Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Competition by Robert Kowalewski

You have three minutes to develop a character, a conflict, and a resolution – basically the rules for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Competition. Being nominated is a wonderful honor – being nominated once again after participating in the competition previously is an opportune second chance. KCACTF respondents frequently attend Colonial Theatre productions: I was nominated first for my performance as the smart-aleck Al Joad in The Grapes of Wrath. I attended the region festival with my partner, Braelin Stuver, and performed a short scene from Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie. We did fairly well and received great feedback, but did not advance.

                The competition relies solely on three things: partner chemistry, practice, and (most importantly) selected material. Learning from my mistakes from last year, I plan to being my search soon for the most appropriate and impactful scenes that I can use to showcase my development as an actor. The role that allowed me a second respondent nomination was that of Antonio Salieri in Barbara Burgess-Lefebvre’s production of Amadeus; it remains to be the most taxing role I’ve encountered. Surviving the show’s run after nearly ninety minutes of personal monologues and conversations – many of which were melodramatic – was enough reward for me. Receiving the Irene Ryan Nomination is an additional honor that I will gladly tackle again next January. Furthermore, the KCACTF respondent put myself and Rachel Stetz in a pool of potential scenes from numerous regional shows to be performed at the next festival. If selected, we will be reprising our roles of Antonio Salieri and Constanze Mozart for all KCACTF Region II participants to see.

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