Theater Students Selected for Prestigious Kennedy Center Festival

Cloyd-in-Metamorphoses-crpd2-for-web.jpgFor the first time in Santa Monica College history, an SMC student has qualified to compete for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship this April in the prestigious Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival’s national competition in Washington, D.C.

In addition, also marking a first for the college, a student will be competing in the stage manager’s competition in the nation’s capital.

Anthony Cloyd of Santa Monica, a theatre arts major at SMC, bested approximately 200 other student actors in the festival’s regional competition, held earlier this month at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. Cloyd, 23, who won a $250 scholarship for his showing, was the only community college student to compete in the finals in Utah; the rest were from four-year universities. (One other student from the regional competition will be going to the Kennedy Center.)

Cloyd will be one of 16 students from the eight regions of the U.S. competing in Washington, D.C. Two students will be selected as winners of the Irene Ryan competition and will each be awarded a $3,000 scholarship.

His scene partner, 22-year-old Celia Rivera of Baldwin Hills, an SMC alumna now at USC, will also go to Washington, D.C. and will be eligible for the $250 Kingsley Colton Award for Best Partner.

“Anthony and Celia had great chemistry in their scenes,” said SMC Theatre Arts Department chair Perviz Sawoski. “Their performance was free of affectation and they were having fun with the scenes, which were well prepared and handled with clarity and specificity. We are very proud of them.”

In addition, 20-year-old Alycia Perez of Westchester will go to the Kennedy Center after winning the regional contest in stage managing, where she competed against 18 other students.

“Alycia Perez is an organized and hard-working stage manager wearing many hats,” Sawoski said. “One of her greatest attributes is working effectively under pressure. She definitely deserves this honor.”

Cloyd and Rivera performed scenes from two plays, “The Talented Tenth” by Richard Wesley and “The Colored Museum” by George C. Wolfe. Cloyd and Rivera have known each other for more than three years and worked on several SMC productions together, including August Wilson’s “King Hedley II.” 

They will perform the same scenes at the Kennedy Center as they did in Utah, and Cloyd will also repeat a monologue from Shakespeare’s “Troilus and Cressida” that he performed at the regionals.

Cloyd, who has been a student at SMC for six years off and on, has performed in nearly a dozen plays at the college, including musicals, dramas and comedies. He was nominated by the college to go to the regionals for his performance in the SMC production of Mary Zimmerman’s “Metamorphoses” last March, but has also been in such plays as the Tony Award-winning musical “Urinetown,” Bertolt Brecht’s “Good Woman of Szechuan,” and Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” He is an accomplished singer and dancer, as well as actor.

“I’m so honored, beyond honored,” Cloyd said. “It shows that SMC is just as good as a four-year university. I’m very proud to represent SMC.”

A theatre arts major, Cloyd has applied to several four-year schools for fall, including UCLA, USC and New York University. He said he likes all dramatic forms and wants to continue to act, sing and dance.

Perez, who has been at SMC for three years, most recently stage managed the highly praised SMC production last fall of Ed Begley, Jr.’s musical “Cesar and Ruben,” which also went to the regional competition in Utah. At the regionals, she stage managed “Cesar and Ruben” and two nights of student-written one-act plays. She plans to transfer to a four-year university, probably on the East Coast, to study stage management. 

“It’s unbelievable,” Perez said of her win. “Having the opportunity to go to the Kennedy Center is awesome. I feel I’ll learn so much there.”

The competition in Utah was for the western region, which encompasses four- and two-year institutions in Southern California, Southern Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Hawaii. 

Although this is the first time SMC has sent acting and stage manager students to the finals in Washington, D.C., the college has previously had representation in other categories.

The production of “Slavery,” which was written by then-SMC student Jonathan Payne, was selected for the finals at the Kennedy Center in 2002, as was “Once on this Island,” a musical directed by Sawoski, in 1997 (the only selection that year from a community college).

In addition, Payne won the student playwriting award, and other national SMC winners were Patty Briles for set design and Tara Blixt and Camilla Magnusson, both for make-up design.