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Tonight’s the night: McGee competes for top acting honors

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The theater department at California State University, Fresno has an impressive tradition of sending students to the premier collegiate acting competition in the nation. Matthew McGee is the most recent of these as he competes at the American College Theatre Festival in Washington, D.C.

McGee and his scene partner, Aaron McGee (his little brother and fellow Fresno State theater major) beat out nearly 250 other nominees competing in the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship in the regional ACTF festival. Now they will compete tonight against 15 other regional finalists for top honors.

I caught up with Matt via Facebook on Tuesday night to talk about the competition.

Question: You and Aaron will be performing three selections. What are they?

Answer: The scene selections are from Martin McDonagh’s “The Pillow Man,” Moliere’s “The Would Be Gentleman,” and a musical solo from a play still in progress (that I am actually writing with a friend, Bill Heisdorf…) called “Wiley and the Hairy Man.”

[Pictured: Video screen shot of Matthew McGee and brother Aaron in front of the Kennedy Center.]

What else do they have planned for you during these next few days?

While we are here we will be attending intense workshops with professional theatre people, and will have the opportunity to see some invited productions brought in from the other regions in America.

Have you ever been to D.C. before? Will you have a chance to do any sightseeing?

I have stopped in at D.C. before, but only as a visit while I was in Maryland for another competition back in high school. Aaron has also been through, but this is the first time we’ve both been able to actually be right in the MIDDLE of D.C! Though our schedules are relatively busy, we should have some time on Friday before our final performance to do some sight-seeing (we better!)

I know that in the past theater professor Brad Myers has accompanied some of the Fresno State finalists. Was he able to join you this year?

Brad has come separately. I have not seen him yet, but I KNOW he’s here SOMEWHERE! (haha). We will have a chance to work with him in the Kennedy Center space Friday afternoon before we perform.

Are you nervous?

I think I am more excited and honored to be here as an actor, and am anxious to get started with these workshops. I look forward to meeting some great people and making new friends in this awesome place. I think my brother and I feel like, “hey, we made it this far, so we must be doing something right! Why be nervous? Just have fun and love every minute of it!” Because THAT will make it more worthwhile than if we put so much pressure on ourselves we lose sight of the opportunity it is just to BE here!

Anything else you’d like to say?

I am honored not only to be here, but to be here with my brother, and to have this opportunity to share this experience together with him.

We’re going to be trying to post videos of our adventures [on Facebook], so keep a look out!