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They Can Fly!
CHESTERTOWN, MD—The Washington College Department of Drama has named the recipients of this year’s Mary Martin Prize, a scholarship award that Matthew Weir ’90 established in 1992 in honor of his grandmother, the great actress Mary Martin. The Prize will be shared by three seniors: Rachel Dilliplane, Val Dunn and Tamayo Kamimura.
The Department makes this announcement in conjunction with the NBC television presentation of Peter Pan Live! on December 4, 2014. Martin starred as the original Peter in the 1954 musical version Peter Pan, directed by Jerome Robbins.
Rachel Dilliplane is a double major in Drama and Behavioral Neuroscience at Washington College. As a freshman, Rachel performed in a community production of Live from WVL Radio: It’s a Wonderful Life at the Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theater in Chestertown, MD. The next year she returned to the Prince to play Meg in Crimes of the Heart. She has also enjoyed performing in productions at Washington College, including War Stories, Gruesome Playground Injuries, and Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia. During the first half of her junior year, Rachel studied abroad at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa where she studied drama and performed in an improv comedy troop called Nat(urally) Caf(feinated). Her Senior Capstone Experience in Drama, directing Middletown by Will Eno, was produced in October. In addition to her involvement in the Washington College Drama Department, Rachel has spent the past three years working for the Student Events Board, organizing a variety of campus events. She is also a Peer Mentor Leader, a member of the Leadership Honor Society (ODK), the Psychology Honor Society (Psy Chi), and the Douglass Cater Society of Junior Fellows.
Of the prize, Dilliplane said, “I am honored to receive the Mary Martin Prize and to be recognized along with the all of the exceptional drama majors that have come before me. After graduation I intend to pursue my passion for theatre, pushing boundaries and taking risks to create something that is unique, that is needed. The generous support that this award provides will undoubtedly help me to confidently and wholeheartedly pursue these goals in the competitive world of professional performing arts.”
Val Dunn is a theatrical artist with a passion for new plays that don’t look like plays. A senior at Washington College, Val is majoring in drama and English as well as minoring in creative writing. For her senior drama thesis Val crafted a wild and Ophelia-centric adaptation of Hamlet called The Beauteous Majesty of Denmark that she also directed. In addition to writing and directing, Val enjoys acting and working in the drama department’s scene shop. She has investigated and participated in theater making in New York, London, and most recently Philadelphia, where she spent the summer interning with the Bearded Ladies Cabaret Company. Upon graduating, Val hopes to move to Philadelphia and continue to create provocative art with small theatre companies.
Dunn observed, “As someone who strives to be an extraordinary woman, I am humbled to receive an award named for one such woman, Mary Martin. I am also very thankful for the constant support of the Washington College Drama Department, especially as they’ve challenged me to take risks in my theatre making. Receiving the Mary Martin Prize is an honor to me as well as a reminder that I can and should make a life out of theatre.”
Tamayo Kamimura, a senior from Okinawa in Japan, is a drama major with an art and art history minor. After high school, she entered Tama Art University in Tokyo to study architecture. While there, she discovered a passion for exploring people’s lives and decided to transfer to Washington College to study drama. Kamimura’s theatrical debut in the United States was as an actor in All in the Timing directed by Professor Dale Daigle. Through studying drama in Washington College, she discovered her interest and talent for directing and designing, first as a director for the student-run Independent Playhouse in 2012, and then as an assistant director for Clybourne Park, directed by Daigle in 2013. Her designing experience started with Fuddy Meers and Mr. Marmalade, both senior thesis productions. She also served as the assistant set designer for Arcadia, directed by Professor Brendon Fox in the spring of 2014. She directed and designed her senior thesis production, Kobo Abe’s The Man Who Turned into a Stick, last month.
Kamimura said of the prize, “This honor is not just for me. It is also for the many students who welcomed me, an international student. No drama is realized or completed with just one person. The prize is evidence I am the one of drama family of Washington College. After my graduation, I will leave the United States but I will never forget my experience in drama department and drama people. They are so beautiful and ‘human.’”
Dr. Michele Volansky, Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of Drama described the three recipients as “the best of the best.” “These three remarkable women have made significant impacts on the department and their peers,” she added. “They are all gifted artists, dedicated students and special people. We will be so sad to have them graduate, but I am confident that they will make an important a mark on the world and the theater community and will bring honor to the Mary Martin Prize.”
The mention of “Mary Martin” brings to mind a particularly vivid set of images: Ensign Nellie Forbush washing that man right out-a her hair, Dolly Winslow—whose heart belongs to Daddy—shedding her furs, and Peter Pan teaching the Darling children to fly and to crow. The actor who sang “When Apples Grow on the Lilac Trees” at a fireman’s ball in Weatherford, Tex., at age 5, grew up to give life — on stage, screen, television, and radio — to a formidable range of characters, including Maria in The Sound of Music, for which she won the Tony Award in 1960. Martin also garnered Tony Awards for her work as Peter Pan (1955) and as Annie Oakley in the touring company of Annie Get Your Gun (1948). She toured the United States and the world as Dolly Levi in the international touring company of Hello, Dolly!, which included engagements in Okinawa, Korea, Japan, South Vietnam, and London.
In addition to the Prize, the Mary Martin Program in the Performing Arts at Washington College provides research funds for drama faculty and students, an artist’s residency and a lecture series. For more information on the drama program and the Mary Martin Program, please visit http://drama.washcoll.edu.