GS Thespians Receive National Recognition
For sophomore thespian, Joey Hukin, and her senior co-star Bryce Hargrove, there isn’t a betteraddition to their resumes they can think of.Hukinis nervous, but of course excited for her national recognition of Outstanding Performance.
“Discovering Emilie and becoming her was an emotional and physical process. I enjoyed learningabout her, but I also learned about myself. It was a very rewarding experience.”
Although Hargrove has a bit more experience with the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, this is also his first time receiving national recognition.
“Being a young actor taking on Emilie really changed the perspective of the play,”
Hargrove says.“I think approaching it with the optimism we had really set us apart."
The necessity of theater can often be lost on those who fail to appreciate its reflective and critical nature. Young artists depend on community to thrive. Without it,they can find it incredibly hard to get a foot in the door.The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival is the community that allows young actors to showcase their talent, build professional relationships and grow as thespians.
The founding Chairman and theatrical producer Roger L. Stevens formed the festival in 1961 under President John F. Kennedy as a means to promote arts education and culture in the country.
“He really supported the idea that by educating our artists and educating our community byexposing them to the cultural arts, we would become a stronger, better nation,” says Associate Professor Lisa Abbott.Abbott is a theater professor, vice chair of Region 4 of KCACTF and director of “Emilie: LaMarquise Du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight,” by Lauren Gunderson.“We knew that it was going to be a special show. We just had that perfect cast,” Abbott says.
The production has received regional attention and is now receiving national recognition for its scenic and sound design, which were student designed, as well as directing, production,costumes and performances.
“Emilie challenges the way we see women in history. This was a woman who broke the glassceiling in science and mathematics in the 1700s,” Abbott says. “When you’re working on something like that and the pieces are coming together so beautifully, you can’t help but to beexcited. Even if it goes nowhere.”
Alumna Tyra Wilson also received an award for Outstanding Performance at the 2016 Regional KCACTF and broke barriers in her own right.In a scene for the festival’s Stage Directors and Choreographers competition directed by alumnae Kelsey Poole, Wilson played a person transitioning genders. Wilson says that in a competition focused on directing and choreography, judges don’t particularly pay much attention to the acting. When awards were being presented Wilson says the judges announced that while it may unorthodox because it is a Stage and Directing Competition, they wanted to recognize her for the talent she showed on stage.
While “Emilie,” may be demanding the attention of the National Committee, the theater division has carried many shows to KCACTF. “Emilie,” is the second production Hargrove has been apart of at KCACTF Regionals, the first being “An Octoroon,” directed by Assistant ProfessorNicholas Newell.The show is a melodrama adapted from Dion Boucicault’s “The Octoroon,” by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins with an ensemble heavily populated by concepts such as slavery, blackface, racial slurs,vicious stereotypes and just the right amount of comedy all used for crucial thematic, plot devices and to draw real-world parallels. Newell also directed “She Kills Monsters,” by Qui Nguyen, which was also showcased in at KCACTF.
“Both shows were very well received because they speak to things that this generation of college students find very important but that they don’t always see addressed onstage,” he says. “I’m proud of the diverse and talented student body that so frequently takes challenging productions to KCACTF.
”According to Director of Theater, Kelly Berry, part of the very valuable skill sets that theater majors get is learning how to work with others. Students work together under a single director in order to communicate a cohesive production. For Berry, it’s all about communication. Listening and receiving a message, then interpreting it successfully is what makes a show worthy of KCACTF.