By Ivonne Kawas
The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) School of Performing and Visual Arts welcomed a series of design, technology, and management awards from the 2022 Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) Region IV.
USM students dominated the selections: receiving several honors and awards for their work in performances from last season including Midsummer Night’s Dream, Detroit ‘67, Hedda Gabler,Once in a Lifetime, and more.
Mason Baria, from Gautier, Miss, and Allison Bucher, from Metairie, La., both students in the Theatre BFA Design/Tech program, will be advancing to nationals. Baria was recognized as a design finalist for his work on Sideshow and Bucher as a sound finalist for her work on Hedda Gabler.
The KCACTF boasts contestants from a diverse range of fields in theatre and puts students in a competition that celebrates the highest caliber of work produced in university and college theatre programs. In addition to performances showcasing the outstanding work of the region, each Regional Festival features a wide range of professional development opportunities in all areas of theater that students were able to participate in.
“KCACTF is a great opportunity for our students to showcase their talent and hard work at the regional, and for some, the national level,” said USM Theatre professor Dr. David Coley. “While we, as faculty and as audiences, are consistently thrilled by what our students do, it is encouraging for them to know that it is also work that stands on its own outside of our local community.”
Baria, who is about to begin a career in costume design and technology says, “I’m eager to learn more and experience the creativity and excitement that come with this field of work…this result from KCACTF plus my work on the theatre department’s production of She Kills Monsters are both incredible ways to close out my last semester.”
“Being named a national finalist in costume design is so surreal,” Baria added. “I am so thrilled to see the results of my growth at USM, and I cannot wait to see what nationals has in store!”
Bucher, who aspires to pursue a career as a sound designer says, “It means the world to me to have had my work on Hedda Gabler recognized, especially as it is the topic of my creative project thesis for the Honors College,” Bucher said. “As a student in the Southern Miss Theatre program, I am also grateful for the opportunity to grow and learn as an artist.”
Recognized for her excellence in innovative research, Camila Salas Narvaez, a first-year MFA student in Performance from Quito, Ecuador, was awarded the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) and KCACTF Graduate Innovative Research Award for her work with the Lessac Kinesensic Voice and Body Training, as it relates to bi-lingual research in musical theatre, voice, and speech.
“I want Hispanic actors to feel comfortable on the stage and be able to perform without having to worry about not being understood,” said Narvaez. “I am so happy and grateful for this award; I feel that it is an achievement that helps me continue with my research.”
Lessac Certified Voice and Body Trainer Robin Aronson describes Narvaez as “a trailblazer in the world of voice and speech in researching crossovers and connections between English and Spanish.”
Front Row: Camila Salas Narvaez, Brietta Goodman, Rebecca Earehart, Makallen Kelley, Madison Queen, Aline Toloto Back Row: Detalion Dixon, Petron Brown, Mason Baria, Taylor Busch, Tristan King, Andrew Bledsoe, Jennifer Glass
The award recipients are as follows:
ATHE/KCACTF Graduate Student Research Award
Camila Salas Narvaez
Musical Theatre Initiative
Winner: Brietta Goodman
Third Place: Katie Borum
Runner-up: Detalion Dixon
Finalists: Makallen Kelley, Brietta Goodman, Petron Brown
Midsummer Night’s Dream
Don Child’s DTM Cross Collaboration Award: Entire Design Team: Aline Toloto, Jennifer Glass, Tristan King, Madison Queen
Honorable Mention in Sound: Tristan King
Honorable Mention in Allied Arts: Jennifer Glass, Digital Composite Design
Randy Lutz 1st Place Allied Design and Technology Award: Raven Harris, Hair and Makeup
SETC David Weiss Regional First Place Award: Claire Brenia, Lighting
SETC David Weiss Regional 2nd Place Allied Design and Technology: Hagan Harkins for projections
Honorable Mention in Sound: Andrew Bledsoe
Honorable Mention in Costume: Rebecca Earehart
Honorable Mention in Scenic Design: Aline Toloto
National Finalist in Sound: Allison Bucher
Rising Star Award: Taylor Busch, Costume
Once in a Lifetime
David Weiss SETC Regional First Place: Madison Queen, Costume
National Finalist in Design: Mason Baria