Fresno State students place second in region at acting competition

Tribune News Service

Arium Andrews and acting partner Jimmy Haynie went into the Irene Ryan Acting Competition in Los Angeles expecting to do their best and came out with second place in the region.

Andrews and Haynie, along with 11 other Fresno State students, attended the competition in February, and four of the students made it to the semi finals.

The Irene Ryan Acting Competition, hosted by the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, is part of a national festival that divides the nation into eight regions.

Fresno State students competed against students from California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Hawaii and Guam, the region that includes notable schools, such as Brigham Young University in Utah and UCLA. Students compete in the regional competition in hopes of moving on to nationals, where the winners compete for the chance to win a scholarship.  

The regional competition sees two students, an actor who wins the scholarship if they move on to nationals, and a scene partner. The duo performs a scene for each round that they move through, each containing a monologue. The preliminary and semi final rounds consist of two-minute scenes and the final of a one-minute scene. Teams who do well in each segment move on to the next.

Four Fresno State students advanced to the semi finals, Evangalia Pappas and her partner Sofia McCurry and Andrews and Haynie. Andrews and Haynie made it to finals and won the alternate award, meaning they will take the place of BYU, the first place team, should they not be able to attend the national competition.

Andrews and Haynie presented three performances. The first was a scene from “Mountaintop” by Katori Hall. Haynie played Martin Luther King Jr. the night before he was assassinated. During that time, he talks with an angel [Andrews] who is letting him know what’s going to happen to him.

The second performance was an excerpt from “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” by August Wilson. Andrews played Maddy, a woman seeking help from “binder” Bynum, played by Haynie, to bring her husband back.

The final piece was a comedic monologue from “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot” by Stephen Adly Guirgis. In it, Andrews played St. Monica, the mother of Augustine, lamenting the fact that he became the head of the church.

Professor Bradley Myers, Andrew and Haynie’s coach, said the competition was very close.

“The coordinator of the Irene Ryan Competition told me that the judges were deadlocked on which of the top two should go to the national competition and had asked if they could send two,” Myers said. “Fortunately, neither Arium and Jimmy are graduating this year and both could be nominated for next year’s competition.”

“The Theatre Arts Department is exceptionally proud of this accomplishment by Arium and Jimmy,” Myers said.

Andrews said she doesn’t know how she would have made it without Myers.

“He’s a really great coach,” Andrews said “I’m really glad I had that experience with Brad.”

Andrews enjoyed the competition experience.

“Would I do it again? Of course I would,” Andrews said. “Would I change my partner? No. Would I change my coach? No.”

Andrews said she had no expectations coming into the competition and tried to stay humble throughout.

“I went into it thinking, ‘I’m coming here to do the best I can, and that’s all I can do,’” Andrews said.

Haynie also appreciated the competition and found it a true learning experience.

“I loved it. It taught me a lot,” Haynie said. “It taught me that you just gotta be the best.

You just have to shoot to be the best. And that doesn’t mean thinking that others are worse than you or thinking you’re better than others. You just have to think that you’re just going to do your best and know that you are doing your best and that it’s going to be worth something.”

Andrews encourages theater majors to try out, but also students from all majors to branch out and try something new.

“Just go for it. Take a risk,” Andrews said.  

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