Student honors production presented at Kennedy Center Festival

SUNY Oswego’s student-run production “Honor and the River” was one of just a handful of plays in the Northeast competing at the Region II Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival from Jan. 13 to 17.

The festival, located in Philadelphia, aims to “recognize and celebrate the finest and most diverse work produced in university and college theater programs,” according to its Web site.

Kevin Hollenbeck, who directed the show’s campus run in November, described his first reaction on hearing of the selection as “disbelief.”

“I was skeptical at first,” said Hollenbeck, a senior theatre and cinema and screen studies major. “Once I found out it was official I was excited at the honor of being accepted into the festival and at the chance to perform the show once again for another audience.”

To prepare the coming-of-age drama/comedy for the festival, the running time had to be cut from more than 2 and a half hours to 2 hours and 15 minutes. Hollenbeck said to meet the required time, they cut as many scenes as possible without jeopardizing the storyline.

Characters’ entrances, exits and movements had to be changed to fit a stage with a different size and shape than the Tyler Hall lab theatre, where “Honor and the River” originally ran. The cast and crew used measurements to recreate the Kennedy festival space, the Arts Bank stage, inside of the college’s Waterman Theatre, Hollenbeck said.

It was the second straight year SUNY Oswego earned a spot in the prestigious showcase. The previous year’s student honors production, “Dora: A Case of Hysteria,” presented at the 2008 festival.

Senior graphic design major Elias “Joey” Gutierrez won a Region II Honorable Mention in Costume Design at the festival for his design of 34 outfits—consisting of 64 costume pieces—for the show’s four cast members. 

Gutierrez began working on the costumes for the show in May by reading the script and writing notes on possible designs. He began purchasing and building the costume pieces in September with work-study and “Introduction to Theatre” students helping with stitching and sewing. 

“Considering it was my first year at KCACTF, I was very pleased placing second,” he said.

But Gutierrez also took pride in the greater collaboration earning such high-profile recognition.

“I just want to say how proud I am of everyone involved in ‘Honor and the River,’” Gutierrez said. “It was a completely student-run show and to be able to make it to KCACTF for our second year was a big honor for us.”

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CONTACT: Kelly Cullinan, 312-3097,

(Posted: Feb 04, 2009)