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Theatre Department Receives National Awards from The Kennedy Center

Belmont University’s production of “Alice” by Ara Vito was recently named one of the best collegiate theatrical productions in the country by the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF). The Festival’s selection panel, responsible for this year’s national awards, recognized “Alice” with several top honors including Outstanding Performance & Production Ensemble and Outstanding Director of a New or Devised Work. The production was also a finalist for Distinguished Production of a New or Devised Work.

“Alice” was further recognized as Vito, the playwright, received second place for the Harold and Mimi Steinberg National Student Playwriting Award. This award comes with a $1,000 prize, an invitation to attend the National Festival at the Kennedy Center, membership in the Dramatists Guild of America and the Playwrights’ Center of Minneapolis and a professional development residency. Additionally, Associate Professor Brent Maddox received the Outstanding Director award which includes a Faculty Fellowship to attend the Kennedy Center’s National Conference. Vito and Maddox will attend the conference to receive the national awards.

Additional recognition from the KCACTF includes the following individuals who were finalists for their distinguished work in each of the named categories: Caroline Knott for Distinguished Costume Design, Madeline Marconi for Distinguished Performance by an Actress and Paul Gatrell for Distinguished Scenic Design.

Maddox called the recognition an honor and humbling experience. “Receiving these awards from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) is a real honor and a highlight of my teaching and theatre career,” he said. “I am both humbled and overwhelmed to have our production recognized on the national level by our esteemed colleagues and peers. It’s a testament to the hard work and efforts of our students, and the dedication they put into their art and our program.”

Founded in 1969, the Festival has grown into a network of more than 600 academic institutions throughout the country where theatre departments and student artists showcase their work and receive outside assessment. KCACTF honors the theatrical work of students and faculty after national judges view productions at eight regional festivals. Belmont’s department was selected to participate with Alice at the 2016 American College Theatre Festival 48 Region IV in Charleston, South Carolina.

“Alice” is a variation on Lewis Carroll’s classic tales Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass that relate the story of a young girl named Alice Pleasance Liddell and the relationship she develops with Charles Dodgson (alias Lewis Carroll). Overcoming her parents’ stifling indifference, Alice discovers her creativity through her adventures on the other side of the looking glass, conquering her fears as she approaches a vision of her true self. This play is framed within a conversation between Carroll and Liddell, who was the inspiration for the fictional character.  This devised, narrative movement piece was developed through a unique process grounded in ensemble and collaboration with an all-female cast.

The production was developed through a process grounded in ensemble and collaboration, practices promoted to students for the creation of transformative art.  The ensemble of seven actors included Madeline Marconi, Morgan Conder, Nyazia Martin, Johnna McCarthy, Caitlyn Weaver, Austin Williams and Kristen Ladd. The student designers included Maggie Jackson for lights, Sam Lowry for projections, Caroline Knott for costumes and Kyle Odum for sound. The technical team for the KCACTF Region IV production consisted of JB Bridge, Taylor Thomas, Amanda Bell, Jake Wallace, Andrew Timms and the Theatre Department’s Technical Director Jerry Stratton. “Alice” was originally produced by Belmont’s Department of Theatre and Dance in November 2015.


For the full national press release from the Kennedy Center, please visit the following website:

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