When student actor and sound designer Chelsea Kikel heard
her name called out as winner of the Kennedy Center Award for Sound Design, she
was overwhelmed. Her fellow students
were standing around her cheering as she walked to the stage to accept her
award from Region 2 of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival,
January 10, 2015, at the Ohio Theater on Cleveland’s Playhouse
The award is given by KCACTF in
each of eight regions, and the winners are invited to the Kennedy Center in April,
expenses paid, to a week-long series of workshops and events to enrich their
creative abilities. At the same festival,
Kikel also won a singular award from the Stagecraft Institute for a week-long
intensive at their program in Las Vegas in summer 2015.
Mentored by Professor Nick Quinn, Kikel created soundscapes,
effects, and sonic reinforcement for last fall’s Theater-by-the-Grove production
of Fahrenheit 451, which also brought
director Carrie Cole a Certificate of Merit from the KCACTF respondent who saw
it. Quinn has been at IUP for two years,
developing the sound and video studio of the Department of Theater and Dance,
which had languished after the retirement of Malcolm Bowes.
Kikel had considered herself primarily a
performer until taking Quinn’s course in Sound Design, discovering a latent
talent for developing design ideas that shape the space and environment of
performance. Quinn then gave her an
opportunity to work alongside him as the sound designer on Fahrenheit 451, while he attended to the show’s videography.
Kikel isn’t giving up her performance work
anytime soon, though. She’s cast in this
spring’s production of Tammy Ryan’s play Soldier’s
Heart, as Margie, the mother of a female Marine returning from traumas
faced in Afghanistan.
Kikel plans to locate in Pittsburgh and join the growing arts
community there. She’s less apprehensive
about her early career now, because she feels she has a much greater range of
abilities to be making theater both onstage and behind the sound console.