Fresno State theatre arts majors laid claim to every major acting award at the 2013 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival for Region 8 at the Los Angeles Theatre Center Feb. 12-17.
No university has ever swept every major category in Section 8 — until now.
Brad Myers, the acting coach, has been meeting and consulting with the performers alongside the hours of practice through nights and weekends.
“I never thought this was going to happen,” Myers said. “What are the odds? You don’t want to get too hopeful, but I thought there was a good possibility that we were going to do well.”
Myers coordinated a preview practice on campus before the competition so they could perform in front of an audience.
Actors competed from 55 colleges and universities from across the region, which includes Arizona, Southern California, Hawaii, Nevada and Utah.
More than 300 actors were nominated for the prestigious Irene Ryan Acting Competition. Senior Myles Bullock, partnered with Molly Kelly, and junior Ryan Woods, teamed with Taylor Abels, won and are moving on to the national competition.
“Fresno is not well-known for acting, but we are out there representing the school,” Woods said.
Daniel Rodriguez, who partnered with Matthew Schiltz, took home two awards: the Irene Ryan Alternate and the Classical Acting Award.
Dane Oliver, who was partnered with Shelby Arts, was also a finalist in the competition.
“I think there is a lot of validation for how we work and how we train our students here,” Myers said.
This is not the first year that Fresno State has been successful in this competition.
In 2011, Fresno State had one winner and in 2012, the national alternate.
“Everyone from the school was great,” Woods said. “Even if they didn’t make the finals, they were all great.”
The competition was made up of two scenes with a partner and one monologue. The roles were picked specifically to play to the actors’ talents.
“They are up against graduate students in some programs and more than 300 Irene Ryan nominees participating in the competition,” Myers said. “So to take the top four spots out of 300 students competing, I couldn’t believe it.”
He said that when he was leaving for the competition, he felt that the group was particularly strong this year and hoped they included one of the winners.
The national competition takes place April 15-21 in Washington, D.C.
Along with Bullock, Woods, Rodriguez and Oliver, four other Bulldogs made it to the round of 64. Out of 64 semifinal spots, eight belonged to Fresno State.
Dillon Morgan, Aubrianne Scott, Kia Vassiliades and Austin Yarbrough were the other four semifinalists.
Although Woods has reached the national competition this year, he is already preparing himself for next year.
“It feels awesome to win,” he said. “I know how I want to handle it next year and I have it locked in my mind that I will be successful.”
Myers said, “a lot of people don’t understand that this hasn’t been done before in our region. It’s a really big deal having two people representing our school in the national competition, so I’m hoping this is something our campus is really proud about.”