Theatre students receive regional awards

By Celeste Powell

On Feb. 25, students Dakota Barbee, Joy Christie, Jacob Parkhurst, Ciara Renee, MacEwan Sanders, Emily Whatley and Payton Williams attended the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF).

KCACTF is a national theatre program involving 18,000 students from over 600 colleges and universities across the United States. According to their website, some of their goals are to “improve the quality of college and university theater in America” and to “encourage colleges and universities to give distinguished productions of new plays, especially those written by students; the classics, revitalized or newly conceived; and experimental works.”

Cameron’s production of “4.48 Psychosis” was considered for national awards recognizing achievement in production, design, direction and performance.

Of the seven students who attended KCACTF, two received awards.

Barbee received the Region 6 Excellence in Properties Design and the Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas Award for Excellence in Technology and Design for “4.48 Psychosis”.

She also received a scholarship to the Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas.

Whatley received the Student Choice Award for Design also for the production of “4.48 Psychosis.”

Written by Sarah Kane, “4.48 Psychosis” is a depiction of a person with clinical depression—the last work by Kane before she committed suicide.

There are no specific number of characters, setting or explicit stage direction. Because of the non-specific elements, stage productions vary greatly.

Dr. Deidre Onishi directed Cameron’s productioin of “4.48 Psychosis.” In her director’s note, Onishi describes her production as placing “the action in the mind of A1 (Abbey Rinestine) who escapes the confusion only when consulting with the doctor (David Kowalke). A2 (Ciara Renee) is an avatar enveloped in deep love and continuing anguish. A3 (Lance Johnston) presents the darkest elements of A1’s mind while still yearning for compassion. B (MacEwan Sanders and Payton Williams) is the conglomerate of society who remains stunned in the face of psychosis yet, ironically falls into depression themselves.”

Onishi interpreted Kane’s play as a “tortured walk through the labyrinth of a tortured mind…No suicide wants to be a suicide; they are bludgeoned into it by erratic thoughts and debilitating emotions.”

Scenic Designer Whatley said her design for the play had a personal connection to her.

“I found connection to the design by incorporating mental illness symptoms that I have experienced and that she also experienced,” she said. “I put those symptoms into a physical form in different aspects so it was a very personal set.”

Property Designer, Barbee, said also had a connection to “4.48 Psychosis.”

“‘4.48 Psychosis’ was all about mental illness,” she said. “Whether it’s you or your friends, there are a lot of people that struggle with mental illness, so I think it’s important to understand.”

Cameron’s Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Theatre Arts allows a choice in concentration of performance or technical.

Performance theatre requires unique classes from the other concentration including: Voice and Diction, Stage Movement and Acting III: Period Styles.

Technical theatre requires Stagecraft, Costume Techniques and either Scenic, Costume or Lighting Design.

“I want more students to know about Cameron’s theatre program,” Barbee said. “We do unique stuff here and all of our productions are free for students.”

After graduation, Barbee plans to move to Austin, Texas to work with a production company. This summer, Whatley will be working as a professional painter at the Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City. After graduation she will be attending Texas Tech University for a Master’s of Fine Arts in Design.

For more information on the B.A. of Theatre Arts or university auditions contact the Department of Art, Music and Theatre Arts at 580-581-2346 or email department chair Scott Richard Klein at scottk@cameron.edu. Auditions are open to everyone. 

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