University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa graduate student in directing Nathaniel Niemi was awarded the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society Directing Award at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in Washington D.C. in April
Established in 1969 by Roger L. Stevens, the Kennedy Center’s founding chairman, the Kennedy Center American College Theater (KCACTF) is a national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide which has served as a catalyst in improving the quality of college theater in the United States.
Niemi, a master of fine arts in directing theatre for young audiences candidate in the Department of Theatre and Dance, won the regional KCACTF directing fellowship competition in February when UH Mānoa co-hosted the regional festival with Chaminade University. Niemi presented a scene from Eric Overmeyer’s play On the Verge, or The Geography of Yearning and participated in an interview process.
“UH Mānoa hosting the regional festival opened up opportunities for me that I would not have been able to afford had I needed to travel,” said Niemi. “I’m incredibly grateful and proud of the work that the UH Mānoa and Chaminade theatre departments put into hosting this festival.” Niemi also worked for the department as a production assistant in preparing to host the Region XIII festival.
Niemi, along with the other seven regional winners from across the nation, was invited to the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. for an intensive week of workshops, seminars and interviews during the national festival.
“These workshops were invaluable to me in illuminating the craft of stage direction as well as professional aspects of a career in the theatre,” said Niemi. “Working alongside the other directing fellows from all over the country was absolutely humbling and inspiring. The national festival gave me a glimpse into the future of the American theatre and I couldn’t be more excited.”
As a winner of the Directing Award, Niemi will return to the Kennedy Center this summer for an additional week of director training and mentorship. Niemi, along with the other regional winners, has also been awarded an associate membership to the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.