Theater Student Chelsea Kikel Wins Major Award in Sound Design at Festival

Posted on 1/14/2015 2:54:03 PM

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 Square.

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.

After graduation 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.