By Patrick Lovett `17
Located in the Smith Center for the Arts, on the periphery of campus and the scope of its community, Providence College’s theatre program is working to find center stage.
From Jan. 31 to Feb. 4, six students from PC participated in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) in Danbury, Connecticut. The festival, more than just a contest in the performing arts, gave the students the opportunity to learn, practice, and compete in their craft. Both PC’s students and the Theatre, Dance, & Film department gained exposure and experience through the event—two necessities for success in the arts.
Along with about 200 others, PC students competed in the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship, a portion of the festival that offers winners the reward of acting at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Although no students from PC won, all still left Danbury with valued intangibles: practice, knowledge, and confidence moving forward.
The PC students were invited according to the discretion of evaluators who had attended their performances at Angell Blackfriars Theatre. After being chosen to attend the festival, the participants were asked to prepare a monologue and two generically contrasting scenes. They executed these pieces over three rounds, after which the evaluators chose one performer to attend the national competition in D.C.
According to Professor James Calitri, the managing director of PC’s theatre program, just participating in the festival is a sign of development in the college’s theatre program. “Before, the department was so small that it couldn’t function if people were to leave for a week,” said Calitri, “Even in the three years that I’ve been here it’s grown significantly, both in the number of students majoring and in attendance.”
However, the festival’s true value, according to Calitri, is its ability to not only symbolize progress, but promote it as well. “This is not really a competition,” he said, “it’s a chance to perform and grow.” Veronica Murphy ’17, a participant in this year’s festival, reiterated this sentiment. “As a graduating senior, this is the stuff I want to do and it was really good practice. I had the chance to go to a lot of workshops and performances and just see some phenomenal stuff,” she said.
Calitri expects to participate in the festival for years to come and continue “getting PC’s name out there.” As for Murphy and fellow participants, they plan to each personally build on their experience at the festival. “Our talent pool is really big [at PC],” she said, “and although we may be small, we work hard.”
For both Calitri and Murphy, KCACTF is only part of a much greater effort, one to get more people in seats, people on stage, and to make the next show the best one.