Dordt College News

National accolades for Dordt Theater production

June 23, 2004

The Dordt College Theater Department recently received notification of four commendations from the National Selection Team of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) for the college’s fall 2003 performance of All My Sons.

Nationwide, only 53 college and university productions received this recognition for special achievement in production in the 2003-2004 academic year. The four commendations awarded to Dordt College included one to director Jeri Schelhaas, from faculty and staff colleagues for program development and production achievement; another to Paul Olsen, Sioux Center, for his performance as George Deever; to Rachel Persenaire, Escalon, Calif., for her performance as Ann Deever; and to Laura Berkompas, Sunnyside, Wash., for her work as lighting technician for the production. All My Sons

In the tri-state region, only one other performer, Solomon Davis from Northwestern College, received a commendation for his performance in Moeder and Caprice.

All My Sons is the second show in Dordt College’s history to be invited to perform at the Region 5 ACTF Festival, which is made up of undergraduate and graduate theatre programs in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North and South Dakota.

After their performance at Denver in January, this show was the first Dordt show ever to be held in consideration for the national festival at the John F. Kennedy Center, held April 12-18. While All My Sons was not among the eight that made the final cut, following that event the national selection committee reviewed all the shows they had seen across the whole country and awarded some final individual and ensemble commendations.

“I think that the commendation to all of us reflects their positive assessment of what we do as a department in a small college, said director Jeri Schelhaas after receiving word of the multiple commendations. Student actors from other colleges at the Denver Regional Competition told Dordt students they were fortunate to have received so much stage time, as at large universities a theater major is lucky to get one lead role before he or she graduates. Many cast members of All My Sonshave had numerous lead roles and a great deal of individual coaching.

In recent years, many Dordt student one-person shows, sets, costumes and original music compositions have received awards at the regional festival, and a number of students have advanced to the final round of competition, the Irene Ryan Acting Competition. This past year a one-person show, Ghostdance, was also “held” along with All My Sons, but the student performer (Laura Groen) was out of the country and had to withdraw the piece from consideration. This April’s presentation of The Greeks: The Murders is currently being held for consideration in the regional American College Theater Festival, which will be in St. Louis next January.

“ACTF is a great opportunity to see and critique the work of other colleges and have others critique our work as well,” says Rachel Persenaire, who played lead parts in both All My Sons and The Greeks: The Murders. A judge and responder from the ACTF adjudicates each performance at Dordt College, giving valuable feedback to performers, directors and production crews and the opportunity to advance to regional and national competition.

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