KCACTF: What I Learned

Towards the end of February, I and a few other drama minors from my school were lucky enough to attend the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (otherwise known as KCACTF). While at the festival, I learned a lot about the theatre world, about myself, and about what I want to do with my future. Here are just a few of the things I continually pondered over the course of the week.

1. Obedient actors are not fun actors.
During a workshop on directing, we were told that actors who go with whatever the director says are not fun. The leader of the workshop said that collaboration is important, and if the actors of willing to follow blindly, there won’t be any. In order for the production process to be fun and inventive, everyone has to have something to say and be willing to say it. Of course, the director is the director for a reason and should have the final say in what is implemented, but collaboration is what makes theatre good. Everyone has good ideas, and no one should be afraid to share them.

2. The actor’s voice is a powerful thing.
I also took a workshop on voice and articulation. The leader of the workshop kept driving in the point that the actor’s voice is extremely powerful. It has the capacity to make an audience feel things, and that isn’t a responsibility to be taken lightly. I noticed this a lot in the play I was in back in March, and I’m noticing it even more in A Wrinkle in Time. As an actor, how you use your voice changes how the story is perceived, though this is definitely not just true for actors. As people, how we use our voice has the power to affect the people around us.

3. “This is our space. This is our safe space and no one gets to mess with that.”
Towards the middle of the week, I went to a panel on making art under negative political climate. One of the members of the panel said the quote above, and said that this is what she told her students the night of the 2016 Presidential Election. Hearing her say this almost made me cry, and not just because it embodies everything I think theatre should be. No one should be able to mess with your safe space, not even someone in a position of high power. Use your space for good, both for yourself and for other people.

4. My career goals are not necessarily unheard of, but they are also unique.
One of the last things I attended was a class on starting a theatre company. I wasn’t expecting many people to be there, but there was a fairly large group of people, all of whom wanted to do something similar to what I want to do- start a theatre company and use it to positively affect the surrounding community. Being around all those people made me realize that I am going to encounter competition in literally every area of this world, and that’s not exactly comforting. Going to this class was almost encouraging, however, in that I realized I still have a niche. I want my future company to have a strong emphasis on theatre, music, and dance education, as well as elements of Expressive Arts therapy. I may be up against many others who want to start theatre companies and use them for good, but I still have unique ideas.

“I take from the heavens all that I need, and I bring it back to me. I take from the earth all that I need, and I bring it into me. And what I have all in me, I give it back again.” (something we recited after a Shakespeare workshop)