University of Southern Indiana Theatre and its performing arts students have been recognized with group and individual awards at the regional and national levels by the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF).
Each year, this program involves over 20,000 students from colleges nationwide through eight regional festivals and a national festival in Washington, D.C. Approximately 40 USI students, professors and staff members traveled to Madison, Wisconsin, for the Region III KCACTF in January, which included a staging of the USI Theatre production of The Revolutionists (written by Lauren Gunderson).
Jada Hampton ’20 was chosen as this year’s ASPIRE Leadership Intensive fellow for Region III. KCACTF describes the program as one that “aspires to launch a new generation of artistic and administrative leaders for the American Theatre. The focus is on engaging and inspiring people of color, women and members of other groups consistently underrepresented in the field.”
“The opportunity that’s impacted me the most is the ASPIRE program,” said Hampton. “My first year I was an alternate and this year I was the chosen fellow of eight across the nation. Already, I have learned so much from my cohort and am excited to meet them in person at the 2021 National Festival.”
USI’s performance of The Revolutionists received the Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Award, which “recognizes programs in higher education using theatrical production to promote long-term societal impact through an artistic, empathetic exploration of our complex cultural and physical world, and advocates for justice on campus and throughout the world.” Additionally, the National Committee of KCACTF recognized Jesmelia Williams ’20 with the Distinguished Performance by an Actor award for her performance as Marianne Angelle in The Revolutionists.
The Committee also named Kaitlyn Kearschner's performance as Marie Antoinette in The Revolutionists one of the four Outstanding Performances of the 2020 Festival Season. The Spring 2020 graduate was invited to the National Festival to participate in master class workshops alongside other national finalists. Originally planned for April 2020, the National Festival was canceled in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Elliot Wasserman, Professor of Theatre and Chair of the USI Performing Arts Department, recalls seeing the University’s production of The Revolutionists for the first time: “I was filled with an immense pride in the program. Throughout the production, and particularly in the performances, the passion that drives our theatre students was on full display. The Revolutionists is one of the best productions we have mounted in my 30 years at USI, and I hope it establishes a level of achievement that the coming years will recognize as USI Theatre's benchmark.”
“Any time we mount a production, our highest goal is to create something that speaks to the human spirit and challenges the perceptions of our audiences. We are so honored that the Kennedy Center recognized our efforts during this challenging school year with the Artist Citizen Award,” said Eric Altheide, Associate Professor of Theatre and the play’s director. “The Revolutionists was a passion project for the entire cast of talented women and the results of their passion and dedication are credited by the honors that Kaitlyn and Jesmelia received. I am sure they would agree that the recognition of their achievement is just as much a recognition of the entire ensemble cast.”
USI student and faculty participation in the festival is made possible, in part, through the support of the USI Foundation. Find out more about the Theatre Arts program at USI.edu/theatre.
Photo Credit: USI Theatre
Kaitlyn Kearschner (left) and Jesmelia Williams in a USI Theatre production of The Revolutionists