A play written by a Weber State University student will be one of four from across the country competing next month at the national Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in Washington, D.C.
WSU student Chris Shenefelt's play "Reality Fallacy" is among those vying for the John Cauble Award for Outstanding Short Play.
Shenefelt wrote the book for "Reality Fallacy," along with the piano music that underscores the play. It was originally performed last fall at WSU and directed by Stephanie Purcell.
The play tackles the nature of reality, and whether it is open to interpretation. The story is about a couple, Cadence and Kaleb, who live with multiple realities -- one in which their son Casey is alive and one in which he is dead. Casey also has his own take on reality.
"It's how Cadence and Kaleb interpret their reality that connotes Casey's existence. It's how Casey interprets reality that suggests his father's sanity," Shenefelt said of his play. "It's how the audience perceives the story that begs the question, 'Is this reality, or a fallacy?'aa"
Shenefelt said he is "overwhelmed and excited" about his play being performed by equity actors in concert version at the national festival.
"It's a great opportunity," Shenefelt said. "My professor Jim Christian said it's kind of a big deal, but I don't think I've quite realized how big yet."
USU students compete
Two Utah State University theater students also qualified to compete in the national competition after the KCACTF regional competition in Los Angeles last month.
Molly Hill, a junior in theater design at USU, is a national finalist for makeup in the university's production of "Seussical the Musical." Theater design graduate student Brandee Jenks advances to the national competition as a result of her set design work on "Do Not Hit Golf Balls Into Mexico," a USU/Fusion Theatre project production.
Both Jenks and Hill will compete against other regional finalists at the national festival and participate in weeklong workshops alongside professionals in their field. This is the second trip to the national festival for Jenks and Hill.
"The main reason I'm excited to go back to the national festival is not necessarily for the competition, but for the exciting learning environment it offers," Jenks said. "At the end of the day, the award doesn't mean much, but the learning opportunity is priceless."
In addition to USU's national honors, regional awards were also given to USU theater graduate students Andrea Lyman for set design and Milinda Weeks for lighting design of "Seussical the Musical." A regional costume design award was given to Caroline Kennedy, an undergraduate theater student, for "Cripple of Inishmaaan," and theater graduate student Lindsay Beardall was a regional costume design finalist for "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
"Including these awards, we have earned 13 national KCACTF awards in our last five years of participation, which is more than any other program in our region," said Shawn Fisher, assistant professor of theater design at USU. "I think that proves something."
WSU's production of "Under Construction" was accepted for presentation at the regional festival, but was not selected for the national festival.
Two WSU actors were selected for the final round of the Irene Ryan Acting scholarship competition, which is noteworthy considering there were hundreds of students who audition and 16 finalists are selected. The actors are Stephanie Purcell (partnered with Carleton Bluford) and Marza Warsinske (partnered with Tyson Baker). Warsinske was honored with the regional Classical Acting Award.
Kalyn West was honored as one of five actors in the festival for her work in "Under Construction," as was Austin Archer for his choreography for the same show.
Jaime Frank was selected as a regional finalist for his set design of "Under Construction." Baker and Archer were also selected as finalists for their sound design for the WSU production of "Our Town."