Theater Department wins multiple awards at Kennedy Center

winning smiles—ELAC’s theater art students pose after recieving 12 awards at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival 51.

By Giselle Arroyo

East Los Angeles College and President Marvin Martinez were honored with a plaque for co-hosting the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival 51, Region 8. 

As co-hosts, ELAC was responsible for coordinating and assisting eight invited productions at the Los Angeles Theatre Center.

 “We’d be there in case they needed help loading in, or in case there were any issues,” Lisa Hashimoto Stone, Department Chair of the Theater Arts at ELAC, said.

ELAC’s performance of “Chavez Ravine,” directed by Ramiro Segovia, was among one of the eight productions invited. The “Chavez Ravine” production received a plaque for their participation.  

“Anything is possible if you put (in) the work and the time. They worked super hard and we have a really supportive faculty,” Stone said about the theater students.

Thirty ELAC students also participated in the KCACTF competition. 

Of those, eight nominated students and their partners competed in the Irene Ryan Scholarship Competition. Among those students, actress Jasia Topete received four awards.

“I had a really nice time. It was really enlightening,” Topete said.

 Topete received an Irene Ryan semi-finalist award, an Irene Ryan finalist award, the VASTA Voice and Speech Trainers Association Award, and an Honorable Mention for Classical Acting. She made it to the final round among 16 actors. Her partner in the competition, Christopher Barajas was also honored for advancing to the finals.

“To have one of our students who was born and bred in East LA win the award for the Voice and Speech award was huge…you just wouldn’t think an actor from East LA is going to win the speech award, and also she was an honorable mention which is second place for the classical acting award,” Stone said.

Region 8 sound design winner, Michael Moretta, will advance to the KCACTF nationals in Washington D.C. for his work in “Chavez Ravine.” Costume designer, Daniel Balladares, advanced to the finals. 

He was awarded the Focal Press KCACTF Award First Time Regional Entry for Costume Design for “Chavez Ravine.”

Along with Balladares, prop master Tim Valdovinos also made it to the final round. 

He was awarded the Focal Press KCACTF Award First Time Regional Entry for Prop Design for “Chavez Ravine.” 

“We’re really lucky to have such caring faculty and staff here because they really want us to succeed,” Topete said.

All three of ELAC’s design students were awarded The Don Child’s Collaboration Award and scholarships from the Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas for design collaboration on the ELAC production of “Chavez Ravine.”

“If you have the interest and the passion and the enthusiasm and the work ethic, those are the things that are going to get you as far as you want to go,” Stone said.

The KCACTF Golden Wrench award was given to ELAC mentor Francois Pierre Couture and ELAC for technical production at the Los Angeles Theatre Center.

“It is awesome to see that we’re coming from a really good program here at ELAC. It’s probably a better program than some of the four-years,” Topete said.

The workshops administered by ELAC faculty were “Financial Empowerment: Money Management for Theatre Artists” and “Revisiting Chavez Ravine.”

“I feel so proud. It took a long time to build this program and now that it’s solid, it’s just really exciting,” Stone said. 

KCACTF gives students the opportunity to participate in workshops that will help students improve their skills and prepare them for the professional                      theatre world. 

Competitions include design technology, management, dramaturgy, criticism, directing and playwriting.

“We have to make sure that our reputation is upheld, and that we’re always sending our best students,” Stone said.

  KCACTF is a national and annual event that is divided into eight regions, Southern and Central California are part of Region 8. Region 8 also includes Arizona, Utah, Southern Nevada, Guam      and Hawaii.

“Everybody here is always being proactive and trying to stand out and trying to do that extra thing that is going to get them further ahead,” Stone said.

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