Written by Kate Harner
Willimantic, Conn. - Several Eastern Connecticut State University theatre students and their productions were recognized at the annual Region I Kennedy Center American Theatre Festival (KCACTF), held at Fitchburg College in Fitchburg, MA, in late January.
Stefanie Paschen-May, a senior visual arts major from Dayville, won the KCACTF Award for Excellence in Illustration for her design of posters for "The Island" and "Three Short Tall Tales of True Falsehoods."
"The experience of collaborating with the theatre professors at Eastern through my work has made me feel closer to artists I admire, like Saul Bass, who is known for his direct involvement in imagery associated with several Hitchcock films," said Paschen-May, a student graphic designer in Eastern's Office of University Relations. "Creating posters, programs and ads for the Theatre Department is a treat because I am in constant dialogue with everyone involved in the play including the director and actors, as well as the costume and stage designers. Collectively, they help me find the perfect visual manifestation for their shows, helping to bridge the gap between theatre and other forms of art."
Elizabeth Swan, a senior majoring in theatre and English from Woodstock, was chosen to go to the semi-finals in the KCACTF Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Competition with her partner, Michael Hinton, a senior English major from New London. Swan also participated in the Musical Theatre Initiative, having been chosen by the festival's respondents after seeing her performance in "Working, The Musical" at Eastern in spring 2011.
"It was an unexpected honor that my partner Mike Hinton and I were chosen to go to the semi-final round, where we were surrounded by talent," said Swan. "Moving on in the acting competition and being a part of the musical theatre initiative have given me more confidence and determination in my acting. I received great feedback that I can implement in my future endeavors as an actor."
Paul Lietz, a junior theatre major from Somers, performed in a rehearsed reading of an original one-act play, "Beleaguered," as part of the KCACTF New Plays Program. "It was wonderful to work with a graduate student playwright," said Lietz. "He was there at every rehearsal and was very eager and happy to answer any and all questions the cast had about the script. Performing 'Beleaguered' as a staged reading was interesting because although I have done staged readings before, doing it in front of directors, playwrights and other figures who could potentially hold my future in their hands was rather nerve-wracking. However, being surrounded by such energy from like-minded people helped me remember why I wake up every day and declare myself an actor."
Seana Hendrickson, a senior theatre major from North Grosvenordale; Stephanie LaPointe, a senior communication and theatre major from Willimantic; and Katharine McManus, a senior communication and theatre major from Columbia, received a merit award for Excellence in Student Directing for "Three Short Tall Tales of True Falsehoods" presented at Eastern in fall 2011. Hendrickson directed a scene starring Hinton and Stephanie Armagno, a junior theatre and business administration major from Colchester, that was adjudicated as one of seven student directors chosen to participate in the KCACTF Stage Directors and Choreographers Initiative. LaPointe was chosen to participate in the KCACTF directing observership program and assisted the director of a new one-act play at the festival's New Plays Program. McManus directed an original show as part of KCACTF 48-Hour Play Slam, which featured Sarah Paprocki, a junior theatre major from Norwich.
Hilary Osborn, a senior theatre major from Columbia, wrote and directed an original work performed by Lietz, Paprocki and Deniz Ugurlu, a senior theatre major from Haddam Neck, as part of the KCACTF Devised Theatre Initiative.
Craig Harlow '11, a theatre major from East Haven, received a merit award for Most Creative Original Props for "Fab Fables," which was performed in spring 2011, as well as the second place KCACTF/USITT Allied Arts Technology Award for props design for "Working, The Musical," which was performed in spring 2011.