Lawrence Resident Receives Award at Kennedy Center’s American College Theater Festival

Ten Salem State students receive awards in every category entered in regional competition, five will move on to national competition in Washington, DC

  Christopher Vega 

SALEM, MA –Chris Vega, of Lawrence, was named the Region 1 finalist for the National Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship in an annual theatre competition sponsored by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. A total of ten Salem State University students won a total of ten regional awards. The Kennedy Center’s American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) is a national theater program involving 20,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide each year.

 Vega is one of five Salem State students to be named a regional finalist this year and will go on to compete at the national competition at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in Washington, DC this April.

 A total of 50 schools participate in region 1 from Eastern NY, CT, NY, RI, MA, MH, VT, and ME. Salem State won awards in every category entered and represented significant numbers in the finalist pools in several categories. For the Irene Ryan acting award, Salem State represented 31 percent of the finalist pool and Salem State students placed in first, second, and third. Similarly, three of the four director finalists were from Salem State, making up 75 percent of the finalist pool.

 All students were honored in their fields during the Northeast regional KCACTF festival held at Cape Cod Community College. Of the eight KCACTF regions, each region sends its winning students in acting, directing, playwriting, and technical theatre to the national festival.

“This is an unprecedented sweep of awards and fellowships earned by our students here in the Salem State University Theatre and Speech Communication department. It speaks volumes about the incredible mentorship of our faculty and staff, the professionalism of our productions, and the tireless work ethic and dedication of our student artists,” said Peter Sampieri, chair of the theater and speech communication department.

 Among KCACTF’s goals are those “to encourage, recognize, and celebrate the finest and most diverse work produced in university and college theater programs” as well as “to provide opportunities for participants to develop their theater skills and insight and achieve professionalism.” The festival “honors excellence of overall production and offers student artists individual recognition through awards and scholarships in playwriting, acting, criticism, directing, and design.”

 To learn more about Salem State University’s theatre and speech communication program, click here.

Tom Duggan

Tom Duggan

Tom Duggan is president and publisher of The Valley Patriot Newspaper in North Andover, Massachusetts. He is an author, host of the Paying Attention TV/Radio Program, lectures on media bias and police issues, is a former Lawrence School Committeeman, former political director for Mass. Citizens Alliance, and a 1990 Police Survivor. You can email your comments to

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