Audiences at the American College Theatre Festival, which continues at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater through May 2, tend to make notes in the margins of the programs.

A great attraction of the annual showcase of student talent is the opportunity to play talent scout and critic. Save that program, and you may have proof later of having discovered a star.

The acting sweepstakes are being held on Sunday at 7:30, with 12 students performing two scenes each for a public audience, as well as for a panel of judges whose decisions will be announced at the conclusion of the program.

The young actors are competing for two $2,500 scholarships, donated by the late Irene Ryan, whose heart remained with the theater although the money came from playing Granny on the "Beverly Hillbillies"). But the fact that the judges are talent scouts and casting directors from film companies and television networks probably is not lost on the contestants.

The productions being featured at the festival were chosen from video tapes through regional competitions. There are additional awards in acting, writing and design made through the same American College Theatre Festival survey, but not produced in the festival. Among them is the first American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Musical Theatre Award, won by James Harris and Rodney Thomaston for "The Peach Blossom Fan," which they wrote while at the University of Alabama.

This weekend's show, in addition to the Irene Ryan Evening of Scenes, is a production of the musical "Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope" by Prairie View (Texas) A&M. Performances are at 7:30 tonight and at 2 and 7:30 Saturday.

The festival's winning playwright, Glen Merzer of Indiana University in Bloomington, will have his comedy, "The Cashier," performed on Monday at 7:30 p.m. and Tuesday at 2 and 7:30.

The first Washington performance of Sam Shepherd's "Seduced," a comedy about Howard Hughes, will be given by Eastern Illinois University at Charleston on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. and Thursday at 2 and 7:30.

Aristophanes' "The Birds" will be presented by St. Michael's College of Winooski, Vermont at 7:30 Friday April 30, and at 2 and 7:30 Saturday May 1.

"Folk Art, Masks and Puppets," a show in Spanish and English done by the University of New Mexico will conclude this year's festival at 4 on May 2.