Stand Up and Be Seen!

WCSU sent 22 students and faculty to the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) Region 1 competition in Fitchburg, Mass., in January 2011. Multiple Western representatives won awards, and several more were honored — helping to add to the reputation the university’s theatre arts program has earned over the years.

“We’ve had finalists for the nationals, and one student won in sound design,” said Professor of Theatre Arts Sal Trapani. When asked about what those unfamiliar with this achievement might relate the victory to, Trapani said, “It is the equivalent of going to the Division I Final Four Basketball Tournament or the College World Series.”

Matt Bagley, a senior from Danbury, won the Irene Ryan Acting Award for the region. With the help of Conor Daniel Bartram, a junior from Hamden, Bagley won a $500 scholarship for the achievement and went on to win the Dell'Arte International School for Physical Theatre Scholarship at the KCACTF finals in Washington, D.C.. This $6,000 award toward a year of training in the Professional Training Program, or the MFA program, was the largest monetary award given out at the competition.

“I was beyond excited when we found out that we won the region. It was unreal,” Bartram said.

Jes Almeida, a senior from Stratford, was announced as the regional winner in the Hair & Makeup category and also traveled to Washington, D.C. for the national competition.

“Many people don’t realize the effort and hours upon hours of hard work designers, directors, stage managers, actors and technical staff put into making these performances happen,” Almeida said. “To be recognized by the Kennedy Center feels equally amazing.”

Among the students to gain recognition during the regional competition were Lauren Sarnataro, of Waterbury, runner-up in Stage Management; and Allison Gauthier, of Southington, and Andrew Hendrick, of Fairfield, finalists for the Musical Theatre Initiative Award. Eight additional students were cast in full-length and one-act play readings, and Erik Tonner, adjunct faculty member and alumnus, received a Merit Award for Innovative Staging of a Play for “As Bees in Honey Drown.”

“It is a great accomplishment for our program and the students who are part of it, our alumni, the rest of WestConn’s student body and all faculty and administration,” Trapani said.

The KCACTF was started in 1969 and features 18,000 students from more than 600 institutions. Since its inception, more than 400,000 students have had their work critiqued.

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Digging Deeper

Clockwise from top:
Theatre arts students Matt Bagley, Jes Almeida and Conor Daniel Bartram achieved success at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.