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Theatre Students Shine at Festival in Hyannis, MA

Written by Dwight Bachman

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Three Eastern students returned to campus with top awards from this year's Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (Region I), a yearly event where more than 1,000 students and faculty from colleges across the Northeast participate. Twenty-one students and five faculty members attended the festival, held this year in Hyannis, MA.

Joseph Staffa's projection design work for "Once on this Island," directed and choreographed by theatre lecturer Alycia Bright-Holland, won first place for Scenic Design Excellence at the conference and a one-week trip to the KCACTF national conference in Washington D.C. This is the second year in a row that one of Performing Arts Assistant Professor Kristen Morgan's students has won a first-place national KCACTF award for their projection design.

Keri Smart, mentored and supervised by Anya Sokolovskaya, won a one-week scholarship at the prestigious Stage Craft Institute of Las Vegas for her costume design of Eastern's production of "The Birds." Smart may be remembered for her highly creative use of feathers in her costume design for last February's production, directed by Professor Ellen Faith Brodie. Her award includes an experience with Las Vegas' famous Jubilee costume design and run crew. The cast of last year's production of "Once on this Island," directed and choreographed by Bright-Holland, won a regional Merit Award for Excellent use of African and Caribbean dance and performance.

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As in year's past, Eastern students have been very active in the conference's events, workshops and competitions. Due to their excellent performances in theatre productions during spring and fall 2013, four student actors -- Stephanie Madden, Kinde Queenan, Dan Fernandez and Kelsey Guggenheim -- were nominated to participate in the event's Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Competition. Emily Rieser, Mya Ta, Chad Dominique and Alexis Kurtz were their scene partners in the competition.

Due to their high quality work at Eastern, four Design/Tech/Management students -- Amanda Conkey, Joe Staffa, Matt Pryke and Keri Smart -- were nominated to participate in the conference's Design/Tech/and Management Exhibition. Three of these students -- Staffa, Pryke and Smart --were selected as three of 15 finalists in this competitive event.

For her performance in Eastern's musical "Once on this Island," Conkey was selected to compete in the final night's Malty Musical Theatre performance. Zach LaSala auditioned for, and received a part in, the conference's One Act Play competition.

Abby Weston was one of four students from throughout the Northeast to be selected to be an administrative intern for this event. Maggie Casto, Megan Velasquez, Stephanie Madden, Alexis Kurtz, Emily Rieser and Liz Pelletier made up of more than half of the participants in the festival's Play Slam performances. Guggenheim and Fernandez participated in the festival's New Play Project initiative.


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