Hope College Theatre Department receives recognition at the Region III Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival

The Hope College Theatre Department is proud of the hard work and effort of their students. Hope Theatre participates in the Region III Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. The annual regional theatre festival is a gathering of more than 1,300 college theatre students and faculty who join together to showcase the best work of the five-state region of Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. In addition to invited productions that are juried and selected to perform, theatre students also have the opportunity to display their work in dramaturgy, design, stage management, directing, playwriting, musical theatre, as well as acting.

This year, Hope College received incredible recognition. Senior Akia Nyrie Smith and her scene partner senior Sam Hill, received the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Award, sophomore Emmie Sandstedt received the Stage Management Fellowship, and junior Rachel Dion was selected for the KCACTF/Lort Leadership Award for artistic administrators. These four students will represent Hope College and attend the National KCACTF festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC in April.

Junior Rachel Dion
Sophomore Emmie Sandstedt

As Smith put it, “I just feel very grateful and honored. I am in a very mixed state of shock. I honestly didn’t think I would be here, but I was hoping and I was praying. And I couldn’t be happier with the turn out.”

Senior Akia Nyrie Smith and her Irene Ryan partner, Sam Hill.

Other special recognition at the festival included participants and their scene partners who advanced to the semi-final round of the Irene Ryan Acting scholarship: senior Kierney Johnson and her partner senior Elizabeth Schonfeld, junior Rachel Dion and her partner sophomore Maxwell Lam, and sophomore Gracen Barth and her partner junior Shanley Smith.

The Irene Ryan semi-finalists and their partners.

Senior Nathan Gingrich was a Stage Management finalist and sophomores Teresa Cameon and Katie Joachim were finalists for the Musical Theatre Intensive that included an opportunity to perform in the Musical Theatre Intensive showcase.

Sophomores Katie Joachim and Teresa Cameon.
Senior Nathan Gingrich alongside Theatre Office Manager Reagan Chesnut and sophomore Emmie Sandstedt.

Other accomplishments at the festival include the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship participants and their scene partners – junior Jose Angulo and his partner junior Brynne Fritjofson, junior Olivia Lehnertz and her partner senior Griffin Baer, and junior Katrina Dykstra and her partner sophomore Katie Joachim. Junior Olivia Lehnertz also participated in the Dramaturgy program.

Junior Olivia Lehnertz presenting her dramaturgy research.

Hope College Theatre Department was also selected to tour their production of “The Line Between” as a participating production to the festival. This regional recognition was a great honor for the entire cast and production team. “The Line Between” had two performances on during the festival.     

The cast and crew of “The Line Between” with Hope College President Dennis and Betty Voskuil.

As Lehnertz said, “It was a really great opportunity to tell this story for our peers in theatre. The audience was so engaged and supportive. It’s definitely a highlight of my college career.”

Congratulations to the Hope College Theatre Department for the honors received at the festival!

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