by Hannah Stafford, News Editor
Last semester, Dec. 1 through 3, the Asbury Theater Department presented the Greek tragedy, “Antigone”, with a modern twist. The show received rave reviews among faculty and peers on campus but Asbury was not the only place watching. Six of the students involved in the production, Seniors Allison Acuff, Chandler Vance and Ariane Arquisola, along with juniors Grace Wilson and Sam Starnes and freshman Sarah Cole, were nominated to attend and compete in the Kennedy Center American Theater College Festival (KCATCF) in Statesboro, Georgia Feb. 7 through 11. Acuff advanced to the regional finals for her competition category.
Vance, Arquisola, Wilson and Starnes competed in the Irene Ryan Scholarship auditions of acting. Acuff directed a scene, competing for the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers Fellowship. Cole displayed her costuming designs, competing for one of the Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas awards.
“Competing in the KCATCF is must have experience for our students,” said Jeff Day, head of the Asbury Theater Department. “It is a wonderful way for them to experience the high caliber of university theatre that is created throughout our region. And, the fact that they are selected to compete with that talent gives them a real sense and pride of where they are in development and motivates them to keep developing their talents.”
While in Georgia, the selected competitors stayed busy with performances, rehearsals and critiques. Acuff described the competition as a great opportunity and educational experience.
“I learned so much from seeing other artists work,” said Acuff. “It was a life-giving opportunity to sit and watch shows with an audience of people who were incredibly supportive and who all wanted to continue in the field. Although it was non-stop and exhausting, I wouldn’t trade this opportunity for the world.”
Wilson, who was the choreographer of “Antigone” and played Force of Darkness, described herself as being completely shocked to hear that she had been nominated but was very excited to compete, nonetheless.
“I was entirely shocked and hyperventilated a little bit,” said Wilson. “I didn’t feel that I could fully live up to all that it would require of me because I’ve never been trained as an actor. My background is in dance. However, I knew what an honor this nomination was, and I thought, ‘Why not go for it? I’m mildly terrified, but there is no room for fear in Christ Jesus.’”
The tale of “Antigone” follows the narrative of family struggle and, within Acuff’s contemporary interpretation as student director, racial and political tension within the household. Acuff believes that though the play was written over two millennia ago, it is still potent in today’s society. Wilson described the experience of working on “Antigone” as “deeply transformative,” both spiritually and creatively.
“The reconciling message of this production met me in ways that I knew Jesus had been offering me, but that I still couldn’t have expected fully until I discovered them,” said Wilson. “I delighted in the process of creating, teaching and seeing my fellow cast members connect with choreography. I also loved feeling the closeness of the cast and crew grow as we focused on on our shared vision for this production.”