ISU Theatre productions earn national Kennedy Center awards

CATEGORIES: News, Students
Cast of "Songs for a New World" on stage.
Cast of ISU Theatre’s “Songs for a New World.”

Two ISU Theatre productions earned multiple major national awards at the recent Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF).

Both ISU Theatre’s “Songs for a New World” and “Facing Our Truth: Ten Minute Plays on Trayvon, Race and Privilege” were honored with the Citizen Artist Award. Iowa State University was the only university to have two productions singled out for this award.

The Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Awards recognizes programs in higher education using theatrical production to promote long-term societal impact through the arts, to encourage empathetic exploration of the complex cultural and physical world and to advocate for justice on campus and throughout the world.

“Songs for a New World” was honored with additional KCACTF national awards in several categories celebrating outstanding achievement:

  • Special Achievement in Production of a Musical
  • Special Achievement in Production Design
  • Special Achievement in Production and Performance Ensemble Unity
  • Special Achievement in Direction by Brad Dell
  • Special Achievement in Scenic Design by Rob Sunderman
  • Special Achievement in Cinematography by Calvin Clark

“Facing Our Truth” was first performed at Iowa State in March 2021 and directed by Tiffany Johnson, assistant professor of theatre practice. “Songs for a New World,” directed by Iowa State Department of Music and Theatre chair Brad Dell with musical direction by Patrick Gagnon, was first performed at Iowa State in April 2021. Both productions were subsequently invited to perform at KCACTF’s Region 5 festival, held virtually in January 2022.

Student on stage
Heaven Booker and Keith Norman in ISU Theatre’s “Facing Our Truth.”

“We are incredibly proud that the work by our faculty, designers, and students has been recognized with these significant national awards,” Dell said. “Citizen artistry is a hallmark of our program, so it is particularly gratifying to be honored with this award.”

KCACTF is a national organization affiliated with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The organization celebrates and encourages excellence in college and university theatre across the country. Region 5 includes colleges and universities in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri.

About ISU Theatre

As a part of the Iowa State University Department of Music and Theatre, ISU Theatre seeks to empower citizen artistry by engaging students and the community in transformative theatre and performing arts experiences which examine the human condition, encourage lifelong learning, teach artistic skills, prepare professionals, inspire empathy, explore creativity, build relationships and embrace diversity. ISU Theatre administers a major and minor in performing arts and produces multiple theatre and performing arts productions throughout the year featuring performers, designers and technicians from throughout the university.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to participate in ISU Theatre events. If you require a reasonable accommodation to do so, please contact ISU Theatre at least one week prior to the event at or 515.294.2624.