Oklahoma Baptist University

Theatre Earns Commendations for Regional Competition

Laura Byland recently earned commendations for directing the production of the Shaker story “As It Is In Heaven.”

Oklahoma Baptist University Theatre continues to garner awards for its fall 2008 production of "As It Is In Heaven," by playwright Arlene Hutton. Laura S. Byland, Dr. Joyce Spivey Aldridge and Lacy Hutchinson recently earned commendations from the National Selection Team for Region VI of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACFT) for the play, a historical drama set in the Shaker village of Pleasant Hill, Ky., in the early 19th century.

The commendations were based on OBU Theatre's performance of the play at the Region VI festival which was conducted at Texas State University - San Marcos Feb. 24-28, 2009. The award reflects distinguished achievement among the productions invited to the regional festival.

At the festival, OBU Theatre's production received the Richard A. Weaver Award, which honors the best play in the festival as chosen by directors participating in the regional competition. In honor of the award, the group received a large silver cup trophy. The name of the school, the name of the director, and the title of the play will be engraved on the side. The trophy travels to the winning school each year.

Byland, OBU associate professor and director of theatre, earned commendations for directing. She came to OBU in 1992 and has served as director of theatre since 2001. She has created outstanding scenic and lighting designs for numerous collegiate, community and commercial theatres; designed make-up and costumes; and directed productions. She developed and is the director of OBU's Theatre for Young Audiences which presents a children's production each spring semester that is performed for nearly 3,000 area students. She previously earned a KCACFT awards for Excellence in Set Design.

"I am just thrilled," Byland said. "I never expected this recognition. I hope all the awards have an amazing, positive impact on OBU theatre and our careers. We may be small, but we are mighty!"

Aldridge, associate professor of theatre, received commendations for her performance as Sister Hannah in the play. Aldridge has taught for more than 18 years with emphasis on theatre theory, history and practice. In addition to teaching all levels of OBU Theatre courses, she has served as director, actor, dialect coach, choreographer and faculty mentor on numerous productions since coming to OBU in 2001. She was the 2006 recipient of the OBU Promising Teacher Award.

"A great role, director, cast and crew created the circumstances that allowed me to receive this distinction," Aldridge said. "I thank them for their work with me."

Lacy Hutchinson, a junior from Longview, Texas, earned commendation for her performance as Sister Peggy. In this role, Hutchinson also competed in the Regional Irene Ryan Acting Competition, advancing to the semi-final round. The Irene Ryan Foundation awards 19 regional awards and two fellowships annually through the Kennedy Center Festival.

"This entire journey through ‘As It Is In Heaven' has been simply incredible - this award is just the cherry on top of the icing on top of the cake!" Hutchinson said. "The play itself was inspiring, and the fact that we advanced made me so proud of our theatre and what we are able to accomplish as a company.

"Being recognized on a national level hasn't even hit me yet," she said. "I never actually believe that my performances are ‘award worthy,' but this is something that all actors aspire to achieve. I believe that my acting should inspire [the audience,] and in being recognized by these judges, I accomplished my goal!"

Other institutions receiving commendations for Region 6 include Texas State University, West Texas A&M University, University of Oklahoma and Centenary College. Recipients received certificates mailed from the Kennedy Center.

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