Congratulations to the Region 5 Festival 49 Road Warrior Award recipients for Outstanding Responding:
Sheila Tabaka from Southwest Minnesota State University
Jay Edelnant from University of Northern Iowa
Congratulations to the Region 5 Festival 49 Innovative Teaching Award recipients:
Faculty - Tory Depew from University of Central Missouri
Graduate Student - Aaron Scully from University of Missouri
Congratulations to the Region 5 Festival 49 Gold Medallion Recipients:
Cory Johnson from St. Ambrose University
The Writing for Performance Program at University of Missouri
Corinne (Cory) Johnson has devoted her life to exploring and engaging in the theatre. She began her formal studies of the craft when she attended Gustavus Adolphus College and later received her B.A. from The College of St. Catherine. She has a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon where she wrote her dissertation on the use of performance improvisation as a pedagogical tool.
Encouraged by her college professors, she pursued summer stock work and got her first professional acting jobs at the Paul Bunyan Playhouse and Minnesota Festival Theatre. Connections with these companies secured her acting work at the Old Creamery Theatre, Dudley Riggs’ Brave New Workshop, Webbed Foot Players in NYC, and with three separate national touring companies out of Houston, Texas.
Taking a break from the road, she accepted a one-year sabbatical replacement gig with the Luther College Theatre Department. During that seminal experience, the love of the theatre in higher education really took hold. That year she directed highly successful productions of Cabaret and Fifth of July and secured relationships with friends and colleagues that continue to this day. It was clear that a career as a college professor was in her future. Cory has now served as a professor of theatre at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, IA since 1989, with additional stints at Augustana College and The University of Minnesota.
As an actress and current company member of the The Curtainbox Theatre she has been seen as Virginia in Three Viewings, Aunt Julia in Hedda Gabler, and as Virginia in W;t (under the direction of Broadway director, Phil McKinley). She has also performed at Riverside Theatre in Iowa City and numerous times at Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse. Cory will be playing the Duchess of York in Richard III this spring.
Favorite directing experiences include: Private Lives, A Streetcar Named Desire, Pippin, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Tempest, and the world premiere of former student Seth Kaltwasser’s play, TUG: This Untoward Generation at Festival Theatre. This summer she will serve as Associate Artistic Director in the debut season of The Mississippi Bend Players (MBP), a new summer stock based in Rock Island, IL .
Her relationship with KCACTF goes all the way back to college when she was an Irene Ryan Nominee and spent a very cold week at the festival, that year, in Duluth, MN. Since then she has been fortunate to be named as a KCACTF “Road Warrior” and invited to bring her production of Anton in Showbusiness to the regional festival. She has also served as Region V in many administrative roles: Production Respondent, Selection Team, Workshop Coordinator, Irene Ryan Prelim Judge, Assistant Irene Ryan Coordinator, Irene Ryan Coordinator, Musical Theatre Intensive Coordinator, and this year as the Directing Initiative Coordinator.
However and without a doubt, Cory considers her biggest claims to fame to be her many wonderful students. And, through the amazing benefits of KCACTF, she was honored to have been able to accompany three Irene Ryans, one slam poet, one director and one stage manager to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
She lives in Davenport with her very patient and understanding husband, Don and their two ill-behaved dogs.
The Department of Theatre at the University of Missouri has sustained a nationally-recognized program of liberal arts theatre and performance studies emphasizing new play development for over eighty-five years. In 1925, Professor Donovan Rhynsburger founded the original One-Act Playwriting Contest, which acknowledged the emerging talent of Tennessee Williams, who was pursuing a degree in Journalism at the University of Missouri.
In 1998, David Crespy founded MU's Writing for Performance program and has served as its co-director with Dr. Heather Carver since 2000. Over the past two decades, Dr. Crespy has served as founder and artistic director of the Missouri Playwrights Workshop and the Mizzou New Play Series, both important opportunities for University of Missouri playwrights and the continued development of scripts. They are an integral part of the MU new play development process, which begins in the writing for performance courses, develops in Tuesday night workshop readings, initially becomes staged in the New Play Series and comes to fruition as full mainstage productions of new work.
Since 2002, Dr. Carver has served as the artistic director and founder of the Life and Literature in Performance Series which gives fully-staged performances of original, adapted and devised student works. Together with their colleagues in the department, Crespy and Carver's MU Theatre students have written, performed, directed, and designed new works for the stage from the university to the KCACTF regional festival and at the national festival. New play development continues to thrive today as a full department endeavor with current MU faculty directors and designers: Dr. Cheryl Black, Dr, Suzanne Burgoyne, Dr. Kevin Brown, Professor Brad Carlson. Professor Jon Drtina, Dr. Cat Gleason, and Dr. Claire Syler.
Numerous MU Theatre students have written plays that have received awards from KCACTF over the years. Recent MU Theatre student original plays performed at the Region 5 festival include Nights on A Couch by Matt Fotis, directed by Noah Lelek in 2012, The Lost Slipper by Amanda Newman, directed by Carrie Winship in 2013, and Sleeping With Hitler by Aaron Scully, directed by Professor Jon Drtina in 2015.