Mendocino College Play Wild Fire Selected to Travel to Theatre Festival

December 20, 2019

The Mendocino College Theatre Arts Department has been invited to bring their fall 2019 production of Jody Gehrman’s new play Wild Fire to the Region VII Conference of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival this coming February 2020. The play was originally produced this past fall semester at Mendocino College as part of the Phoenix Project, a multi-disciplinary arts initiative of artists responding to human-caused climate change. 

According to Director Reid Edelman, “this is a great honor for our students and a great opportunity to represent Mendocino College and our community at this nationally recognized festival. Only three plays were chosen to be performed at the festival, out of more than 30 qualified entries. As you can imagine, our students are just beaming with excitement!” For the students attending, it will be a once in a lifetime experience. They will not only perform their play for theatre students and faculty from all over the region, but they will participate in classes, workshops, and scholarship auditions. At the festival, students will learn about transfer opportunities and other potential next steps in their education and careers. The festival brings together college theatre students and faculty from all over the northwestern states, including Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, and Montana.

The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) hosts regional festivals which lead up to a national festival each year hosted by the Kennedy Center for the Arts in Washington DC. As a participating production, Mendocino College’s play was attended by two visiting professors from other colleges and considered for inclusion in the festival. In addition, students in this production and last year’s spring musical Once Upon a Mattress were nominated for the prestigious Irene Ryan acting scholarship competition. For these competitive auditions, five Mendocino College students will be paired with five scene partners who will audition at the festival with scenes and monologues. 

College Technical Director, Steve Decker with the help of the production student crew will be transporting and reassembling the play’s full set, costumes, lighting, and properties at the host theater at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO. In all, 16 student actors and crew members from Mendocino College will attend this week-long festival. They will be accompanied by college theatre faculty and staff including Director Reid Edelman, Technical Director Steve Decker, Playwright Jody Gehrman and Set Designer / Carpenter David Wolf.

Wild Fire, written by Mendocino College Professor Jody Gehrman, transports audiences into the future of Mendocino County in a disturbing look at the cataclysmic future which awaits if we fail to adequately address our human-caused climate crisis. However, according to Edelman, “it is also an engaging personal story, following a group of interwoven characters and their descendants. The play looks at sacred and artistic elements which define our humanity and make our survival as a species meaningful and worth fighting for.”   

Bringing a full production all the way to Colorado will be very expensive. Costs will include airfare, hotel accommodations and festival registration in addition to truck rental to transport the set, props, and costumes. To fund the trip, the college Theatre Arts Department needs to raise a total of $23 thousand dollars. Through the help of generous donors, half of these funds have already been raised. To help raise the rest, the students are presenting a Tri-Tip Drive-Up Dinner Fundraiser. Tickets for the fundraiser cost $60 dollars each and can be purchased at the Mendocino Book Company and also directly from students participating in the trip.

On Friday, January 24 between 4 and 6 PM, ticket-holders will pick up a ready-to-eat take-home dinner bag at Mendocino College near the Agriculture Department and Sonoma State Extension Center. Dinner bags will include a freshly barbequed tri-tip roast for four people, four baked potatoes, four cookies, four dinner rolls, and salad for four. Sponsors of this event include Raley’s Market, Forks Ranch Market, Coyote Valley Casino, the Broiler Steakhouse, Slam Dunk Pizza, Crush Restaurant, Mendocino College Culinary Arts Instructor Chef Nicholas Petti and barbeque masters Bruce Smith and Matt Hilton.

For more information about the Tri-Tip Drive-Up Diner Fundraiser or the Mendocino College Theatre Arts Department, e-mail The Mendocino College Ukiah campus is located at 1000 Hensley Creek Rd. Ukiah, CA 95482.