2013-14 Production of The Playboy of the Western World

While most Hope College students were beginning their classes, 39 of their peers and three faculty members were busy participating in the Region III Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, held in Saginaw on Tuesday-Sunday, Jan. 7-12.

Students are nominated to participate in the festival based on work created during the previous calendar year.  In addition to being chosen to attend, multiple Hope students received further recognition during the event.

Hope theatre faculty member Michelle Bombe chairs the regional organization, which this year included 1,300 participants from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.  In addition, more than 50 guest artists participated from all over the United States and Canada.

Several students were nominated to participate in the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Auditions based on their performance in a production at Hope during 2013, with two receiving semi-finalist or finalist recognition.

The scholarship nominees attending from Hope were:  sophomore Kira Alsum of Grand Rapids; junior Austen Boer of Holland; senior Lauren Ezzo of Haslett; Bridget McCarthy, a former student Grand Haven; sophomore Cameron Pratt of Zeeland; and sophomore Theo Zucker of Lake Orion.  Receiving the nomination, but unable to attend the conference, were sophomore Ellie Campbell of Barrington, Ill.; and freshman Connor Hernandez of Glen Ellyn, Ill.

Students participating in the audition at the conference as scene partners for the Ryan nominees from Hope were:  sophomore Emilie Bickle of Denver, Colo.; junior Dylan Connor of Tallahassee, Fla.; senior Aiden De Jong of Holland; junior Taylor Ann Krahn of Mishawaka, Ind.; sophomore Mollie Murk of Crystal Lake, Ill.; and junior Allison Simmons of North Street.

Out of 250 students auditioning for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship, Bridget McCarthy and her partner Dylan Conner, and Lauren Ezzo and her partner Aiden De Jong, were selected as two of 38 semi-finalists.  Lauren Ezzo went on to be selected as one of 16 finalists for the scholarship.

Hope was well represented with playwrights at the festival.   Out of 24 original student-written, one-act plays from throughout the region, two of the six that were selected to have staged readings were written by Hope students.  “Little Kindling,” by senior Jasmine Robb of Chippewa Falls, Wis., was read at the festival and was selected as Honorable Mention for the one-act play category.  In addition, 2013 graduate Erik Durham of Holland’s original musical, “Dragon Snack Pack Attack,” based on the children’s book by Joel Tanis, was also read at the festival.  The musical was originally produced at Hope in the spring of 2013.

Hope student actors participating in the new play readings included:  Austen Boer; sophomore Kenny Cole of Jenison; Aiden De Jong; Lauren Ezzo; senior Bradley Hamilton of Southfield; junior Josh McCammon of Ypsilanti; Mollie Murk; sophomore Nick Richardson of Ann Arbor; and Theo Zucker.

Hope student designers participating in the festival included senior Angie Kurtz of Streamwood, Ill., who was selected as a finalist for the National Costume Design Award for her designs for the costumes for the college’s April 2013 production of “Stage Door.”  Other students presenting their realized designs at the festival were senior Alexa Duimstra of Appleton, Wis., with her designs for the college’s November production of “The Playboy of the Western World”; and junior Mary Elizabeth Winther of Canton for her designs for the college’s October production of “Oh, the Humanity and Other Good Intentions.”

In addition Hope students participated in the paper projects based on work they had completed in the Theatre 224 Costume Design course taught by Michelle Bombe, who is a professor of theatre, director of theatre and resident costume designer at Hope:  junior Molly McNair of Brooklyn, Wis.; junior Tessa Schultz of Kellogg, Iowa; and Mary Elizabeth Winther.  Winther’s project was selected as a finalist for the category.

Also participating in the festival was junior Emily Svendson of Crystal Lake, Ill., in the student stage management category.  Kaija von Websky, a 2013 graduate from Holland, participated in the devised project, which included a performance at the conclusion of the festival.  Dr. Patrice Rankine, dean for the arts and humanities and professor of Classics, presented a lecture, “Theater as Civil Disobedience and Civil Disobedience as Theatre: The Case of the Black Body.”

Other Hope students attended to participate in workshops, attend productions, and hear presentations by guest artists.