Kennedy Center honors

UWL Theatre wins prestigious award for world premiere

The UW-La Crosse Department of Theatre Arts has been awarded the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Citizen Artist Award. The honor is for the department’s world premiere production of “26 Pebbles” by Eric Ulloa, a play about the tragic 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.

The award was given as part of the JFK Centennial Celebration “Freedom, Courage, Justice, Service and Gratitude” event earlier this summer at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The department received the award in recognition “for insisting that theatrical production is central to the urgent community, national and international conversation on the campuses of higher education nationwide.”

Joe Anderson, chair of the Department of Theatre Arts, says the decision to stage the new play was based on providing discussion and growth in the community.

“When I read Eric Ulloa’s new play ‘26 Pebbles,’ I felt two emotions almost simultaneously — fear and compulsion to produce the play,” Anderson explains. “The subject matter was still too raw for me and for many in the department who read the script. But that, coupled with continued news stories, really drove what I felt was an obligation to produce this play.”

Playwright Eric Ulloa praised UWL faculty for taking a chance on his work. “Mary LeonardJoe Anderson and their colleagues took a chance on my play at the very beginning,” says Ulloa. “To now see the Kennedy Center honor them with one of a handful of national honors for their beautiful production of my play leaves me speechless because I’m so proud of them all. Art changes the dialogue. I promise you that.”

See a story about the UWL production at: