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Student Production Headed to Regional Kennedy Center American Theater Festival

“In the Cotton” Selected as One of Seven Productions at Annual Festival

Columbia, MD – A theatre production developed by students at three community colleges is one of only seven student productions selected to perform at an upcoming regional Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Howard Community College (HCC), along with Carroll and Prince George’s community colleges, debuted an original, collaborative production of The Farm Theatre Project—“In the Cotton” by Morgan McGuire. Directed by HCC Theatre Department Chair Bill Gillett, “In the Cotton” is a timely play that explores perspectives of race and society, communication, and relationships. The story revolves around a hate crime that is perpetrated on a college campus, and the feelings this evokes in a group of college students. 

The festival features the best student work within Region II (Mid-Atlantic), which includes colleges and universities within Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, western New York, Ohio, northern Virginia, and West Virginia. This is the second time that an HCC student theatre production has been invited to the annual regional festival, which takes place January 16—21, 2018, at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. 

“In the Cotton” is an original work commissioned through the New York-based Farm Theatre Project, which connects professional playwrights with students and writers, and weaves student conversations into an original play. This is the first time that the community colleges have collaborated on such a production. Previous work by The Farm Theatre Project has been used exclusively by four-year colleges and universities.
“This is a huge honor for Howard Community College and highlights the talent of theatre students,” said Bill Gillett. “Approximately 1,000 students from the mid-Atlantic region will attend this year’s festival and the production of ‘In the Cotton.’”

In addition to performing “In the Cotton,” three student actors from HCC – JC Payne, CJ Cameron and Sarah Higgins– were selected to audition for the Irene Ryan Audition Scholarship. With scene partners, these actors will perform before guest auditors to receive feedback on their acting. One actor from the regional audition competition will receive a scholarship and a coveted spot at the national festival this coming spring at the Kennedy Center.

The Howard Community College theatre program, located within the Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center, offers an associate of arts in theatre that transfers to programs at four-year colleges and universities. For more information about “In the Cotton” or the theatre program, please contact 443-518-1480 or visit


  • Written by: Morgan McGuire
  • Directed by: Bill Gillett
  • Artistic Director, Farm Theatre Project by: Padraic Lillis
  • Set Design by: Rob Berry
  • Costume Design by: Robert Croghan 
  • Sound Design by: Seth Schwartz
  • Projections Design by: Seth Schwartz and Mark Smedley
  • Dramaturgy by: Lisa Wilde
  • Stage Management by: Amanda Reandeau

About The Theatre Program

The Howard Community College theatre program is committed to helping students develop their individual creativity and artistic viewpoint. Students are provided a solid foundation of theory and technique, exposure to aesthetic and cultural diversity, collaborative skills, practical experience on and off the stage, and ample opportunities for performance. The learning process is strengthened by faculty who are known both as excellent teachers and practicing artists. The theatre program presents a variety of performances showcasing students throughout the year, including a fall play production, staged readings, the popular spring Shakespeare birthday celebration performance, and an annual collaboration of faculty, students, alumni, and guest artists performing scenes, songs, and stage combat. 

Topics: Arts & Culture
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