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Spotlight shines on USD students faculty at regional theatre festival

VERMILLION, S.D. -- Students and faculty from the University of South Dakota Department of Theatre were honored at the Region V Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in Ames, Iowa, Jan. 15-21.

Cody Juttlestad was honored for special effects and his design of a projectile vomit device he created for the comedy, “God of Carnage.” Juttlestad, of Yankton, S.D., received the SPAM Award for National Design Technology and Management. As a recipient of this honor, Juttlestad also receives an all expenses trip to Las Vegas to observe and learn from industry professionals in crafts and properties.

Devon Muko was one of two students who were recognized for “Outstanding Portfolio” in the Portfolio Review competition. Muko is a theatre design/tech major from Rapid City, S.D.

Several students received commendations at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, including Nicholas Amundson of Vermillion for achievement in scenic design; and Ben Kramer of Sioux Falls, S.D. received a commendation for stage management for “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” and a commendation for scenic design for “Avenue Q.” Graduate student David Mancini of Los Angeles, Calif., received a commendation for achievement in stage direction for “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead”; and the Student Theatre Cooperative’s production of “Evil Dead: The Musical,” received a commendation for achievement in artistic collaboration.

Additionally, for the first time in USD Theatre Department history, five USD students advanced to the semifinals of the regional theatre festival’s acting competition. Kendra Bolan of Lincoln, Neb., Steve Schaeffer of Sioux Falls and their acting partners Lindsay Qualls of Portland, Ore., and Ceci Quintero of Centennial, Colo., advanced to the final round of 16 actors competing for an opportunity to perform at the national finals of the Irene Ryan Acting Competition. Ty Hudson of South Sioux City, Neb., and his scene partner Rachel Heisterkamp of Sioux City, Iowa, and Natalie Polisson of Cedar Lake, Ind., and Jessie Atkinson of Sioux City, Iowa, and their acting partner Tim Huggenberger of Sioux City, Iowa, advanced to the semifinal round of 64 actors competing for a place in the regional finals of the Irene Ryan Acting Competition.

“God of Carnage,” originally performed as part of the USD Department of Theatre 2011-12 Season, Sept. 29 through Oct. 3, was one of five productions – out of nearly 40 competing university productions in the region – invited to perform at the festival, an honor recognizing artistic collaboration and quality of production. “God of Carnage,” a Tony Award-winning comedy, featured cast members Bolan, Cody Strand of Brandon, S.D., Patrick Beasley of Lincoln, Neb., and Emily Dorsett of Sioux City, Iowa. The artistic team included professors Tim Case (scenic), Scribner (costumes), Anthony Pellecchia (lighting), Scott Mollman (technical direction) and Eric Hagen (stage direction). James Hovland, a graduate student from Yankton, S.D., was sound designer.

Faculty members Linda Scribner, associate professor of theatre, and Priscilla Hagen, professor of theatre, were also honored at this year’s festival. Scribner’s costumes for the wedding scenes in “Avenue Q” were showcased in the Costume Parade, an event that featured some of the finest work in the area of costume design, and Hagen received commendation for actor and dialect coaching in “God of Carnage.” Hagen was also a preliminary round judge for the Irene Ryan Acting Competition while Patricia Downey, assistant professor of theatre, was on the festival management team as associate director of Summer Stock Auditions, and Case and Mollman were adjudicators for design/technical portfolios.

The regional festival brought close to 1,700 students from colleges and universities in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota to Ames to showcase their talents in all areas of theatre. Students also auditioned for summer employment opportunities and attended several workshops throughout the week.

For more information about University Theatre at USD, please visit or call (605)


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

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Hanna DeLange
USD News