Written By: Isabel Rodriguez
In this year’s 49th Kennedy Center Festival, Fitchburg State is taking a handful of students to Western Connecticut State University for some academic competition – with a wild card in their deck. Stephanie Bisono, a senior theater major here at Fitchburg State, is of the few students nominated for the Irene Ryan scholarship. In 2016, Stephanie played Juror #11 in a rejuvenated version of 12 Angry Men, reinvented as 12 Angry Jurors. Shortly following the production, the adaptation of 12 Angry Men was received so successfully that it is currently being reprinted with the original castings of Fitchburg State students. Bisono paved the way with her character, thus receiving the Irene Ryan nomination. This award is given to a select amount of students for their outstanding performances from the previous year.
The Kennedy Center American College Theatre, also known as KCACTF, collects students from 600 academic institutions all over the country in what they are calling the “catalyst in improving the quality of College Theater”. The competition gives students a chance to showcase their talents in not only acting but also in directing, dramaturgy, playwriting, musical theater, and much more. This year’s 49th festival is taking place during January 31st through February 4th.
18,000 students are pulled from their universities to perform in front of judges. For students, as well as professionals, this is a tremendous opportunity for lovers of the art to see the ever-changing quality of what is produced at various colleges. In addition to the attendance of students and judges, 16 million theatre-goers attend, as well as 10,000 festival productions to see what this year has to produce in the world of theater from college students. This gives students a chance to begin networking and to get their branches tangled in the professional world of the arts before they graduate from their current universities.
As one of the few representatives of Fitchburg State, Bisono is showcasing a piece with another student, as well as a monologue of her own, bringing the old into new. In addition, she is a scene from Shakespeare’s own Romeo and Juliet and adding her own personal touch. Showcasing her versatile acting ability, she performs the monologue in both English and Spanish. Her bilingual performance will shed light on not only the diversity of the university itself but will put a spotlight on the emergence of latina actresses in the theater and film industry.