News Release

Southeastern Theatre, staged readings honored at Louisiana College Theatre Festival

Contact: Christina Chapple


     HAMMOND -- Southeastern Louisiana University Theatre’s production of “Spunk,” three short stories by Zora Neale Hurston adapted for the stage by George C. Wolfe, recently was honored with awards at the Louisiana College Theatre Festival (LCTF), hosted by the university Nov. 19-22.

     “Spunk,” directed by Southeastern theater instructor Rusty Tennant, won both the “Director’s Choice” and “Respondent’s Choice” awards at the state festival, placing it into consideration for presentation at the Region VI Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) to be held Feb. 24-28 at Texas State University in San Marcos.

     Steve Schepker, director of Southeastern Theatre, said Region VI judges reviewed 27 productions from state festivals in Louisiana, Arkansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. The judges selected “Spunk” ninth, making it the second alternate for presentation at the regional festival.

     “Three out of the last four times that Southeastern Theatre has participated in KCACTF competition, we have been invited to attend the regional festival or as an alternate,” said Schepker.

     “We are very proud of Southeastern Theatre,” added David Evenson, head of the Department of Music and Dramatic Arts. “Although Southeastern does not offer a major in theater, it more than holds its own against larger programs.”

     Region VI judges have also selected “Voodoo Vows,” a one-act play by Tommie Sorrell, a Southeastern English major from Franklinton, to be presented as a staged reading at the Region VI festival.  Schepker said “Voodoo Vows” is also one of three Region VI student plays that will be considered nationally for the John Cauble Playwriting Award at the Kennedy Center National Festival, scheduled for April 2009 in Washington, D.C.

     “Voodoo Vows” and two other plays written by Southeastern students were presented as staged readings at the Louisiana College Theatre Festival through a partnership with the Southeastern Writing Center. Directed by Southeastern theater faculty Jim Winter and Chad Winters and Writing Center director and English professor Jayetta Slawson, the plays also included “Wonderland” by Gabrielle-Renee LeBlanc of Baton Rouge and “Tent City” by Alysia Catanzaro of Covington.

     The staged readings program, the first to be included in a Louisiana College Theatre Festival, were recognized at the state festival with “Promoting New Works” and “Respondent’s Choice” awards.

     “The Writing Center was proud to be able to work with the theater program to support a contest to recognize young playwrights and promote playwriting,” said Slawson. “I really appreciate all the artistry and hard work that went into the theater festival and the staged readings, which the audience seemed to thoroughly enjoy.” 

     At the Louisiana College Theatre Festival, “Spunk” won the Ensemble Cast Award. Tennant was recognized for Excellence in Directing and costumer Richard Walsh for Excellence in Costuming.

     Southeastern Theatre students also received individual awards at the LCTF. Will Stacey, a general studies/theater major from Franklinton, received the Excellence in Scenic Design award, while Jaren Mitchell of New Orleans and Brandy Fulton and Marjorie Parker of Baton Rouge received nominations to participate in the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Competition at the regional festival.

     Tara Melvin of New Orleans, Darnell Campbell of Slidell and Aaron Griffin of New Roads were recognized for Excellence in Sound Design; Kaci Davis of Walker was honored for Excellence in Stage Management; and Gabrielle-Renee LeBlanc received an award in the “Criticism” category.

     The festival also gave “Honor Crew” recognition to students who helped produce the event, including Stacy, Mickey Martin of Colyell, Amanda Klipsch of Madisonville, LaVonna Varnado of Paradis; and recent Southeastern graduate Kathryn Steele of Baton Rouge.    

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