Augustana Theatre Productions Earn Kennedy Center Honors; Actors, Playwrights, Designers Recognized

Scenes from award winning Augustana theatre productions (left to right) "Unnecessary Farce," "When the World Was Wild and Waste" and "How Are You?"

Three Augustana theatre productions recently earned regional honors from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, a national theater program involving 20,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide. In addition, a number of Augustana students and faculty members also received awards for playwriting, scenic design, acting and presenting. 

The awards were presented at the KCACTF Region 5 Festival held in January in Des Moines, Iowa. Region 5 includes the states of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. 

The following AU productions earned honors: 

  • "Unnecessary Farce" (premiered April 2016)
    Awards for: 
  • "When the World Was Wild and Waste" (premiered September 2016)
    Awards for:
    • Playwriting, Dr. Richard W. Swanson (religion)
    • Music Composition, Dr. John Pennington (music)
    • Direction, Jayna Fitzsimmons (theatre)
    • Scenic Design, Alex Meyer ’18 (Faculty advisors: Rj Fitzsimmons and Jayna Fitzsimmons)
    • Collaborative Compilation of a Performance Piece, AU creative team (Jayna Fitzsimmons, Dr. Richard W. Swanson, Dr. John Pennington, Rj Fitzsimmons, Cindy Bakke, Alex Meyer ’18, Kaitlin Fleet ’17, Matthew Schilling ’17, Sara Crosby, Juvyan Abobakr ’20, Sage Backer ’18, Joscelyn Schipper ’19, and Alyssa Volmer-Johnson ’19)
    • Stage Management, Kaitlin Fleet ’17 (Faculty advisor: Jayna Fitzsimmons)
  • ACTS production of How Are You? (premiered October 2016)
    Award for: 
    • Playwriting, Ian Curtis ’16 (Faculty advisor: Jayna Fitzsimmons)

Playwriting and Scenic Design 

Two Augustana students earned honors for playwriting and scenic design:

  • "Antlers," a play by Kyle Marks '17, earned one of the top playwriting awards for 10-minute plays in the region. "Antlers" was one of two 10-minute plays from Region 5 selected to advance to the national conference at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.  The play was also selected to be workshopped and performed as part of the Gary Garrison Ten-Minute Play Festival at the regional festival. (Faculty advisor: Jayna Fitzsimmons)
  • Alex Meyer '18 won the National Scenic Design Award for Region 5 for "When the World Was Wild and Waste." Meyer will advance on to present his design at the KCACTF national conference at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in April.  (Faculty advisors: Rj Fitzsimmons and Jayna Fitzsimmons). 

Scholarship Nominees

Throughout the season, six Augustana actors were nominated for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship competition:

  • Eli Yackel-Julee '17
  • Kyle Marks '17
  • Joscelyn Schipper '19
  • Sage Backer '18
  • Bailey Franzen '18
  • Malia Lukomski '19

Of Augustana's six nominees, three were able to compete in the Irene Ryan Acting audition. These students were coached by Dan Workman and Jayna Fitzsimmons:

  • Sage Backer with partner Alyssa Volmer-Johnson
  • Malia Lukomski with partner Andrew Canaan
  • Kyle Marks with partner Juvyan Abobakr


The following Augustana faculty and staff presented at the festival: 

  • Cindy Bakke, Augustana Costume Shop director, presented on “The Elements of Creativity: Not as Mysterious as You Think.”
  • Jayna Fitzsimmons and Dr. Richard Swanson presented on “Provoking the Text: Staging Unconventional Performance Pieces.”
    • Fitzsimmons also was invited to assistant direct the premiere staged reading of "A Crossover Dream" by Migdalia Cruz, as part of the JFK Plays, a reading series that featured plays newly commissioned by the Kennedy Center. The cast included students from all over the region. 
  • Rj Fitzsimmons presented on “Just Say No to Walls ... And Doors ... And Windows.”

Scene Showcase

Of the 243 associate productions in Region 5 over the past year, just eight were selected to bring a scene for performance at the opening ceremonies of the regional conference.  A scene from Augustana’s "When the World Was Wild and Waste" was among the eight scenes featured. Actors Sara Crosby, Juvyan Abobakr ’20, Sage Backer ’18, Malia Lukomski ’20, and Alyssa Volmer-Johnson ’19 performed the 10-minute scene, “Charlie,” on the main stage at the Des Moines Civic Center. The performance also featured Cindy Bakke’s costume design for the show.