"This will be my fourth year of service as a member of the regional executive committee, regional selection team and national committee," Reynolds said. "In this position I will coordinate all regional new play activities, including those at the six-day regional festival."
He added that he will also respond to new plays produced by colleges and universities around the region that are entered as KCACATF participating productions.
In 2001, Reynolds produced and directed a play written by then-Wittenberg senior Dan Stroeh, class of 2001. The play, it is no desert, gained favor with both the regional and national selection committees of the KCACTF and Stroeh won the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival's National Student Playwriting Award later that year. Stroeh's play was showcased during the national festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
"I started to volunteer the year after Dan won," Reynolds said. "The first year I went to the regional festival in Evansville as a mentor for four days to help guide playwrights, directors and stage managers."
In 2003, Reynolds went to Region III again as a mentor, and the region was asked to send one volunteer to the nationals to work on 10-minute plays, and Reynolds was chosen. The next spring he was asked to serve as regional vice chair of the national playwriting program, and in 2004 he was asked to consider filling the vacated national playwriting program chair for the region. The position is a three-year term, but this year's chair was unable to start the term, so Reynolds agreed to remain in the position.
By Dec. 1, Reynolds will have visited eight colleges and universities in Region III as part of the selection process by watching and evaluating the plays. The new plays can be written by students, faculty or outside contributors in a variety of styles.
The KCACTF aims to encourage and help new playwrights. To this end, the organization also has readings of new plays written by students who are unable to get their colleges or universities to produce their plays.
"What we do in the responses is watch the plays, break them down and provide feedback," Reynolds explained. "Right after the play we spend about an hour with the playwright, the faculty, actors, everyone involved in the production, sometimes the parents, the audience ... anyone who wants to participate is welcome. We talk about the play and what we saw – what worked and what didn't work. It's exactly like a playwriting class."
"We select those we feel merit further attention, and a number of the plays are invited to attend the regional festival. The colleges that enter participating productions must agree to go through the entire process if they are chosen to do so," Reynolds said.
Approximately 1,500 students attend the region III festival each year. In February, Reynolds will go to Los Angeles to respond to the plays selected in Region VIII, and the NPP Chair from that region will respond to the plays in Region III. KCACTF has awards for playwrights, actors, set designers, stage directors – virtually every element of a production receives attention. The very best plays selected from the regional festivals will be produced at the Kennedy Theatre in Washington in April.
Reynolds noted that his participation has been personally rewarding, and at the same time it has brought recognition to Wittenberg.
"I've met a lot of great people," he said. "My participation gets Wittenberg's name out there. In fact, each member of our department participates in activities and events that make us known in other regions of the country."
The KCACTF recently published a full-page ad in the widely read magazine American Theatre, thanking national committee volunteers. Wittenberg was one of 43 colleges and universities from across the country recognized, thanks to Reynolds' efforts.
In addition, the 2008 Fiske Guide to Colleges includes Wittenberg as one of 23 "Small Colleges and Universities Strong in Drama."
Reynolds has led or contributed to panels at national conferences in such areas as non-traditional casting, teaching of playwriting, period transfer of Shakespeare's plays and using masks in actor training. The recipient of numerous awards, he has studied theatre in London, and he has been a guest lecturer and director. His directing assignments have ranged from A Midsummer Night's Dream to The Boys Next Door. As an actor, he has had a significant role in a number of plays. As a playwright, Reynolds has had his works produced at Tufts University and Tufts-in-London.
Reynolds earned his bachelor's from Tufts University, and his master's and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. He joined the Wittenberg faculty in 1981 and teaches courses in dramatic literature, acting, playwriting, art of the theatre and a WittSem for new students on documentary theatre. He also directs plays and musicals for the Department of Theatre and Dance.
"We have had what we've needed in resources and people to attract terrific students," he said. "I appreciate the exceptional talent we've had to work with."
Written By: Phyllis Eberts
Photo By: Robert Gantt
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