The act of competition

Fresh from its world premiere on the New Paltz stage, “Red Masquerade” by Associate Professor Jack Wade has been selected for the Kennedy Center’s American College Theatre Festival in January 2010.

Wade’s play, which was directed by New Paltz lecturer Stephen Kitsakos, was nominated for and selected as a finalist in both the production and playwriting categories at the renowned festival, which will be held at the University of New Hampshire in Durham from Jan. 26 to 31. “Red Masquerade” was one of only two plays selected for the David Mark Cohen Award playwriting competition.

“Our students are over the moon about going to compete in this very prestigious festival,” said Kitsakos. “We are one of six productions that were selected – from over 100 in our region – it’s a chance to show off, not only our performers, but also our design and tech students who collaborated to create the world of the play.”

The winning play of the regional festival will be performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

“Getting to the Kennedy Center would, of course, be a tremendous opportunity, and we will work very hard to try our best to make that happen,” said Kitsakos.

“Although the Theatre Department regularly has individuals selected in different categories, I believe this is the first time in New Paltz history that an entire production has been selected for the regional festival,” said Mary Hafeli, dean of the School of Fine and Performing Arts. “Needless to say, we’re all very excited that the play was not only produced here under the direction of one of our faculty members, but it was also written by one of our faculty members.”

Set in 1942, “Red Masquerade” is based on the real-life story of Angela Calomiris, a key witness in the sensational trial of the Communist 11, a group that was convicted of trying to overthrow the U.S. government in 1949.

The production makes extensive use of interactive multimedia. Wade, who is also a scenographer, helps create a world of black versus white that is exploited through the use of modern theater technology.

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

Through state, regional, and national festivals, participants celebrate the creative process, see one another’s work, and share experiences and insights within the community of theater artists, offering awards and scholarships in playwriting, acting, criticism, directing, and design.