Queensborough Community College Receives Flurry of Awards at 2017 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival
Queensborough Community College has received the Citizen Artist Award for anOTHER, a collaborative piece presented at the 2017 Region II Festival 49 of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) at Montclair University in January. The Citizen Artist Award recognized Queensborough for placing an urgent national conversation into the heart of a student-led theatrical production.
The play was written and directed by J. Julian Christopher (aka C. Julian Jiménez), Assistant Professor in the Department of Speech Communication and Theatre Arts, together with the student-led QCC Theatre Ensemble.
The production has also been acclaimed by the National Awards Committee at the 2017 Region II festival 49 of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, which awarded anOTHER the following honors: Distinguished Production of a new or devised work, Distinguished Director of a new or devised work, Distinguished Ensemble of a Play and Distinguished Performance by an Actress in a Play--Queensborough student Ksenia Volynkina.
anOTHER, which opened the main stage performances at the KCACTF, is an exploration of what it means to be “other” in America; a celebration of difference in a society that is more comfortable navigating within the status quo. The ensemble shared their personal stories about immigration, race relations, misogyny, homophobia, and gun control. One of the scenes centered on the aftershocks of the Pulse nightclub shooting.
Among those in the KCACTF audience was a director from Education and Outreach Associate for Equity Fights AIDS (EFA). He invited the cast for a more in-depth discussion of the play and will share the video taken of the play with the EFA organization.
“Our students' investment in their own work has brought them distinguished recognition,” said Professor Jiménez. “Many audience members I spoke with were curious to know what the process is to create a devised piece that is so personal. My personal playwriting work is now starting to expand in this direction thanks to anOTHER—there is a great deal of value in devised theatre.”
Professor Jiménez will have many more opportunities to create collaborative projects now that he has been named the new Director of UNIT52, an offshoot of INTAR, one of the longest-running Latino theatres in the U.S. INTAR is committed to the development of “theater arts without borders” and with UNIT52, more specifically, to bridging the gap between college and the professional theatre world.
During the campus run of anOTHER, the Artistic Director of INTAR, Lou Moreno, attended one of the shows and was especially impressed with two of the featured actors, Geovanny Guzman and Ksenia Volynkina. Geovanny and Ksenia were both invited to audition for the company and both were accepted.
They will join a company of actors who train one day a week for three months, and have access to master teachers, theatre artists and special guests. Each year, the training is determined by the needs and interests of the company in preparation for a public presentation of a play.
When asked to reflect on teaching the transcendent nature of the creative arts to his students, Professor Jiménez noted that, “Generating your own creative work is essential to becoming your own artist.”