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Theater Students Earn Honors at Regional Kennedy Center Festival

January 23, 2019
Bowie State One of Nearly 50 Participating Colleges & Universities

Damita Chambers,, 301-832-2628 mobile

(BOWIE, Md.) Six Bowie State University students, attending a regional Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival last week, were honored for outstanding performance and new play development.

Four black students act out a scene on stage where one female student is sitting on the floor and three others are standing around her

The five-day conference brought together nearly 1,000 students, plus academic leaders, from across the mid-Atlantic and southern regions, along with guest artists from New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago. The BSU students participated in devised theater workshops with Blessed Unrest, an innovative New York-based theater collective, trained for musical theater auditions with Broadway performer Billy Bustamente and attended a keynote address with Tony-nominated Rob McClure, most known for his Broadway work on "Avenue Q," "Chaplin," "Something’s Rotten," and "Beetlejuice the Musical."

Theater arts majors Ryan Anthony, Mecca Bryant, Lorenzo Henriquez, Kayla Jackson, along with visual communications digital media arts major Kaylin Luces, received honors for Best Devised Theater Performance for their new work called “(In)visible,” a piece originated at Bowie State University. “(In)visible” began as a project for theater arts students, Dorian Elie, Andreana Miller, Nnenna Onoura, for the Directing I course. Responding to the prompt, “entrance without papers is forbidden,” they reflected on the sex-trafficking industry, which preys particularly on immigrants and the undocumented. Using news articles, primary source interviews and social media, the students developed a docudrama to present stories of the invisible as a way to illuminate this crisis. The students participating in the festival built upon the original script, expanding it to five performers, integrating sound, dance and performance art.

In addition to the devised theater award, Luces also won the Best Cold Reading Award, along with a $100 prize. Three theater majors – Gabrielle Hawkins, Lorenzo Henriquez and Shalom Omo-Osagie – participated in the invited Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship competition, honoring the best performers in American college theater. Omo-Osagie was named best female performer in the National Playwriting Program. Hawkins participated in extensive musical theater training and auditions for professional companies.

Marchelle Huggins and Kayla Jackson received certificates for completing specialized theater course work. Other students who attended the festival were Jarod Johnson and Kima Williams.

“While there are many learning opportunities for our students outside of our campus, undoubtedly this pre-professional theatre conference proved to accelerate our students’ development, establish significant professional contacts and garnered honors for BSU Theatre,” said Assistant Professor of Theater Elena Velasco. “With nearly 50 colleges and universities participating in this year’s festival, it is noteworthy that Bowie State University stood out among the rising leaders in the field of theater.”


About Bowie State University
Bowie State University (BSU) is an important higher education access portal for qualified persons from diverse academic and socioeconomic backgrounds, seeking a high-quality and affordable public comprehensive university. The university places special emphasis on the science, technology, cybersecurity, criminal justice, teacher education, business, and nursing disciplines within the context of a liberal arts education. For more information about BSU, visit