Seniors Anne Peterson and Katherine Denton won awards for dra­maturgy and directing, respec­tively, at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Fes­tival, which Saginaw Valley State Uni­versity hosted Jan. 7 to 11.
“Both awards are fairly sub­stantial,” Pro­fessor of Theatre George Angell said, “that is to say they’re rare. It’s not too often they come from schools as small as Hillsdale.”
Mostly coming from the Midwest, hun­dreds of stu­dents, pro­fessors, and pro­fes­sionals in the theater business attended the fes­tival. Hillsdale’s theatre department sent 15 stu­dents to compete in com­pe­ti­tions, attend shows and work­shops, and network in the theater world.
Peterson won, along with a team, for her work in the “Design Storm” com­pe­tition, in which teams of student fes­tival attendees design shows around an assigned script. For Peterson’s group, that was Peter Shaffer’s “The Royal Hunt of the Sun.”
She was to act as the team’s dra­maturge –– until inclement weather pre­vented the team’s director from making it to the fes­tival. As her position as dra­maturge was most similar to that of director, Peterson slipped into directing duties for the group in addition to her other work.
“Her team won while being one prin­ciple member short –– so I thought that was pretty cool,” Angell said.
The team worked on their plan over the course of the fes­tival and pre­sented it before a board of judi­cators on Jan. 11.
“The selection com­mittee was pretty impressed with Anne’s work and in fact stopped the whole com­pe­tition to comment on how great her dra­matur­gical work was, which is not some­thing I’ve ever heard them do before,” Angell said.
The fes­tival also awarded Denton for her work directing a 10-minute play, which was written for the fes­tival by a Ball State Uni­versity student, Molly Wagner.
Six 10-minute pro­duc­tions com­peted against each other for the com­pe­tition. Angell said the chance to direct a play in the com­pe­tition was an honor in its own right, let alone that Denton won.
The script, titled “Bytes,” related a con­ver­sation between a young couple dis­cussing S&M –– but Denton said its not exactly how it sounds.
“It’s the tamest show about S&M that you will ever see. It’s really funny, really cute,” she said. “They’re on the internet looking up cat videos having this weird conversation.”
The cast and crew met on the first day of the com­pe­tition and had six hours total of practice time to prepare for their Sat­urday showing.
The script itself won a finalist award at the regional fes­tival and Wagner will take it to KCACTF nationals.
Hillsdale stu­dents also com­peted in the Irene Ryan acting com­pe­tition. Stu­dents must be nom­i­nated based upon their per­for­mance in school pro­duc­tions to compete, and six Hillsdale stu­dents par­tic­i­pated among the 400 other contestants.
Although no Hillsdale student won an acting award this year, Peterson said, in general, the theatre program did well for itself.
“There are always some really big schools that bring a ton of people and have a ton of resources. They are very easy to lose to,” Peterson said. “We’re such a tiny, little school; we have tiny program, but we always do really well con­sid­ering our size.”

[email protected]