Westfield State University’s theatre arts students attend regional theatre festival

Twenty-five students from the Westfield State University Theatre Arts Program recently participated in the annual Region 1 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF), hosted by Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, CT.

From January 30 to February 4, students competed in several categories of the KCACTF, including the Irene Ryan Acting Competition, the Maltby Award for Musical Theatre, and the Design Technology and Management Student Expo. Two students also participated in the Technical Theatre Internship during the festival, where Madeleine Hebert ’20, a theatre arts major from Framingham with a concentration in design and technology, received the Regional Award for Excellence in Design.

Hebert presented three projects developed over the last two semesters. The first consisted of a fully conceptualized scenography project based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The second was a combination of a lighting design paper project and a rendering of 3D images of her design ideas that she had created in two different Westfield State courses and presented as one project. Her third presentation was a fully realized scenic design from the Westfield State Student Theatre Association’s Fall 2017 production of Neil Labute’s play, “The Shape of Things.”

“I feel more confident about myself as a designer and am excited for my future in theatre,” said Hebert. “Thanks to the festival, I know that theatre is where I am supposed to spend the rest of my life and I am excited for the future!” Westfield State University theatre arts students attend the KCACTF to practice and compete for the past eight years, accompanied by James McNamara, associate professor of English.

“Students gain many opportunities from this experience, including networking with other students and professionals in the theatre industry, and getting feedback from competitions and workshops,” said McNamara. KCACTF celebrated its 50th anniversary this year and has grown to be the largest program of its kind across the country, boasting 18,000 students across eight regions. “It’s a wonderful learning experience where student artists get to reflect on their own work and make new friendships,” McNamara said.

In January, prior to KCACTF, students practiced their performances at the University’s first Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Student Showcase, held in the Dower Center on campus. “I was able to get feedback from my theatre professors, which allowed me to develop my material and improve my performance before it was brought to the festival,” explained Presley Mahanna ’18, a biology major from Hull, Mass. “I am very grateful to have participated in KCACTF for the past three years, and I am sad that this was my last one. I think I can speak for most student when I say that this festival was very successful, and each year we look forward to attending.”

For more information on the Region 1 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, visit: