Seven Fort Lewis theater students to act in Calif.

Tuesday evening, a group of Fort Lewis College theater students ran through their competition pieces for the next Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

FLC belongs to Region Eight and will compete in Los Angeles this week. The seven competitors and their scene partners leave by bus Wednesday and will return Sunday.

Seven acting competitors will present a combination of two-person scenes (with what’s called a scene partner) plus a monologue. They have six minutes. The actors this year are Erin O’Connor, Elizabeth Dunn, Jessica Fairchild, Mike Moran, Meryl Ramsey, Tiffany Silva and Dakotah Watson.

The students also attend workshops and performances. Some will audition with NEXT STEP, an organization that offers jobs and internships in American theater plus information and interviews for graduate school.

If any is lucky, a few prizes may come back to Durango and some auditions will have taken place. And who knows? Someone may land a summer stock job or head to the national competition at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

On Tuesday, the FLC students were visibly ready. Every six-minute competition package went without a hitch. Moran, a senior, seemed to have the most ambitious project as he performed two scenes with Cierra Taylor, then a monologue, then a song.

A scene from Jenny Schwartz’s “God’s Ear” took a minute to figure out the surreal spin on mortality. When Moran and Taylor finished the scene, they quickly shifted into Roger Cornish’s short play, “Mental Reservation.” Two friends appear to game each other over truth-telling or lying artfully.

When the duo wrapped up that scene, Moran quickly moved to center stage and slipped into a Trevor Moore monologue, “Digging People Up,” from the comedian’s wacky show, “The Whitest Kids U know,” Season 5, Episode 4, Sketch #7. And as quickly as the hardware-store owner stopped threatening people, Moran shifted personas again. He sang “Up There,” by “South Park” co-creator Trey Parker.

It’s a challenging song, especially without accompaniment. Moran told me later that the pianist didn’t show up but there would be one in LA.

Collegiate competitions are serious business. Ask any FLC music major about the need to be performance-ready. There is usually a time limit – that stringent, extra guideline so essential for self-discipline and training.

Scene partners share some of the tension, but it is the performers who are serious about recognition. This year’s FLC partners include Taylor, Kenneth Breece, Brianna Devore, Julie Faulkner, Geoff Johnson and Chloe Spechok.

In addition to the individual competitions, FLC was invited to present scenes from last fall’s “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind,” directed by Ginny Davis and Alyse Neubert. In sound design, student Evan West has been nominated and will present as well as an apparently improvised work directed by faculty member Kathryn Moller.

Good luck, everyone. Judith Reynolds is a Durango writer, artist and critic.