May 12, 2021

Kennedy Center Festival Honors Theater Program & Student Director

BSU Program & Student Win Four National Awards For Virtual Production

Kennedy Center Festival Honors Theater Program & Student Director

MEDIA CONTACT: Damita Chambers,, 301-832-2628 mobile

(BOWIE, Md.) – The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival has recognized the strength of the Bowie State University theatre arts program and an outstanding student director with four total national awards, marking the first time that the university received national honors from the festival.

The BSU Theatre’s virtual production of Aleshea Harris’s “What to Send Up When It Goes Down” received the following awards: Special Achievement in Virtual Community Engagement and Audience, Innovative Use of Technology, Special Achievement in Directing for graduating senior Rashaud Matthews, and The Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Award, which recognizes collegiate theater programs that promote long-term societal impact through artistic expression.

“I’m beyond proud. The mission of what we are trying to instill in our theater program, the social justice focus, is really resonating with our students,” said Assistant Professor Elena Velasco, program coordinator for the theatre arts major. “We are seeing how our art is actually changing culture. The students find themselves being agents of change.”

The production focused on the impact of racialized violence and used innovative techniques to engage audiences through a virtual platform. In January, the students performed the production at the Kennedy Center’s regional festival, marking the first time that a Bowie State student-directed play was invited to be performed at the event. It was also the first BSU Theatre production invited to the festival since 2014.

Aside from Matthews, who served as the play’s director, the awards honored the outstanding work of the student ensemble cast, which includes Rakell Foye, Cayla Hall, Nikolas Hubbard, ​Kaythee Israel, Jasmine Matthews, Oladia Menchaca and Angelique Sterling.


About Bowie State University
Bowie State University (BSU) is an important higher education access portal for qualified persons from diverse academic and socioeconomic backgrounds, seeking a high-quality and affordable public comprehensive university. The university places special emphasis on the science, technology, cybersecurity, teacher education, business, and nursing disciplines within the context of a liberal arts education. For more information about BSU, visit