The Georgia Southern Theatre program returned from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival last week with several awards and one individual honor that will send a student to Washington.
Competing in Region IV in Daytona, Fla., senior Theatre and Spanish major Austin Bolay won the Student Dramaturgy Award for his research and development on “The Tempest” by William Shakespeare. The play was directed by GSU professor Lisa Abbott last April. Bolay also was recognized in the New Play Program category for his work at the festival on the play “Birth Mother” by Emsley Lewis of Clemson University.
Bolay’s award qualifies him for the Literary Managers and Dramaturgy of the Americas event at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in April.
“I’m still trying to process it,” he said.” “I’ve never won anything this big. This being my first time as a dramaturg, I didn’t think I would win this competition. I’m excited because winning the award was great, but what impressed me more was is that I have the entire [Theatre] program behind me. Having that support is great, I think that the people around me were more excited for me than I was at the time, because I was in shock.”
A dramaturg researches and develops a play and works hands-on with the production. Also, a dramaturg acts as a mediator with the playwright or the playwright’s work and the director to fully develop the production.
Bolay will receive an all-expense paid residency at the National Festival and attend workshops with leading artists in both production and new play dramaturgy.
"Austin worked for this and deserves this recognition,” Abbott said. “He is an amazingly talented young man, and I fully expect to see him doing amazing things in the world of the theatre in his future, this is just the beginning.”
The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival was founded in 1969 and now involves 18,000 students from more than 600 academic institutions throughout the country. The Region IV festival ran Jan. 31 through Feb. 4 and was held at Daytona State College. Region IV includes schools from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and southern Virginia.
While in Daytona, students competed in various competitions and attended workshops in design, play writing, acting, directing and other elements of theatre from instructors working in both professional and collegiate theatre.
Also honored from Georgia Southern at the festival was junior stage manager Zoe Campell. Campell won a new award, named in her honor, for her participation in the stage management competition. She compiled a collection of information of all work done on the production of Charles Mee’s “Big Love,” which also was directed by Abbott. Campell won the “Pack-Rat” award for having the most useful information in her book.
“We’ve been building in terms of student participation,” Abbott said. “We’ve had success in
previous years, but this year we’ve been building in other areas and expanding. Our stage managers have been consistently top ranked, and Zoe represented us very well.”
GSU sent 26 students to the festival, and 16 competed in the Irene Ryan Acting competition. For the competition, a student that was nominated from a previous show at GSU, prepares two scenes with a partner of their choosing and a monologue. More than 300 students from Region IV competed in the Irene Ryan competition and Julianne Norkus, a sophomore, and her partner Greg Hernandez, a freshman, made it to the second round of 32 student pairs of the competition.
“There is a lot of tough competition, and it is very impressive to see, but I have to say our students were incredibly well prepared and right up there,” Abbott said. “It speaks very highly of the body of work our students are putting forward and the level of preparation that has gone into this.”
Professors James Harbour, Kelly Berry and Abbott attended the event and prepared the students for their various competitions. Also, Abbott presented workshops on acting while at the festival, and she received two faculty awards for distinction in directing for “The Tempest” and “Big Love.”