Shaffer and Vega make mark at theatre festival

Two Iola students from Emporia State University's theatre program showcased their talent at Festival 56 of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.


February 29, 2024 - 2:16 PM

Rachel Shaffer and Lexie Vega in “The Thanksgiving Play,” presented by Allen Community College Theatre in November 2021. Register file photo

EMPORIA — Two Iola students were among those from Emporia State University’s theatre program who attended Festival 56 of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Region 5, in Des Moines, Iowa, from Jan. 16-21.

Students auditioned and interviewed with professional theatre companies, with several ESU students receiving callbacks for theatre positions nationwide. The students also prepared their own materials to take to the festival for competition and feedback.

Rachel Shaffer competed in the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Competition, making it to the finals.

Lexie Vega entered scenes for the Stage Directors and Choreographers Directing Initiative. She received a Certificate of Merit in Stage Management (Ride the Cyclone).

The festival showcased the best of university theatre from seven states: Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. Attendees viewed productions from various schools and participated in workshops on puppetry, stage combat, Shakespeare, emerging technical software and resume reviews.

BOTH STUDENTS also are involved in the ESU Theatre production of “Late, A Cowboy Song” by Sarah Ruhl. Performances are scheduled March 1 and 2 at 7:30 p.m. and March 3 at 2 p.m. in the Ronald Q. Frederickson Black Box Theatre, in Roosevelt Hall.

Vega plays Mary, always late and always married. She meets a lady cowboy outside the city limits of Pittsburgh who teaches her how to ride a horse. It’s a story of one woman’s education and her search to find true love outside the box.

Shaffer plays Red/Composer.

“This play may seem simple at first glance: at its core, it is a story of a marriage unraveling while one person finds solace in a new romance,” Aubrey Wilson, director of the production, said. “Written in 2010, the play tackles some very large issues that still resonate with audiences today, including self-discovery, LGBTQIA+ relationships, parenting of an intersex child, domestic abuse and what it means to be free in love — all in less than 90 minutes.”

Visit and scroll down to the “Late, A Cowboy Song” event for additional information.