As the devastating earthquakes hit Haiti, over one thousand students and faculty members from university theater programs across the region, along with dozens of professionals from around the country, were headed to Indiana and the IUP campus. Over 1,200 in number, they were on their way to the Region 2 Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF).
As the participants and regional leadership followed the news on television, radio, and the Internet, it was clear that the attendees needed to respond in whatever way they could.
To that end and prior to the introduction of the keynote speaker—actor Bill Pullman—on Thursday, January 14, 2010, the chairperson of the IUP Department of Theater and Dance, Brian Jones, announced that a collection would be started and every attendee would be asked to donate whatever they could. Spontaneous and heartfelt cheers and applause erupted in the near-capacity crowd in Fisher Auditorium of the IUP Performing Arts Center.
In his appeal to the highly receptive audience, Jones, who also serves as the festival’s local host chairperson, commented, “We serve our common humanity by using these gifts to create reflections that help mankind view itself on stage. Our festival is an example of how we help each other by coming together and sharing our talents and knowledge.
“Today, we also reflect on the privilege we experience by gathering together for such a festival. When a tragedy such as the earthquakes in Haiti occurs, we are reminded that our artistic gifts carry with them a responsibility to serve our common humanity worldwide.”
Regional KCACTF chair Juliet Wunsch, from West Chester University, announced this morning (Friday, January 15) that the festival’s leadership had chosen Partners in Health to be the conduit for distributing the funds. “This is a well-established and highly regarded health and human service organization with decades of sustained humanitarian success in Haiti,” Wunsch said.
In reaction to this effort, the dean of IUP’s College of Fine Arts, Michael Hood, added, “The College of Fine Arts at IUP congratulates and commends the regional and local leadership of the Region 2 KCACTF for their efforts to support the victims of the earthquakes. We have been touched by the willingness of the festival participants to take time from their celebrations and competitions to give thought and donations to those in such desperate need.”
The amount collected will be announced at the festival’s closing ceremonies, to be held at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 16. If others would like to donate to the cause on behalf of the Region 2 KCACTF, they may send a check, payable to “Partners in Health,” to the Department of Theater and Dance, IUP, 104 Waller Hall, Indiana, PA 15705
The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival honors excellence of overall production and offers student artists individual recognition through awards and scholarships in playwriting, acting, criticism, directing, and design. KCACTF is divided into eight regions, with IUP being part of Region 2, encompassing Pennsylvania, seven neighboring states, and the District of Columbia.