We have arrived! The St. Bonaventure University group has conquered day one of the Region 2 Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival at Towson University. As a third year festival participant, I was thrilled to joined SBU Theater in four days of shows, competitions and a whole lot of Starbucks.
After a redeeming lunch stop at the ever popular gas station chain Sheetz, offering delicious sandwiches and a break from the satanic heat in our van, we completed our five and a half hour trip to Towson, MD. Our 9-person entourage checked in and went to the first of many Starbucks runs before embarking on a Vogue-worthy photo shoot in our hotel suite and devoting our evening to scene practice and the opening ceremonies.
On a side note, our group consists of 8 students and 2 faculty members, who will be mentioned by first name from here on out: December graduate Becky Hahn, seniors Brett Keegan and Emily West, Juniors Makeda Loney (left in photo), Brooke Perkins (center), Freddy Alvarez and myself, sophomore Tori Lanzillo, our department head Dr. Ed. Simone (right) and our fearless leader, associate professor of theater Becky Mishenheimer.
The official first day of festival on Sunday was unofficially dubbed "Audition Day," in honor of our three Irene Ryan acting scholarship candidates: Tori, Makeda and Freddy along with their scene partners Emily, Brooke and myself, respectively. With two of our auditions right after lunch, Freddy, Emily, Tori and I used our mornings for rehearsal and some pre-audition warm-ups in the holding room. While four people standing in a circle breathing deeply, stretching and spouting alliterative phrases might seem like a strange scene to come upon, it almost seemed commonplace in the audition holding room. One by one, each of our teams went, with Makeda and Brooke auditioning that evening, and we did our best scenes yet.
Emily also presented her incredible scenic and prop designs, with 4 entries total (including costumes) at festival. We loved seeing such great feedback for our dedicated designer.
We also had a joyful reunion with some of our friends from last year, all students at the College of Southern Maryland. Even with all of the shows and opportunities here at festival, there is nothing cooler than making new "festival friends" and getting hugs on your first day there.
Since they had the morning off, Makeda, Brooke and Brett spent their morning at Montclair State University's production of INSULAby Kari Williams with contributions by the ensemble. All three Bonnies gave the show rave reviews, highlighting the creativity of the piece, which was inspired by mythological and literary islands as well as the ways we isolate others and ourselves in our own lives.
"To me, it was all about the claustrophobia of space and the conflict between innocence and experience," Brett said. "I thought it was a really good use of fluidity and kinetics."
Makeda agreed. "The way they executed the message they were trying to send was bizarre yet did the show so much justice," she said. "Simplicity of everything else forced you to pay attention to the stylization and story with a great use of media."
We also ventured out to the grand Towson Center Mall, a whopping 5 stories of shops and restaurants. We all enjoyed a movie moment standing in the middle of the food court, all looking around for our ideal dinner. One of my favorite things about attending festival is being able to relax and enjoy the theatrical atmosphere and have some really great conversations with my friends and professors.
We closed the night with a hilarious and inspiring production of Jonathan Larson's TICK TICK...BOOM from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The small cast displayed great versatility covering a few extra roles here and there, and used their vocal talents to tell the RENT composer's lesser-known musical memoir.
Upon returning to the hotel, we voted for a relaxing night of trying to beat a puzzle game on Tori's iPad. The peach rings were passed around and we huddled together to try and open some cryptic boxes.
Sure, it sounds like we do some weird things, but we're theater people...enough said.