CWU News

Oh, the Drama! Kennedy Center Theatre Festival Comes to CWU

More than 1,000 college students, from nine western states, have descended on Ellensburg to participate in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Region 7 Festival at Central Washington University. The festival takes place February 16 through February 22.

The week is packed with workshops and presentations on every aspect of theater, led by world-renowned professionals. A typical day starts at 8:00 a.m. and may not end until midnight. The festival schedule can be found at

As host of the festival, CWU Theatre Arts department is well represented in student and faculty participation.

“In the fields of design/technology/management we have two students in sound design and one in make-up design submitting for adjudicated competition,” said Patrick Dizney, theatre arts professor and coordinator of the festival. “At least six singers are competing in the musical theatre scholarship competition and our graduate students are presenting workshops and panels.

“Nearly every faculty member of the department is presenting or co-presenting a workshop,” he continued. “We have two students that were invited to present their scene from our production of Polaroid Stories in the opening event, Evening of Invited Scenes.

“And I feel compelled to let you know that this is just a small sampling of our students’ involvement at conference.”

While the majority of the festival offerings are for attendees, five programs are free and open to the public.
• The Planet Earth Keynote Presentation, which speaks about theatre as an agent for social change will be held at 7:45 p.m. February 18, in the SURC Theatre.
• The Gospel of the Spangled Banner will be performed at 7:45 p.m. on February 19 in McConnell Auditorium.
• Aliens will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on February 20 in the Milo Smith Tower Theatre. Gospel and Aliens are presented as a partnership between the International Theatre Festival and Western Washington University, sponsored by the Kennedy Center Diversity grants.
• The Festival Keynote Address, by playwright Anne Washburn, will be held at 7:45 p.m. on February 20, in the SURC Theatre.
• Brian Quijada, HipHop artist, will perform his one-man show, Where did we sit on the bus? at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 21, in McConnell Auditorium. Quijada's autobiographical solo show began development at the Nuyorican Poets Café. His work can be previewed at

There will be a number of scholarships and awards presented throughout the week, including the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarships. Other competitions include playwriting, directing, set design, costume design, lighting design, sound design, and the Eugene O'Neill Theatre critic's institute and dramaturgy awards, including the David Mark Cohen National Playwriting Award.

Region VII includes students from Alaska, northern California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, northern Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming.

Started 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 20,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide annually. For 46 years, the organization has served as a catalyst in improving the quality of college theater in the United States. KCACTF has grown into a network of more than 700 academic institutions throughout the country.

Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,