USM Theatre Students Receive Accolades at 2022 Regional KCACTF

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

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

Irene Ryans

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

Detroit ‘67

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

Hedda Gabler

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