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BC Students Receive Honors at Theatre Festival

CHESTNUT HILL, MA (2-23-2011) -- Boston College juniors F. Elise Hudson and Nzinga Williams were honored at the Region 1 section of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, held earlier this month. The annual festival, which promotes excellence and diversity in undergraduate theater, brings in schools from New York to Maine to compete in events such as acting, directing, playwriting, dramaturgy, design, technology and administration.

Elise Hudson (Photos: Lee Pellegrini)

Hudson was awarded second place for her regional entry in costume design. She created costume designs for “The Magic Flute,” Mozart’s famous opera, as a class project. Hudson says her design was inspired by her love of fantasy and fairy tales. But the actual process involved far more than simply dashing off drawings on a whim, she notes: “You have to think, ‘How does the costume move on the character? How does the costume affect his or her presence?’”  

For the comic Papagena, for example, Hudson designed a bird cage-like dress, “something big, fluffy and bouncy, so that it rocks back and forth on her. I thought the costume helped create the right overall look for her, and could be incorporated into her actions and movements.”   

Hudson is enrolled in the Lynch School of Education at Boston College and is majoring in Human Development and Theater. A resident of Nashville, Tenn., she is the daughter of Lili and Tom Hudson and a 2007 graduate of Franklin Road Academy in Nashville.

Hudson was pleasantly surprised at her second-place finish in the festival competition, especially given the judges’ professional credentials. “Two of them were costume designers from Las Vegas — very strict and hard to please,” says Hudson, who hopes to work as an adolescent therapist/counselor while continuing to pursue her passion for acting.  

Nzinga Williams

Williams received an honorable mention for her national entry in stage management.  

“It’s a lot of fun, but also a lot of work,” says Williams, about stage management. “As a stage manager you start working on the production aspect with the director months in advance. I’ve been involved in organizing auditions, all scheduling, taking notes on blocking, props and other things.  I am also the liaison between the actors, director and designers, which means you have to communicate effectively with everyone.”  

As part of her evaluation, Williams was interviewed by a professional stage manager who also assessed the note-taking and records Williams kept for last fall’s production of “She Stoops to Conquer” at BC. 

“I was really shocked and honored to have gotten an honorable mention,” she says. “Out of 39 stage managers competing, I was one of four people to get any sort of award. Stage managing is not like nursing or math or science — I cannot take a test to evaluate my skill or knowledge level. And because of the nature of the job there is often not much feedback. So it was nice to get some sort of positive reinforcement.”

Williams, who began working on the tech side of theater in grade school, says she discovered a passion for stage managing while attending Saint Andrew's School in her hometown of Boca Raton, Fla. "My theater teacher Teresa Vignau really helped me see that I can do this and really helped cultivate the love I have for theater."

Williams is enrolled in BC's College of Arts & Sciences as theatre major with a minor in sociology. She is the daughter Dianne Van der Meer. After graduation, Williams plans to work in stage management and production and hopes to someday open her own theater company.