FIU Theatre’s production of Fahrenheit 451 was honored with two national awards by the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) at their National Awards Ceremony last week.
The Fall 2021 production, which marked the Department of Theatre’s first live show after the pandemic shutdown, was awarded the Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Award and Special Achievement in Production Design.
Fahrenheit 451 is a classic dystopian tale written first as a novel in 1953 by Ray Bradbury. Although he wrote it in the early days of television, Bradbury foresaw a future where all mankind was numbed with giant television screens while books, knowledge and original thought were outlawed and eliminated.
For the play’s director, associate professor Phillip M. Church, Fahrenheit 451 is still wholly relevant 70 years later.
“The student actors, designers and production crew consciously connected in deep and meaningful ways with this play,” says Church. “Everyone became keenly aware of the play’s relevance. Bradbury’s material prompted consistent conversations amongst the students about the fragile nature of freedom and rights.”
The Kennedy Center awarded the production the Citizen Artist Award in recognition of the social impact of the production. The award recognizes programs in higher education using theatrical production to promote long-term societal impact through an artistic lens, encourage empathetic exploration of the complex cultural and physical world, and advocate for justice on campus and throughout the world.
The production was also honored with a Special Achievement in Production Design, recognizing the collaboration of the overall design work that unified the production.
The design team for Fahrenheit 451 featured the work of BFA Design students Ashley Scheer (scenic), Chloe Vouglas (sound) and Julianne Garcia (props), along with faculty members Tony Galaska (lights), Marina Pareja (costumes) and Jennifer Ivey (projections).
“It is a tremendous honor to be recognized with these National Awards by the Kennedy Center,” says FIU Theatre Chair and Artistic Director Joel Murray. “These awards are a testament to the boundless talent and professionalism of our students and faculty.”
KCACTF is a national theater program involving 18,000 students annually from colleges and universities across the country. Students attend eight regional festivals, hosted on university campuses, where they share their work and learn from professionals, faculty, and other students. It provides opportunities for participants to develop their theater skills and insight and become the theater professionals of tomorrow. Additionally, students can earn scholarships to attend the national festival in Washington, D.C.
In the past five years, 39 students have been recognized for the quality of their work at the festival, receiving more than 50 awards and seven scholarships to attend the national festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Also, in the past six years, five of our productions have been invited to be presented at the regional festival.