STAGE members, advisers win regional awards

Performing Arts professors, students earned praise at regional theater festival

MORGAN LESTER, Evergreen reporter

STAGE students and advisers Benjamin Gonzales and Mary Trotter won several awards at the 2018 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region VII in Spokane this past month.

KCACTF Region VII is composed of Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, northern California and northern Nevada.

Gonzales, a WSU clinical associate professor, won the Horace Robinson/Jack Watson Award, presented for his dedication to his students since he began teaching at WSU in 2003.

Trotter, also a WSU clinical assistant professor, also received a similar accolade, the Association for Theatre in Higher Education/KCACTF Prize for Innovative Teaching. This award is given to teachers for methods they develop that support student success in the theater arts.

Alongside them were 24 members of STAGE Student Theater who attended the festival and competed in a variety of events, including the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Auditions, the Technical Olympics and the Improv Olympics. These competitions were a series of events, ranging from lighting and sound in the Technical Olympics to a variety of performances in the Improv Olympics.

The students went on to attain first or second place in the events they took part in, with external adjudicators nominating several students for the Irene Ryan Acting Competition.

“It felt really good to be recognized by our peers,” Trotter said, “especially here in a setting where we don’t have full support to be recognized by other professionals doing the same work.”

WSU Performing Arts received a high degree of recognition at the conference in February, Patrick Dizney, KCACTF Region VII chair of Central Washington University, said.

“Despite having no official program … their students have engaged in our annual festival for years, representing WSU with pride, professionalism, enthusiasm, and contributing significantly to the larger community of artists,” he said.

However, in the wake of the fall budget cuts, there is still uncertainty as to whether or not STAGE will still be able to continue its work. Performing Arts staff and STAGE members are unsure what will happen to the theaters in Daggy Hall and whether they will have access to them.

“These are spaces that need people with specific skills to run them,” Trotter said. “These aren’t classroom spaces… they require skilled professionals to maintain and run them.”

So while STAGE’s future is still unclear, they are still working out this year and continuing to put on shows, such as “Silent Sky” and weekly Nuthouse Improv, continuing to engage as best they can.