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An Excellent View
From Up Here

Two theatre majors travel to Kennedy Center

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By Angela Richard

Not many American parents dream of hearing, "Mom, Dad, I'm going to be a theatre major!" Our culture usually equates that statement with being chronically unemployed. However, theatre programs like the one at University of Central Missouri are changing the stereotype as year after year the award-winning program produces students who are professionally and creatively ready to enter the working world of theatre and dance.

Haley Hrabe, a junior from Salina, Kan., said her parents were a little concerned, not only with her choice of major, but also her choice of college. "They just didn't quite understand why I wanted to go all the way to Missouri to this smaller university when my sister was at KU and my best friend was at K-State," Hrabe said "I just told them that my high school drama teacher had been trained at UCM, and I liked the idea of a smaller school where the faculty really knows you."

While Hrabe originally thought she would major in theatre education, she quickly fell in love with directing, and especially enjoyed pieces that "pushed the envelope" with political or social messages. She received confirmation that she was on the right track when she won first place in the National/Regional Directing competition at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in January.

Embarking on a career in a creative field is risky, but the best place to take that risk is in a supportive community like UCM. The theatre program at UCM enjoys support from alumni, patrons, faculty and administrators. The support takes the form of scholarships, mentorships, and donor or UCM Foundatioin funding for learning experiences, such as the Meridith Harmon Sauer Endowed Guest Artist Series in Theatre (see page 10) or travel to conferences and festivals.

Now an annual event for UCM students and faculty, the Kennedy Center ACTF draws more than 18,000 college students nationwide to participate in ten regional festivals. In January six faculty members and 56 students from UCM competed in categories ranging from the creative to the highly technical. From the regional festivals, 120 top students are chosen to go to Washington, D.C., for a weeklong national festival in April, where students enjoy master classes, professional mentoring and networking with students from around the country.

This year, two students from UCM made the cut and enjoyed an experience of a lifetime at the Kennedy Center. Not only did Hrabe win for her direction of a scene from the play From Up Here, but Audra Viele, a senior from Camdenton, Mo., also won in stage management for her work on the UCM production of The Drowsy Chaperone.

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