The early start of careers was as much on the line at The Kennedy Center American Colleges Theatre Festival co-hosted by USC-Upstate Feb. 5-9.
“It is intense,” Neil David Seibel, theater professor at Auburn University-Montgomery (Ala.), said. “The students are learning the culture of the industry and network of the industry.”
Seibel brought several students to audition, act and compete for positions in theater. Mostly it was to enhance their resumes in front of some the best respondents and representatives in the industry.
Brittany Vallely and Kodi Robertson, both seniors, had just learned they were quarterfinalists for the prestigious Irene Ryan award. Scholarships are provided to each regional winner to compete for the national award later this spring at the Kennedy Center.
Vallely was the primary part of the acting team with Robertson playing the supporting character. “They represent some of the best theater students on campus,” Seibel said.
Vallely and Robertson prepared a monologue with two scenes – William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” and a scene from “Children of a Lesser God”.
“We’re trying to show off our skill set,” Robertson said. “Some of the acting can be overdone. We’re trying to keep it fresh.”
Vallely and Robertson learned American Sign Language for their performance in “Children of a Lesser God”, which is about a teacher falling for his deaf student. They signed during lunch to keep their skills sharp. “I work with the best (Vallely),” Robertson said.
Vallely has her sights on getting into theater and growing her craft. “But if everything else fails I will start a job as a news reporter for a TV station after graduation,” she said.
Robertson said he is most likely to head to Atlanta where film and theater have become a huge industry thanks to Tyler Perry’s massive influence. “Atlanta has become such a big opportunity to get into the acting industry,” Robertson said.
Next up for Vallely and Robertson is the Southeastern Theatre Conference in Knoxville Feb. 27-March 2.