Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

March 12, 2014

Props to the troupe

Local acting group wins regional award

FLATWOODS — A Flatwoods-based traveling troupe secured a top honor during a performance last weekend at a regional conference in Mobile, Ala., that included 11 other groups representing seven states.

Actors for Children Theatre won Outstanding Achievement for Props for materials used in its play “A Thousand Cranes” by Kathryn Schultz Miller.

Many of the props were handmade, including several origami-style paper cranes.

“At some of the schools and community centers where we performed, we held origami workshops afterward and ended up using some that were folded by local students throughout our entire tour,” ACT Director Sarah Diamond Burroway said. “We took a little piece of home with us down to Alabama.”

She said at one point, the group creatively used masks to create a “chaotic atmosphere.”

The masks fabricated the illusion of several doctors and nurses swirling around the main character while she was in a hospital.

“In small-cast productions, you have to get creative,” she said. “As a designer, you have to figure out ways to illustrate what the playwright has written.”

Burroway said she was pleased with the group’s performance, given it was its first appearance at the Southeastern Theatre Conference.

“I’m very proud of our performance, especially as a new company. We had a really good showing,” she said.

The year-old acting troupe won Outstanding Performance last year at the Community Theatre Festival in Morehead, which advanced the SETC to represent Kentucky alongside a group from Elkhorn City.

ACT also won awards for Best Actor and Outstanding Costume Design at the Community Theatre Festival, which is part of the Kentucky Theatre Association Conference.

“To accomplish three state theater awards and be chosen to represent Kentucky at a regional festival is a fantastic accomplishment for ACT,” Burroway said in a press release. “To also win a significant regional theater award in our first year makes me ecstatic for the future of ACT.”

The group returned from the weekend-long conference on Tuesday, beginning its new spring tour today with “A Gift-Bear for the King.”

The play is the first adaptation ACT has tackled. It was made possible through a special arrangement with Penguin Books USA, publishers of Carl Memling’s original story.

The story is about a poor family that begrudingly allows its pet bear to travel to the king to present himself as a gift for the king’s birthday.

Along the way, the bear encounters hardships that cause him to be late for his appointment with the king, getting him sent to the dungeon.

But the king is impressed with the bear’s goodwill to help others and releases him.

“The bottom line is that our value as people is in how we help others in our community, how we share our gifts and talents to help our neighbor,” Burroway said. “I think it’s a message kids in our area will appreciate.”

ACT will perform “A Gift-Bear for the King” twice at Campbell Elementary School in Raceland today to officially open its spring tour.

ACT is applying for an invitation to the Theatre for Youth Festival and plans to perform in the Community Theatre Festival at Eastern Kentucky University this fall, which could mean a return to the SETC.

LANA BELLAMY can be reached at lbellamy@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.

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