BSU Takes the Stage at the Kennedy Center Festival

Earlier this month, Bridgewater State’s theater department trekked to Central Connecticut State University for the Kennedy Center American Collee Theater Festival (KCACTF). There, students and faculty from across New England and New York had the opportunity to showcase their work and connect with others in the industry. Students competed for awards and scholarships, “but the way that I approached this is, that’s kind of an extra,” Associate Professor Emmett Buhmann (he/him) told The Comment. “The most important part of [the festival] is that ability to interact with professionals in the field and get feedback on the work that someone’s done, and to network and create relationships.” Buhmann has been with BSU’s theater department for 10 years and additionally serves as the KCACTF regional chair. He added that many student participants have gone on to careers in professional theater because of the connections they made at KCACTF. 

BSU students were able to exhibit their talents both on stage and behind the scenes. Hannah Ferro and AJ Finn were invited to perform a scene from last spring’s production of Heathers, while five students participated in the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship competition. On the technical side, students presented their work in Design, Technology, and Management (DTM).  

One of those presenters who stole the spotlight was BSU senior Deeyanna Duffie (she/her), returning to the festival for a second time. Not only was she an Irene Ryan nominee for her titular role in last fall’s Dracula, but she also presented for DTM on her scenic design for the spring 2023 Student Repertory Theater shows Janie Wants a Dog and Matt & Ben. Along with her honorable mention for scenic design, Duffie was also awarded the Marvin Sims Design Fellowship. The award “recognizes outstanding student designers of color with a residency opportunity for educational and professional development.” 

Duffie spoke about her love of scenic design, explaining the value of “being able to see how we’re taking this thing on paper and translating in a way that’s palpable for other people. There’s just something so beautiful about it.” She says that being on stage functions in a similar way. “There’s this person who has an idea and then they’re asking people to help them make this idea become a reality. And so, I feel like with acting, it’s almost the same thing, just not from the beginning of the thought process.” 

Duffie reflected on how the department has shaped her journey. “I feel every single professor, every single person that works for this department, is a mentor to everyone in some way,” said Duffie. “If I have questions or if I need help, I know that I can come back and there will be people here willing to help me along the road.”  

Students interested in theater at BSU do not have to be majors to get involved and can reach out to Professor Buhmann or join the department’s mailing list on their Intranet page.

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