SMSU Briefs for Jan. 17

Tabaka awarded KCACTF medallion

Southwest Minnesota State University Theatre Professor Sheila Tabaka has been named a Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival medallion winner, the most prestigious award given by KCACTF.

There are eight KCACTF regions in the United States. SMSU is in Region 5, which includes North and South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Minnesota.

Medallions honor individuals or organizations “that have made extraordinary contributions to the teaching and producing of theater and who have significantly dedicated their time, artistry and enthusiasm to the development of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival,” according to the KCACTF website.

Tabaka is in her 20th year at SMSU and is the costumer for the Theater Program. She will receive her medallion at the KCACTF national festival in Washington, D.C., in April.

She isn’t sure who nominated her for the award, or who wrote the letter of support. “I’m very humbled by the award,” she said.

She developed her interest in costuming at an early age. “I used to play a lot with Barbies when I was young. And I used to watch the Tony and Grammy award shows. I was a weird kid,” she said.

She really enjoys the versatility her position affords within the theater program. “SMSU is a real gem. It’s a small place where you feel you can do some good. The students, too, are so nice, and many are like me – I came from a small town in Wisconsin, just as many of them come from small towns in Minnesota. The students are held accountable, but at the same time, we ask, ‘Are you OK?'”

Tabaka and her husband, Jim — an adjunct music instructor at SMSU — are the parents of five children: Eukariah, Sally, Margaret, Lillian and Jedidiah.

SMSU forensics team brings the Theater of Public Policy to Marshall Thursday

The Theater of Public Policy (T2P2) is a Minnesota-based theater company that uses improv to unpack and re-imagine hard “thinky” issues on stage. They tackle everything from tax policy to green energy, from immigration to the farm bill. They do it all through a combination of on-stage interviews with experts or local thought leaders and off-the-cuff, improv comedy theater.

The group will be in Marshall to discuss Economic Development in Rural Minnesota. The performance will be from 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday at the Marshall-Lyon County Library Featured speakers will include Mayor Bob Byrnes and Tom Wyatt-Yerka, a 2018 candidate for the Minnesota House. Admission is free to the public.