Cuesta College’s original play, pool ’63, has been recognized with five national awards from the 46th annual Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF). The organization encourages and celebrates the finest and most diverse theatrical productions from colleges and universities nationwide and annually awards institutions from around the country for outstanding work. This is the first time Cuesta College’s theater department has been recognized nationally.

“We are stoked,” said pool ’63 Director bree valle, who will travel to Washington D.C. in mid-April to receive the awards. “These are the most prestigious awards given to a university or college theatre department in the country. We are incredibly surprised and proud.”

Created in collaboration with the college’s theatre department students, director and faculty member bree valle and playwright Philip Valle, pool ’63 draws its subject matter from Birmingham, Alabama, and the racial unrest of the civil rights movement that occurred in 1963. The play first debuted on the Cuesta stage in December 2013 to sold-out audiences. In February of 2014, the cast and crew were invited to take part in the Region 8 festival of the KCACTF, which was held in Los Angeles.

“We had not even entered the piece for consideration,” said valle. “It was only after a buzz was generated by the first adjudicator that the committee chair flew in from Los Angeles to see the show.”

Cuesta’s performance in Los Angeles resulted in the five national awards (three first place, two second place) which were announced on March 13, 2014. Cuesta College is recognized in the following categories:

  • Outstanding Production of a Devised or Company Generated Work
  • Outstanding Lead Deviser/Director of a Devised Work
  • Outstanding Performance and Production Ensembles
  • Distinguished Achievement in Costume Design
  • Distinguished Productions of a New Work

“These recognitions legitimize the theater program at Cuesta College and validates our work,” said valle. “The students will be given acting opportunities now that they wouldn’t have had before.” 

This year, productions from universities and colleges that were invited to the eight regional festivals, in addition to showcasing their collaborative accomplishments to audiences of more than 1,000 theater artists, were eligible for national awards celebrating outstanding achievement. A full listing of the award winners can be found here: http://www.broadwayworld.com/washington-dc/article/2014-Kennedy-Center-American-College-Theater-Festival-Announces-National-Awardees-Festival-Set-for-414-19-20140313#.

At this time there are no plans to bring pool ’63 back to the Cuesta stage but valle hopes the recognition will bring bigger audiences to future works of the college’s theater department.


Lauren Milbourne / (805) 546-3108 / Lauren_milbourne@cuesta.edu / Posted: 3/21/14