Augustana production of A Green River performed at regional theatre festival
Augustana College’s production of A Green River, written by Aaron Randolph III and directed by Augustana alumnus Phil McKinley, was featured and performed at this year’s Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) Region III Festival in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on January 8. As regional festivals are conducted across the nation, members of exceptional productions will be invited to attend the National KCACTF. Announcements of productions invited to the national festival will be made at the beginning of March.
Seven colleges were selected to perform at the regional festival. Three of these were invited to perform in Milwaukee’s premier Pabst Theatre, Augustana among them. Before 1,100 audience members, the cast delivered a stunning performance warranting the extended standing ovation received when the curtain closed.
The resounding success of the theatre department’s participation in the regional festival can be attributed to the hard work and dedication of the students, faculty and staff members involved. Augustana received the invitation to the festival a year after the production’s run on campus in December 2013. With less than a month to prepare for the festival performance, the cast, crew and set had to be completely reconstructed. Some of the original cast members were unable to perform at the festival, creating a tight deadline for learning a new role.
Senior Aubrey Waddick of Algonquin, Illinois, had only five days to prepare. Due to the illness of a cast member, Aubrey stepped into the role.
“For this trip, I was going to help with costumes; however, Phil McKinley asked me to take the role of the Mother at the last minute. I was given the part on Saturday, learned the lines by Sunday and performed the play that Thursday,” she said. “Though learning the part so quickly was a big task, I never felt frightened. I wanted to help this project in any way, and it was a truly humbling experience.”
Jeff Coussens, theatre department chair, reflected, “We received some insightful feedback and high praise from the national respondents, and the conference attendees were talking about Augustana’s performance for the rest of the week. It was truly an honor to be able to share our production with such a large audience and have the opportunity to see work presented by other colleges in our region.”
A Green River is about Erik White, a young military veteran who has returned home to a world he now struggles to recognize. As he contemplates his fate on the banks of a river, the realities of being a soldier, husband and expectant father weigh heavily on his already troubled mind. Erik’s past and present collide in a mixture of memory and dream as murky as the old river itself.
KCACTF is a national theatre program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide. Each year, students from more than 600 academic institutions around the country have a chance to showcase their work and see others perform, receive professional assessment to improve their dramatic skills, and celebrate the creative process.