NE theatre students, alumni competing at Kennedy Festival

Northeast State Theatre’s 2016 productions of She Kills Monsters and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest were hits with audiences and critics.

Northeast State Theatre students and alumni were nominated by proctors from Region IV of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) to submit their work to the Festival’s Region IV competition Feb. 8-11 at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Ga. The adjudicated competition recognizes the best theatre work of two- and four-year colleges across the Southeast.

“I am continuously impressed and proud of the hard work and dedication our students put towards the shows they work on,” said Elizabeth M. Sloan, associate professor and director of Northeast State Theatre. “They really do push themselves and grow not only as theatre artists but as humans. It is a wonderful thing to observe.”

A proctor from Region IV attended performances of Cuckoo and Monsters to judge both productions.  The plays’ quality was graded and considered for nominations to the regional competition.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest cast and crew.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest cast and crew.

Current Northeast State students Madison Grace Phillips and Hayley Forbes both earned Irene Ryan Acting nominations for their work in Monsters. Meredith Muse won a nomination for her role of Nurse Ratchet in Cuckoo.

Phillips portrayed Tilly and Tillius the Paladin, a gaming legend whose death prompts her sister’s search for her identity. She also served on the crew as assistant fight captain and dance captain.

“Every performance we did was more exciting than the last,” said Phillips. “After our last curtain of the last show, I cried my eyes out not from sadness but joy from what we had all accomplished in putting on such an amazing show.”

Forbes stepped on stage for the first time in the role of Agnes, pursuing the adventure her sister Tilly started. Forbes tapped into her role through her relationship with her own younger sister and how her character dealt with grief and loss.

“This was my first play so I threw myself into it and discovered I had a passion for theatre,” said Forbes. “Though the play is funny and light-hearted, but I’m glad people saw how powerful love can be through the play.”

The She Kills Monsters cast and crew.
The She Kills Monsters cast and crew.

Northeast State alumnus Charles Clark will serve as the acting partner to the participating acting nominees during the competition. A theatre veteran, Clark portrayed Orcus in Monsters while serving as fight captain on the crew. Participating acting nominees will perform in dramatic scenes at the festival. Actors are judged with the winners advancing forward into new rounds facing longer scenes and more stringent critics.

Northeast State alumnae Erin Peters and Jessica Richardson were nominated for their work on Cuckoo.  Peters received her nomination for sound design while Richardson nabbed a nomination for costume design. Northeast State students Andrea Marshall, Andrea Greer, and Shelby Ashley will present their work in the Weiss Design competition hosted for theater participants at the festival.

Northeast State alumni Dustin Lawson and Grace Arrowood both received nominations. Lawson earned a nod for makeup and special effects design for Monsters. Arrowood was nominated as a Weiss Design participant in set design on Monsters. She will present a start-to-finish concept of a set design for competitive review. This is her second trip to the festival being a Weiss Design participant in 2015.

Theatre instructor and technical director Brad McKenzie was nominated for a Best Faculty Design award for his work as Lighting Designer on the production. Sloan said she was delighted to see Northeast State alumni returning to be a part of new productions.

“We had current students, alumni, and alumni who are now students at East Tennessee State University nominated for their work with us,” said Sloan. “The collaboration between Northeast State Theatre and the ETSU Department Theatre is at an all-time high.”

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