Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival 

Wednesday-Friday, Feb. 19-21

Samuel Hunter's most recently produced play, The Whale, tells the story of Charlie, a morbidly obese online tutor slowly dying of congestive heart failure in his North Idaho home, surrounded by pizza boxes and swaddled in filthy sweats. It's the story of Charlie's personal and spiritual rebirth, fighting to rediscover human connection before he dies.

At the 46th Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (Region 7) at Boise State University, attendees can catch a concert reading of Hunter's new play, Clarkson, Wednesday, Feb. 19. The following day, check out a keynote address by playwright and essayist Idris Goodwin (How We Got it On, 2013) and one by scene designer Robert Morgan, as well as talks from the United States Institute for Theater Technology.

Most importantly, the KCACTF will assemble more than 1,000 students from Western colleges and universities to divvy out awards to individuals and whole productions, giving recognition to achievement and excellence in stagecraft. Participating productions include Three Sisters (Boise State), Fences (Los Medanos College), These Shining Lives (University of Colorado-Boulder) and Soapbox (Western Washington University). Winners will be given an expenses-paid trip to the national convention at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., April 14-19.

Running from Wednesday-Friday, Feb. 19-21, the festival's program is ambitious and labyrinthine--a smartphone app is available for download to help attendees navigate its many events--but its ultimate aim is to bring dramaturges, playwrights, students, teachers and staff together. Like a Hunter play, it fosters connection.

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