The University of the Ozarks Theatre took home 16 company and individual honors, including the prestigious Director’s Choice Award, at the Arkansas Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, held on the U of O campus Nov. 6-8.
The University Theatre’s production of “Rabbit Hole,” was awarded the Director’s Choice Award, which makes the play eligible for the Region VI festival, scheduled for Feb. 24-28 at San Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas. Theatre officials will find out in mid-December whether or not the play has been selected for the regional competition. Region VI is comprised of Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.
This is the second consecutive year that the University Theatre has won at least one of the top awards at the state festival. Last year’s production, “In the Next Room Or The Vibrator Play,” won the Director’s Choice award and was later selected for the Region VI festival.
“I’m really honored for us to win Director’s Choice for Rabbit Hole,” said Bruce B. Brown, professor of theatre. “With the success we had last year, we all felt some pressure to do well at the festival this year. Looking back over past history, from 1987 when the Walton Fine Arts Center was built, Ozarks had only won the Director’s Choice three total times. This is the first time it has happened two years in a row, giving Ozarks four total Director’s Choice wins in the last 27 years. I’m so proud of our company and the good work they did to earn this honor.”
Ozarks also took home awards in the following areas: Excellence in ACTF hosting for University of the Ozarks; Excellence in ACTF hosting for the Theatre Student Hosts; Excellence in ACTF hosting and festival organization for Brown; Excellence in Stage Management for Meghan Mansur; Excellence in ACTF Technical Direction for Lucas Hoiland; Outstanding Honor Crew Awards for Mansur, John Davis and Alex Ford; Excellence in Lighting Design for Davis; Excellence in Graphic Design for Darrick Andrew Conroy; Excellence in Scenic Design for Brown; and Excellence in Direction for Brown. The University Theatre also received Irene Ryan Acting Awards for Annie Williams, James Allen and Lynda Kay.
“I believe our theatre program philosophy powers our continued successes,” Brown said. “University Theatre is centered on the core belief that if we work as professionals during our rehearsals, labs, projects, classes, and internships, we can achieve success both here in our program and through the graduates of our program. The students in the theatre program work hard to be the best they can be growing with each challenge a new production brings. Their continued growth and drive is what lead to these wonderful accolades.”
Brown said hosting the Kennedy Center American College Theater state festival is an added benefit for the students in his program.
“The students get to showcase their leadership abilities and really get involved with students from other schools as they produce theatre in our space,” Brown said. “We get the best of everything the festival has to offer as hosts. We are able to see and discuss productions from a wide range of programs, but being the host school, we also get the opportunity to put our best self forward and really show pride in our facilities and the leadership skills we develop here at Ozarks. I was extremely proud to see Ozarks theatre students participating in all three of the workshops offered during the festival, even when they could easily have taken a break to get some rest from the rigorous hosting duties and schedule. It is no wonder the state chair of Arkansas singled out our student hosts with a special recognition of excellence this year. The campus also benefits from having different productions on campus. The diversity of offerings as well as the diversity of peoples both onstage and in the audience. We had a large turnout of Ozarks students at every production which was nice in so many ways.”