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The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival

KCACTF Production Registration

There is no limit to the number of productions a school may enter in the festival. Productions may be registered in the KCACTF at any time during the year. Productions entered in the KCACTF represent the work of faculty and students of the individual university and college theater departments. The Participating entry is intended for productions interested in being considered for invitation to the Regional Festival. The entry qualifies students for all award categories; receives responses from colleagues from outside the home institution. The Associate entry is intended for productions interested in all award eligibility, but not for consideration for invitation to the Regional Festival. KCACTF responses are for the benefit of the company as a whole; they are not intended as an instrument for administrative review of individuals. Productions invited to the Regional Festivals are considered for National Awards for Excellence in production and individual achievement. These awards are announced each year in early March.

Response and Selection

KCACTF works from the premise that effective theater is assessed by the depth and breadth of its ability to involve audiences in an experience that is both stimulating and illuminating, which emphasizes the spoken word; physical interpretation of the text based on genuine emotions; the humanity of individuals; and the relationships between characters.

In January and February of each year, regional festivals showcase the finest of each region's entered productions and offer a variety of activities, including workshops, symposia, and regional-level award programs. Regional festival productions are seen by the National Selection Team chosen by the Kennedy Center and the KCACTF national Committee. This panel selects four to six of the best and most diverse regional festival Participating productions to be showcased in the spring at the annual national festival at the Kennedy Center, all expenses paid. The national festival is the culmination of the KCACTF year. Recipients of national KCACTF awards, scholarships, and fellowships are also announced during the national festival.

KCACTF reserves the right to withhold any award.

How to enter the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival


Any junior or senior college in the United States accredited by its regional association is eligible as well as student organizations directly sponsored by the accredited college.

Colleges in countries contiguous to the continental United States are eligible. Inquiries for regulations governing foreign entries should be addressed to Kelsey Mesa, Manager of KCACTF and Theater Education, The Kennedy Center, 2700 F Street NW, Washington, DC 20566.

Types of Entry

Participating entries are eligible:

  • To be invited to the Regional Festival
  • To nominate one bona fide student performer from its entry for participation in the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship program. Other nominations, not to exceed two, may be made by KCACTF representatives and respondents who view the production or a videotape of the production.
  • To nominate the student designers from the entered production to participate in the scenic, costume, and lighting design programs.
  • To nominate students to participate in the Institute for Theater Journalism and Advocacy (formerly the National Critics Institute) Scholarship program
  • To nominate a reasonable number of students from the institution to participate in the National Critics Institute Scholarship program and the O'Neill Musical Theater Conference Internship Program
  • To be considered for all applicable playwriting awards.
  • To be considered for all other applicable KCACTF awards.


All Participating productions must have written approval of the appropriate official (such as theater department chair, faculty advisor to student organizations, university president, or provost of the producing institution. Such letter(s) should be submitted to the KCACTF producing director at the time of registration and should clearly state the title of each production entered.


Schools must register their Festival productions by the deadline established within the regions. Registrations after that date can only be accepted with the approval of the regional chair.

The Company

The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival is primarily a performance showcase for college and university students. Fifty percent (50%) of the acting company must be students enrolled in the institution during the semester or quarter in which the production is presented at the local and regional levels. Individual cast questions should be brought to the attention of the regional chair.

There is no restriction on the number of people who can be part of an KCACTF production; however, any company with more than twenty-five participants for a regular play or thirty-five for a musical must be discussed with the regional chair.

The Play

The following categories of plays may be entered:


The producing institution will obtain written permission for performances of its entry at the local level, and, if selected, at both the regional and national festivals, and will pay author royalties for these performances.


The producing institution shall secure a comprehensive general liability policy with a combined single limit of $1 million for bodily injury and property damage and $1,000,000 for personal injury arising out of or in connection with the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (the "Festival."). Such policy shall name the Festival, The KCACTF National Committee, the sponsoring organizations, the Kennedy Center, and their respective Trustees, officers, employees, and agents as additional insureds. Such policy shall be primary and noncontributory, and secured from an insurer subject to the approval of the Kennedy Center and shall provide for thirty days' prior-written notice of cancellation or material change to the Kennedy Center. The producing institution shall provide a certificate of insurance evidencing such coverage at the time of registration and a true copy of the actual policy upon request of the Kennedy Center. In the event that the producing institution cannot secure such policy, the producing institution may elect to purchase coverage under the Kennedy Center's Outside Performers Liability Policy, it being understood that such coverage applies only for liability incurred during performances at the Kennedy Center and does not provide coverage for the participating performers but only provides coverage with respect to liability to third parties.

For any questions regarding production registration, contact Kelsey Mesa at

Header image: 'Good Person Of Setzuan' presented by University of Idaho.