage management graduates mentor our current students by returning and sharing their experiences.”

A fourth ESU student, Angelica Ramirez, a junior majoring in musical theatre from Effort, Pa., earned recognition for both her acting and her musical theatre skills by advancing to the second round of the Irene Ryan acting competition and by being one of 10 participants in Musical Theatre Initiative selected to perform at a cabaret for the festival.

Although she didn’t make the finals in either competition, Ramirez noted that the experiences “gave me great feedback on what I can do differently. I did pieces out of my comfort zone and grew as a performer.”

Ramirez credits her coaches, Ball and Stephanie Daventry French, both professors of theatre, with helping her to advance in the competition. “Dr. Ball showed me how to analyze my song as a monologue, not just sing it, and Professor French gave me intensive coaching on my Shakespeare selection.”

In addition to coaching ESU students, Ball was a respondent for the Irene Ryan competition, and Daventry French directed an entry in the National Playwriting Program. Both Domanski, and Yoshinori Tanokura, associate professor of theatre, presented well-attended technical theatre workshops at the festival.

Some of the 35 ESU students attending the festival forged contacts with other universities through their work with the National Playwriting Program in acting, stage management and sound design, ESU also had its first student attend the Institute for Theatre Journalism and Advocacy—Madison Petro, a senior from Moosic, Pa. with a double major in theatre and journalism.

“This year’s KCACTF provided the ESU students and faculty with significant opportunities to enhance their theatre skills,” Ball noted, “and I was most encouraged by the success of our female students in design and in stage management—fields that have been traditionally dominated by men.”

For more information about ESU’s theatre department contact Ball at 570-422-3261 or email