UTEP’s ‘Cenicienta’ Earns KCACTF National Honors
Last Updated on May 27, 2022 at 12:00 AM
Originally published May 27, 2022
By Daniel Perez
UTEP Marketing and Communications
“Cenicienta,” a bilingual production based on the familiar Cinderella fairytale, earned The University of Texas at El Paso four 2022 National Awards from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival during the organization’s annual celebration conducted virtually May 21, 2022.
The production, rehearsed and digitally recorded during the summer of 2021, earned the Citizen Artist Award as well as special achievement recognition for Puppetry Arts, Individual Performance, and Production and Performance Ensemble Unit.
Theater makers and educators from around the country determined which productions and individuals won the awards.
Adriana Dominguez, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance and director of “Cenicienta,” said she was proud and excited that UTEP had received the national recognition. She said the success was the result of the commitment by the Department of Theatre and Dance to produce quality theatrical work that engages the community and promotes inclusivity and empowerment.
"Earning these four national awards demonstrates that purpose-driven work is valid and necessary,” Dominguez said. “I am incredibly proud of this student-centered team. We are the little show that could – and did!"
The Citizen Artist Award recognizes theatrical productions created by institutions of higher education to promote long-term societal impact, encourage compassionate consideration of the world’s cultures, and advocate for justice around the globe. UTEP was one of 22 institutions that won this national award.
The festival’s judges recognized Mindy Escobar-Leanse, a puppetry consultant, for her work in puppetry arts. Escobar-Leanse has collaborated with the theatre department on previous projects to include “Alebrijes” and “The Last Rat of Theresienstadt.”
Among the other UTEP winners was Carolina Flores Parada, a junior theatre major with a concentration in musical theatre, who was one of 11 students from around the country recognized for her individual performance as the lead in “Cenicienta.”
Flores said her participation in “Cenicienta” helped her to grow personally and professionally. The lessons ranged from focus on the moment to being open to different perspectives to trust in the process.
The production “gave me the opportunity to give voice to my community and share a part of its beauty with others,” Flores said. “One of my favorite takeaways was how it reminded me of the playfulness, curiosity, passion and resilience of children. It’s still in me. It’s in all of us.”
Sadie Aiken, a junior theatre major with a concentration in stage management, reveled in the “Cenicienta” experience. Aiken, who served as the production’s stage manager, said that the national Kennedy Center honor was a crowning accomplishment.
"It was such a gift to not only have such a beautiful experience with such a talented team, but to also get to share our work, mid-pandemic, with the schools, fellow artists, and KCACTF,” said Aiken, a native of Houston. “I am so beyond thrilled to have seen this show receive four achievements of excellence."
The regional KCACTF judges selected Aiken in February 2022 as a recipient of the Excellence in Arts Leadership/ASPIRE National Alternate Award based on her presentation about the theatre she would like to create for the Deaf community. As a result, she earned invitations to virtual professional development seminars and the in-person Theatre Communications Group National Conference in June 2022.
Hideaki Tsutsui, professor and interim chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance, expressed his pride in the achievements of those involved in “Cenicienta.” He said the recognition speaks to the department’s efforts to prepare, mentor and educate students.
“It’s nice to be recognized by the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival,” Tsutsui said. “I hope this means that our future students regionally and nationally will recognize the quality of our instruction and training.”
The KCACTF is a national organization that celebrates the educational and creative process of university and college theatre. The festival promotes professional standards and provides students and faculty with opportunities to bridge the academic and professional worlds. KCACTF honors achievements in diversity and excellence and encourages experiences in all areas of theatre.
UTEP represented Region 6, which encompasses colleges and universities from Texas, Arkansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Louisiana.