June 1, 2021
Theater Program Earns First-Ever Kennedy Center National Honors

On the heels of its regional honors from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF), the Emmanuel’s Theater Arts program also received four national awards for its Fall 2020 production of “Theater Macabre: Network,” from the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., a first-time milestone for the program.

In efforts to keep bringing theater to audiences during the COVID-19 pandemic and the fall semester of remote learning, the Performing Arts program also took its performances virtual. “Theatre Macabre: Network” is an immersive theater piece in the dystopian/horror genre set entirely online. It is an interactive show experience in which audience members choose the format and scenes they see, meaning not all audience members will “see” the same show. The script was more than 200 pages long with a total of 96 scenes for the final product to come together.

The programs efforts were rewarded with awards for Special Achievement in Virtual Community Engagement and Audience Development; Special Achievement in Overall Production Design; Special Achievement Award in Company-Generated Work; and Innovative Use of Technology.

“It is particularly exciting to be singled out for things we all really value—technological innovation, community engagement, and collaborative writing,” said Assistant Professor of Performing Arts and Director of Theater Scott Gagnon. “We can also now officially say that our program is nationally recognized for its achievements. It’s also great that all of these are for group and collaborative work as opposed to individual achievement.”

An official press release from the KCACTF National Committee and National Office at the Kennedy Center noted the unconventional nature this year’s performances. “During these unprecedented times, we celebrate these imaginative and evocative theatre-makers and productions as being at the forefront of a revolution in artistry that ignites conversations of national importance through innovation in process, content, form, design, technology, outreach, and audience engagement.”

In the spring, the program’s production of “Theatre Macabre: Network” was selected as a Festival Attendee for the KCACTF Regional Festival, which took place virtually from January 24th-30th, while “Mystery Radio Theater: Season Three” was held for consideration.

Visit the Theater program’s website to view “Network,” as well as the Spring 2021 production of Euripides’ “Medea” and student-directed work by seniors Jenna Cormier ’21, Mia Straccia ’21, Michael Giordano ’21 and Selena Malaterra ’21.

The KCACTF is a national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide and has served as a catalyst in improving the quality of college theater in the United States since 1969. The KCACTF has grown into a network of more than 600 academic institutions throughout the country, where theater departments and student-artists showcase their work and receive outside assessment by KCACTF respondents. Many collegiate thespians equate it to the Oscars of college theater.

Julia Burke '22 as Josette Dufresne in "Network"

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