Rhode Island College Students Compete at This Week's American College Theater Festival 

More than 40 Rhode Island College students are competing for individual awards and honors at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in Hyannis, Mass. The festival, which runs from Jan. 29 through Feb. 3, showcases top college performances from throughout the region, including RIC's award-winning musical A-Mirror-Ca.

The students were invited to compete based on their outstanding performances in RIC productions Breaking the CodeThe Drowsy ChaperoneThe Miracle WorkerSylviaEurydice and A-Mirror-Ca: A Reflection of America’s Media-Driven Society. Some are vying for technical theater awards and honors, while a record 30 actors are competing for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship. 

“The fact that such a large volume of actors were selected by KCACTF to compete for the Irene Ryan Scholarship is a testament to the current outstanding talent we have at RIC,” said James Taylor, chair of RIC's Department of Music, Theatre and Dance. “It speaks to their dedication and effort to our program and their pursuit of excellence.”

Sixteen regional and two national Irene Ryan Scholarships are awarded annually.

The organizers of the festival also invited RIC to perform A-Mirror-Ca: A Reflection of America’s Media-Driven Society on Jan. 30. This musical production was written, directed and choreographed by RIC director of dance Angelica Vessella ’97, M’07. It began as an idea developed by Vessella and Jimmy Calitri ’04, M’07 while they were completing their Master of Fine Arts degrees at the college.

It explores the question: How much of what we believe is shaped by the media? It consists of a montage of stories based almost entirely on the personal experiences of cast members and tackles such issues as body image, being handicapped, aging and homosexuality.


In January 2012, A-Mirror-Ca won the Outstanding Writing, Ensemble and Execution Award by the American College Theatre Festival. It was the only award of its kind in Region I.

 “We are all so very excited,” said Taylor. “We not only look forward to the competition, but to the valuable workshops and performances that will be offered during the festival.”

The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival is a national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide that has served as a catalyst in improving the quality of college theater in the United States.

It has grown into a network of more than 600 academic institutions throughout the country, where theater departments and student artists showcase their work and receive outside assessment by KCACTF respondents.

The goals of the program are to encourage, recognize and celebrate the finest and most diverse work produced in university and college theater 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, as well as the classics, revitalized or newly conceived and experimental works.

The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival honors excellence of overall production and offers student artists individual recognition through awards and scholarships in playwriting, acting, criticism, directing and design.