Theatre performs fall show at national festival

Sam Houston State University’s department of theatre and musical theatre is in San Angelo this week to compete at the Region IV Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF).

Catherine Stallard | The Houstonian

Catherine Stallard | The Houstonian

The festival is a weeklong event where theatre students perform and compete in different categories and connect with other students and theatre professionals.

SHSU will be performing a production from last semester’s lineup, Sophie Treadwell’s “Machinal,” at the festival. “Machinal” is based on the true story of Ruth Snyder, a chilling tale of a woman convicted of murder.

Senior Theatre major and “Machinal” assistant director Sean Willard said the students are excited to be traveling to the festival.

“The cast is ecstatic about performing the show in front of the region,” Willard said. “This is my first time traveling to KCACTF. In fact, this is many of the contestants’ first time at this competition.”

Willard said the cast of “Machinal” had to regroup to get one of last semester’s shows ready for competition.

“In preparation for this event, the cast worked for a week to put the show back together at the beginning of this semester,” Willard said. “Since then, we have rehearsed every Sunday to help the actors keep the flow of the show in their minds.”

Willard said the process requires hard work from both the cast and crew.

“Putting any production back on its feet after months of inactivity is always a challenge,” Willard said. “Compounding the difficulty of this task was the news that one of our cast members would be unable to join us for the week. Luckily, the lovely Maryann Williams was able to step in and help the cast in returning to the show.”

Williams, senior musical theatre major, was last seen as Rose Maxson in the theatre department’s production of “Fences” which just closed last week.

“Machinal” calls for intricate costumes, makeup designs and set pieces as well as high-end special effects at a level not previously achieved by SHSU theatre.

SHSU was one of only six universities chosen to perform at the festival.

Willard said the play’s direction and advancement in creativity make in an important show to be included in KCACTF.

“Theatre is an ever-evolving art form” Willard said. “Every day artists are pushing the boundaries, changing the form and experimenting with the structure of theatre. This festival is important because it celebrates innovation, creativity and talent. This week will be a melting pot of new ideas that will hopefully have an impact on the future of theatre as an art form.”

In addition to the “Machinal” performances, 28 of the 50 theatre students in attendance at the festival have been chosen to compete in various categories such as theatre, musical theatre, directing and set design.

Willard hopes every student will take away a sense of accomplishment and an understanding of theatre’s importance as an art form.

“I hope that every student from Sam will take home with them a new perspective on what is possible during a performance,” Willard said. “I hope that they come back with a re-energized sense of purpose. Finally, I hope that everyone walks away knowing just how important our art form is.”

The SHSU Theatre Department will perform “Machinal” twice at the festival: today at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. The performances are held in the San Angelo State University Auditorium, and the department will be competing at the festival through the week.


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