HomeAchievementsTheatre Department Shines at Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival

Theatre Department Shines at Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival

Once again, Southern’s thespians have garnered accolades at the prestigious Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) for their work on campus theater productions.

Earlier this year, the Theatre Department‘s fall 2022 production of Civil was selected to present at the recent 55th Region 1 KCACTF, which took place in Hyannis, Mass. Civil was one of only five productions chosen for the festival out of the entire Northeast Region of the United States. It is a great honor to be selected.

Civil, which was performed on campus on November 17-19, 2022, is a remarkable and intimate play written by Rob Matsushita, set in a future where a large population of human beings are being kept alive through cryogenics. It is those frozen souls that make up the audience and the jury. Though it is set in the “future,” the moral questions posed in these cases speak to the contemporary world. Issues of reproductive rights, prisoner rights, civil rights, gender equality, the power of the courts and more all swirl together in this impactful and intimate show, and the audience decides the ending of the post-apocalyptic courtroom drama. 

A scene from the campus production of CIVIL

Last year’s KCACTF was virtual, and the Theatre Department’s production of Out of Bounds received many accolades at the regional level, as well as garnering 14 national awards from The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. “It is humbling to receive such recognition as well as a testament to the great work our students and faculty achieve throughout our academic process,” said Theatre Department Chair Mike Skinner.

This year’s festival drew over 600 students from universities and colleges within the Northeast region. Students and faculty prepared for the festival by brushing up in rehearsals and rebuilding the set to pack into a truck so that they could perform it at the festival in early February. A group of 18 students and five faculty traveled to the festival to compete in varying events and to share last semester’s production of Civil with the other schools attending the festival.

In less than five hours, students and faculty unloaded the entire set and technical equipment from a truck and installed it into a small studio theater at Cape Cod Community College.

They then immediately performed the show twice with a different ending each time. After a short talkback with the audience, they then took it all down and loaded it back into the truck in about two hours.

A scene from the campus production of CIVIL

By the end of the festival weekend, collectively, students and faculty had received 11 Regional Certificates of Merit in recognition for their excellent work on the four shows — Antigone, Mere Timing, Once On This Island, Civil — presented in the 2022 calendar year.

Junior Marketing Major Paris Looney, and her scene partner, Theatre Major Gian Melendez, advanced through the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Competition to compete in the final round. Out of 156 students who auditioned, Looney placed in the top 15 as a finalist and performed two monologues and one scene.

Sophomore Music Major Imani Tyson spent the week in workshops preparing two songs for the final Musical Theatre Scholarship Audition. Tyson received the 2nd Alternate position in the competition (3rd place) out of 34 competing students.

As one of the five invited productions, Civil was the most technical show in attendance, bringing scenery, costumes, projections, lighting, sound, and headphones for every audience member.

The festival recognized the talent and work of Southern’s theatre team by presenting the Golden Hammer Award to Civil for Excellence in Preparation and Execution Bringing an Invited Production to Festival.

Skinner said, “Theatre is a collaborative art form, and the cast and crew of Civil proved that teamwork and preparation by all collaborators is what makes theatre happen.”

A scene from the campus production of CIVIL

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