Theater department sweeps awards

The Richland theater department took top honors at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF).

The theater department was honored with the Directors Choice Award and the Best of Festival Award. The competition took place at Angelo State University. A majority of the schools competing were four-year universities.

Richland’s production of “Waiting for Godot,” directed by Drama Chair Andy Long, challenged other schools in the competition. Playwright Samuell Beckett won the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature in 1969 for “Godot,” was one of his most notable works which was written in 1953.

When Long was hired at Richland, he said the drama department had never participated in a festival of this magnitude. One award given to Richland was a production load-in and take-down award, which judged how well the production was unloaded and based on technical elements within a maximum of four hours.

Three Richland actors won individual acting awards: Carter Brown, Jabin Lewis and Shea Hardwick. Marissa Gutierrez also was honored for outstanding stage manager at the festival.

Jabin Lewis, left,  Shae Hardwick and Carter Brown won awards for " Waiting for Godot."

Jabin Lewis, left,  Shae Hardwick and Carter Brown won awards for " Waiting for Godot."

Richland was voted the best production from the region of Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

Additionally, one other award was commended by a film critic from New York and another who is a professor at the University of North Carolina.

This was Richland’s fourth year to compete in this festival. It’s the first time that one show  won both awards.

“We are quite proud of that,” Long said. Now the theater department is in what’s called a held production that requires the submission of documents. A committee then chooses six plays from the southwest region to be considered for the upcoming festival in San Angelo in March. Out of that competition, one show will be selected to travel to Washington, D.C. in April to the Kennedy Center as part of the national festival.

“Not many community colleges do, and you’re competing against  universities like UT Austin and big schools,” Long said. When we go, we’re going to be ready. We’re going to try to win. We are going to compete, we're not just going to go, we’re going to go to compete,” Long said.

While working this show, Long mentally prepares the students by letting them know there is “nothing that can stop you. You are just as good if not better than these big schools. All it takes is, you do all of your work, and you focus and commit and you can be excellent. We are here to do a job.”

According to Long, Richland is the only campus in the Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) that participates in the KCACTF. These prestigious awards show that the theater department is not just a Cinderella school, but a school that can compete with institutions that have a massive program and budget to match. The upcoming regional festival Richland is slated to participate in is also in San Angelo on Feb. 28 through March 3, 2018.