Stratton Contends for Irene Ryan Scholarship


For his next act, St. Ambrose Theatre Department graduate Anthony Stratton '12 may be unexpectedly reprising the role of student.

"I was pretty set on being done with school," said Stratton, who moved to Chicago to pursue acting work shortly after commencement ceremonies last May. "I thought 18 straight years was enough."

Stratton's talent has forced him to rethink that position. In January in Lincoln, Neb., he became the third St. Ambrose theatre student to win an Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship at the Region 5 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

In Lincoln, Stratton outperformed 325 current or newly graduated theatre students from a seven-state region. That earned him a chance to compete in April on the Kennedy Center stage in Washington D.C. with 15 other regional winners. Two $3,000 national Ryan scholarship awards will be on the line.

Stratton and acting partner Morgan Griffin '12 will spend the week of April 15-21 participating in master acting classes at the KCACTF National Festival.

On April 19, he and Griffin will reprise their scenes from the plays Betrayal and Hard Candy, followed by a Stratton monologue from The Laramie Project. Beyond the Ryan awards, any number of other Master of Fine Arts scholarship opportunities could arise from Stratton's week at the Kennedy Center.

"This has brought new opportunities," the Oxford, Iowa, native said of his January success. "It opens a lot of doors for graduate schools as well as for networking with people who can really take you places."

Stratton follows previous regional winners Daniel Sheridan '05 and current St. Ambrose Theatre Assistant Professor Daniel Rairdin-Hale '04, MFA. Stratton was one of 18 current or former St. Ambrose students who participated in the regional event in January. Grace Allen '12 and senior Stephanie Seward were semifinalists in the acting competition.

An SAU tech team of seniors Kristen Jett and Daniel Conlin, junior Sidney Junk and first-year student Amanda Zweibohmer took first in the stage crew competition. Senior Kelsey Francis was a runner-up in theatre criticism writing.

drama and comedy mask

Theatre News

The following appeared in the May 2013 Theatre Newsletter:

This past January, St. Ambrose brought its yearly group of Irene Ryan Scholarship audition participants to Region V's KCACTF festival. One week later and the theatre department was proud to boast of region finalist and winner, Anthony Stratton '12.

Stratton and his partner, Morgan Griffin '12, began prepping for national competition, and on April 19, they competed for a chance at winning the national festival. Unfortunately, the pair did not win the national title, but that did not bring their spirits down! St. Ambrose Theater now has three Irene Ryan Regional Winners: current SAU theatre professor Daniel Rairdin-Hale '04, and Daniel Sheridan '05, Artistic Director of Davenport Junior Theater. All three have competed in Washington within the last ten years.

For this year's actors, the days leading up to the Friday night performance were filled with workshops, master classes, and new connections.

"I was shocked and pleasantly surprised by how comfortable and inviting the festival was on the national level ... The festival essentially lost all sense of a competition. No one walked around with their nose in their air. No one boasted about being the 'winner.' It was a family, a community," Stratton said.

"We met so many wonderful and talented people and the atmosphere wasn't that of a competition," Griffin added. "It was a community who supported each other and hoped that everyone would perform as best they could."

When it came to Friday night, the duo did extremely well. Dr. Corinne Johnson was in attendance and said, "They outdid what we saw of them at regionals. Their performance was truly outstanding."

Following the competition, Griffin returned to Florida where she is currently interning for Disney, and Stratton returned to Chicago where he is currently pursuing professional acting. His thoughts on taking the next step-whatever that might be-are this: "The thought is scary, and exciting at the same time, but I think that mindset is necessary to grow as an actor: jumping into the scary unknown and those, I think, are the most rewarding outcomes."

The St. Ambrose Theatre Department is very proud of these students, and special congratulations are given to Stratton and Griffin as they continue on with their lives. As Stratton says, "It was a life-changing and inspiring week that I'll never forget."

Congrats again to our 2013 Irene Ryan finalist.


Addy Nelson ’23 was born with an entrepreneur’s spirit. With her parents owning the bowling alley in her hometown of Gregory, South Dakota—the same place she perfected her game to earn a scholarship to St. Ambrose University—she learned early to be innovative, customer-focused and business-minded.

Read More About Innovative App-lication...

Maggie (Verdun) Bohnert '15, '16 MOT

At SAU, hard work = recognition. Here is a list of full-time students who were named to the St. Ambrose University Dean's List for the Fall 2023 term. These students earned a GPA of 3.5 or higher (on a 4.0 scale).

Read More About Fall 2023...

So, what's next?

Are you ready to take the next step? Click on the visit button below to learn more about our virtual and in-person visit options.