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Seven Penn Staters Recognized for Excellence in New York City African American Theatre

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Penn State production of "Blood at the Root"

Seven Penn Staters are among the nominees for the annual Audience Development Committee Inc. (AUDELCO) “Viv” Awards, which honor excellence in New York City African American theatre. The awards were named for Vivian Robinson, who established AUDELCO in 1973, and will be presented at a ceremony on November 21.

Wendell Franklin (’06 M.F.A. Acting), assistant professor of theatre at Penn State, was nominated for Lead Actor in a Play for his role in “Skeleton Crew,” produced by Atlantic Theatre Company.

Steve Broadnax (’02 M.F.A. Acting), head of the M.F.A. Acting program and associate artistic director for outreach for the Penn State School of Theatre, was nominated for Direction of a Musical for his work on “The First Noel,” co-produced by Classical Theatre of Harlem and Penn State Centre Stage.

Dan Robinson, head of design and production programs for the School of Theatre, was nominated for his set design for “The First Noel.”

William Kenyon, associate professor in lighting design, and Nathan Hawkins (’15 B.F.A. Design and Technology) were nominated for their lighting design for “Blood at the Root,” produced by Penn State Centre Stage and presented by National Black Theatre and Hi-Arts.

Liz Sokolak (’16 B.F.A. Design and Technology) was nominated for her sound design for “Blood at the Root.”

John McKenna, who studied sound design at Penn State, was nominated for his sound design for “Macbeth,” produced by Classical Theatre of Harlem.

In addition, “The First Noel,” under Broadnax’s direction, was nominated for Musical Production of the Year, as well as receiving nods for Choreography; Outstanding Performance in a Musical – Female (Tina Fabrique and Ashley Ware Jenkins); and Outstanding Performance in a Musical – Male (Nathaniel Stampley). “The First Noel” was co-produced by Penn State Centre Stage and Classical Theatre of Harlem.

Dan Carter, director of the School of Theatre, said the nominations reflect the talent and skills of the school’s faculty, students, and alumni. “We have had Tony, Oscar, and Emmy Award winners before, but this is a high water mark for Penn State and the School of Theatre in terms of sheer numbers. In addition to being a testament to the quality of our faculty and students, it’s also the direct result of our long-term commitment to diversity, as well as more recent initiatives related to the creation of new works and engagement with the profession."

For more on AUDELCO, visit audelco.org.

Image: Penn State production of "Blood at the Root" in March 2014