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Aspire Arts Leadership Program

The ASPIRE Program will be a unified event for 2024, to be held in late February and early March. Stay tuned for more information. Workshops will be held at the Region 8 Festival, in place of this event. 

Aspire Arts Leadership Program Coordinators:

Isabella O’Keeffe
University of Hawai’i at Mānoa

Roman Sanchez, California Arts Council / Teatro Espejo

Design, Technology, and Management

The Design and Technology Exhibition gives outstanding student designers the opportunity to exhibit their work at the Regional Festival, as well as the chance to attend the KCACTF National Festival or the USITT Conference. Throughout Festival, the designs will be critiqued by theatre professionals on the basis of quality, effectiveness, originality, and rendering techniques.

Design, Technology, and Management Chair:

Maile Speetjens
University of Hawaii, Manoa


Devised Performance

The KCACTF focus on Devised Performance gives space, voice, recognition, and credibility to processes and productions which are created outside the text-based traditions, and which utilize the non-traditional, non-linear, multi-disciplinary and collective tools of devising. As we develop our craft new perspectives and processes of creating good performance emerge. It is necessary for the health and life of performance to acknowledge and embrace non-traditional ways of perceiving and creating. In Region 8, students can be involved in creating devised performance in two ways: bringing works created at their institutions or being involved with Guest Artists at the festival.

Devised Performance Program Coordinator:

Nathan Singh

Devised Performance Co-Coordinator:

Rodney Lloyd Scott 


Welcome to the Region 8 Student Directing Programs. In the spirit of encouraging the next generation of stage directors, we have expanded the opportunities for those interested in pursuing directing at the Festival. For the SDC Student Directing Initiative, we are looking for experienced directors who will bring a scene from their home institution for presentation at the Festival. Finally, we will be presenting a range of workshops with directing professionals to expand directorial education.

Directing Program Coordinator:

David Seitz
Glendale Community College


The LMDA/KCACTF Student Dramaturgy Award is designed to recognize student dramaturgs who show promise as participants in the diverse landscape of professional dramaturgy. Because dramaturgical work is so often intangible, the application process aims to create space for students to demonstrate how they have tuned their contributions to the needs of a college or university-sponsored workshop, production, or dramaturgy course. The philosophical foundation of this program rests in the belief that the most effective professional dramaturgs develop an ever-evolving sensibility rather than a rigid set of practices. Such dramaturgs embrace the importance of self-reflection and learning in ways that allow them to tailor their creative work to the needs of each play, production team, and/or audience.

This initiative is the result of a unique collaboration between Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA) –– the professional association of dramaturgs and literary managers working in North America and the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) –– a national program dedicated to improving the quality of college and university theater in the United States. Additional support is provided by the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE).

All undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to participate, as long as they have completed work as a credited dramaturg on a full production or new-play workshop or completed a class assignment with an explicitly dramaturgical focus during the calendar year prior to the Region 8 Festival. Region 8 dramaturgs participate in the LMDA/KCACTF award process, the Program Note award, the Regional Festival DTM Gallery Expo as well as conversations and workshops with professional dramaturgs and qualified respondents.

After the completion of all Regional Festivals, a panel will be convened to select 4 out of the 8 Regional Award recipients. They will be invited to attend the National Festival at the Kennedy Center. The recipients of the National LMDA/KCACTF Fellowships will receive professional development responses to their projects and a one-year membership in ATHE and LMDA. Students will also be considered for additional learning opportunities, such as fellowships at the O’Neill Playwrights’ Conference, The New Harmony Project, The Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis, and the Kennedy Center/National New Play Network MFA Playwrights’ Workshop.

Dramaturgy Coordinator:

Melanie Anthony (she, her/s)

Institute for Theatre Journalism and Advocacy

The Institute for Theatre Journalism and Advocacy offers a scholarship for an outstanding student critic to work with professional theatre critics and arts writers at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center in Waterford, Connecticut, each summer. At all eight KCACTF Regional Festivals, nominated student critics write critiques of plays performed at the festival. One finalist is selected from each region to compete at the national level. The national winner attends the Eugene O’Neill Center during the national writing conference in July, working with leading professional newspaper, magazine, and new-media critics from across the United States. All expenses will be paid.

During our regional festival, student critics learn from peers and professional critics. They attend shows and write critiques in traditional and new media, and critique their critiques together in a seminar setting.

Please make sure to complete this Intent to Participate form to indicate your intent to participate in the Region 8 Festival’s ITJA programming BY JAN 31. Learn about the varied ways media, TikTok, journalism, and more influence how we talk about theater. You’ll meet instructor Billy McEntee, a New York writer with bylines in The Washington Post, Playbill, and San Francisco Chronicle, and Los Angeles Times entertainment writer Ashley Lee!

For more information: please go to the KCACTF ITJA Program Page. On that page you’ll learn all the information about the Institute of Theatre Journalism and Advocacy, instructors, awards, and more. This Intent to Participate form is very important – please fill it out by January 31 so we can set aside space for you and start our conversations together!

Questions? I love questions! Please contact me: Billy McEntee, Region 8 ITJA Instructor at

Institute for Theatre Journalism and Advocacy Coordinator:

Arnab Banjeri
Loyola Marymount University

Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Auditions

Since 1972, the Irene Ryan Foundation of Encino, California, has awarded scholarships to the outstanding student performers at each regional festival. These scholarships are made possible by the generosity of the late Irene Ryan, who is best remembered for her portrayal of the lovable and feisty ‘Granny Clampett’ in The Beverly Hillbillies. All student actors in both Participating and Associate productions are eligible for consideration for the $500 regional scholarships

The Irene Ryan Scholarships provide recognition, honor, and financial assistance to outstanding student performers wishing to pursue further education. The Irene Ryan Foundation awards 8 regional awards and two national scholarships annually. There are two scholarships of $3,500 each for the winners at the national festival in Washington, D.C.

Irene Ryan Scholarship Auditions Co-Directors

Gahren Markarian

Jason Francescon
Citrus College


Musical Theatre Initiative & Cabaret

The goal of the Initiative and Cabaret is to celebrate and recognize outstanding musical theatre students within Region 8 and offer educational opportunities for working with musical theatre professionals. Selected performers will participate in a cabaret performance to be held at the end of the week at the awards ceremony.

National Stage Management Fellowship

Participation in the Stage Management Fellowship provides students with a wonderful way to engage with and learn from active industry professionals, showcase their talents, receive personalized feedback to assist in their continued development, and interact with and learn from other young stage managers. The fellowship is intended to give you additional tools to refine your skills as a stage manager while also expanding your network and helping to create lasting connections.

Finalists for the Stage Management Fellowship are selected from throughout the region and will receive an invitation to participate in the Region 8 Fellowship. Based on participation in the regional festival, one regional participant will be awarded a fellowship to attend the national festival and participate at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.


Stage Management Coordinator:

Shay Garber
CSU Fullerton | Fullerton College | Saddleback College

National Playwriting Program

National Playwriting Program’s Mission Statement

The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival National Playwriting Program is dedicated to supporting student playwrights in the development of their original work for the stage, with dramaturgical and performance opportunities that emphasize respect of the written word and for the playwright’s contribution to the theatrical process.

National Playwriting Program Chair:

Miguel Torres Cruz
California State University, Fullerton

 Next Steps Auditions and Interviews

Student participants in the Next Steps Program must complete the Festival Registration and pay both fees (Festival Registration and Next Steps Registration) in order to be eligible for the auditions and interviews.

Next Steps Audition and Interview Program Coordinators:

Isabella O’Keeffe
University of Hawai’i at Mānoa

Kevin Neighbors


 Proposals must be submitted by January 26th for priority processing. We are seeking workshops in all areas: Performance, Directing, Design, Theatre Technology, Make-up, Devised Theatre…and more. If you have any questions, contact:


Workshop Coordinator: (email workshop proposals to)

Tanya Kane-Parry