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SOU theater student recognized at national competition

Allison Walker portrays Blanche in a Clackamas Community College production of “A Streetcar Named Desire.” [courtesy photo]

Allison Walker, a senior performance major at SOU, placed second in the 2020 Mark Twain Scholarship for Comic Performance at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.

“Seeing my name next to the Kennedy Center emblem alongside so many other magnificently skilled artists was an honor I never thought I would experience,” Walker said in an email. “To be able to say that I am now an award-winning actor at the national collegiate level is mind-boggling to me.”

Walker’s journey to seeing her name next to the Kennedy Center emblem was all but linear.

After winning the Irene Ryan award at regionals during the winter of 2020, securing her a bid to the national festival in Washington, D.C., later that year, the event was canceled because of COVID-19.

To make up for it, the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival doubled up, holding the 2020 and 2021 festivals virtually this year.

Transitioning to a virtual submission was challenging for Walker because her commedia dell'arte scene employed a lot of physical comedy and quick cue-pickups, which were hard to project virtually.

“(They’re) difficult skills to showcase while dealing with internet lag and limited camera framing,” Walker said in an email. “This is made significantly more challenging when sightlines in relation to a camera affect the audience's perspective of shared ‘eye contact', making it nearly impossible to actually look at one another.”

Walker's academic advisor Brendan McMahon said that in spite of the difficulties of performing over Zoom, Walker’s transition appeared seamless.

“She just seems to understand how to work with the camera,” McMahon said. “She brought her whole self to the process, with no losses due to moving on camera.”

Walker is hopeful that she’ll attend this year's festival in August, but it’s unclear whether the event will happen.

She is on track to graduate from SOU next fall and is planning to move to Los Angeles to expand her film resume. She said she plans to pursue a master’s in performance at some point in the future.

“I plan on being transient, always traveling, always moving, never limiting my auditions and work and life to one ZIP code for too long,” Walker said.