Festival Success Showcases Theater Department's Excellence

For the second year in a row, an Albany undergraduate will represent college actors in the North-east in a national competition, after a regional showcase where a Department of Theatre production won several citations for merit.

"I think the results bode very well for the student actors and technical designers who are coming through our department," said Ken Bush, assistant professor who heads the acting curriculum and who directed Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, the production, that gained the plaudits at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festivalís Region II competition in Buffalo last month.

Matthew Gregory, a senior, was one of two students out of approximately 250 auditioners to be selected to represent Region II in the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Auditions at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. in April. Last year, sophomore Brendan Gallagher went on to Washington from the Region II competition.

In connection with Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, Certificates of Merit went out to senior Christopher Peifer for costume design, senior Joseph Bellisimo for make-up design, department costumer Greg West for wig design and the entire technical staff and acting ensemble. Bush pointed out that selection of the department for participation in the regional competition was a testimony not to one production, but to the departmentís overall level of excellence. An American College Theater adjudication board looks throughout the calendar year at theater programs from approximately 45 colleges and universities in this region. From these institutionsí more than 160 productions in 1995, six shows were chosen for the theater festival in Buffalo.

"Vampire Lesbians was one of the six productions that made it to the regional," said Bush. "But the Universityís work for the entire year was cited. Thatís why Certificates of Merit were also given in Buffalo to Jennifer Fahrer for the costume design of Sleeping Beauty or Coma, Scott Conn for lighting design of Trojan Women, and Samuel Gaustad for sound design in all three productions." Fahrer and Conn are juniors, Gaustad a graduate student.

Two faculty were also chosen to present workshops in design techniques at the festival: Janet Sussman in jewelry-making and Greg West in draping.

"The festival is not just a competition, but an opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with our compatriots from other theater programs in the Northeast and around the country," said Bush. "Matthew and Brendanís successes indicate that the acting curriculum is strong, progressive, and challenging the students. Also, our success is very much due to our students, who are very active in suggesting, organizing, and directing shows, and doing other extra work to make the whole product better.

"Because of Buffalo, students from our region who are either transferring or advising high school students with theater interests are going to remember what Albany did, and that will result in more talented young theater people choosing Albany in the future. That and the overall national recognition made the experience invaluable."

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