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BYU Students Bring Home College Theatre Festival Awards, Prepare for Nationals

Acting major Dylan Wright was named the region's finalist for the prestigious Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship


Dylan Wright performs in BYU's "Radium Girls," directed by Stephanie Breinholt. (Michael Hanley)

In February, the Department of Theatre and Media Arts sent many of their top students to compete in the regional Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) in Los Angeles. The students — along with BYU's production of "Radium Girls" — garnered various awards in acting, design, stage management, dramaturgy, directing and playwriting.

Three students — Dylan Wright, Andrew Groome and Sten Shearer — will attend nationals with professor Stephanie Breinholt, who received the Kennedy Center Medallion for theatre educators as well as an award for Distinguished Director of a Play for "Radium Girls." The annual national festival will be held April 15-20 in Washington D.C. and will feature 125 outstanding theatre students from across the country.

Wright, who performed as both a scholarship nominee with scene partner Groome and as a cast member in "Radium Girls," became the sixth BYU student in a row to be named the Region 8 Irene Ryan National Finalist, an honor that caught him off guard.

"As I advanced, I became somewhat anxious because I felt I was undeserving," said Wright. "There are so many talented people that attend this festival and so many actors from BYU that should have made it to the final round over me, but I tried to be mindful of the fact that I could also pay my respects to them and to my school by doing my best."

As a scene partner, Groome didn't feel the same level of pressure as the nominees, but was excited for the chance to support and perform with friends.

"Dylan puts everything into the roles he plays, and it definitely shows in his performances," Groome said. "I was so grateful to be his partner because I knew it would be brilliant. We had fun with the whole thing — I think that's important. There were so many people that were stressed out beyond belief, but I really believe that we did well because we just had fun and were ourselves."

"Working with Andrew is a blessing," added Wright. "He is giving and selfless when he acts. I know that he has my back 2,000 percent, and I have his too. We make a great team, and I feel confident and secure knowing that he is my partner for this national competition. I attribute my success so far to how talented he is."

Wright plans to approach nationals with the same mix of optimism, realism and camaraderie that he brought to regionals, focusing on the continued opportunity to learn and grow as an actor.

"My experiences with KCACTF and in the BFA acting program have been unparalleled," said Wright. "Acting is hard. It's exhausting. It can sometimes be psychologically scarring, but having friends and faculty like I have in the TMA department has truly helped me to grow as a collaborator, husband, friend, actor and disciple of Christ. Acting is one of the most Christ-like things you can do if you do it for the right reasons; you learn to empathize and connect with so many different types of people."