Haley Johnson Earns First Place at the KCACTF Regional Finals

Graceland theatre students Andrew Dipoto and Haley Johnson

Andrew Dipoto and Haley Johnson

Haley Johnson, a Graceland University junior, has earned first place at the regional finals at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) regional conference in Des Moines, Iowa. Haley is competing for the prestigious Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship. The Irene Ryan foundation awards 16 regional and two national scholarships annually. Haley and her parnter, Andrew Dipoto,will attend the national festival at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

Haley and Andrew Dipoto, also a Graceland University junior, were one of 315 teams from seven states that began the competition. After the first round, Haley and Andrew were selected to move forward to the second round of 66 teams. They performed again on Wednesday and advanced to the final round of 16 teams. The final performance to determine the KCACTF regional winner was held Friday, January 26, 2018 at 7 p.m. at the Hoyt-Sherman Place Theatre in Des Moines.

The Graceland Theatre Department also received three KCACTF special commendations this week. Seth Campbell was recognized in the area of scenic design for Graceland’s production of Lend Me a Tenor. Campbell and Kris Kirkwood were recognized for scenic and projection design for Graceland’s production of Wit. The cast of Lend Me a Tenor, directed by Gary Heisserer, was recognized for its comic ensemble work in this year’s homecoming production of Lend Me a Tenor.

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

KCACTF is a year-round program in eight geographic regions across the United States. Regional activities are coordinated through eight KCACTF regional chairs and eight KCAC TF playwriting award chairs.

In January and February of each year, regional festivals showcase the finest of each region’s entered productions and offer a variety of activities, including workshops, symposia and regional-level award programs.

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.

Congratulations to Haley and Andrew, Tracy Salter (Graceland’s Theatre Department Coordinator and Associate Coordinator for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship program), the Theatre Department faculty, and all the students involved in the three productions that received special commendations.


This story has been updated. Haley Johnson has earned first place. Originally the story said she was competing at the finals. The time for the KCACTF finals were at 7 p.m. Originally, the story said it was at 7:30 p.m.