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MBT Rep Scenic Designer Courtney Smith wins National KCACTF Award

From the University of Idaho
Directing & Scene Design Students Win National Awards
by Kelly O’Neill

Two University of Idaho Theatre Arts students received national awards at the Kennedy Center American College Festival in Washington, D.C., on April 18.

Kadin McGreevy of Moscow won first place in directing, receiving the Stage Directing and Choreographers National Directing Fellowship, a $500 cash prize and a residency, yet to be determined. (He shares the award with Hannah Grace Bellows, Western Connecticut State University.)

Courtney Smith of Ferndale, Washington, and a master’s candidate in scene design and technology, took home second place in The Kennedy Center Award for Excellence in Scenic Design.

“The ability for our students to represent their UI training on the national stage and gain more knowledge and connections is the perfect place to be as a department,” said Dean Panttaja, chair of UI Theatre Arts. “We revel in their success and accomplishments. We are proud for them.”

The weeklong festival, held April 13-18, was a positive learning experience for McGreevy, a junior at UI. Between the multitude of workshops were opportunities to meet other students and theater professionals.

“We gave feedback and had some amazing and hard conversations about each other’s work, which made us all better creators,” McGreevy said.

“A type of theater that can change the world is coming of age,” McGreevy said. “All the artists I met work so differently, but are all aimed at what John F. Kennedy said, etched on the walls of where we learned all week: ‘Our country cannot afford to be materially rich and spiritually poor.’ I am honored to be among this capable generation of world-changers.”

For the national festival, Smith recreated a display of his scenery design work for “The Cherry Orchard,” produced last April by UI Theatre Arts. His work attracted the attention of several industry professionals and Smith said the chance to meet and spend time with leading costume and set designers was invaluable.

“I learned different ways of collaborating with directors, from the initial design concepts to the final phase,” Smith said.

Smith collected more than a national award at the festival. He received job offers from highly respected industry talent, but graciously turned them down. Smith, who graduates in May, has accepted a position with Gonzaga University as an assistant professor of theater and dance, beginning next fall.

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