SFA School of Theatre’s presentation of ‘Bootycandy’ to be showcased at festival

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Luis Ruperto
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Stephen F. Austin State University School of Theatre’s production of “Bootycandy” has been selected by the Region 6 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival for inclusion at its upcoming festival to be held virtually Feb. 24 through 27.

SFA’s presentation of Robert O’Hara’s play “Bootycandy” is one of only six plays selected from throughout a five-state area to be presented at the festival.

While performances by the School of Theatre have been nominated or considered for festival inclusion numerous times, this is first time an SFA play has been selected, according to Cleo House Jr., director of the School of Theatre and of the play.

“A rare and prestigious honor, this is the first time that SFA School of Theatre has been honored as an outstanding production at the regional festival,” he said. Region 6 is made up of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas and Louisiana. The goal of the regional selection committee is to select/rank the productions that represent “the best of what our region offers,” according to House.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the leadership, faculty and students from the School of Theatre who contributed to this incredible production,” said Gary Wurtz, interim dean of the Micky Elliott College of Fine Arts. “It was one of those rare situations that honestly challenged the students, the faculty, Director House, our community of theatre-goers, and me. Cleo had a vision in programming this play, and from where I stand that vision was on point. To see that rewarded through a first-ever selection to be included in the KCACT Festival is truly outstanding.”

“Our main reason for participating in KCACTF is for the numerous opportunities, from networking to professional development, our students can receive,” House said. “For our students and faculty to be recognized in this way means their work will be viewed by students, educators and professionals from across our five-state region and beyond. That is great exposure not only for them but also for SFA and the School of Theatre.”

The School of Theatre presented “Bootycandy” for its first Mainstage production in October. The play is a satiric portrait of American life told through the lens of Sutter, a gay Black man on an outrageous odyssey through his childhood home, his church, dive bars, motel rooms and even nursing homes. O’Hara weaves together scenes, sermons, sketches and daring meta-theatrics to create a kaleidoscopic portrayal of growing up gay and Black.

“While the School of Theatre has participated in KCACTF before my time as director, we had not as a department routinely participated in the regional festival as attendees and definitely not with an invited production,” he added. “Our participation gives us visibility and lets students who are looking for a place to train know that we are a viable option for them when it comes to their theatre training.

“What is even more rewarding is this show was a big risk for us to put on because it is unlike anything we’ve ever done,” House said, “but it paid off. During the run, audience attendance grew every night due to word of mouth, and our final night of performance was the most attended. ‘Bootycandy’ is such a great example of the School of Theatre’s commitment to diversity and inclusiveness, not only in production but also in curriculum. We are committed to a well-rounded offering of plays for our Mainstage; the selections this year provide a good example, from bold newer and contemporary works to the tried-and-true that we’re bringing in the spring with Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” and William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.”

KCACTF is a national organization affiliated with the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The organization celebrates and encourages excellence in college and university theatre.

For more information about the School of Theatre, call (936) 468-4003 or visit theatre.sfasu.edu.

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