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Talented Students Bring Home Awards

Three Berea College students were invited to participate in the annual Kennedy Center's American College Theatre Festival--and each student brought home awards in their sections. The competition was so intense that participants had to be nominated to even compete.

Students Honce, Rowland, Usher were recently honored at KCACTF

Christian Honce won the Region IV Short Play award for his piece "Our Belonging" which is set to be produced by the Berea College Theatre Laboratory in the 2008-2009 season. This play has also been invited to be performed at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro during the next regional festival. "Our Belonging" is also in the running for a national award and, if it wins, Honce may have the opportunity to have it published by Samuel French, one of the largest dramatic publishing companies in the world.

Honce reminisced, "I was extremely happy when I heard my name called, but nothing compares to the rush I felt when I heard Thomas and Paul's names being called for winning Sound Design. They put so much into the work they do. I was ecstatic when they went onstage--this was the first award a student at Berea had won."

Thomas Usher and Paul Rowland received the KCACTF Sound Design award for their region for their work on the score and sound design of Berea College’s production of Julius Caesar. They now have the opportunity to present their sound design to a panel of professionals who will judge them as they compete against seven other regions.

Rowland and Usher actually worked on their projects separately and only came together when there were just a few weeks until opening night. Usher handled all of the modern music while Rowland took on the orchestral music. The judges were impressed with how the pieces seemed to work together cohesively. Both students took different approaches to designing the music:

"Thomas Usher and I split the writing duties on Julius Caesar," Rowland remarked. "He handled all of the modern music, while I handled all of the orchestral music." Rowland wrote the orchestral pieces based solely off of the script after reading the scene and identifying the mood that he thought was being conveyed. Usher, on the other hand, would go to the rehearsals and watch the way the actors were portraying the scene. Rowland said, "You would not think that our two styles would work together. Of course, there is an old saying that truly explains this...'All roads lead to Rome.'"

Honce, Usher and Rowland seemed surprised they had won even though many of their fellow students had complimented their work. Usher, who had won a few acting awards in high school, was nervous after reading a few criticisms on the convocation cards, thinking "If my peers don't dig it, what are the chances that actual professional designers dig it?" His fears were obviously unfounded--the judges thought he had nailed it.

When asked about his reaction, Rowland responded, "Absolutely, it was a shock. When the finalists were announced Thomas and I were both surprised. We figured that it had come down to three schools, then it was only two schools: Clemson and Berea! The winner and runner up were announced after an evening play performance. The runner up was announced, when Thomas and I heard the team from Clemson being announced, we both started stifling our screams. We heard, 'The winner is Pa...' That was all we heard! The voices of our fellow Bereans drowned out the rest of the announcement!"

Honce, who, while in high school, had won the Shakespeare Competition hosted by the English Speaking Union of Louisville plans to attend the KCACTF every year and also compete in both the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Competition and the National Playwriting Project. This of course depends on him being nominated first, about he mused, "We have a lot of fantastic talent and it would be arrogant of me to plan on being nominated when there are so many capable actors and playwrights here." Honce planning to move to New York City to pursue his acting and writing career.

Honce, Rowland and Usher all plan to continue in performing arts area with Usher pursuing a theatre major and a music minor. He is currently involved in a project titled "The 86ers," a collaboration of different styles of music which he has been writing and recording. Usher even has a short CD recorded and available and wants to work with anyone interested in producing music. Rowland is also pursuing music and is focusing on composition and designing music for video games, film, and stage.

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