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USD Theatre Honored at Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival

VERMILLION, SD – Students from the University of South Dakota Department of Theatre were successful at the Region 5 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) held in Sioux Falls in January. USD and South Dakota State University co-hosted the festival.

The KCACTF national body is broken up into eight regions, and Region 5 includes North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri. Public and private universities and community colleges from across these seven states gathered to participate in a week of workshops, professional auditions and recognitions for student and faculty achievements. Region 5 is the largest attended festival in the nation, bringing in over 1,700 theatre students, professors and professional theatre artists.

USD’s theatre productions over the last year received a number of commendations at the festival:

  • B.F.A. alum Courtney Dahlberg: Properties and Set Decoration commendation for “Circle Mirror Transformation”
  • Theatre minor Hannah Kieliszewski: Make-Up and Hair Design commendation for “Cabaret”
  • B.F.A. student Kiah Corrin: National Allied Crafts Honorable Mention Commendation for “Cabaret”
  • B.F.A. student Lily Crooks: Costume Design commendation for “Love Labour’s Lost”
  • M.F.A. alum Natalie Hining: Scenic Design commendation for “Love’s Labour’s Lost”
  • Professor Jonathan Allender-Zivic: Sound Design commendation for “Love’s Labour’s Lost”
  • M.F.A. student Ryan Stewart: Regional Technical Project commendation for “Love’s Labour’s Lost”
  • B.F.A. student Nate Keane: Costume and Make-Up Design commendation for “These Shining Lives”
  • B.F.A. student Michael Haas: Scenic Design commendation for “These Shining Lives”
  • M.F.A. student Anna Pikiben: National Allied Crafts Region V Award as well as Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas Award for “Into the Woods”
  • Professor Jonathan Allender-Zivic: Lighting Design commendation for “Into the Woods”
  • Professor Victor Shonk: Scenic Design commendation for “Into the Woods”

During the weeklong conference, B.F.A. student Josie Kasik and her partner, Alyssa Elbert, and B.F.A. student Tony Peterson and his partner, Matthew Vidal, advanced the to the second round of Irene Ryan Acting scholarships. M.F.A. student Oliver Mayes progressed to the final round in the Stage Directors and Choreographers Directing (SDC) Initiative. M.F.A. student Megan Weidner received an honorable mention for her 10-minute play, “Keep Me.” She also won the William Inge Theater Festival New Play Lab Scholarship, which allows her to travel to Independence, Kansas, to workshop her play with professional playwrights and attend masterclasses. M.F.A. alum Taylor Clemens had his production of “Trifles” from Morningside College invited and showcased at KCACTF this year. B.F.A. student Delia Padron won the Regional Costume Design award for her work on her class project, “The Magic Flute.” B.F.A. student Alyeska Krull was cast in the Musical Theatre Intensive dance performance and B.F.A. student Whitney Wolf was cast in the Musical Theatre Intensive singing performance.

Professors Caitlin Quinn and Joe Stollenwerk and M.F.A. students Anna Pikiben, Megan Weidner, Oliver Mayes and Daniel Craig led a total of seven workshops among them, ranging in topics from playwriting to costuming to lighting design. 

Find USD Theatre on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@usd_theatre) for information about upcoming productions of One Act Plays and “Spring Awakening.”


USD's College of Fine Arts encourages students to pursue their chosen professional field in art, music or theater through their study with nationally recognized faculty who are working professionals. Students learn and grow to be professional fine artists with great job potential anywhere in the country. The college offers opportunities for additional real-world experiences through work with guest artists, study tours abroad and opportunities at the National Music Museum and the University Art Galleries on the Vermillion campus and the Black Hills Playhouse in Custer State Park. The college brings more than 80 guests artists to campus annually to work with students.


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 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson 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.


Hanna DeLange
USD News