JMU Senior Named National Student Stage Manager of Year

From: Public Affairs

The United States Institute for Theatre Technology has chosen James Madison University’s Bekah Wachenfeld of Downingtown, Pa., as the 2010 National USITT/Clear-Com Student Stage Manager of the Year.

Wachenfeld, a theater major, will graduate from JMU in May. She has concentrated in stage management and was responsible for stage managing numerous productions at JMU. Her portfolio includes these productions and others done professionally outside of academia.

“Her award is the highest student stage management honor in the nation to be granted through the profession,” said Richard Finkelstein, associate professor of theater and dance at JMU. “This year marks added significance as it will be the celebration of USITT's 50th anniversary.”

Wachenfeld received her award during the March 31-April 3 USITT Annual Conference in Kansas City, Mo. Award sponsor Clear-Com Communication Systems also recognized her at a luncheon.

Finkelstein said that each discipline in the broad range of design and technical theater is represented in the student awards. There are awards in scenery design, costume, lighting, sound and makeup design, as well as awards for technical direction and stage management. Powerhouse graduate schools such as Yale University, Carnegie Mellon University and New York University usually dominate the competition, Finkelstein said, which makes Wachenfeld’s accomplishment even more special for JMU.

“This award allowed me to make connections with numerous individuals at the conference that I may not have gotten a chance to talk to otherwise,” Wachenfeld said. She plans to start her career upon graduation and has applied to various theater companies in the United States.

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April 9, 2010