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Leeward Theatre's Chelsea Campbell Selected as a KCACTF Directing Finalist!

Leeward Theatre's Chelsea Campbell Selected as a KCACTF Directing Finalist!

Chelsea Campbell rehearsing with two of her actors. Photos Provided by Ashley DeMoville & Chelsea Campbell.

Chelsea Campbell rehearsing with two of her actors. Photos Provided by Ashley DeMoville & Chelsea Campbell.


What: Leeward Theatre Student Chelsea Campbell is Selected as a KCACTF Region VIII Finalist in Directing!

General Contact: If you have a general question for the theatre, please contact The Leeward Theatre, (808) 455-0380, or email LTheatre@hawaii.edu

Leeward CC Theatre Student Chelsea Campbell Selected as a Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Region VIII Finalist in Directing!

The Leeward CC Theatre Division recently had four students attend the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) in Mesa, Arizona. Attending and participating in KCACTF was a fantastic opportunity for Leeward CC students to showcase talent, make connections, apply for scholarships, interview for professional internships, and audition for University and Conservatory programs. Theatre Instructor Ashley DeMoville, who is the KCACTF Region VIII Coordinator for Hawaii and Guam, acted as a mentor for students and taught a workshop at KCACTF for over 80 students and faculty members in the Michael Chekhov Acting Technique.  Leeward CC students auditioned for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship and one student competed in the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) Directing Fellowship.

An Interview with Director Chelsea Campbell:

We took some time to talk to Chelsea Campbell, Region VIII Finalist for the SDC Directing Fellowship at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. During the SDC Directing Fellowship, faculty-nominated student directors present a scene and receive feedback from professional directors. After the finalists are announced, those chosen are interviewed by the judges and have two days to prepare their actors for the final round- a public performance. One director is chosen as the winner of the fellowship and that person goes on to compete during the national festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

Q: What is your overall experience as a director?

Chelsea: I got my start in directing through Leeward Community College’s ten-minute play festival. In my time at Leeward CC, I was fortunate to direct short plays in three of those festivals and was able to learn a lot about directing from the faculty mentor, Betty Burdick. Later, I directed two burlesque shows as fundraisers for the theatre program at Leeward CC. Over the past three years, I have been directing in the Musical Theatre Program at Pas De Deux Hawaii.

Q: What would you like to direct in the future?

Chelsea: I’m actually really excited to say that I am in the process of directing a few short plays from the larger work, Shoot/Get Treasure/Repeat. I have wanted to direct this play for years. The play series will be presented the first two weekends of May in the Leeward Theatre’s Alternative Performance Space. So now I am looking for a new goal… I think I would like to direct a new burlesque show or even a full-length play.

Q: What was the process of being selected as a Region VIII finalist like?

Chelsea: First I had to audition at Leeward CC by pitching my scene and concept to the theatre faculty. After being chosen, I had a short rehearsal process with my actors before we left for the festival. Once at KCACTF, my actors performed the scene in front of other competing directors and the judges, who gave us some wonderful feedback on how to improve our scenes. Then they announced the five directors whose work would progress. Once I was chosen as a finalist, I was rushed into an interview with the judges. They asked questions about my promptbook, choices I made in the scene, and about my future goals in theatre. At this point, I had two days to incorporate as many of their recommendations as possible into my scene. Finally, my actors performed the scene in front of the judges again. This time, the performance was open to the public and the theatre was packed! Once all scenes had been performed, I received another round of feedback and was dismissed. We had to wait until the end of festival awards ceremony to hear the winner.

Q: How did you feel?

Chelsea: When my name was called… I lost my breath for a moment… I couldn’t even fathom that I was moving on to the finals as one of the top five directors out of the seventeen competing. I was in pure and complete shock.

Q: What did you do to prepare?

Chelsea: I had to organize a pitch for auditions to present at Leeward CC. Once selected, I worked with my faculty advisor to prepare a promptbook. This book contains the script, thematic research, and my notes on rehearsal and discoveries. It demonstrates my process as a director. I also spent a lot of time rehearsing the scene with my actors so they were prepared. After the first round, we began preparing for the final round. I took the notes I was given by the SDC judges and worked to build them into my piece. We rehearsed until 2 or 3 in the morning just making sure that we brought as many of the judges’ recommendations into the scene as we could.

Q: How has this experience shaped or empowered you as a student?

Chelsea: I was empowered to look at my skills and know that I deserved to be a finalist. The amazing support I’ve received from teachers, friends, family, and other competitors has changed the way I see myself. I feel like some of my life goals are more within reach than I thought they were.

Q: Namely what effect does this have on your life as a student, and in terms of future employment or goals?

Chelsea: This experience and the amazing mentorship I’ve received at Leeward Community College has inspired and empowered me to create opportunities for myself. Right now, I’m looking forward to starting my own theatre company.

Q: What was the hardest part of the process?

Chelsea: I found the whole thing pretty challenging, I had to balance my actors’ abilities with the needs of my scene in a way I never had to before. A big personal challenge for me was finding ways to allow my actors to experiment and bring ideas of their own to the table.

Q: How did you overcome these challenges?

Chelsea: I was lucky to have my mentor who kept reminding me to go back to my goals for the scene or to trust my actors when they brought in suggestions. I reaped so many rewards following her advice.

Q: What was the most rewarding experience?

Chelsea: The most rewarding thing is to sit in an audience of people watching your work and to see the genuine amusement and interest from them. In the larger sense, though, I know the experience has helped me to hone my skills as a director. I feel more prepared to take on the next directing project and super excited to see where it takes me!

Q: What advice would you give to any future Leeward students who want to participate in KCACTF?

Chelsea: Trust your advisor, trust yourself, and build a trust with your actors. If you have that trust, you can do anything. And don’t panic. You’ll get there.

Q: Was it worth it?

Chelsea: ABSOLUTELY! I had so many thoughts about quitting and kept thinking I wasn’t as good as those who were going to be competing. I learned so much about playing opposites and about using irony to keep the audience engaged. Most of all, I learned about myself and my strengths.

Q: What did you gain?

Chelsea: I gained an insight into theatre and the world of directing that I didn’t have before. I see things through such a new lens as a director now. I look forward to new challenges and to working and learning through them.

You can find Chelsea on Instagram, FaceBook, and Snapchat under the handle chirpylou

About The Leeward Theatre:

Our ultimate goal here at The Leeward Theatre is to build community through live performance. The more of our community that is allowed to access our events, the more likely it is for young people and other individuals to take action to improve their community. Creativity is life affirming – no matter the quality or value of what was created. It is a step toward life, toward adding something to the world that did not exist before. The Leeward Theatre exists as a place where creativity is practiced on a daily basis – where students, community members, and trained artists can engage with and empower one another. This is not just a building on a college campus - it is a living breathing extension of the community. It is a place that has the power to inspire, the power to enlighten, and the power to educate.

The Leeward Theatre is about to undergo a major renovation thanks to the generous support of the Legislature, the Governor, and the University of Hawaii. Although we have a reduced season, we're not completely dark. Come check out the fantastic offerings we have for our 42ND Season!

About the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival:

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

Region VIII of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival is comprised of Arizona, Central and Southern California, Hawaii, Guam, Southern Nevada, and Utah.

Through state, regional, and national festivals, KCACTF participants celebrate the creative process, see one another's work, and share experiences and insights within the community of theater artists. The KCACTF honors excellence of overall production and offers student artists individual recognition through awards and scholarships in playwriting, acting, criticism, directing, and design.

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

About the Stage Directors and Choreographers (SDC) Society:

The Stage Directors and Choreographers (SDC) Society is the theatrical union that unites, empowers, and protects professional Stage Directors and Choreographers throughout the United States. Our mission is to foster a national community of professional stage Directors and Choreographers by protecting the rights, health and livelihoods of all our Members; to facilitate the exchange of ideas, information and opportunities, while educating the current and future generations about the role of Directors and Choreographers; and to provide effective administrative, negotiating and contractual support.

About the SDC Student Directing Fellowship

One student director (either graduate or undergraduate) from each region will be selected to participate in the National Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in Washington DC each April. This award includes travel, lodging and per diem expenses, as well as attendance at KCACTF National Festival workshops and performances. Unique educational opportunities will be planned for the award recipients at the National Festival.

Event: Presentation of a short scene. Before the presentation the candidate will provide the respondents with a prepared written statement that reflects their analysis of the scene. The scene will include bona fide student actors, and will be rehearsed at the institution for presentation in a preliminary round at the regional festival. If more than one director participates from the same institution, the directors are discouraged from sharing actors for their projects and the directors are prohibited from acting in each others scenes.

Preliminary Round: a closed round. All of the candidates (directors only) are required to attend all of the first round presentations. Teachers/mentors who are the nominators-of-record for the student director are encouraged but not required to attend. Other than for the scene in which they are performing, actors are not allowed in the room. After the presentation the respondent(s) will react to the work in front of the closed gathering of directors and teachers/mentors.

Interview Round: Directors who are chosen for the final round will attend closed individual interviews with the respondents. At this time, the director’s book, written statements and approach will be discussed. No teachers/mentors or actors are allowed to participate in this phase of the event.

Final Round: Presentation of scene in a round open to the public. A final round of presentations will consist of up to six (6) selected scenes. The final round will occur at least two days following the preliminary round to allow the director and actors to work on the scene based on feedback from the preliminary round.  Limited rehearsal space will be provided. Teachers/mentors may advise the student directors during these rehearsals. A response session will follow the final round, and will include the scene directors, and may include teacher/mentors, actors and audience.


The Leeward Theatre
at Leeward Community College
96-045 Ala ‘Ike; Room TH-207
Pearl City, HI 96782
FAX: (808) 455-0384
PHONE: (808) 455-0380
Email: LTheatre@hawaii.edu
Web: http://LCCTheatre.hawaii.edu

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