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Gregg Henry, Co-Manager, Artistic Director for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, accepted the USITT Award during the Awards Banquet which closed the 2009 Annual Conference & Stage Expo in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Photo/Tom Thatcher

KCACTF Receives USITT Award

USITT presented one of its highest awards to KC/ACTF during the Awards Banquet at the 2009 Annual Conference & Stage Expo. Gregg Henry accepted the accolade on behalf of the organization. Here are the introductory remarks for the award.

John Uthoff
USITT Past President

When I returned from Vietnam in 1971, I worked on two productions at the University of Iowa that were invited to participate in a fairly new organization called the American College Theatre Festival. One was a production of Marat/Sade and the other an arena production of Story Theatre. The festival was at what is now Webster University. I had never been at such an event in my life. There were design exhibitions, auditions, and shows every night. Immediately after each performance, the critics would take the stage and tell everyone at the production what they thought was right and what they thought was wrong. After it was over, we took apart the set and took the show back to Iowa.

Such was my introduction to an organization that I have been closely aligned with since -- until stepping down as USITT’s Representative to KCACTF last year.

KCACTF was founded by Roger L. Stevens in 1969. The earliest National Festivals were performed in tents on the National Mall. Since those beginnings, the program has grown into a network of more than 600 academic institutions throughout the country and involves 18,000 students yearly. Theatre departments and student artists showcase their work and are critiqued, both at home, and at eight regional festivals. The winners attend workshops with theatre professionals in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere each year and are awarded scholarships and opportunities that may launch their careers.

The goals of KCACTF are in harmony with many of the goals of USITT:

  • to encourage, recognize, and celebrate the finest and most diverse work produced in university and college theatre programs;
  • to provide opportunities for participants to develop their theater skills and insight; and achieve professionalism;
  • to improve the quality of college and university theater in America;
  • to encourage colleges and universities to give distinguished productions of new plays, especially those written by students; the classics, revitalized or newly conceived; and experimental works.

KCACTF has become the organization where we can go to meet other professionals outside of technical theatre, management, and design. It is where the playwrights, the critics, the directors, the actors, converge, do workshops, and talk into the night. It has become an essential part of this country’s theatre fabric.

It is with great pleasure that I present USITT’s highest award, the USITT Award -- given to recognize a lifetime contribution to the performing arts community -- to the Kennedy Center American College Theatre program.

The plaque reads:

USITT Award 2008

Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival

In recognition for the advancement of theatre over the past forty years and providing a catalyst for quality theatre involving over 18,000 students throughout the United States annually. KCACTF has enriched the lives of over 400,000 college and university students through a nationally renowned festival. We honor your extraordinary commitment to education and the advancement of the performing arts community.

Board of Directors

Cincinnati, Ohio

March 2009

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