January 28, 2008

Sacramento State actors to compete for scholarship

Scarlette Bustos and Tony Gabrielson rehearse a scene from Roosters for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship competition. Scarlette Bustos and Tony Gabrielson rehearse a scene from Roosters for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship competition.

Twenty-four students from Sacramento State’s Theatre and Dance department will head to Los Angeles Feb. 11 to participate in the regional Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

Ten of the students, two from each of the department’s last five stage productions, will compete against 200 other students from throughout the Southwest for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship. Each of the students has a “scene partner” for the presentations, which include two scenes and a monologue. Two other students have been nominated for fellowships. In addition to all that, this year’s production of North Star has been invited to perform a scene at the festival’s opening ceremonies.

Sacramento State theatre and dance professors Melinda Wilson and Michelle Felten are serving as faculty advisor to the students. The successful nominees will each receive a $500 scholarship and a trip to the Kennedy Center in Washington in April to compete for a $3,000 scholarship.

To help support the effort, the department’s student groups, the Dramatist Society, and Sons and Ancestors Players, will present a special showcase of the nominees at 5 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 5 in the Playwright’s Theatre at Shasta Hall. Admission is “pay what you can” with a $5 minimum. “The performance will be a wonderful showcase of both comedy and drama,” Felten says.

Felten has been directing the students since early December, two to three days a week, from 10 a.m. to 6 or 8 p.m. Each of the three scenes must fit into a precise time line, and flow from one to the other as a single, cohesive performance piece.

Scarlette Bustos was nominated from My Visits with My Grandmother Marta. She’s doing scenes from Milcha Sanchez-Scott’s Roosters and David Auburn’s Proof, with the help of scene partner Tony Gabrielson. Bustos has competed three previous times from other schools, and this is her last chance to compete as a student. “Just having one more shot at it is great,” she says.

Gabrielson is also looking forward to working with Bustos, especially since Proof is one of his favorite plays. “Almost everything in it is great writing for a single scene,” he says.

Other students competing for the scholarships are: Stephanie Zito and Michael R.J. Campbell (Seussical: The Musical), Diana Tercero (My Visits with My Grandmother Marta), Candace Nicholas-Lippman and Kamra Jacobs (North Star), Sara Perry and Renee DeGarmo (Loose Knit), and Tygar Hicks and Amira Judeh (Afghan Women).

Graduate student Karen Nylund, who directed Afghan Women as part of her thesis project, has been nominated for a student director fellowship, and alumnus Elizabeth Keller has been nominated for a fellowship in stage management.

Joining Nicholas-Lippman and Jacobs for the North Star scene are Brooklynn Solomon and James Ellison.

“We are very excited about the festival,” says Wilson. “It is an intense yet thrilling experience for the students.”