Theatre students earn recognition at major regional festival

February 12, 2020

Three Detroit Mercy Theatre students attended a theatre festival in Madison, Wis. in January.A trip to Wisconsin in early January introduced three Detroit Mercy students to the wide world of theatrical arts and performing on a regional stage, all while providing hope for their futures.

Amelia Rose Glenn, Nina Carlson and Elise Pannemann represented the University at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival’s (KCACTF) Region III Festival, hosted by Madison College Jan. 7-12. 

The prestigious festivals, held regionally throughout the United States and culminating in a national festival in Washington, D.C., serve as a valuable learning and networking experience for thousands of students. Region III consists of schools from Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.

“It was super special being able to attend the festival, because we all worked hard to be there,” said Glenn, a junior at Detroit Mercy studying Theatre and Women and Gender Studies. “It was like another affirmation of the work we’ve done and the success from it.”

Detroit Mercy Theatre Company (DMTC) earned several forms of regional recognition from KCACTF, which celebrates the best in college theatre in the United States.

DMTC’s production of “Silent Sky” was nominated as an associate production — Glenn and Pannemann, a sophomore at Detroit Mercy, performed an eight-minute scene from the play at the festival. 

Glenn and Carlson, a junior at Detroit Mercy, were nominated for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Competition, with Pannemann performing as Carlson’s partner at the festival. Glenn also earned an honorable mention for costume design in the festival’s design competition.

“This recognition acknowledges the outstanding work from our student theatre artists inside the Department of Performing Arts,” said Greg Grobis, associate professor of Performing Arts at Detroit Mercy and managing director for DMTC. “The KCACTF is a pillar of excellence in American theatre and this recognition tells our community that DMTC’s work is valued and respected for its excellence.”

DMTC’s October 2019 production of “Silent Sky,” written by American playwright Lauren Gunderson and directed by Adjunct Professor of Theatre Sarah Hawkins, was the only associate production from Michigan to be performed at the festival.

“Silent Sky” is the true story of 19th-century astronomer Henrietta Leavitt, a woman living in an age when women could neither vote nor express an original idea. Despite not being allowed to touch a telescope, Leavitt and her colleagues at the Harvard Observatory made ground-breaking discoveries about the universe that remain vital over a century later.

Glenn and Pannemann reprised their roles of Henrietta Leavitt and Margaret Leavitt, respectively, for the performance.

“The production was highly recommended by the state of Michigan’s KCACTF committee to represent all associate productions from the state of Michigan,” Grobis said. “This is a great honor for our program.”

Glenn also participated in a design competition at the festival, in which students collaborate with colleagues from other institutions on a production pitch for a show. Working as costume designer, Glenn and her team earned honorable mention for their efforts, and each member received a certificate at the festival’s award ceremony.

“It helped me learn more about working on the fly with people I have no experience with,” Glenn said.

Detroit Mercy’s educational environment and DMTC prepared Glenn, Carlson and Pannemann for participation in the festival. 

Glenn credited the individualized attention she has received from professors at the University. 

“Within the Theatre program, faculty members make themselves available if we need guidance or mentorship,” Glenn said. “I don’t think I would be at the level I’m at if I didn’t have that kind of relationship with faculty members.”

Performing Arts students learn theories and methods in class and then apply them to actual productions with DMTC and its new TheatreLab series

“The student experience is everything at Detroit Mercy,” Grobis said. “The mission of the Department of Performing Arts is to train students to develop their intellectual, ethical and practical skills for a creative future. As Detroit Mercy Theatre Company and the Department of Performing Arts continues to produce gritty and relevant theatre, we continue to teach and support the students of our program, so they can discover who they are through productions that explore courage, compassion and connection.”

To learn more about Detroit Mercy Theatre Company, visit

— By Ricky Lindsay. Follow Detroit Mercy on FacebookLinkedInTwitter and Instagram. Have a story idea? Let us know by submitting your idea.