Kaitlin Mackenzie wins national theatre award

In April, Kaitlin Mackenzie, ’11, will be a guest of the Kennedy Center during their American College Theatre Festival in Washington, D.C.

Mackenzie, a theatre and English double major and history minor, submitted a paper to the Kennedy Center and won first place among 46 other entries from college students nation-wide. The essay was entitled “The Innovation of Adaption: The History and Artistic Contributions of Shared Experience Theatre Company.”

The award-winning paper was written for Professor of Theatre and Communication Arts Beth Watkins’s Junior Seminar.

“I wrote the paper last semester, about halfway through my Junior Sem class,” Mackenzie said. “But I didn’t submit it to the Kennedy Center until right after Christmas, and then I sort of forgot about it.”

Mackenzie’s father, a theatre professor who sometimes does adjudications for acting at the Kennedy Center, convinced Mackenzie to send in her paper. Mackenzie also received support from Watkins, who originally encouraged Mackenzie to submit her work to a festival or competition and Mark Cosdon, assistant professor of communication arts/theatre and Daniel Crozier, associate professor of communication arts/theatre.

“I had originally encouraged Kaitlin to send it in to another competition through the Midwest Theatre Conference,” Watkins said. “But she had to withdraw because the timing conflicted with the production of ‘Angels in America.’ She was the one who really took initiative.”

Watkins has worked with Mackenzie in both an academic setting and a theatre setting.

“Kaitlin is an extremely articulate writer,” Watkins said. “She is interested in both literature and performance, so I think this topic was appealing to her. She was very effective in her analysis of this specific theatre company, and she wrote a beautiful essay.”

Mackenzie’s paper analyzed the U.K.-based Shared Experience Theatre Company, which produces adaptations of British literature.

“The company started off very actor-based, with no costumes,” Mackenzie said. “Then they started using more traditional conventions of theatre.

Adaptation has been their claim to fame since the beginning. They performed a six-hour production of ‘War and Peace,’ which sounds long, but is really quite abridged-reinterpreted is a better way of putting it. The company is all about that kind of reinterpretation, where their own thoughts are brought to the piece.”

Mackenzie will receive $1,000 from the Kennedy Center when she attends the awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.

“The awards festival lasts for about a week, but I can only go for the last three days because of a student production,” Mackenzie said. “I hope I’ll get to see some of the plays.”

Mackenzie plans on developing her senior comprehensive project based on Shared Experience Theatre Company. After graduation, she hopes to attend graduate school and earn an MFA in acting. Long-term, Mackenzie hopes to get her Ph.D. in theatre history and teach at the college level.