The Voice: Spring 2002

The Voice

Dordt theatre people bring home four ACTF awards

Eric Van Wyk's set design for The Glass Menagerie won a Meritorious Achievement Award at the Regional ACTF Festival
By Andrew De Young

The theatre arts department at Dordt has always been appreciated by students and faculty, but it often receives broader recognition for excellence as well. This happened most recently when Esther Van Eek, Mark Jansen, and Eric Van Wyk received awards at the American College Theatre Festival (ACTF) Regional Festival in Lincoln, Nebraska.

According to Simon du Toit, chair of the theatre arts department, the ACTF is a festival that “celebrates the best in college theater.” Representatives for the festival attend plays at different colleges, discussing the plays with the cast, director, and others who were involved with the play. Each representative can nominate the best work to go to the festival. According to du Toit, “Only the very best work gets nominated.”

This year, Eric Van Wyk and Mark Jansen both won Meritorious Achievement Awards. Van Wyk, a senior theater major from Sioux Center, won for scene design on The Glass Menagerie, and Jansen, a sophomore music major from Tucson, Arizona, won for sound design, also on The Glass Menagerie. According to Jansen, “It really gives me a good sense of accomplishment. This was the first thing I ever did for a play, and the fact that I won on the first time really is a confidence-booster!”

Also taking home awards was Esther Van Eek, the costume designer for the theatre arts department. She won two awards, one for her work in A Strindberg Evening and another for her work in Scapin. “It’s a really nice boost,” she says. “It’s great to get recognition from my colleagues.”

Du Toit says that she has good reason to be proud. “To win two in one year is very unusual. I can’t remember that ever happening before. For a small college like Dordt to walk away with four awards is truly amazing.”

But Dordt doesn’t participate in the ACTF just for the awards. There are also great benefits for Dordt students. According to du Toit, “It’s great for our students to be exposed to the achievement and accomplishments of other schools. They can really be challenged and inspired by all the good work out there.”

It’s not just Dordt students who benefit, though. People from other colleges also benefit from interacting with Dordt students and faculty. At this year’s festival, du Toit moderated a panel on acting and faith. “It’s good to talk to people who aren’t necessarily Christians,” he says. “This was not a mission trip, but we were sharing the light. It is not only possible to be Christian and excellent in theater, it is essential. God requires us to be excellent in theater.”

Eric Van Wyk’s set design for The Glass Menagerie won a Meritorious Achievement Award at the Regional ACTF Fesival.