January 20, 2021
Theater Program Honored by Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival

The Emmanuel College Theater Arts program has been honored by the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) for two productions put on during the 2020 calendar year.

“Theatre Macabre: Network” was selected as a Festival Attendee for the KCACTF Regional Festival, which takes place virtually this year from January 24th-30th, while “Mystery Radio Theater: Season Three” was held for consideration.

Theatre Macabre: Network” is an immersive theater piece in the dystopian/horror genre set entirely online. It is an interactive show experience in which audience members choose the format and scenes they see, meaning not all audience members will “see” the same show. The script was more than 200 pages long with a total of 96 scenes for the final product to come together.

“It’s truly ingenious and something that has never been tried,” said Theater Arts Program Director Scott Gagnon. “We’re excited to showcase our extremely talented student-actors and show at the KCACTF Festival, and we hope members of our own community will also enjoy the show, which is still available online.”

The KCACTF is a national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide and has served as a catalyst in improving the quality of college theater in the United States since 1969. The KCACTF has grown into a network of more than 600 academic institutions throughout the country, where theater departments and student-artists showcase their work and receive outside assessment by KCACTF respondents. Many collegiate thespians equate it to the Oscars of college theater.

“This is a really big deal for us,” said Gagnon. “It was a challenging year for the arts industry, but our students never slowed down and put out some incredibly creative productions of which we are all very proud.”

This marks just the third time that Emmanuel College has had an entire production honored by the KCACTF, as “Theatre Macabre: Network” joins the productions of “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” from 2010-11 and “Mystery Radio Theater Season One” from 2011-12 as honorees. Emmanuel has proudly offered a Theatre Arts degree program for the past three years. Previously students could major in Theatre Arts through an individualized major designation.

“It’s certainly a sign that we’re moving in the right direction,” said Gagnon. “The students value the annual feedback from the KCACTF as a trusted, independent source. At the end of the day, it’s validating and something they can put on a resume.”

Through state, regional, and national festivals, KCACTF participants celebrate the creative process, see one another’s work, and share experiences and insights within the community of theater artists. The KCACTF honors excellence of overall production and offers student-artists individual recognition through awards and scholarships in playwriting, acting, criticism, directing, and design. KCACTF is a year-round program in eight geographic regions in the United States.

Emmanuel is part of Region 1 in the KCACTF, which consists of institutions in New England and New York. During the 2020 theater cycle, 106 total shows were produced under the KCACTF’s Region 1 umbrella. Twenty-one shows were named as finalists and of those finalists, eight full productions and two radio shows were picked to represent the region in this year’s KCACTF Region 1 Festival including “Theatre Macabre: Network” from Emmanuel.

“Over the years we’ve had several individual actors nominated by the KCACTF, but having your entire production honored is an incredible accomplishment,” said Gagnon. “This is especially true in our region where our works are being compared to some powerhouse programs like Boston University, Emerson, Tufts and Western Connecticut State.”

To watch “Theatre Macabre: Network,” visit http://www.ectheater.com/ where you can also find a complete list of the cast and crew.

A still from “Theatre Macabre: Network” featuring Julia Hazel '22

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