Theatre arts major Sofia Garcia ’20 won an invitation and scholarship to attend the Kennedy Center Directing Intensive in Washington, D.C., this May.

Competing at the Kennedy Center American Theater Festival Region 5 (KCACTF V) in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Garcia beat out M.F.A. candidates as well as undergraduates in a competition judged by members of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.

“This is a truly remarkable accomplishment!” said Jennifer Hemphill, assistant professor and musical theatre program chair at Stephens, who accompanied her students to the festival in January.

With all expenses paid, Garcia will participate in a six-day program with celebrated professionals in the field of direction at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The program encourages early-career directors to “cultivate their practice inside the rehearsal room and to carve their path in the field of theatre,” according to the Kennedy Center website.

KCACTF group

Garcia will observe professional directors in a play development workshop, participate in lab sessions led by the O’Neill/NNPN/SDC/Kennedy Center’s National Directing Fellows, and take practical sessions on working with actors and designers, new play development and pitching oneself as a director.

To compete for the spot, Garcia directed her fellow students — Jamie Todd ’22, Brooke Grno ’20, Shawnee Fierros Casas Richberger ’20, Colleen O’Brien ’20 and Natalie Irlmeier ’20 — in a prepared scene. The adjudicators chose six finalists, critiquing work and interviewing directors. As a finalist, Garcia directed a public performance of the scene. Her high ranking earned her the Kennedy Center Directing Intensive invitation and scholarship.

“I am blessed to have such an amazing school that supports me,” Garcia said. “I am honored to be able to do what I love and represent Stephens while doing it. I am excited to dive into this intensive and to keep discovering things about my craft.”

Fellow students Natalie Irlmeier ’20, Sophie Sarnacki ’22 and Allison Belsan ’22 took three of 20 finalist spots in the Musical Theatre Intensive competition, which was adjudicated by James Gray and Karen Burthwright.

“We were so fortunate to spend the week in the company of Stephens’ bright, creative and personable students,” said Dr. Corinne Johnson, directing initiatives coordinator for KCACTF V.

“It really was a magnificent week for Stephens,” Gail Humphries Mardirosian said. “I was a very proud Dean and so delighted to be a part of the week!”

Pictured at top from left to right: Natalie Irlmeier ’20, Brooke Grno ’20, Colleen O’Brien ’20, Sofia Garcia ’20, Jamie Todd ’22 and Shawnee Fierros Casas Richberger ’20.

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