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Wooster Theater Students Earn Top Awards

Dominic Piacentini

A & E Editor

According to David Grunfeld ’13, Wooster’s theater department is playing with the “big boys.” Wooster sent 12 students to the American College Theater Festival (ACTF), a 6-day competition in Baltimore. The ACTF is a national championship subdivided into regional categories, where students can be nominated for several awards. Eight students from Wooster competed in the acting, stage management and design categories. They were nominated by professors and directors from across the region who attended last spring’s play “Las Meninas” and this fall’s production of “Equus.” Entire productions can also be nominated for the competition. Although “Equus” didn’t make the cut, several actors and designers were nominated for their work.

Grunfeld, along with Alex Dereix ’14, Erika Dawn ’15 and Noah Hibbard ’16 represented Wooster in the acting category this January. The acting competition was comprised of three rounds, each fewer than three minutes. The first two rounds were full scenes performed with a partner, and the third and final round was a monologue performed by the nominee. Grunfeld noted that this style of competition was very beneficial because “different professors judge each round, and after each round the judges give notes about your performance.” Dereix, along with her partner Colin Martin ’15, moved into the second round, and Grunfeld and his partner Janna Haywood ’14 made it into the final round, which consisted of 16 of the initial 270 nominees.

Grunfeld explained that, “we’re competing with a lot of big schools and even grad students. We’ve shown we could compete with the big boys; we have talent here, and we showcased that.” He also noted how closely he worked with professors and Haywood in preparation for this competition. Grunfeld practiced scenes, monologues and vocal and physical exercises this winter break. “You don’t think about anything else   —  and that’s a good thing!”

In the stage management category, Wooster sent Chelsea Gillespie ’13 and Ben Pfister ’14. Gillespie competed for her work in “Equus” and Pfister for “Las Meninas.” Both Gillespie and Pfister were required to provide their prompt book, including any notes for the direction of the play such as acting cues, lights, design, etc. Their competition consisted of two parts: an interview and a brief presentation on their production. Pfister finished first in the regional stage management for his work in “Las Meninas,” and Gillespie finished first for her management of “Equus.” Wooster performed impeccably with both of their management candidates receiving first place honors over the 60 others in the category. Gillespie will also be going on to compete in the national competition in Washington D.C. this coming April.

Paul Swanson ’13 and Kent Sprague ’14 also competed at the ACTF. Swanson was nominated for his construction of the horse heads featured in “Equus” this fall, and Sprague exhibited his lighting and designing talents. Wooster is regularly honored by nominations to the ACTF, but this January the college performed exceptionally well in many areas. Noting how impressive Wooster did as a whole at the ACTF, Grunfeld said, “[I am] super proud of the [theater] department. They deserved it. It reflects really well on the department and its professors. We’re showing the larger community that rural Wooster, Ohio is a force to be reckoned with.”


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