The Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship

Since 1972, the Irene Ryan Foundation of Encino, California, has awarded scholarships to the outstanding student performers at each regional festival. These scholarships are made possible by the generosity of the late Irene Ryan who is best remembered for her portrayal of the lovable and feisty 'Granny Clampett' in The Beverly Hillbillies . All student actors in both Participating and Associate productions are eligible for consideration for these $500 regional scholarships.

[Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Picture]
The 2007 Nominees and Partners of the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship

The Irene Ryan Scholarships provide recognition, honor, and financial assistance to outstanding student performers wishing to pursue further education. The Irene Ryan Foundation awards 19 regional awards and two fellowships annually. Sixteen (16) of the awards consist of a $500 scholarship for each regional representative of KCACTF. There are two scholarships of $2,500 each for the winners at the national festival in Washington, D.C. In addition, the student judged the Kingsley Colton Award-winner for Best Partner in the national auditions is awarded a cash prize of $250. The Irene Ryan Acting Scholarships are, indeed, scholarships; so the Foundation disburses the award through a school designated by the winner, to pay tuition and fees for further education, not necessarily limited to theatre arts.

Additional awards are made to Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship participants and their acting partners each year at the national level. Past awards include a fellowship to attend the Society of American Fight Directors' National Stage Combat Workshop, the Williamstown Theatre Festival Fellowship for outstanding minority candidates, the KCACTF National Partners Classical Acting Award, the Mark Twain Comedy Acting Awards, fellowships to attend the Margolis Method Summer Intensive in the Catskills the Dell'Arte School of Physical Theatre and Mad River Festival, and an offer to become a member of the acting companies of the Sundance Theatre Laboratory and O'Neill Playwrights' Conference. The list of awards and student opportunities associated with the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Auditions at the national festival continues to expand each year and the auditions are now undoubtedly one of the most exciting educational and artistic opportunities for student actors in the country.

Other awards to student participants in the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Auditions may also be made at the regional level. Students and coaches are encouraged to consult their regional chair or regional Irene Ryan Scholarship Auditions Coordinator for more information on regional awards.
[Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Picture]
2007 Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship recpeints and partners Jenna Kirk, Chris Crawford, Courtney Moors, and Michael Cox.

View the list of Past Winners.

Each college or university entering a production may nominate one student from that production for an Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship. KCACTF respondents who view the production are allowed to make a maximum of two nominations. The nominations must be submitted to the regional chair in accordance with prescribed deadlines. The University/Resident Theatre Association (U/RTA) will invite Irene Ryan regional scholarship winners to attend the U/RTA final auditions at the annual National Unified Auditions and Interviews (NUA/Is). Finalists will be exempt from the U/RTA screening auditions and will be offered discounted audition fees from URTA. The U/RTA NUA/Is provide the opportunity to vie for numerous positions with professional training programs at leading graduate schools from around the country, and for seasonal employment with summer theater companies, Shakespeare festivals and other professional producing organizations. For further information, please consult your regional chair or contact the U/RTA National Office at (212) 221-1130.

Please refer to the Rules and Procedures.

The Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship National Winners


Clayton Joyner assisted by Zachary Powell,
Illinois State University

Daniel Molina assisted by Kelly Rogers,
Savannah College of Art and Design


Whitney Morgan Cox assisted by John Dodart,
Dixie State University of Utah
Paul Stuart assisted by Colin Ryan,
University of Oklahoma


Adam Navarro assisted by Courtney Howe,
California State University - Fullerton
Meredith Hinckely assisted by Paul Collins
California Sate University - Fullerton


portrait of courtney moors

Courtney Moors assisted by Michael Cox,
University of Central Florida

portrait of chris crawford

Chris Crawford assisted by Jenna Kirk,
University of Arkansas


portrait of rory lipede Rory Lipede assisted by Adam Flores,
Fontbonne University

portrait of Michael Swickard Michael Swickard assisted by Margaret-Ellen Jenkins,
University of Central Florida


portrait of rory lipede Amanda Folena, Purdue University
portait of Stephen Laferriere Stephen Laferriere, Salem State College



Photo of Christopher Grant Christopher Grant, University of Evansville
Photo of Jason Roth Jason Roth, University of Maryland-Baltimore County



portrait of Ruby DesJardins Ruby DesJardins, Suffolk University, Boston
portrait of Letitia James Letitia James, Virginia Commonwealth University

portrait of Kelly Bartlett Kelly Bartlett, Iowa State University
portrait of Sarah Stockton Sarah Stockton, University of Portland


    [Picture of Nancy McNulty] Nancy McNulty, Salem State University
    [Picture of Jason Buuck] Jason Buuck, California State University- Fullerton


    [Picture of Nisi Sturgis] Nisi Sturgis, University of Central Arkansas, Conway
    [Picture of Ben Steinfeld] Ben Steinfeld, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island


    Megan Dillingham, University of Kansas, Lawrence
    Rian Jairell, University of Wyoming, Laramie


    Hattie Davis, Emporia State University, Emporia, Kansas
    Christopher Ross, University of Nebraska-Omaha


    Stephanie Breinholt, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT
    Esau Pritchett, Oakland University, Rochester, MI


    Mireille Enos, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT
    Gabriel Fazio, Suffolk Community College, Selden, NY


    Gretchen Cleevely, Miami University of Ohio
    Aidan Sullivan, Middlebury College, VT


    Lara Jo Hightower, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
    Kevin P. Rahm, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT


    Maria Santucci, Kansas State University, Manhattan
    David Bryan Woodside, University of Iowa, Iowa City


    Max Baker, Washington State University, Pullman
    Thomas Silcott, Salem State University, MA


    Scott Claflin, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT
    Heather K. Wilson, University of South Dakota, Vermillion


    Kelly Eviston, Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights
    Jeff Lieber, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL


    Blondale Funderburk, South Carolina State College, Orangeburg
    Kelly Bertenshaw, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis


    Judith Hawking, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia
    Elaine Gallagher, Linfield College, McMinnville, OR


    Melodie Garrett, North Carolina A&T, Greensboro
    Brett Rickaby, University of Minnesota, Duluth


    Kevin Hardesty, University of Kentucky, Lexington
    Tim Gregory, Otterbein College, Westerville, OH


    David Studwell, Purdue University, Lafayette, IN
    Brad Moniz, California State University, Chico


    Julia Campbell, Webster College, St. Louis, MO
    Gerry McIntyre, Montclair State College, NJ


    Don Reilly, William and Mary College, Williamsburg, VA
    Jodi Ewen, University of Evansville, IN


    Ron Marasco, Fordham University, New York, NY
    Christina Stinson, University of Evansville, IN


    Andrea Huber, Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, IL
    Melinda McCrary, Webster College, St. Louis, MO


    Mark Tymchyshyn, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
    D. Rhett Wickham, University of South Florida, Tampa


    Larry LoVerde, Rhode Island College, Providence
    Sharon Rolf, University of Evansville, IN


    Saundra Lane Daniel, University of Montevallo, AL
    Jeff J. Redford, Cerritos College, Norwalk, CA


    Lynn Topping, Indiana State University, Terre Haute
    Albert Rodriquez, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque


    Rebecca J. Guy, University of Evansville, IN
    Kathy Monteleone, Park College, Kansas City, MO


    John M. Doyle, University of Florida, Gainesville
    Dan Butler, Indiana University, Fort Wayne


    Anne Sward, University of Miami, FL
    Sheryl L. Ralph, Douglass College, Rutger University, New Brunswick, NJ


    Kathleen Couser, North Texas State University, Denton
    Jeffrey Ware, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Catonsville


    Joyce D. Hanley, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY
    Michael Biers, United States International University, San Diego, CA


The main focus of the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Auditions is to celebrate the nation's finest student actors and the craft that enables them to create compelling and truthful characterizations. Beginning with Festival XXXVII in 2005, the Irene Ryan Acting   Scholarship Auditions will heighten the focus on craft in auditions by showcasing actors in two (2) two-person scenes and a monologue or song for candidates who advance to the final round of competition at the regional and national levels.

Specific rules and criteria appear below but students and coaches are advised that significant change in the structure of the auditions makes time management an important consideration in preparing an Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Audition.

Candidates are permitted:

•  a maximum of three minutes in the regional preliminary round to present a single two-person scene (which may or may not incorporate singing).
•  a maximum of five minutes in the regional semifinal round to perform the preliminary round scene AND a contrasting two-person scene (which may or may not incorporate singing) using the same partner for both scenes.
•  a maximum of six minutes in the regional final round and national "Evening of Scenes" to present the semi final round audition scenes plus a monologue or solo musical number.

Auditions will be evaluated using the following criteria at every level of the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Auditions and are of particular importance in the regional preliminary round:

•  Ability to urgently pursue strong, clear objectives.
•  Ability to partner.  
•  Ability to make varied, specific and bold acting choices.
•  Mastery of an expressive and flexible vocal and physical instrument.
•  Demonstration of facility with language and a clear understanding of the text.
•  Demonstration of range and contrast.

Given the above criteria actors are strongly encouraged to select and prepare material for auditions that will demonstrate the above competencies, and to avoid material designed to demonstrate the actor's cleverness as an end in and of itself.

Preliminary Round : The Regional Preliminary Round audition shall consist of one (1) two-person scene not to exceed a maximum of three (3) minutes in length . If the audition incorporates singing, at least 50% of the scene must be in dialogue or duet with partner and the accompanist will not count as the partner unless singing/performing with the candidate.

Semifinal Round : The regional semifinal round audition must be composed of the preliminary round audition scene plus a second two-person scene using the same partner in both scenes . Singing may be incorporated in the second two-person scene in the same manner as the preliminary round . The semifinal round audition will not exceed a maximum of five (5) minutes total .

Final Round : The Final Round audition at the regional and national levels shall consist of the semifinal round audition scenes plus a monologue or solo musical number. The audition will not exceed a maximum of six (6) minutes total.

For more information please contact your Regional Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Coordinator at: WWW.KCACTF.ORG



•  Time management is a very important consideration in selecting material for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Auditions. Since the candidate will have a maximum of three minutes in the preliminary round to perform a single two-person scene (which may or may not incorporate singing) and a maximum of five minutes in the semi-final round to perform the preliminary round scene AND a contrasting two person scene (which may or may not incorporate singing) using the same partner for both scenes, actors and coaches are advised to take extra care in the selection and length of material for the preliminary round. While there is a 15 second grace period at every level of the auditions, candidates who plan on using the grace period as an opportunity to cram as much as they possibly can into the audition are in significant danger of disqualification. The grace period exists to allow for genuinely unexpected and unplanned events in an audition such as audience response, an actor going up briefly on lines, or an unanticipated disruption in the audition. It is often the actor's primary instinct in these auditions to use every possible moment to demonstrate their ability, when in almost every case the exact opposite instinct is a more effective way to accomplish that goal. When thinking about length in the selection of material, candidates and coaches are strongly advised to remember that LESS REALLY IS MORE at every level of the auditions.

•  Coaches and candidates may also wish to keep the following criteria now used by judges at every level of competition in mind when selecting and preparing material for the auditions:
a) Ability to urgently pursue strong, clear objectives . (Has the actor identified a strong goal or task to pursue in the scene and are they consistently in "high stakes" pursuit of that task)?
b) Ability to partner . (Is the actor genuinely and significantly connected to, and in relationship with their acting partner throughout the scene? Are they listening, responding and pursuing task through partner)?
c) Ability to make varied, specific and bold acting choices . (Is the actor employing different tactics in pursuit of the overall task, are those tactics clear, interesting and specific? Is the actor avoiding the traps of generalizing, emoting, indicating, and playing a single character "color" or "quality" throughout the scene)?
d) Mastery of an expressive and flexible vocal and physical instrument . (Does the actor have vocal and physical control? Can they be heard and understood throughout the audition? Is the audition free of superfluous energy or tension vocally or physically)?
e) Facility with language and clear understanding of the text. (Has the actor met the specific demands of the language in the text? Do the actor's choices seem grounded in, and informed by a broader understanding of the entire play)?
f) Demonstration of range and contrast . At each successive level of the audition-- as it journeys from the preliminary to the final round-- the actor is expected to show increasing degrees of range and contrast. In the preliminary round the actor will be evaluated primarily on the range and variety of choices within a single scene. In the semi-final round, the actor will be expected to demonstrate range and contrast in the material they select to perform as well as the choices they make within each scene. In the final round, the actor is expected to present three selections that demonstrate the broadest possible range and contrast.

This criteria has been developed to ensure that the actor demonstrates some ability in the craft of acting in addition to native talent, charisma and stage presence, and selecting material that enables the actor to demonstrate a genuine understanding of craft is strongly encouraged.

Actors and coaches are also strongly encouraged to remember that all auditions will be evaluated primarily on an actor's ability to demonstrate the acting competencies listed above, whether the material selected is from contemporary drama, rock opera, musical theatre, Shakespeare, Moliere or Christopher Durang. Actors are expected to illuminate the truth of a character within the context of the world the playwright has created in keeping with the stylistic demands of the play, rather than use the material as a vehicle solely to illuminate their own beautiful singing voices, their dazzling sense of comedy and style, or their ability to entertain an audience. The advice below is particularly useful in helping the actor find and frame material that meets those expectations.
•  Find material that you could be cast in today.
•  Use material that is within your age range, your vocal range (especially if you're singing), your emotional range, and within the scope of your movement skills.
•  Avoid material that requires a dialect.
•  Choose material has a clear beginning and moves to a conclusion.
•  Use material that focuses on (or showcases) your character.
•  Avoid material that you have performed in a complete production.
•  Discuss your choice of material with your director, and your other acting teachers to ascertain that: 1) It is suitable for presentation at the regional and national festivals, and 2) that you have acquired performance rights and/or permission to perform the material.
•  Make certain that you select clearly contrasting material.

Choose material in which you have faith, and that which allows you to gain confidence as you rehearse.

Guidelines and Procedures for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship

The following information applies to Irene Ryan scholarship auditions held at regional festivals and at the national festival 2005:

1. Student Status: Only those performers who have appeared in either a participating or associate KCACTF entry and are bona fide students in a college or university at the time of the KCACTF response are eligible. For the purpose of these awards, a bona fide student is:
•  an undergraduate student* registered for at least six semester or equivalent quarter hours;
•  or a graduate student* registered for at least three semester or equivalent quarter hours;
•  or a continuing part-time student* enrolled in a regular degree or certificate program.

* Undergraduate, graduate, and continuing part-time students must be matriculating and pursuing a degree at the time of the KCACTF official response.

The chair of the theatre department (or their delegate) must verify in writing the candidate and partner's bona fide student status either by signing their festival registration forms, or a verification letter

2. Notice of Guidelines: Each director of a participating or associate production shall inform all eligible students of the Irene Ryan guidelines.

3. Number of Nominees: Each college or university may nominate one student performer from the cast of each of its participating entries and one student performer from the cast of each of its associate entries. KCACTF representatives may nominate two additional performers from the casts of participating entries, and one additional performer from the casts of associate entries.

4. Notice of Nomination: The regional chair or their delegate shall notify each of the nominees of his or her selection as an Irene Ryan competitor.

5. Expenses: Each Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Audition participant shall bear all expenses of attending the regional festival (unless these expenses are otherwise provided for within the region), including festival registration. Registration, transportation, lodging, and a per diem allowance are provided for each national festival participant and for each partner.

6. Composition of Preliminary and Semifinal Rounds: Not more than sixteen nominees shall appear in final round at regional festivals. If more than sixteen competitors qualify for the regional festival, the regional chair must determine a screening system insuring that no nominee perform more than twice on any day. Whenever possible, the auditions should be combined with oral feedback sessions from judges, an audition workshop, or both.

7. Final Round Scheduling: The regional screening and final rounds should normally occur prior to the performance of any regional festival production. However, if the regional chair can ensure final round judges who will not have seen any festival productions prior to the final round, that round may be held any time during the regional festival.

8. Final Round Judges: Academic professionals affiliated with regional institutions must not judge the final round of the regional festival.

9. Announcement of National Finalists: The names of the national finalists and the first alternate shall be communicated first to the regional chair and subsequently announced at a time designated by the chair.

10. Audition Introduction: Each Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Audition nominee and partner shall be introduced by name and material selection only—no school affiliation shall be identified.

11. On-site Rehearsal: At the regional festival, a rehearsal shall be scheduled in the performance space before the final round of auditions. Coaches may attend this rehearsal. At the national festival, an initial and a dress rehearsal will be scheduled: the initial rehearsal is a closed rehearsal —only candidates, their partners, and accompanists will be allowed. Coaches may attend the dress rehearsal.

12. Audition Time Constraints: Including transitions between scenes, the audition presentation shall be limited to a maximum of three (3) minutes in the preliminary round, a maximum of five (5) minutes in the semifinal round and a maximum of six (6) minutes in the final round. Timing of the audition will begin with the first action or word in character following the setup and introduction and will not stop from that point onward. All introductions should therefore be made before beginning the audition.

Participants exceeding the time limit (plus a 15-second grace period) will be disqualified at all levels, including the KCACTF Irene Ryan  "Evening of Scenes" in Washington.

13. Audition Material and Partner Requirements: The regional preliminary round requires an audition comprising one two-person scene not to exceed three (3) minutes in length. The audition must be performed with a partner who was a bona fide student at the time of the initial KCACTF response or during the term in which the regional festival occurs (confirmed in writing as outlined in #1 above). If the audition incorporates singing, at least 50% of the scene must be in dialogue or duet with partner and the accompanist will not count as the partner (unless the accompanist performs as a character in the audition).

The Regional semifinal round requires an audition comprising the preliminary round audition scene and a second two-person scene or song using the same partner in both. Singing may be incorporated in the second two-person scene under the same conditions that apply to the preliminary round scene. The audition will not exceed five (5) minutes total.

The Final Round audition (performed at both the regional and national festivals) shall consist of the semifinal round audition plus a monologue or solo musical number. The audition will not exceed six (6) minutes total.

14. Partner Limitations: No Irene Ryan nominee may serve as partner for another Irene Ryan nominee. A student may serve as partner for no more than two (2) Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship nominees per festival. All scene partners must have been a bona fide students at the time of the initial KCACTF response or during the term in which the regional festival occurs (confirmed in writing as outlined in #1 above). Nominees and their partners need not be students at the same institution.

15. Audition Clothing: It is recommended that no costume as such be used. A costume accessory may be used, but the nominee must provide it.

16. On-Site Lighting: Only basic lighting is permitted for Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Audition rehearsals and/or performances and will be provided by the festival host.

17. On-Site Furniture and Props: Two (2) straight-backed armless chairs and one (1) table will be provided by the festival host. If simple hand props are used, the nominee must provide them.

18. Information forwarded to the National Festival: Within ten days of the closing of the regional festival, each national finalist must provide the regional chair or designee with:
•  two 8"x10" photos labeled with the actor's name, permanent address, and temporary school address (if different from permanent address).
•  the name and complete school mailing address of the administrative official to whom the regional scholarship funds should be directed.
•  Local hometown newspaper contact information (for publicity purposes).
•  proof of royalty clearance for the selected audition material (if it has not previously been designated as available). If a national finalist is unable to provide rights clearance documentation within the ten (10) day period, the regional chair reserves the right to send the Irene Ryan regional alternate to the national festival in the finalist's place.

The regional chair will immediately forward all information to Kingsley Colton, Executive Director of the Irene Ryan Foundation, and to the KCACTF national co-managers.

19. Rights and Royalties: Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Audition material should be selected from the following:
•  material in the public domain
•  material written for or by the candidate
•  material for which permission of the rights holder can be secured

Written proof of permission from the rights holder must be presented at each level of Irene Ryan auditions for any material which has not previously been designated as available per the information below. If you receive written permission, you should bring the letter with you to each round of festival competition. Any royalty charges for Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Audition material is the sole responsibility of the nominee. Be advised that. If required, any royalty must be paid prior to receiving written permission to perform the material. Please plan accordingly.

Cuts or changes to published material may be in violation of copyright. KCACTF expects that nominees will abide by the rights holder's restrictions regarding cuts and changes. KCACTF affirms the author's right to have their work presented to the public with integrity.

KCACTF will pay any royalties for material presented in the National  "Evening of Scenes" at the Kennedy Center.



•  Make strong, positive and varied choices aimed at putting your character in charge of the scene.
•  Locate and exploit counterpoints and tensions between yourself and the character, tensions within the character, tensions between the character and the dramatic situation.
•  Take a journey and allow the text to surprise you. Use discoveries, realizations and unusual tactics in the scene to keep the journey the character makes spontaneous and surprising.
•  Give movement specificity, dramatic validity, and theatrical finish. Simple but completely realized movements and gestures are the most effective. Avoid literal interpretations of the text in movement and gesture.
•  When staging the scene be sure you are "sharing your work" so that it is open and available to the audience vocally and physically, no matter how intensely involved you are with partner. Avoid upstaging yourself and staging too much of your work in a scene, song or monologue in profile.
•  Avoid working on too many physical levels (on chairs, tabletop, etc.) simply to dazzle the audience with unusual staging choices. Look for staging choices that grow more from a thorough understanding of the text than a desire to use the audition venue in a unique and clever way.
•  Maintain vocal control throughout the scene. Don't let emotions drive you beyond vocal expression you can control.
•  Imagine the physical space appropriate for your scene; set the boundaries and maintain control of that space during the performance.
•  Movement should develop organically from the material; the connection between the physical action and its emotional source should be strong and clear.
•  In the regional semifinal round and beyond, be sure to clearly specify the ending of the one piece and the beginning of the next. Do not run scenes together. Do allow for audience reaction. To avoid going over the time limit, a good rule of thumb is to use no more than 2 minutes 45 seconds total in the preliminary round, 4 minutes 45 seconds in the semifinal round, and 5 minutes 45 seconds in the final round. This will allow a 30 second cushion (which includes the 15-second grace period) to accommodate audience response.
•  Time the performance carefully so that it is always within the required limits; audience laughter is part of your time-you don't get extra time if they're laughing too hard to press forward. Carefully weigh the decision of how long you wish the preliminary round scene to run. If you decide to consume all three minutes in the preliminary round scene, you will have only two additional minutes to perform a contrasting scene in the semifinal round. The choice is entirely yours, but plan accordingly. The confidence, poise, and polish characteristic of outstanding auditions is the result of dedicated, concentrated rehearsal and astute coaching.
•  Ask your acting teachers and your coaches to help you with your audition. Bug them until they do. Don't let the regional festival be the first place your audition will be seen by others. Feedback from coaches and as much rehearsal in front of others as possible is essential.
•  Adequate rehearsal is vital. A five-minute presentation should be rehearsed a minimum of six hours, excluding time spent learning the material and discussing it with coaches.
•  Your introduction is an important part of your audition. Make it count. Script and rehearse it as if it is an additional scene in your audition. Be sure both you and your partner are introduced by name (but do not identify your school), and that you identify the title of each piece you are performing. Keep the introductions brief, personable and professional.


•  Wear simple, attractive, comfortable clothes and shoes suited to your movement choices. Current Stylistic trends are not necessarily the most professional attire. Remember, your clothes aren't auditioning—you are.
•  Minimize jewelry. Style your hair so that it flatters your face, not hides it.
•  Warm up your voice and your body. Take time to connect to your partner.
•  Assess the acoustic qualities of each performance space and make choices regarding how much vocal energy you will need to be heard.
•  Command your space. We are watching you even as you place the furniture in preparation for the audition.
•  At the beginning of the audition, state your name, your partner's name, and the titles of the pieces you will perform.
•  Do NOT state the name of your university or college.
•  You may certainly end your audition with "Thank you."