December 14, 2007

Alan Johnson-McNutt and Will Winner

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LEWISBURG, Pa. — The Bucknell University theatre production of Sam Shepard's 'True West' has been selected to perform at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Region II Festival at Carnegie Mellon University's main theatre in Pittsburgh on Thursday, Jan. 3, at 3:30 and 8:30 p.m.

According to Gary Grant, associate professor of theatre at Bucknell and director of the production, "This is a singular honor. It is a very illustrious competition. More than 65 productions entered and we are one of six selected.

"Our region (New York, New Jersey, Maryland, D.C., Virginia and Delaware) comprises some of the finest theatre schools in the country. We are delighted that the regional adjudicators judged our work as an example of excellence in college theatre."

Acting scholarship nominations
"In addition to this exciting selection, several of the actors in 'True West' have been nominated for Irene Ryan acting scholarships from the KCACTF. Our sound designer, Bucknell junior Megan McShea, has already received a certificate of merit for her work," said Grant, "illustrating the success of the theatre program at Bucknell and the continued support that the arts have received from this institution."

Performed in October, "True West" portrayed the tale of two brothers - one a successful Hollywood screenwriter and the other a small-time thief and drifter - who reunite in their mother's suburban kitchen.

The play was performed by Bucknell student actors Alan Johnson-McNutt and Will Winner, both senior theatre majors, as part of their senior thesis project. The cast also includes seniors Janine Merolla, Anastasia Peterson and Jonathan Schwartz. The production was designed by Professors Heath Hansum (light), Elaine Williams (set), and Paula Davis (costume); it was stage managed by Bucknell sophomore Sarah Nochenson with additional costume work by Bucknell junior Lauren Deitrich.

National theatre program
Begun in 1969 by Roger L. Stevens, the Kennedy Center's founding chairman, the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) is a national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide.

Through state, regional, and national festivals, KCACTF participants celebrate the creative process, see one another's work, and share experiences and insights within the community of theater artists. The KCACTF honors excellence of overall production and offers student artists individual recognition through awards and scholarships in playwriting, acting, criticism, directing, stage management and design.

In January and February of each year, regional festivals showcase the finest of each region's entered productions and offer a variety of activities, including workshops, symposia, and regional-level award programs. Grant took the Bucknell production of another Sam Shepard play, 'Tooth of Crime,' to the regional festival in 1989.

Regional festival productions are judged by a panel of professional theatre artists selected by the Kennedy Center and the KCACTF national committee. These judges in consultation with the artistic director select four to six of the best and most diverse regional festival productions to be showcased in the spring at the annual noncompetitive national festival at the Kennedy Center. Grant took a production of Shepard's 'Angel City' to the national festival.

The Irene Ryan Foundation awards 19 regional awards and two fellowships annually as scholarships to young theater arts students involved with the Kennedy Center's American College Theater Festival. The Irene Ryan Scholarships provide recognition, honor, and financial assistance to outstanding student performers wishing to pursue further education.

For other photographs of Bucknell’s production of 'True West,' visit


Contact: Office of Communications

Posted Dec. 14, 2007


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