Two Centre College students, Olivia Wilkinson ’21 (Memphis, Tennessee) and Sullivan Blackburn ’20 (Louisville, Kentucky), recently took the stage in Kimberly Belflower’s John Proctor is the Villain in The Alchemical Studios in New York City. The performance, on June 3rd, was part of The Farm Theater’s College Collaboration Project, a program that allows for students from different colleges and universities to work with industry professionals in a working production. Centre has participated in the program for the past six years.
The play was performed at Centre this past November and Professor Matthew Hallock, chair of the College’s Dramatic Arts Program, was delighted to see that these two students were invited to participate in the New York production. Blackburn reprised the role of Raelynn and Wilkinson re-accepted the position of the stage manager.
Hallock was not surprised to see them receive this recognition, stating that Blackburn “was fully invested and really connected to the character.”
“She also brought a level of generosity and vulnerability that we really appreciated,” he continued.
Hallock also boasted about the managerial skills of Wilkinson.
“Olivia was a rock star. The stage manager for a production lives in the eye of a storm, coordinating schedules for rehearsals and meeting and constantly navigating the needs of people and departments—some of them their peers, some of them their teachers. Olivia managed all of this with focus and grace.”
Both Blackburn and Wilkinson expressed their surprise upon discovering their involvement in the final performance.
“I was almost entirely speechless,” Blackburn said. “The show itself was such an honor to be a part of, so when I heard that I had performed well enough to be chosen for the New York production, I couldn’t believe it. I was so excited to be a part of the ongoing process of creating such a masterpiece.”
Wilkinson looks back on the memory with feelings of excitement.
“At the time, I was in Sidcup, England, studying theatre at Rose Bruford College. I found out I would have to leave the program a day early in order to make it to New York. My professors there were excited for the opportunity I had been given and were so helpful in adjusting my schedule so I could leave in time. I was so excited to get to work on this production again.”
The girls maintain that Centre has adequately prepared them to work in a professional setting and have expressed gratitude for the experiences they received while working within the Centre Dramatic Arts Program.
Wilkinson explained that the Centre experience has prepared her “exponentially.”
“Upon arriving at rehearsal, I had prepared just as I would have for any rehearsal that I had been stage managing at Centre. I created rehearsal reports and performance reports that would log any major questions, comments or concerns that generate during the day.”
Hallock reiterates the College’s ability to adequately prepare students for careers in the dramatic arts, as it provides a “foundation and gives students opportunities to explore the entire field of theatre.”
The Centre College Dramatic Arts Program offers a variety of opportunities to aid students, such as a challenging curriculum, live productions and exchange programs with such notable venues as Rose Bruford College of Theater and Performance in England.
Wilkinson plans to continue her post-graduate studies in dramatic arts and will be pursuing an M.FA. in directing. Blackburn intends to work for a repertory theater that tours shows for young audiences around the state of Kentucky.
“The Farm Theater’s College Collaboration Project remains one of the signature elements of our program and one we are distinctly proud to be able to bring to our students,” Hallock concluded.
Learn more about the performance of John Proctor is the Villain at Centre College here.
by Makenzie Dries
June 28, 2019