During the fall 2022 semester, Salve Regina’s theater program featured two groundbreaking performances, titled “The Bible Women’s Project” and “The Strindberg Experiment”, which challenged audiences to examine themes related to gender and sexuality. The program’s hard work to tackle difficult themes has paid off, and both of these productions are now recognized by the Northeast Regional Division of the Kennedy Center American Theater College Festival (KCACTF), which runs January 31-February 5 in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

“The Bible Women’s Project” has been selected to play in its entirety at KCACTF’s Northeast Regional Division. Along with this achievement, Winder Landaverde ’23 and Nathan Nelson ’23 were both nominated for the Irene Ryan Acting Award for their performances in “The Strindberg Experiment”. Anna Anese ’26, who is an actress in “The Bible Women’s Project”, was also chosen for the musical theater semi-final.

“The Bible Women’s Project” will hold an encore performance here in Salve Regina on Monday, January 30 at 7 p.m. in the Chapel of Our Lady of Mercy. It’s free and open to the public, but attendees can donate at the door.

Celebration of the “Bible Project for Women”

The Kennedy Center American Theater College Festival is an annual national theater program involving 18,000 college and university students across the country. There are eight regional festivals held in January and February leading up to the national festival in Washington, D.C.

The goal is to celebrate the finest and most diverse works produced in university and college theater programs across the country.

“The mission of the festival’s selected performances is to highlight creative and impactful new ways in which theater is changing in the country,” explained Dr. Tara Brooke Watkins, Theater Program Director at Salve Regina. “So the fact that ‘The Bible Women’s Project’ was selected means that festival speakers believe that Salve Theater is actually working to change the way theater is done in America.”

If “The Bible Women’s Project” is well received at the regional festival, the cast has the opportunity to go to the national festival in Washington, DC, at the end of the semester.

The students are performing in “The Bible Women’s Project” in the fall of 2022.

“It could mean that Salve Regina will become a place to go if you want to do hard-hitting, experimental theater that makes a difference in people’s lives,” Dr. Watkins said.

“The Bible Women’s Project” also shows how Salve Regina’s mission can come to life both on and off stage, according to Dr. Watkins.

“‘The Bible Women’s Project’ seems to be in the tradition of the Sisters of Mercy,” Dr. Watkins said. “These are stories of women and women who take the space to talk about their experiences. It shows women teaching, using education and theater to act as a hand of mercy to women who have long been misunderstood, misrepresented and abused.

Artists nominated for the Irene Ryan Acting Award

The Irene Ryan Acting Award is a scholarship for students who have demonstrated great depth in their acting abilities. In order to compete for this scholarship, nominated students must perform to qualify for the semi-finals by performing two contrasting monologues.

If they make it to the semi-finals, they must play a scene with another partner from the KCACTF Northeast Regional Division. If they go past this round for the final, they will have to perform their monologues and scenes again.

They can then receive the honor of competing at the national festival.

Winder Landaverde, 23, played Miss Julie in “The Strindberg Experiment” and is nominated for the Irene Ryan Acting Award.

Nathan Nelson ’23 played Adolf in “The Strindberg Experiment” and is nominated for the Irene Ryan Acting Award.

“Strindberg’s characters are not easy to approach, even for professional actors, so the fact that these two students took on such tortured roles to show the inner turmoil of gender identity struggles in the 19e century was very demanding and risky,” said Dr Watkins. “Winder and Nathan did it with such intense commitment that it made acting effortless.”

Dr. Watkins was also invited to be one of two faculty members to direct a one-act act at the festival.

“Overall, I think Salve’s theater program already stands out and will only stand out more when our students perform there,” said Dr. Watkins.

Students who participated in any of the Fall 2022 productions were invited to attend the KCACTF Northeast Regional Division, including stage managers, playwrights, technical crew, and actors. At this time, all cast and crew from “The Bible Women’s Project” are present, as well as five actors, the stage manager and a playwright from “The Strindberg Experiment”. In total, about twenty students are present.

“We believe in the power of theater to change lives, change the culture and perspective of groups of people, and ultimately be used as an act of mercy to people in the audience who might identify with the stories on stage. “, said Dr. Watkins. “Both plays were about rethinking everything we thought we knew about certain stories and people and introducing us to new stories we hadn’t heard.”


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