Posted by: northeastnation | February 15, 2013

Students make their mark at Kennedy Center Theater Festival

Whether winning awards or impressing industry professionals, the theater students of Northeast State Community College continue to make their mark at a prestigious theater festival competition.

Department director Elizabeth Sloan, technical director Brad McKenzie and 12 theater students traveled to Albany, Ga., last weekend to participate in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF), Region IV.  Northeast State students earned 10 nominations for their work in the department’s productions of 2012.

“These guys have been rehearsing since before the holiday break. They worked so hard and handled the stress and intimidation of the competition without a hitch,” said Sloan. “Our students represented Northeast State, the Theatre Department and themselves beautifully.”

Student T.J. Laws presents his costume design to the KCACTF judges.

KCACTF Region IV student participants (from left) Amanda Haney, Richard Curtis, Amanda Neas, Richard Jackson, Anne Rowell, Bob Dotson, Kara Grindstaff, Will Lambert, and Rachel Lawson. (Not pictured Andrea Sessis, T.J. Laws, and Hannah Duncan.

Student Amanda Haney was named the overall Weiss Design Winner for her Costume Design for the play Alice, an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland.  The Weiss Design Competition required contestants to create a design for a theoretical production of their choosing.  This year, the category encompassed all three sections of lighting, costume, and art design.

“I combined modern-day gothic, Victorian styles, and steam punk,” said Haney. “The judges didn’t ask a lot of questions they just seemed overwhelmed with it, so I took that as a good sign.”

Amanda Haney won the Weiss Design Award at KCACTF Region IV.

Amanda Haney won the Weiss Design Award at KCACTF Region IV.

Haney’s win marks the second consecutive first-place award win for a Northeast State student in the Weiss competition – Amanda Neas won the Lighting Design Award last year.

Fellow students T.J. Laws earned Honorable Mention for his Costume Design work on the Night of the Living Dead production last fall while Richard Curtis received an Honorable Mention for his makeup design on Living Dead.

Student T. J. Laws presents his costume designs to the KCACTF judges.

Student T. J. Laws presents his costume designs to the KCACTF judges.

“It was a major learning experience of me,” said Laws. “I think we’ll be ahead of the game when we move on to a four-year theater program.”

Haney, Curtis, and Laws expect to graduate this spring.  They have all been admitted to the Theater program at Virginia Intermont College in Bristol.  All three will be working on Northeast State Theater’s upcoming spring production of Treasure Island.

“The experience at Northeast State here has been like opening a door to a bright future,” said Curtis.  “It has given us a great foundation for our future.”

Student award recipients (from left) T.J. Laws, Richard Curtis, and Amanda Haney.

Student award recipients (from left) T.J. Laws, Richard Curtis, and Amanda Haney.

Students Rachel Lawson, Hannah Duncan, Anne Rowell, Bob Dotson, Richard Jackson and Kara Grindstaff participated in the Irene Ryan Acting Competition.  Jackson and Rowell were nominated for their roles in Night of the Living Dead.  Lawson received a nomination for her performance in Godspell.  Dotson, Duncan, and Grindstaff served as the trio’s acting partners to the nominees’ scenes for the judges.  Sloan also praised actor Shelby McKenzie for preparing the actors.

Neas and Northeast State alumnae Andrea Sessis were a part of the festival’s Stage Management fellowship competition.  Sessis stage-managed and did costume design for the spring production of Godspell while Neas wrangled zombies and survivors in Living Dead.  Both students volunteered their time working at the festival’s judging competitions.

Will Lambert engages with judges on his Lighting Design for NOTLD.

Will Lambert engages with judges on his Lighting Design for NOTLD.

Will Lambert entered his work in the competition for his Lighting Design work on Living Dead.  Although he didn’t win the category, he did win the praise of a Tony Award-winning Broadway set designer who saw his work.

Sloan said Northeast State students attended nine different design or acting workshops meeting with theater professionals, stage-managed entire days of the festival, met several theater professionals, and were recruited by four-year colleges into their theater programs.

Students and faculty members (front row, fifth from left) Brad McKenzie, Shelby McKenzie, and Elizabeth Sloan enjoy what they do.

Theater students and faculty members (front row, fifth from left) Brad McKenzie, Shelby McKenzie, and Elizabeth Sloan enjoy what they do.

She and McKenzie praised students for the hard work and recognition they received during the festival.  Sloan noted the students were competing against graduate students from much large four-year institutions around the region.

“We were the only community college to receive such high honors,” she said. “We are so proud of them.  Even though the rest of our students did not receive official recognition, we could not be more proud of them and what they accomplished.”

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