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Avila students honored at theatre festival

January 26, 2011
For more information, contact Bob Luder at 816.501.2434.

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KANSAS CITY, Mo - - A pair of Avila theatre students recently competed at a prestigious college theatre festival in Ames, Iowa, made the finals and came away with honors.

Ben Auxier and Joshua Gleeson participated in Region 5 of the Kennedy Center's American College Theatre Festival, at Iowa State. Actors and designers competed against universities of all sizes from seven states (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Missouri). The Irene Ryan Acting Competition, named for the actress who played "Granny" on The Beverly Hillbillies, had 296 teams competing, and Auxier and Gleeson advanced all the way to the finals, where there were 16 teams.

Two teams were selected to compete at the national festival at the Kennedy Center in the spring in Washington D.C. along with two alternates. Auxier and Gleeson were selected as the second alternates. If something were to happen where the first two teams couldn't compete, the Avila pair would go in their place.

Gleeson also won a certificate of merit for his sound design of a production of Fahrenheit 451, presented last November at Avila University's Goppert Theatre.

"It was quite a week," Auxier said. "I'm grateful for the opportunity to have participated and amazed at how far we managed to go. Nearly 300 college actors from seven different states were entered into the competition, so to work your way into the top four is mind-boggling."

In addition to giving his utmost thanks to Gleeson, his scene partner, Auxier also expressed gratitude to his professors and acting coaches, Robert Foulk and Jason Harris.

"I'm so proud of Ben and Joshua," said Foulk, director of performance studies in Avila's Department of Theatre housed in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. "They are talented theatre students and proved that their time at Avila prepared them to compete successfully against their counterparts on a much bigger stage."

Started in 1969, the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival is a national theatre program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide, which has served as a catalyst in improving the quality of college theatre in the U.S. 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.

Since its inception, KCACTF has given more than 400,000 college theatre students the opportunity to have their work critiqued, improve their dramatic skills and receive national recognition for excellence. More than 16 million theatregoers have attended approximately 10,000 festival productions nationwide.

For more information about the KCACTF, go to http://www.kennedy-center.org/education/actf/.



Avila University is a private, co-educational, values-based liberal arts institution founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, offering undergraduate, graduate, and adult degree programs. Avila University is located at 119th and Wornall Rd in southwest suburban Kansas City, Mo.