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Kennedy Center Announces Awards

Jacob Coakley • Industry News • April 3, 2007

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announces the awards and scholarship nominees for the 39th annual Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF), April 17-22, 2007.  Selected participants from eight regional festivals held in January and February at colleges and universities across the country are invited to showcase their talents at the nation’s center for the performing arts, to be considered for scholarships and awards and to participate in master classes with artists in their field.  Students participating in the regional and national festivals are eligible for awards for outstanding acting, stage design, playwriting, directing and dramatic criticism.

Developed by Roger L. Stevens, Kennedy Center Founding Chairman, the KCACTF is dedicated to encouraging, recognizing, and celebrating the finest and most diverse work produced in college and university theater programs.  The eight regional festivals and national festival are an opportunity for college and university theater departments to present their work, especially new or student-written work, and to receive outside assessment.  Since its establishment in 1969, KCACTF has reached more than 16 million theatergoers and 400,000 college and university theater students nationwide.

The 2007 KCACTF awards and recognitions are as follows:

THE IRENE RYAN ACTING SCHOLARSHIPS provide recognition and financial assistance to outstanding student performers wishing to pursue further education and professional development opportunities.  Two scholarship winners from each region are chosen to attend the National Festival to audition for the national scholarship.  Each year the KCACTF panel reviews up to 300 nominees selected from thousands of submissions for the scholarship nationwide.  Each of the 16 finalists receive a $500 scholarship; a week-long, all-expenses paid trip to the National Festival in Washington, D.C. and casting assignments in the Short Play Festival presentations.

At National Level, a judging panel made up of leading artistic directors, actors, producers, and casting agents will view the presentation and award two scholarships of $3000.  Irene Ryan Scholarship finalists are also eligible for prestigious summer fellowships.

This year’s Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship finalists are:
Jon Barker, Montclair State University; Matthew Bellows, Brigham Young University; Anthony Cascio, Fitchburg State College; Cheyenne Christian, University of Wyoming; Chris Crawford, University of Arkansas; Kelli D. Crump, Western Illinois University; Jason Engström, University of Arkansas; Kyle Johnson, Ball State University; Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako, University of Wyoming; Arber Mehmeti, Graceland University; Courtney Moors, University of Central Florida; Kacey Musick, University of Southern Mississippi; Adam Navarro, California State University Fullerton; Desiree Rodriguez, Montclair State University; Maria Stukey, Emporia State University; Austin Swallow, Fitchburg State College.

THE MICHAEL KANIN PLAYWRITING AWARDS PROGRAM encourages and supports the development of student-written plays through a variety of honors, such as prestigious fellowships, possible publication contracts and cash awards.  Excerpts of the award-winning plays will be presented by local Washington, D.C. professional actors during the festival.

The Michael Kanin Playwriting Awards include:
∑ The KCACTF National Student Playwriting Award goes to Dano Madden of Rutgers University for In the Sawtooths. 2nd Place goes to Gabrielle Orcha of Boston University for Song of Miriam.
∑ The Paula Vogel Award in Playwriting recognizes the outstanding student-written play that celebrates diversity and encourages tolerance.  This year’s recipient is Stephen Spotswood of Catholic University of America for The Aaronsville Woman. 2nd Place goes to Jason Schaefer of New York University for Notes on the Land of Earthquake and Fire.
∑ The Mark Twain Prize for Comic Playwriting, offered to the outstanding student-written, full-length comic play goes to Paul Shoulberg of Indiana University for Reel. 2nd Place goes to Dano Madden of Rutgers University for In the Sawtooths.
∑ The KCACTF Theater for Youth Audiences Award goes to Joshua Mikel of Florida State University for The Monster Hunters.
∑ The KCACTF Musical Theater Award goes to Margaret Iha and Michael Gallant of Illinois State University for Hopeless Spinning. 2nd Place goes to Joe Hynek of Iowa State University for Farmer Song.
∑ The David Mark Cohen National Playwriting Award is presented in an effort to promote the writing and production of new plays in memory of David Mark Cohen (Professor of Playwriting, University of Texas at Austin).  First place goes to Ben Clawson of Montclair State University for Spilling Stuff and Breaking Things. 2nd Place goes to Dano Madden of Rutgers University for In the Sawtooths, and 3rd Place goes to Walt McGough of University of Virginia for Baggage.
∑ The KCACTF Awards for Latino Playwriting recipients are Leonard Madrid of University of New Mexico for Perla and Don Garcia of University of New Mexico for A Kiss for Death.
∑ The Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award, presented in memory of the distinguished dramatist to the outstanding KCACTF student-written play on the subject of the African American experience, goes to Nakia Oglesby of University of Nevada – Las Vegas for Click-Boom. 2nd Place goes to Darren Canady of New York University for Brothers of the Dust, and to Stan Waring of University of Nevada – Las Vegas for Pluck the Rose.
∑ The Jean Kennedy Smith Playwriting Award, supported by VSA arts, presented to the student-written play that best explores the human experience of living with a disability, goes to Mary Unser of Carnegie-Mellon University for Samaritan.  2nd Place goes to Bruce Ward of Boston University for The Lazarus Syndrome.

Designs of the regional finalists will be on display during the national festival and the national design respondents will select the winners in each category.  All national winners will receive an honorarium of $500 and an all-expenses paid trip to New York City for the National Design Portfolio Review at Lincoln Center and a two-week summer residency at the Kennedy Center to study with Ming Cho Lee, Beverly Emmons, and Constance Hoffman. In addition, regional finalists will be eligible for fellowships to the O’Neill Theatre Center’s National Playwrights Conference, The Guthrie Theater, and the Shakespeare Theatre Company Costume Internship.  The United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) will publish information on the national design winners in Theatre Design and Technology.

This year’s nominees for Scenic Design are:
Glen M Anderson, University of Florida; Caress Bergado, Utah State University; Christina Galvez, Middlebury College; Tiffany Fier, Purdue University; Elizabeth Grim, Northwestern College; Karl E. Jacobson, Clarion University; Brian White, Texas State University – San Marcos; Casey Zander, Western Washington University.

This year’s nominees for Costume Design are:
Russell Dauterman, Boston College; Amanda Fehlner, University of South Dakota; Marijo Henning, Western Washington University; Brittany R. Jones-Pugh, Long Island University, C. W. Post Campus; Sachiko Komuro, University of Central Oklahoma; Kristina Makowski, University of Evansville; Erik Teague, Kennesaw State University; Ryan Thurston, Utah State University.

This year’s nominees for Lighting Design are:
Brittany Diliberto, Virginia Commonwealth University; Kristin Hayes, Emerson College; Chris Holland, Purdue University; Sarah Lazorwitz, Texas State University – San Marcos; Carla Linton, State University of New York at New Paltz; Daniel Parks, University of Centeral Missouri; Susannah Scott, Western Washington University; Katy Streeter, California State University Fullerton.

The winners of the Dramaturgy Award will attend the O’Neill National Playwrights’ Conference in Waterford, Connecticut or The Playwrights’ Center’s PlayLabs in Minneapolis as a literary associate and assistant dramaturg. This award is the result of a unique collaboration between Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA), the professional association of dramaturgs and literary managers working in North America; the Association for Theater in Higher Education (ATHE) which promotes excellence in theater education and the KCACTF. The winner of the LMDA/ATHE/KCACTF Student Dramaturgy Award will receive a $100 cash prize, a one-year membership in ATHE, and a one-year membership in LMDA.

This year’s nominees for Student Dramaturgy are:
John Baker, University of Iowa; Cristina Bewley, University of Oklahoma; Stephen Blahut, West Chester University; Sarah Burgess, Pomona College; Michael Durkin, West Chester University; Abbie Y. Hall, William Carey University; Sarah Lunnie, Boston College; Paul Rycik, Ashland University; Melissa Walther, University of Oregon.

The winner of the Sound Design award wins a residency at the O’Neill National Playwrights’ Conference in Waterford, Connecticut as the resident sound assistant.   

This year’s nominees for Sound Design are:
Dustin Canez, University of Alabama at Birmingham; Jason Ducat, Purdue University; David Hunter, Indiana University of Pennsylvania; Ben Inniger, Bethany Lutheran College; Erik Moody, University of Southern Maine; Kay Townsend, Utah State University; Joseph Wilbur, Central Washington University.

The KCACTF and Alcone Makeup Awards give outstanding student designers national recognition and the opportunity to exhibit their work at the Kennedy Center.  The following make-up design award nominees will be in residence at the Kennedy Center thanks to the generosity of the Alcone Company: Leslie Arnold, Indiana State University; Henry Borriello, C.W. Post Long Island University; Ronnie Chamberlain, The University of Alabama; Jennifer Cozens, University of Arkansas; Kathryn Martinez, Weber State University; Michele Sansone, University of Central Missouri; Larysa Vernon, Salve Regina University; Jenny Wesemen, University of Idaho.

At each of the KCACTF regional festivals, nominated students were asked to write critiques of a selected number of plays. Eight regional finalists were selected to attend the KCACTF National Festival in Washington, D.C. to participate in a series of master classes and symposia on dramaturgy and theater criticism. One national winner will receive a full fellowship to attend the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center in Waterford, Connecticut during its National Playwrights’ Conference in July 2007, working with leading professional newspaper and magazine critics from across the United States. In addition, up to two regional Critics Institute finalists will become eligible for a $1000 matching grant from the Critics Institute to attend the summer institute program.

This year’s Critics Institute finalists are:
Megan Buff, George Fox University; David J. Glover, Towson University; Amanda Holter, University of Minnesota-Morris; James Lorentz, Castleton State College; Linda McClenaghan, College of Charleston; William T. Reynolds, III, University of Denver; Bryan Schmidt, Miami University.

This year’s National Student Stage Management Fellowship recipients are:
Eric Arnold, Virginia Commonwealth University; Lydia Bolder, Concordia College – Moorhead; Jacqueline Deniz Young, Montclair State University; Jessica Downs, University of Portland; Christina M. Hagan, University of Michigan –
Ann Arbor; Kristin Kurz, University of Southern Maine; Laurinda Navesky, University of Central Oklahoma; Danielle Palliser, Brigham Young University.

The KCACTF National Committee has recognized the following faculty members for outstanding achievement as teaching artists. Each will attend the KCACTF National Festival in April to mentor student award-recipients and participate in the master classes.  The 2007 KCACTF faculty members are: Barb Blackledge, Indiana University of Pennsylvania; Rylan Brenner, Bristol Community College; M. Crosby Hunt, Middle Tennessee State University; Geoffrey Eroe, Phoenix College; Jim Linnell, University of New Mexico; Theresa Mitchell, Emporia State University; Erik Ramsey, Ohio University; Leigh Selting, University of Wyoming.

Master classes are held for the award-winners and finalists in the categories of lighting, costume and scenic design, acting, directing, playwriting, dramatic criticism, and specialty make-up.  These students get the opportunity to study with some of the best playwrights, critics and designers in their fields.  This year’s master class and workshop leaders include:

Edward Albee, Three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning Playwright; Lee Blessing, Playwright – A Walk in the Woods, Chesapeake, Going to St. Ives, Eleemosynary, Cobb; Mark Bly, Senior Dramaturg, Arena Stage; Beverly Emmons, Lighting Designer Broadway, Dance, Opera; Noah Haidle, Playwright – Mr. Marmalade, Vigils, Rag and Bone; Naomi Iizuka, Playwright – Strike-Slip, Polaroid Stories, Anonymous, Citizen 13559: The Journal of Ben Uchida;
Michael Kahn, Artistic Director, The Shakespeare Theatre Company; Robert Kaplowitz, Sound Designer – Playwrights Horizons, Vineyard Theatre; Randy Mercer, Make-up Designer – Broadway, Television and Film; GW Mercier, Tony Award-nominated scenic and costume designer; Bob Mondello, NPR and Washington City Paper; David Muse, Associate Director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company; Daniel Sullivan, Director of the O’Neill National Critics Institute.

For more than 30 years, the Kennedy Center Education Department has provided quality arts experiences through performances, residencies, workshops, conferences, career development programs, symposia, and on-line and print resources.  In the past year, the Center’s education programs have directly impacted more than 11 million people across the nation.   The mission of the Education Department is to foster understanding of and participation in the performing arts through exemplary programs and performances for diverse populations of all ages that represent the unique cultural life and heritage of the United States.  For more information, visit the Center’s web site at

Theater at the Kennedy Center is presented with the generous support of Stephen and Christine Schwarzman.  The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival is sponsored by The U.S. Department of Education; Dr. Gerald and Paula McNichols Foundation; The Kennedy Center Corporate Fund; and The National Committee for the Performing Arts.

The U.S. Department of Education supports approximately one-third of the budget for the Kennedy Center Education Department.  The contents of this document do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.

For more information about the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, please visit

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