Three Northwestern theatre students earn prestigious nomination

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Three Northwestern theatre students earn prestigious nomination

October 12, 2009

Three students from the Northwestern Oklahoma State University Department of Fine Arts’ production of “Vietnam 101: The War on Campus” have been named as nominees for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Auditions. Based on their performances, Ashlynn Walker, Tyler Shafer and Lisa Bradt learned of their nomination after meeting with respondents from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF).

The Irene Ryan Scholarships provide recognition, honor and financial assistance to outstanding student-performers wishing to pursue further education. On opening night two KCACTF respondents from Region VI, Ray Newberg from Amarillo College and Nyalls Hartman from the University of Louisiana Lafayette, traveled to Northwestern to judge the production. Kimberly Weast, associate professor of theatre at Northwestern and director of the production, said the respondents had a very difficult time choosing only three actors to award nominations to because they felt there were more possible choices.

The three students nominated will now go on to compete at the regional level in Amarillo, Texas, in February 2010.

For Walker, a Perryton, Texas, junior who portrayed the character “Amy” in the show, this nomination is reinforcement for the effort she put into creating this role.

“I am so honored to be recognized for the hard work I have put into bringing life to this character,” Walker said. “It’s one thing to hear you’ve done well from your friends and family, but it’s much more gratifying to hear it from your peers and professionals in your field.”

Shafer, Cherokee sophomore, also received his first Irene Ryan nomination for his portrayal of the character “Jeff.” He said the most important thing to him was to connect with his audience.

“The nomination is nice, but I don’t need it to validate my performance,” Shafer said. “If I affected the audience in some way, if I made them laugh or made them think, then I have done my job. The rest is gravy.”

Weast said that this production is probably the most difficult show Northwestern has done since she’s been here because of the requirement for everyone on stage to carry a certain amount of weight.

“Unlike other shows, there wasn’t one actor on stage that was able to just appear without taking on responsibility,” Weast said. “I was very proud that the 30-plus cast members worked so well together, and I was especially glad that the students who are not theatre majors took the process so seriously.”

Bradt, Alva senior, was surprised to receive her third Irene Ryan nomination for her role as “Pat.”

“I was very excited to get a nomination; I really wasn’t expecting one this year,” Bradt said. “I’m so excited to get another chance to compete for it (a scholarship) next semester.”

In addition to the three actors nominated, “Vietnam 101: The War on Campus” received recognition in other areas. The show was given awards of excellence in Publicity Design (Charlie Burns, Sayre senior), Hairstyles (Hilary Nida, Alva senior) and Costumes (Carissa Meade, Okeene junior, and Alica Hall, Alva graduate student). These students also will go on to regional competition with their design displays and research to be considered for further acknowledgement.

The next event for the Northwestern Theatre Department will be a children’s show to run toward the end of the year.