Becky Becker, professor of theatre in the Clemson University Department of Performing Arts, received the Kennedy Center Gold Medallion Award at the 54th Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival region IV. Each year, the eight KCACTF regions honor individuals or organizations that have made extraordinary contributions to the teaching and producing of theatre and who have significantly dedicated their time, artistry and enthusiasm to the development of the festival. The award is the most prestigious regional honor given by the organization.
KCACTF is a national theatre program reaching 18,000 college and university students annually. In January and February each year, the eight regions host a festival to showcase productions, offer workshops and celebrate student work. The award is in recognition of Becker’s work with the National Playwriting Program, which supports student playwrights in their development of new, original work through performances and dramaturgical practice. Becker served the organization for the past nine years. “I gave a lot of time, but so many people give their to the organization. It’s humbling, because there are so many people who should be recognized.” Becker addressed.
Becker has almost a decade of service to the organization, but her relationship with KCACTF began as an undergraduate student at Minot State University in North Dakota. She attended the festival every year and names it as a formative experience in her education. The festival gave her the opportunity to meet other artists and students studying theatre. “We saw plays from all over the region. I loved that. It was extremely important for me as someone in the middle of the Midwest to get the opportunity to do that.” The medallion is not her first recognition from KCACTF. As a graduate student, she participated in the National Critics Institute and received an award for her work.
When she began working as a professor of theatre at Columbus State University, Becker started to meet colleagues involved with the administrative side of the festival. She served as response coordinator for states in region IV where respondents travel across the region to give feedback on productions at member universities. As she became more involved in the organization, her colleagues approached her to take on a larger role. A space in the playwriting program became available and Becker knew it would be a great fit. She was ready to give back to the organization that had supported her since her days as a student. In 2015, she was appointed as vice chair for three years, then assumed the role of regional chair for three more. Part of her role as chair was to mentor the vice chair, Lee Shackleford, who has now stepped into the role of chair. During her tenure with the National Playwriting Program, Becker navigated the program through a snow storm, a tornado and COVID-19. Lisa Abbott, current Chair for KCACTF Region IV, reflects on Becker’s contribution to the festival, “I cannot think of a single person who better represents what this award means than Dr. Becker. She is a champion for all students and most especially for new work. She has helped guide young playwrights from all over the country with her work for KCACTF.”
Now, Becker has brought her passion for new play development to Clemson. The first production she directed for the Clemson Players, the Department’s theatre ensemble, was a world premiere by playwright and former student Kimberly Belflower in November 2019. Belflower traveled to campus to speak with the cast and creative team of her play “John Proctor is the Villain.” Working directly with a playwright to mount a new production offers a different experience. The students become more embedded in the creative process. Along with her colleagues in the Department of Performing Arts, Becker has prioritized a dedication to new work. Next on the horizon, Becker will direct “Split in Three” by Daryl Lisa Fazio. Fazio will visit campus to speak with Becker’s dramaturgy class and the cast. The production opens on Monday, April 18, 2022 in the Bellamy Theatre at the Brooks Center.
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