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March 2, 2012 > Ohlone students nominated for acting awards

Ohlone students nominated for acting awards

By Chinmai Raman

From Gregory Peck to Danny Glover, the acting prowess that has its roots in the Bay Area is quite amazing. And it continues to expand. Two Ohlone College students, Steven Vogel and Chris Joseph, have been nominated for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Awards at the American College Theatre Festival (ACTF). Region VII of this festival, where these students auditioned for the prestigious award, was held this year in Fort Collins, Colorado, hosted by Colorado State University from February 12 - 17.

The Irene Ryan Foundation of Encino, California, has been awarding scholarships to the best student-actors in the country since 1972. The foundation itself is named after Irene Ryan who is best remembered for her portrayal of Granny Clampett in "The Beverly Hillbillies." The annual scholarships provide "recognition, honor, and financial assistance to outstanding student performers wishing to pursue further education."

This year, both Vogel and Joseph were nominated by American College Region VII Festival adjudicator/teacher Reid Davis at St. Mary's college to compete at the festival held in Colorado. Beginning in 2005, the competition focused on elevating the auditions by making students perform two, two-person scenes at the regional festivals. Vogel performed with partner Elise Scarlott and Joseph with partner Danny Carpenter.

"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." The auditions give students the chance to win a $500 scholarship for regional winners, and a $2,500 prize for winners at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., for the best performance of a monologue or song. The students' partners are eligible for awards as well, if they were to reach the national level. The Irene Ryan scholarships are versatile in that they can be used by the students for anything from tuition at the school of their choosing to further their expertise in the theatre arts.

Steven Vogel and Chris Joseph are not the first Ohlone students to compete in the Irene Ryan auditions, and are certainly not the last. Joseph is unique in that he was the first deaf student actor to compete in the Irene Ryans at ACTF. Not only did he represent Ohlone, but the deaf community in Fremont as well.

The students have been working together two days a week since the New Year started, with an outside eye from student director Wesley Rou and adjunct faculty member and Coach Dor Atkinson. The auditions are a great opportunity to practice auditioning, performing, and being judged by their work. They will be meeting many other student actors and faculty members from schools across the country, and perhaps making contacts which could help them in the future.

Of course, the American College Theatre Festival is not all about the Irene Ryan Scholarships. There are a wide variety of workshops and events at the festival, which means more opportunities to learn, take a risk, and to try something new. According to the ACTF website, "[there are] workshops and seminars on such topics as playwriting, auditioning, voice, movement, stage combat, theater for children, scene painting, scenery construction, and so on. There are sessions for the beginning theater artist and the experienced faculty member."

Unfortunately, Vogel and Joseph did not make it to the Irene Ryan finals, but it surely won't be their last time competing in these auditions. Says Dor Atkinson, Ohlone faculty member and the students' coach, "It's very exciting to see these students being recognized for their hard work and progress, and taking an important step in their chosen career. The Theatre and Dance Department applauds their efforts and wishes them well!"

To learn more about ACTF, visit

Photo Caption: Steven Vogel, playing Truffaldino in "Servant of Two Masters".

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