USC Upstate Theatre Receives National Honors

Production wins multiple Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival awards

Two actors on stage

USC Upstate Theatre has received eight Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival awards for its production of “Gruesome Playground Injuries.” The play was directed by associate professor of theatre Laura Rikard and starred students Noah Deal and Lyric Dukes.

“We are so proud of our theatre program and congratulate them on these awards,” said Tanya Boone, dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, & Social Sciences at USC Upstate. “Year after year, our outstanding faculty lead our talented students in creating high-quality productions. I’m grateful that their hard work and talent are recognized by the KCACT Festival. Bravo!”

Upstate Theatre performed “Gruesome Playground Injuries” in London last summer as part of the FUSE International Festival. The play, by Rajiv Joseph, examines the complex relationship and unconventional love story of Doug and Kayleen, who first meet in the nurse’s office of their elementary school.

Upstate Theatre was then invited to perform the play in February at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Region IV Festival. Upstate was one of only four finalists to be selected from a group of 14 semifinalists. The honor qualified Upstate for national recognition.

Lee Neibert, professor and director of theatre at USC Upstate, called the eight awards “unprecedented” for the theater program.

“The many accolades bestowed on us by the Kennedy Center is a testament to the great work our faculty is doing with students and the wonderful growth we are experiencing,” Neibert said.

Upstate Theatre received the following awards:

  • Outstanding Achievement in the Facilitation of a Brave Rehearsal Space
  • Distinguished Production of a Play (1 of 2)
  • Distinguished Achievement in Direction of a Play: Laura Rikard
  • Distinguished Achievement in Performance: Noah Deal and Lyric Dukes
  • Distinguished Achievement in Ensemble Performance
  • Distinguished Achievement in Production Design
  • Distinguished Achievement in Lighting Design:  Kaylynn Wright
  • Distinguished Achievement in Sound Design:   Lola Mann

“I congratulate our talented faculty and students for this noteworthy achievement,” said USC Upstate Chancellor Bennie L. Harris, Ph.D. “They have put in a phenomenal amount of time and effort to achieve this level of success, and have been rewarded with recognition at the highest level. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”