Senior Receives Theater Award

Davi Soesilo in EMU's mainstage theater Davi Soesilo in one of his favorite spots in EMU’s mainstage theater that has been renovated from the former old gymnasium.
Photo by Jim Bishop

An Eastern Mennonite University graduating senior has received a prestigious recognition from the Kennedy Center/American College Theater Festival.

The annual festival was held Feb. 7-12 in northern Florida.

Davi R. Soesilo, a psychology, communication and theater major from Malang, Indonesia, won the Kennedy Center Award in “sound design excellence” for Region IV, the first time an EMU student has received the honor.

Region IV of the KC/ACTF incorporates 10 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

“Fellow theater students who attended Davi’s defenses in scenic design and sound design felt he acquitted himself admirably, particularly in his impressive and comprehensive presentation of his winning sound design for ‘Fuddy Meers,'” said Patrick Reynolds, acting theater chair. The offbeat, contemporary comedy by David Lindsay-Abaire, was EMU Theater’s fall mainstage production.

“Alhough he chose not to compete even though nominated in lighting design, it should be noted that over one fifth of the nation lies in our region and that Davi was the only designer nominated in three separate categories,” Reynolds said. “The responding judge – also the national design chair – cited Davi’s growth in the period following his second-place finish last year.

“Davi’s award reflects professor Jerry Holsopple’s classroom training and evocative compositions in addition to Phil Grayson’s mentoring and technical expertise as well,” Reynolds added.

Soesilo’s winning entry is automatically eligible for the national competition with the other ACTF regional winners to be held in April at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

“It seems a bit like a dream to receive the award,” Soesilo said. “Two years earlier I was encouraged to enter this competition and it felt rather far-fetched at the time, especially considering that EMU is not known for its student theater design.”

Soesilo was among 10 recipients of the annual “Cords of Distinction” award presented last spring. The EMU students were cited for their “significant and verifiable impact” on the the university and on student life, for their contributions to developing the institution’s positive image, for substantial contributions to the Harrisonburg/Rockingham County area and beyond, for their high academic and social standing and their embodiment of EMU’s shared values of Christian discipleship, community, service and peacebuilding.

As soon as he completes his final class at EMU, Soesilo plans to return to his present home in Australia and work in theater for a year, then “see what graduate program in theater or communications is best for me.”