Congratulations are in order for University of West Georgia students Rahsaan Parham and Katie King for reaching the top of Region 4 at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF).
The finalists were both nominated to take part in the Southeast Regional KCACTF for their work in the fall 2020 semester’s virtual production of the musical revue, “Songs for a New World,” by Jason Robert.
KCACTF hosted its 53rd annual event in February, celebrating student nominees in acting, design and technology, dramaturgy, directing and more. Held virtually for the first time, KCACTF celebrates the production work of university students from the 2020 calendar year and is a gathering in which students and faculty meet and create not only art but strong bonds and connections.
“Any chance I get to act, perform, sing or dance, or teach acting I will take it in a heartbeat,” said Parham, a theatre major.
At KCACTF, Parham performed two monologues from “Boys Go to Jupiter,” by Danielle Evans, and “An Octoroon,” by Brandon Jacob Jenkins. He gave an outstanding performance that the judges admired.
“That was the moment where it was like, ‘You did this,’” Parham said.
The news of becoming a finalist was definitely a shock to Parham. This was his fourth time attending KCACTF. At last year’s festival, he made it to the semifinals. This year, Parham was one of 16 nominees to make it to the finals.
This was the first year that King, a music education major, has participated in KCACTF. She performed three video singing auditions, one of which was “Way Back In the Day” from “Bright Star,” a musical.
The freshman was a part of the Musical Theatre Initiative at the festival. King made it past 36 other singers and made it to the final round.
Mentors played an important role in helping both finalists prepare for the festival. Parham and King recognized the guidance and support that came from two UWG professors, Jonathan Kitt and Elson Williams.
“Williams is actually my voice teacher,” King said. “He works with me on all of my voice lessons. Jonathan Kitt was a great director who gave really good direction and really great advice. It was really helpful to work with them. I think they pushed all of us to be our best and to keep going.”
The importance of mentors helps to benefit a student’s success, and Parham and King said Williams and Kitt have been excellent support systems. The guidance these students have received will help them become successful in the fine arts industry.
“Each generation should give back,” Kitt said. “Being that I had that gift, I can pass it onto someone else. As a director, I want to give them support. So, I am very proud of them and who they are becoming.”
Likewise, Williams is proud of the students’ success.
“I was very excited for them because they excelled at their craft,” Williams continued. “I hope they are shining examples to always push themselves and to be prepared.”