BLOUNTVILLE, TN - Theater students at Northeast State Community College in Blountville made a strong showing at the Region IV Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival competition - taking two first place awards in technical design.
Amanda Neas of Elizabethton, Tenn. won first place in the Region IV Weiss Design Competition for Lighting Design. The Weiss competition requires a competitor to create a technical design for a hypothetical show. A Theater major at Northeast State, Neas chose the stage classic Equus. She created drawings of the mini-plots that used her lighting concepts. Judges gauged the work and her vision behind the lighting sequence.
Richard Curtis earned the Region IV National Allied Design Technology Award for his design of the character masks for Oedipus Rex staged by the college's theater department in 2011. The win sends him to the national United States Institute for Technical Theater competition in Long Beach, Calif., in March where he will be competing with designers from the entire entertainment industry.
"I was stunned, and it really still hasn't sunk in," said Curtis of his win. "The judges were really tough but they came to my display, I gave my 25-word overview, and they just lit up."
Neas and Curtis presented their work in a designated display space. Judges review the nominee's work as it fits in the overall production. A judge even tried on one of Curtis's masks.
Fellow theater students Derek Smithpeters and acting partner Anne Rowell advanced to the semifinals of the festival's Irene Ryan Acting Competition, finishing 32nd out of more than 250 acting duos competing at the festival.
In addition, Northeast State's technical director and adjunct faculty member Brad McKenzie won a Faculty Lighting Design Award for Oedipus.
Theater students go back to work on two Northeast State Theater productions opening this spring. Neas is designing the props for Proof being staged in March. Curtis is doing set design for the musical Godspell which opens in April.
"You get a lot of self-fulfillment out of creating art," said Neas. "I want a career that allows me to do something I enjoy doing, regardless of what I'm being paid."
The Kennedy Center Theater Festival recognizes the best theater work in Region IV representing colleges throughout the Southeast. Northeast State was one of only two community colleges in the Tennessee Board of Regents system nominated to attend the festival. Only two TBR schools – Northeast State and Middle Tennessee State University – had students place in the competition.