Walla Walla University student Meghann Heinrich, junior communications major, won runner-up at the Region Seven Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival competition for theater journalism. The festival, which draws students from across the Western United States, took place in Spokane, Wash., on Feb. 19-23, 2018, and is part of a national program dedicated to improving college theater in the United States through collaborative workshops, presentations, and academic scholarships.
Heinrich participated in festival workshops hosted by the Institute for Theatre Journalism and Advocacy, an organization dedicated to improving theater criticism. “I was interested to see how to put my journalism major to work in the field I love most, drama,” she says. The workshops focused on elevating arts criticism through daily critiques of plays and films in tutorial sessions with guest master critics. “Every day we met for an hour and would read over our writing from the previous night,” says Heinrich. “Each of the participants had chances to give constructive criticism and ask questions of each other.”
The workshop sessions were led by Bob Hicks, senior editor and writer for the online cultural news journal Oregon ArtsWatch, and previously of the Portland, Ore., newspaper, The Oregonian, where he served as an editor and staff arts writer for 25 years. “I enjoyed working with Bob Hicks,” says Heinrich. “He had a number of incredible insights into the world of theatre journalism and took the time to work with each of us individually to hone our reviews.”
An experienced writer herself, Heinrich says she “felt very prepared to take on the challenge, although writing reviews every night with a strict deadline was a new kind of pressure. I was indeed very grateful for the countless writings assignments I’ve had up until this point, courtesy of Nancy Semotiuk, because I knew the mechanics were there and it was just a matter of critically thinking about the plays I saw and discovering how to share my musings in a clear way. Once I got in the groove of turning out reviews,” she adds, “it was just plain fun.”
Heinrich’s hard work paid off, winning her runner-up in the final competition that ended the workshops. “I am very proud of her,” says David Crawford, associate professor of communications. “Meghann’s cultivated talents represent our university extremely well.”
Heinrich will perform in the WWU Drama presentation of “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” in November. To learn more about journalism and theater at WWU, visit wallawalla.edu/commlang.
Posted August 24, 2018