Dordt Theatre is Nationally Recognized

Eric Rowe-Staff Writer

Whether it’s blending the sounds of every bird native to Hawaii in the 1950s or designing a set with the sunset colors of a Pacific island, the research and design work for a theatre show is important in telling a compelling story. 

In the last week of January, senior Kyle Fosse presented sound design and junior Erica Liddle presented lighting design for Dordt’s production of “Much Ado About Nothing,” performed this past fall. Both students received national awards at the Region V Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) that took place Jan. 22-27. 

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Kyle Fosse and Erica Liddle with their awards.

Only one design in each category was nominated per region. Fosse won the sound design category while Liddle won lighting design. They are both invited to Washington, D.C., to represent Region V in their respective categories. 

Liddle’s lighting design for “Much Ado About Nothing” was the first realized design that she presented. Last year, she designed lighting as a class project and presented at KCACTF even though it wasn’t eligible for the award. 

This year, Liddle said she was shocked to receive the award. Even when she heard the announcement that the winning lighting design was from Dordt, she assumed that the winner was the other Dordt student who presented a different lighting design. 

The design expo is open to all 88 colleges in Region V including graduate and undergraduate work. Liddle’s design was chosen over an estimated 30 other boards at the expo. 

“I was competing with grad students and I didn’t even know it,” Liddle said. 

“Much Ado About Nothing” is Fosse’s second design to receive the national honor. He won the award for his sound design for Dordt’s production of “Ash Girl” at KCACTF last year.  

Liddle is glad to be traveling to Nationals with a comrade who has been there before. On April 17-22, Liddle and Fosse will present their designs alongside the other seven regions in the nation. 

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Erica Liddle, Annie Sears, Luke Venhuizen, Alex Rexford and Ben Kuiper wearing Sue Blom’s costumes in the Costume Parade.

In addition to the national awards for design work, Dordt received eight certificates of merit from three shows and had two students advance in the Irene Ryan acting competition. Dordt costumer Sue Blom’s “Much Ado About Nothing” designs were chosen for the festival costume parade, and senior Stephanie Korthuis received an honorable mention for her makeup design in the short film “Wilder.” 

Junior Josh Bootsma was nominated to take part in the Irene Ryan acting competition for his role of Leon Steponovitch Tolchinski in last spring’s production of “Fools.” The judges enjoyed his self-described “delightfully awkward” scene with partner Bethany Van Eps and his monologue from “Richard III” so much that they advanced him to the next round. 

Bootsma and fellow semi-finalist junior Peter Rexford were both surprised to advance. The preliminary round has about 350 contestants and only 64 advance to the semi-finals. 

Rexford was glad for the assurance that he was doing good work, but said it was annoying at the time. 

“I thought that others who had worked longer and harder should have moved on,” Rexford said. 

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Irene Ryan Semi-finalists Bethany Van Eps, Josh Bootsma, Peter Rexford and Alex Rexford.

Bootsma learned of the achievement while attending a theatre production he was invited to. He had hoped to have a relaxing week full of more plays, but instead he had to frantically develop a new scene to perform. 

“In hindsight, it was an honor, really,” Bootsma said. “To have two people selected when you [Dordt] haven’t been selected in what, six years?” 

The last time a Dordt student advanced was about seven years ago. Before Fosse’s win last year, there hadn’t been a national design winner since 2012. 

Fosse is glad Dordt’s theatre department is getting recognized on a national level again and hopes that his and Liddle’s success will open the door for other students. 

“Hopefully starting a trend, you know,” Fosse said. “We have a lot of good designers.”  

The theatre department will present two more shows this semester: “Silent Sky” and “A Prison Called Freedom.” 

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