Housel in Macbeth
Image: Penn State

Theatre students honored at American College Theatre Festival

Housel receives certificate of merit for outstanding direction

READING, Pa. — Penn State Berks Theatre students attended the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) Region 2, held Jan. 17–20 at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. During the event, they were invited to perform a scene from the fall 2017 mainstage production of "Macbeth."

Several of the attendees received recognition at the festival. Senior theatre major Taylor Clark Housel received the KCACTF Certificate of Merit for Outstanding Direction of the fall 2017 workshop production of "The Pavilion." As a result, he was nominated and accepted to participate in the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographer's Directing Institute, where he directed a scene with Berks student actors Evan Barton, Katelyn Bennett, Caleb Cleck, Tessa Eberlein, Tommy Heiler and Brandon Reimer. He moved to the second round of the Institute, where he had the opportunity to participate in several workshops led by Gregg Henry, Artistic Director of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

“The connections that I made at KCACTF were invaluable,” said Housel, who added that it was an honor to meet and connect with mentors like Henry.

Housel works as an assistant to Penn State Berks Theatre Program Coordinator Jim Brown and serves as the social media coordinator for the theatre program. He has gained a wide variety of experience in the Berks theatre program, including directing "The Pavilion" and the upcoming main stage production of "Biloxi Blues," acting as the lead in "Macbeth," learning the business of running a theatre, and designing a set.

In addition, he is a member of the Berks Theatre Society, and he has performed in various productions outside Penn State. He plans to continue his studies in graduate school, with the ultimate goal of becoming an artistic director of his own theatre or production company.

“Our theatre program is not the richest or the biggest, but it offers a wide array of experiences. For my goal of building my own theatre program, it is the best training ground,” Housel explained.

Other student honors went to Brandon Reimer and his acting partner Tommy Heiler, who were nominated to participate in the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Auditions. Andrew Bush was nominated to participate in the Design, Management and Technology Design event for his sound design for the production of "Macbeth." In addition, the Penn State Berks Theatre program was invited to perform a scene from "Macbeth."

Under the supervision of Berks Scenic Designer/Technical Director S. Cory Palmer, students R.J. Bonham, Andrew Bush, Kayla Kasmari and Patryk Smith participated in the Tech Olympics, a series of tasks involving skills in technical theatre.

This year, a total of 15 students attended the 4-day event, along with Brown and Palmer, Instructor in Theatre. Brown states that the students had an intense schedule, with the opportunity to attend nearly 200 workshops and symposiums.

About the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival

Started in 1969, KCACTF is a national theatre program involving 18,000 students from about 600 colleges and universities. The program has served as a catalyst for improving the quality of college theatre in the United States. It has given more than 400,000 college theatre students the opportunity to have their work critiqued, improve their dramatic skills, and receive national recognition for excellence. More than 16 million theatregoers have attended some 10,000 festival productions nationwide.

About the Bachelor of Arts in Theatre

The bachelor of arts in theatre at Penn State Berks provides students with a solid foundation to become successful theatre artists and effective theatre educators. The degree program also trains students in the skills to become effective communicators and professional program managers.

For more information about the festival or the theatre program, contact Program Coordinator Jim Brown at 610-396-6419 or via email at JNB20@psu.edu.