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Northern Vermont University’s Original Online Theater Piece Chosen for Performance at Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival

January 28, 2021


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Northern Vermont University’s Original Online Theater Piece Chosen for Performance at Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival

Johnson, Vermont – The original online theater piece “The Monument,” created by students in Northern Vermont University’s Performance, Arts, and Technology program, has been selected for presentation at this year’s Kennedy Center Region 1 American College Theater Festival.

“The competition for this festival is high and this is the first Northern Vermont University production to be selected. I am particularly pleased that it is an original, student-written piece that is going to the festival,” said Isaac Eddy, Assistant Professor and Chair, Performing Arts. “The Performance, Arts, and Technology program on the NVU-Johnson campus launched at the right time: we were already poised to create a new work for this new Zoom medium at a moment when most theater programs had to shoot and edit pre-recorded versions of their fall plays to stream,” Eddy said.

The play is set in a fictional Vermont town and is based in real suffrage history with a staged Zoom select board meeting that takes place in the real problems of today. 

“Think of “The Monument” as “Our Town” set in 2020: less swooning about memories of mom’s breakfast and a lot more arguing,” Eddy said.

The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival is being held the last week of January, with NVU’s “The Monument” performed live on January 31 at 2pm. Right after the show, respondents will offer feedback to Eddy and the students “to heighten the conversation with the students,” he said. “The whole Kennedy Center program is set up to nurture the theater makers of the future. To have our show be a part of this is just exciting.”

Regional festival presentations will be considered for the national festival.

About “The Monument”

In “The Monument,” the select board of Waldenburgh, Vermont hosts a harvest festival on their town green each year next to the monument of Gov. Percival W. Clement. The theme of the festival this year is the 100-year anniversary of the suffrage movement — which is particularly ironic since Governor Clement was responsible for denying women the right to vote in 1920. Due to Covid-19, the festival as a whole is cancelled. Instead, select suffrage-inspired pieces are to be performed at the town’s October Zoom meeting, along with the much-anticipated vote on a new town monument that may or may not replace the Clement statue.

In this performance, the audience is invited into this fictitious world as voting members of the town. Thanks to Zoom polling and the select board’s open floor for discussion, it is the audience who decides the fate of the Clement monument and how the story ends. 

The adaptability and multidisciplinary approach of the Performance, Arts, and Technology degree program is on display in this performance, said Eddy. Instead of trying to make the play fit Zoom, the students used the remote platform to build an immersive and participatory experience, he said.

“I’m very proud of our school and students,” Eddy said. “In the Region I category, we are up against schools with enormous resources. NVU’s program works with students to create strong performances that engage the audience in new ways with a small budget. This recognition shows we’re successful,” he said.