THE 2017 INSTITUTE OF THEATRE JOURNALISM AND ADVOCACY
Meet the bloggers from KCACTF5 for Festival 49. These are the writers enrolled in this year’s institute whose previews, profiles and reviews will be shared on the Festival blog...
Asher Alt is a junior at the University of Missouri pursuing a dual degree in strategic communication and theatre performance. Asher grew up in North Carolina and has always loved writing and being a part of the arts scene. She started acting in high school and has continued this passion into college, working on tech for some performances and acting in others. She currently plays Daphne in “Good Kids,” which is being presented at KCACTF 5 Festival 49. Asher enjoys writing about film and theatre. She is very excited and grateful for the opportunity to participate in the Institute for Theatre Journalism and Advocacy, where she hopes to learn more about arts criticism and grow as an artist and writer. In her free time, Asher can be found watching sappy rom-coms and re-reading “Harry Potter.”
Dustin Bittel is a junior theatre major, journalism minor at Emporia State University. This is his first time participating in the Institute for Theatre Journalism and Advocacy and his second year at KCACTF. Along with participating in the ITJA, Dustin was one of the stage managers for Stage Crew Showdown. For his first year, he was a part of the company of the original ESU production “The Treehouse Effect” which was invited to perform at KCACTF 48. At ESU, Dustin has stage-managed two productions, worked on the set construction crew for “South Pacific,” portrayed Silvius in “As You Like It” and Mark Twain in “Big River.” Along with his responsibilities to the ESU Theatre Department, Dustin is the assignment editor for ESU’s student run newspaper The Bulletin. Dustin enjoys reading, playing video games, writing and watching videos created by the entertainment company Rooster Teeth, the minds behind “Red vs. Blue,” the American anime “RWBY” and the Let’s Play gaming channel on YouTube.
Rachel Bland is a graduate assistant at the University of Central Missouri where she is earning her Masters of Arts in Theatre and a graduate certificate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She has her BFA degree in theatre performance from Ouachita Baptist University and has taught high school theatre and AP English for the past five years in central and northwest Arkansas. She has worked as an actor, director, and children's theatre teaching artist. Favorite previous roles include Nora (“Nora”), Stella (“A Streetcar Named Desire”), Lizzie (“The Rainmaker”), Catherine (“The Foreigner”), and Abigail (“The Crucible”). Favorite plays directed include “Harvey,” “Little Women,” and “Do Not Go Gentle.” In her free time Rachel enjoys reading, eating tacos, going to the movies, and hanging out with her husband and their cat, Princess Buttercup. Although Rachel has been to KCACTF before, this is her first time to attend region 5. She is looking forward to learning all she can, seeing all she can, and writing all she can!
Breana Burggraff is a junior at the College of Saint Benedict/St. John’s University, and she is currently working on a double major in theatre and communication. She is a member of both her school's and community’s theatre programs, serving as a student during the academic year and a drama instructor for the Great River Educational Arts Theatre (GREAT) company in the summers. Breana can often be found dabbling in activities such as scene painting, production marketing, and acting. Some of her previous roles include Bacchant (“The Bacchae”), Miss Julie (“Miss Julie”), and Dunyasha (“The Cherry Orchard”). She will also be portraying Sara in Diana Son’s “Stop Kiss” later this spring. When she is not working on productions, Breana enjoys watching the Minnesota Twins, eating potatoes, and writing parodies of “Hamilton” songs. This is her second year attending KCACTF and her first year participating in the Institute for Theatre Advocacy and Journalism. She looks forward to reviewing thought-provoking invited productions and absorbing all Festival 49 offers.
Allie Kantack is a junior studying English Writing at South Dakota State University. Minoring in Theatre, she participates in her university’s theatre department. She holds the position of Publicity Head for State University Theatre and assists with marketing and advertising. Recent credits include performing in “A Christmas Carol” and serving as a dramaturg for “Next Fall.” Besides theatre, Allie tutors students at her university’s writing center and currently works for Oakwood, an annual literary magazine. In her free time, she enjoys figure skating, playing the piano, and wearing Crocs. This year will be Allie’s third year at KCACTF and her first year joining in the Institute for Theatre Journalism and Advocacy. She is thrilled to be returning to the festival and to be participating in new events.
Derek R. Munson is a PhD student at the University of Missouri where he teaches Acting for Non-Majors and Stage Make-up. Munson holds an MA in Theatre from Missouri State University and is a long-time member of Actors Equity. Recent conferences include the Graduate Interdisciplinary Forum at Missouri State University and the American Alliance for Theatre and Education. He has worked extensively in New York City and in regional theatres as a teaching artist and actor, an award-winning director and producer, and arts administrator. National touring credits include Ballet Hispanico of New York, The Acting Company, and TheatreWorks USA with stops at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC and theatres throughout the country. International touring includes the Spoletto Festival in Spoletto, Italy and the Festival de Piaz in Antigua, Guatemala. Mr. Munson has facilitated national dance and theatre residency programs, including the New Orleans Public Schools Arts Revitalization project, sponsored by GE, a community-wide outreach program that served thousands of disadvantaged youth most hard hit by Hurricane Katrina.
Nick Pearce is a senior at St. Ambrose University majoring in theatre with minors in communication studies and public relations. This year at St. Ambrose, Nick has worked on Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”, adapting the script, serving as dramaturg, and also playing Antonio. He also played Mr. Lambchop in the children’s show, “The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley”. In April, Nick will take to the Ambrose stage for the last time, playing Henry, Duke of Richmond, in “Richard III”. He is also a contributor to the Ambrose Theatre Newsletter. In his free time, Nick enjoys listening to music, composing short stories, using semicolons, and watching basketball. He would like you to note that he was a warriors fan before they were good. This is his second year attending ACTF Region 5, as well as his second in the ITJA category. He can’t wait to jump in again!
Abigail Joyce (AJ) Stoscher is a senior Theatre major at Northwestern College, Iowa, and has always loved words. At Northwestern, AJ has had the opportunity to develop her skills in acting, directing, designing, and most recently, playwriting. She is beyond thrilled that her full-length play “This Bird Also” will be performed on Northwestern’s main stage later this semester! AJ’s other experience includes being a writing tutor for the past three school years, crafting stories and poems which have been published in the college’s literary magazine, and editing Dr. Robert Hubbard’s soon-to-be-published autobiography “Grace Notes.” AJ is excited to take part in the Institute for Theatre Journalism and hopes that it will give her the chance to further improve both her writing and her ability to thoughtfully evaluate theatre.