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QCC Theater Students to Attend Kennedy Center American College Festival

January, 2018
  • Alex Fontanes as the "Sandman" in the college's recent theater production.
  • Liam Doherty as "Heat" in the college's recent production.

Student nominated for Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Competition

Quinsigamond Community College’s fledgling theater program has just taken a giant step into the spotlight with its upcoming trip to the regional Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF). The school has also received a nomination for a QCC student to perform in the Irene Ryan Acting Award program during the northeast regional festival, held on January 30 – February 4, 2018 at Western Connecticut State University, Danbury Connecticut. The Kennedy Center American College Theater is a national theater program that involves thousands of students from colleges and universities across the country, serving as a catalyst for improving quality college theater in America.

Eight regional festivals are held across the country that showcase high caliber, college-level theater production.  comedy_and_tragedy_masks_without_background.svg-thumb.png

“This is very unique to have a nomination for the first production by a school, as well as for a new program,” said Dr. Clarence Ates, QCC’s Dean of the School of Humanities and Education, who has been the driving force behind the theater program. “While any school can attend this festival, not every school is nominated.”

QCC’s Liberal Arts Theater Option Associate Degree program is still in its infancy stages, having begun in 2016. The comprehensive program is designed to maximize opportunities for students in theater arts who may be interested in transferring to four-year institutions or who immediately want to enter the visual or performing arts workforce.

This past fall, the QCC Student Theater presented a production titled, “Struggling to Connect, Exploring Relationships.” The production garnered such positive feedback that QCC’s Theater Production Coordinator, Kelly Morgan, entered the show for KCACTF consideration in the upcoming 2018 festival.

To find out if a college or university merits being nominated, KCACTF has performing arts faculty from universities around the state represent the program to visit and critique the schools’ productions. There are a variety of categories in which a school has the opportunity to be nominated for, involving every aspect of performing arts.

It’s also important to have the support of your school in order to be a part of KCACTF.

“The respondent will do the nominating, but the school has to be willing to be a sponsor, since there are financial costs associated with attending the festival,” said Dean Ates. “The college been extremely accommodating and financially supportive. President Pedraja recognizes that this is a wonderful opportunity for our students and our institution. ”

Adam Zahler, a Visual and Performing Arts Professor at Worcester State University, was the respondent who came to QCC to watch QCC’s production. Mr. Zahler discussed his recommended nomination with QCC’s Theater Director, Kelly Stowell, who agreed with his recommendation.

QCC student Alejandro “Alex” Fontanes, who was the “Sandman” in the school’s production, was nominated to compete in the Irene Ryan Acting Award program at the festival.  QCC theater student Liam Doherty will also be a part of the competition, acting as a scene partner for the scene portion of the competition.

Mr. Fontanes will be competing with 300 students (and their partners) during the first round at the regional festival. This number will then be cut down to 36 after the first day, and to between 18-16 for the final round. Students who win their regional festival will receive a $500 scholarship, with the chance to compete at the national festival in Washington, D.C. to win a $5,000 scholarship.

“I’m really excited to be a part of this,” said Mr. Fontanes.” It’s been really fun (rehearsing) and almost therapeutic. I had in my mind who I thought was going to be nominated but when I heard my name, I just lost it!”

Other QCC theater students who will be attending the festival include Lola Balogun, Kyler Simard, David Rodriguez and Alexis Guertin. The students will have the opportunity to attend a variety of workshops such as acting, movement, stage management, make up, voice, script analysis, musical theater and dance; productions; directing and design competitions and new play competitions. They will also have a chance to meet with nationally-recognized professionals and even have an opportunity to audition for a professional internship.

Since 1972, the Irene Ryan Foundation has awarded scholarships to university actors. Scholarships are awarded to the outstanding student performers at the 16 regional festivals and then the students move on to compete in the national festival where they can win a $5,000 scholarship. Students are required to perform two scenes and one monologue during the competition.

“This is truly a very special honor and we are looking forward to all the great information the students will be bringing back to the college,” Dean Ates added.

For more information on QCC’s theater program visit www.QCC.edu/theater .