A Baylor University theatre graduate and a member of Baylor Communication in New York have been nominated for New York Innovative Theatre awards for their performances in leading roles in New York City.
Vying for outstanding actress in a lead role is Elizabeth Davis, who portrayed poet Emily Dickinson in the play "Emily, An Amethyst Remembrance" off-Broadway at the Kirk Theatre at Theatre Row in New York City. Davis earned her bachelor's degree in fine arts in theatre performance from Baylor in 2003.
Nominated for outstanding actor in a lead role is Christopher Domig. He performed in "A Mysterious Way," the story of a youth minister and a drifter who strike up a conversation while waiting for a train. The play was performed on various subway platforms around New York City. Domig is resident assistant for Baylor Communication in New York, the internship program of the film and media division of Baylor's department of communication studies.
But that barely covers how well the Bears are doing in the Big Apple.
Both plays were presented by New York's Firebone Theatre, co-founded by Baylor graduates Steven Day and his wife, Chris Cragin. Day directed the play; Cragin wrote it. The couple earned their MFAs in stage directing from Baylor in 2005. In 2008, Cragin was chosen as one of 12 emerging playwrights for the Emerging Writers Group in The Public Theater. More than 700 playwrights applied for the program. Day was chosen for the Lincoln Center Directors Lab in 2007.
"A Mysterious Way" was written by another Bear, Steven Michael Walters, who earned his bachelor of fine arts degree in theatre performance in 2003. Walters is a Dallas Theatre Critic Award winner and was named Best Local Playwright by the Dallas Observer in 2006.
Both Cragin's play and Walters' play were written and workshopped during their time as students at Baylor.
Thomas Ward, assistant professor of theatre arts at Baylor, wrote a play called "Binge," which opened recently off-off-Broadway at the Drilling Company in New York. It was praised in a TheaterMania.com review as "darkly comic" with skillful character development. Its plot revolves around an obese customer service representative who decides to have bypass surgery to improve his quality of life.
Alumnus Robert Askins' play "Princes of Waco" was recently produced off-Broadway by Ensemble Studio Theatre to rave reviews. Askins was a nominee for the 2010 PONY (Playwrights of New York) prize. He earned his bachelor of fine arts degree with a double major in theatre arts and professional writing in 2004.
"There are a lot of Baylor people doing good work on both coasts and in Dallas," Davis said.
She said her career is "a lifetime commitment. It's nice to be recognized for the hard work, but I do what I love, and I certainly didn't anticipate this. If you're thinking of nominations and awards, your focus is in the wrong place."
Domig said in an email that his performance as a drifter in "A Mysterious Way" showed him that "performing in real environment, such as a subway platform, is the perfect learning tool for an actor to fuse rehearsed text and action with constant spontaneity. I highly recommend the experience. Just don't start a fight, because the punches will be as real as anything else. But then again, that is why we 'suffer' for our art."
Dr. DeAnna M. Toten Beard, associate professor of theatre history at Baylor and graduate program director in Baylor's department of theatre arts, taught Elizabeth Davis, Chris Cragin and Steven Day.
"Elizabeth Davis is an amazing actor," she said. "And she is a really beautiful woman, so she's striking on stage.
"The best thing about Elizabeth is her sweet spirit," Toten Beard said. "She's a godly woman and has always been a servant to the least fortunate. While at Baylor, she was known by everyone for her work with the homeless in Waco. She would frequently make friends stop the car because she spotted a homeless person she knew and wanted to go check on them. It was a surprising combination--this beautiful young actress utterly devoted to selfless work."
She said that Steven Day is "high energy, enthusiastic and really gifted. He also works in motion capture animation and has been very innovative in using his directing talent in this technology. Like his wife, Chris, Steven has not seen his life as a choice between being an artist and being a follower of Christ.
"Steven and Chris are outstanding examples of what the creators of Baylor's MFA in directing had in mind when they formed the program," Toten Beard said.
Winners of the New York Innovative Theatre awards will be announced Sept. 20.