Southeastern nabs top honors at Louisiana College Theatre Festival
Contact: Christina Chapple
HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana University Theatre’s production of faculty member Jim Winter’s original drama “Dead Flowers” won top honors last week at the Louisiana College Theatre Festival, hosted by Southeastern Nov. 15-16.
Competing against productions from McNeese State University and Dillard University, “Dead Flowers” was selected as the state festival’s nominee to advance to regional American College Theatre Festival competition.
“Dead Flowers,” which was directed by Chad Winters, Southeastern directing and acting instructor, is now in the running with more than two dozen productions from universities in Louisiana, Arkansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas to be chosen to compete in the regional festival in February and March at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, said Steve Schepker, director of Southeastern Theatre. Southeastern and the University of New Orleans are the only other school whose productions have been nominated for regional consideration.
“Judges at the festival were not required to nominate a production as a regional nominee, but deemed ‘Dead Flowers’ worthy of regional consideration,” Schepker said. “This is only the third time in Southeastern's history that we have received this prestigious award.” Southeastern Theatre's production of “[sic]” advanced to the regional American College Theatre Festival in 2005.
"A lot of our students poured their hearts into this production and into hosting the state festival,” said Winter. “Our success at the state festival is a testament to the tremendous amount of talent and drive Southeastern's theatre students have."
Winter was given the American College Theatre Festival Excellence in Playwriting Award for “Dead Flowers,” a first for a Southeastern faculty member. His play has been published and has been workshopped at the prestigious Actor's Studio in New York for several years as part of its Playwright and Director Workshop series.
Also at the state festival, Southeastern students garnered top awards for lighting design, and for the first time, for scenic and sound design. As state winners, they will all now advance to regional competition.
“I am especially proud of our student designers,” Schepker said. “We took three of the four design awards.”
Tony Terrell, a theater student from Independence majoring in general studies, won an American College Theatre Festival “Excellence in Scenic Design Award” – a university first -- and is now invited to present his renderings and drawings at the regional festival in Huntsville.
Another Southeastern Theatre first was the American College Theatre Festival “Excellence in Sound Design Award” shared by Randy Marlbrough Jr. of Gonzales, a Southeastern liberal arts theatre student, and Southeastern graduate Chad Pierce of Plaquemine, who is now underwriting/development representative for the university’s KSLU radio.
"It is an amazing honor to be nominated for the American College Regional Theatre Festival,” said Winters. “An event like this is an amazing opportunity for our young artists to learn, network, and prepare for a career in the professional theatre."
Three Southeastern Theatre actors, Whitney Allen of Hammond, Shawn Curry of Luling and Jaren Mitchell of New Orleans, were given nominations to compete at the regional level for scholarships awarded by the Irene Ryan Foundation. Awarded to outstanding student performers at each regional festival, the prestigious scholarships are made possible by the generosity of the late Irene Ryan, who is best remembered for her portrayal of the lovable and feisty Granny Clampett on “The Beverly Hillbillies.”
Kathryn Steele of Baton Rouge, a general studies theatre student, was also among the state winners. After garnering an American College Theatre Festival Excellence in Lighting Design Award, she will also compete at the regional festival.
Six Southeastern theatre students and faculty were recognized by Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival for their contributions in hosting the 2007 Louisiana College Theatre Festival.