Eastern Theatre Program Honored at Kennedy Center Theatre Festival

“Thread City” took the stage in the fall 2017 semester.

Written by Jolene Potter

WILLIMANTIC, CT (02/08/2018) A number of creators and performers behind Eastern Connecticut State University’s recent theatre productions were awarded at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) Region 1. Held from Jan. 30 to Feb. 4 at Western Connecticut State University, the annual festival was attended by more than 1,000 students and faculty from colleges across the Northeast.

Eastern’s Performing Arts Department’s fall 2017 production “Thread City” was widely praised, receiving three merit awards. Ted Clement, the KCACTF regional festival co-chair, said that “Thread City” was the most visually spectacular and moving production of the many college productions throughout New England and New York he has seen this year.

Directed by theatre professors Alycia Bright-Holland and Kristen Morgan, “Thread City” explored the ever-relevant topic of immigration with a dialogue-free play that blended choreographed movement, visual projections and folky-electronic soundscapes to convey a heartfelt and historically representative tale of immigration in America. “Thread City” is the popular name of Eastern’s hometown of Willimantic, CT, which is known for its rich history as the largest thread-manufacturing city in the United States in its heyday.

The creative team of “Thread City” included several students and adjunct faculty members Travis Houldcroft and Jen Rock, who received merit awards in the categories of Conceptual Collaboration, Excellence in Original Music Composition and Exceptional Choreography. Theatre Professor Anya Sokolovskaya was also acknowledged for her costume design for “Thread City.” “It was Anya’s costumes that so beautifully placed our actors in time and grounded our often-surreal production into a plausible reality,” said Chase Rozelle, professor of theatre.

“Two Gentlemen of Verona” took the stage in the spring 2017 semester.

Also achieving success at KCACTF was Eastern Professor David Pellegrini, whose spring 2017 production of “Two Gentlemen of Verona” received three awards. The production was a musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s early comedy about young people exploring love, friendship and the temptations of city life.

Students took the lead on many design and management aspects of the production, including set, lighting and costume design and as a result three Eastern students were honored for their contributions to the production. Eastern student Troi Barnham received a merit award for her coordination and staging of the fashion show scene, student Hannah Garrahy received a merit award for her work regarding the production’s Live Feed Videography and commercial and student Sinque Tavares received a merit award for his work as Assistant Choreographer and Lead Dancer.

Among the Eastern students recognized at the festival was Kerri McColgan, who won a scholarship to attend the Stage Craft Institute of Las Vegas for her hand-operated alligator winch, which was used in “Thread City.”

Additionally, a number of Eastern students were also awarded scholarships, served as technical interns for the festival and competed in the festival’s Technical Olympics. Eastern student Kerri McColgan won a one-week scholarship to attend the Stage Craft Institute of Las Vegas for her hand operated alligator winch in “Thread City.” McColgan made a winch suitable for use in the movement of rolling stage scenery components. The device allows the frames to open similarly to how an alligator’s mouth opens. “Thread City” Stage Manger Katerina Mazzacaine also received a $1,200 scholarship for her presentation on her experiences in “Thread City” as well as for her service in the festival’s Stage Management Fellowship program.

“We’ve all had very rewarding experiences here. Faculty and students alike have found profound opportunity and fellowship,” said Rozelle. “I can’t truly describe what it’s like to be a member of a 500 plus audience made up of only patrons who are also all theatre practitioners passionate about their work without the use of cliché: It’s thrilling, affirming and hugely inspirational.”

KCACTF recognizes and celebrates the finest and most diverse work produced in university and college theatre programs. Eastern Connecticut State University congratulates all Eastern students and faculty for their contributions to performing arts and for their tremendous success at this year’s KCACTF.