“Disconnect” by Theatre UAB selected for KCACTF Region IV performance

This is the eighth UAB Department of Theatre production since 2003 to be selected for presentation by the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.

Dis.3Update: UAB Department of Theatre students Rachel-Marie Strazza and Brett Everingham were named finalists for Irene Ryan Acting Scholarships at the Region IV KCACTF competition. 

Disconnect,” a new, original play presented this season by Theatre UAB, has been selected for presentation by Region IV of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. 

The KCACTF is a national theater program involving 18,000 students annually from colleges and universities across the country. Region IV of KCACTF is made up of 13 states in the Southeast. The festival selection committee for the region considered entries from 30 colleges and universities and selected 10 for presentation. The 53rd annual festival will be entirely virtual.

“Disconnect” was created last fall by an ensemble of University of Alabama at Birmingham students, dubbed “The Collective,” and led by College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Theatre faculty Lee Shackleford, MFA, and Roy Lightner, MFA. The participants of The Collective determined the content and form of the performance, which is a combination of live and recorded media and is largely student-driven, taking advantage of the virtual spaces created this year. It also features students’ choreography and original songs written by students, Lightner says.

Ingeniously blending live action and prerecorded scenes, “Disconnect” gives the audience access to the private online conversations of a dozen college students as they navigate a night of mistaken identities, bold revelations and conflicting values.

“We were amazed by the creativity, talent and resilience in our region. The selected productions represent the full range of our region’s colleges and universities and include classics as well as cutting-edge contemporary productions. You’ll see creative approaches to utilizing technology in this very different year,” festival organizers wrote when the invited productions for 2021 were announced.

“Professors Roy Lightner and Lee Shackleford deserve a standing ovation for the work they did with our students on this production,” said Professor Kelly Allison, MFA, chair of the UAB Department of Theatre. “The students in The Collective did some outstanding work for this devised production.”

Shackleford serves on the KCACTF Region IV selection committee and reported to the department that “Disconnect” was one of three productions in the region that received unanimous support from the committee. 

“Usually, the regional festival can present only four or maybe five shows, just because of scheduling the performances and all the time it takes to move the shows into the performance spaces and back out again,” Shackleford said. “But with the shows’ streaming on video, the total time needed for each show is simply the running time of the show. So, we are taking advantage of the opportunity to offer festival participants more plays to experience, albeit online and in isolation.”

Normally the play would be presented live; but this year, performers were given the choice to perform live via streaming or send a link to a video of the performance. Theatre UAB opted to send the recording of the company’s original Nov. 21 performance.

Dis.3 copyFor more information on the festival, or to register, visit kcactf4.org. The $30 registration fee will offer registrants access to see all 10 plays, all classes and workshops, plus new pieces of theater that will be created during the festival.

Theatre UAB has submitted productions for festival participation eight times since 2003, and its submissions have been chosen 100 percent of the time. Past Theatre UAB productions selected for KCACTF presentation include: