Ball State's theater department three-peats prestigious national honor

Topic: College of Fine Arts

January 25, 2008

Ball State University is the first school in the 40-year history of the prestigious Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival (KC/ACTF) to send an Irene Ryan acting candidate to the organization's national festival in Washington, D.C., for three consecutive years.

Twelve students from the Department of Theatre and Dance participated in the KC/ACTF Regional Competition on Jan. 8-13 in Milwaukee, Wis. Inspired performances by sophomores Erin Neufer and Matt Smith earned them trips to the nation's capital in April to participate in the finals of the KC/ACTF Irene Ryan Acting Competition. They bested 250 theater majors from Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana. 

The KC/ACTF is a national theater program involving 18,000 students and 600 colleges and universities nationwide. Irene Ryan, best remembered as Granny Clampett from "The Beverley Hillbillies," is the namesake of the honor awarded to outstanding student performers at each of the KC/ACTF's five regional festivals.

"To win this award as sophomores is quite an achievement," said Bill Jenkins, chairman of the Department of Theatre and Dance. "Erin and Matt competed against many talented upperclassmen and graduate students in multiple auditions, involving two-person scenes and a monologue, to win the honor."

Additional students earning recognition include:

  • Marcie Greene — First runner-up in the National Lighting Design Competition
  • Carlie Mayo — Semi-finalist in the Irene Ryan competition along with her partner Matt Preston

"These accomplishments continue to cement the incredible reputation our theater program has established over the years," Jenkins said. "Congratulations to all of the award winners, and special thanks to the faculty members who attended the festival and coached our students prior to traveling to Milwaukee."

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