Theatre students excel at Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival

BEMIDJI, Minn. (Jan. 26, 2011) — Two Bemidji State University students and their scene partners competing at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in Ames, Iowa, advanced to the semifinals of the festival’s Irene Ryan Scholarship Auditions.

Jessie Ladig (pictured, left), a senior in psychology from Bemidji, along with scene partner Jacqueline Teegarden, a sophomore in mathematics and music from Lenexa, Kan., performed a scene from Shakespeare’s “All’s Well That Ends Well” in the first round. Ladig was nominated for the competition based on her performance as Gail in Bemidji State’s fall 2010 production, “The Butcher of Baraboo.”

In the semifinal competition, Ladig also won the festival’s “Best Classical Acting” award. It is the first such award won by a festival competitor from Bemidji State.

Eric Benson, a senior in music from Duluth, Minn., along with scene partner Amanda Boring, a sophomore in math and music from Lenexa, Kan., advanced to the semifinals for his duet performance from “Once On This Island.” Benson was nominated for the competition based on his performance as Sancho in Bemidji State’s spring 2010 production of “Don Quixote.”

Semifinalists are those who finish in the top 64 out of a field of 296 competitors (the top 21 percent) from graduate and undergraduate programs at 78 colleges and universities. Students participating in the competition were nominated from productions reviewed by festival respondents. The competition awards scholarships to provide recognition, honor and financial assistance to outstanding student performers wishing to pursue further education. The Irene Ryan Foundation awards 16 regional and two national scholarships annually.

This year’s regional festival, featuring schools from North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota and Iowa, is hosted by Iowa State University.

Started in 1969 by Roger L. Stevens, the Kennedy Center’s founding chairman, the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) is a national theatre program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide that has served as a catalyst in improving the quality of college theatre in the United States. The KCACTF has grown into a network of more than 600 academic institutions throughout the country, where theatre departments and student artists showcase their work and receive outside assessment by KCACTF respondents.

For more information, contact Pat Carriere, director of the Bemidji State University theatre program in the Department of Humanities, at (218) 755-3901 or

Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival:


56601 | Jessica Ladig, senior, psychology.


56636 | Jacqueline Teegarden, junior, theatre.

55803 | Eric Benson, senior, music.

66216 | Amanda Boring, sophomore, mathematics and music.