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A group of Grand Valley students participated in the 2013 Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Region III Festival at Saginaw Valley State University. Student Andrew Wernette’s 10-minute play entitled “A Whale in Hilton Head” won in the ten-minute playwriting category. His play is now being considered for performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Wernette, a senior from Northville, is double majoring in writing and advertising/public relations. His involvement in campus groups like STAGE (a theatre club) and the Writer’s Guild gave him the skills to write a script that won this award. Wernette previously attended an the Region III conference after taking dramatic writing courses.

“They brought in famous playwrights,” said Wernette. “I said to myself ‘This is way more serious than I thought.’ I totally wasn’t prepared. I submitted again this year and said ‘Alright, time to put my nose to the grindstone.’”

Wernette submitted another script this year and was chosen from over 80 submissions from across Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin as one of six to be considered to compete in the festival.

“Of those six, two are chosen as finalists for the region,” said Wernette. “From the 12 finalists that are in the entire nation, they will choose one winner and three honorable mentions to have a dramatic reading at the Kennedy Center in April.”

Eight other students from Grand Valley participated in the event. In addition to Wernette winning in his category, Erin Feiner received a certificate of merit for costume design on her December 2012 Performance Studio play “Wasp.” In addtion, Terrence Ball-Reid, Genesis Loza, Rae Staffens and Macey Madias were nominated for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship.

“The festival gives students the opportunity to receive outside criticism of their work from professionals,” said Karen Libman, professor of theatre. “We cannot express enough gratitude to the Office of Undergraduate Research and the School of Communications for financially supporting our students and making it possible for them to attend this festival.”

The results of the national competition will be released by April. If Wernette were to win, his play will have a reading at the Kennedy Center with professional actors.

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