Last weekend, the College of Charleston's Theatre Department presented three performances of an original play written by senior theatre student Cory Miller — a former student of playwriting instructor Franklin Ashley, who directed the 35-minute work at the Chapel Theatre. MIller's play Not Tonight is about a first-time sexual encounter between two college students — played last weekend by Eric Kingrea and Lindsay Webb — that begins with a surprise morning-after discovery. The one-act explores the multi-layered problems of communication between men and women and skillfully builds to a startling conclusion.

Miller's play is the first student-written piece ever to be presented as part of the Department of Theatre's mainstage season. But what probably thrilled her, and the Theatre Department, even more, was the fact on Tuesday Not Tonight was presented again at the start of this year's annual Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (Region IV) in Jacksonville, Fla., which runs through Feb. 12. The play, which was last year's Region IV Short Play competition runner-up, joined another CofC mainstage production at the festival — April Turner's C.O.T.O.- Chocolate on the Outside. C.O.T.O., first directed here by Joy Vandervort-Cobb last October, is one of six finalists selected from the 32 recommended productions in the ten-state Region IV and one of 48 productions presented nationally.

It's the second year CofC has advanced to the competition as a finalist. It's also the 13th consecutive year that CofC student playwrights have been named regional finalists. Will Cavedo and Amber O'Neill were named in the Short Play category, and Eric Kingrea was named in the Ten-Minute Play category. The College sent an additional 25 students to participate in competitions for designers, critics, and actors at the festival.

The KC/ACTF is a national theatre program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide. The program takes place year-round in eight geographical regions throughout the United States. Several productions are chosen from each region to compete at their regional festivals for the opportunity of the final showcase at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Works by student designers, student critics, and student playwrights are also selected for presentation at the regional and national festivals. There's no other national forum that highlights student theatre works.

The national pool of college theatre from which the competitions draw includes both graduate students and undergrads, so the fact that CofC's theatre department has landed in the finals is particularly deserving of a slap on the back. Cheers, guys. — Patrick Sharbaugh


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