Mad Cat Theatre Company has named its third annual Nine Lives Scholarship Awards recipients: Cheyenne Nicole Hardy cited as outstanding high school senior and Kayla Bussel as outstanding college senior.
Each will receive a $1,000 scholarship and an engraved crystal award to be presented at opening night of Mad Cat’s production at the SandBox at the Miami Theater Center on August 16.
Paul Tei, Mad Cat’s founder and Artistic Director, and Ann Kelly Anthony, executive director, wrote that they founded the awards “because there was a need to do more than just offer someone an opportunity to show their talents…. The truth is there are no limits to what future theatre professionals can be, no limit to the stories they can tell and no limit to the possibilities of their imaginations.”
Hardy who recently graduated from New World School of the Arts, performed in 13 plays at New World and attended RADA Young Actors’ Summer School. She will be a freshman at Columbia College in Chicago.
She told the theater’s leaders, “Through my performances, I wish to make people feel the same electricity that I do while on stage. I know for some, theatre is simply entertainment and an escape. I don’t only want to entertain people I want to encourage them to think.”
One of her teachers, Elena Maria Garcia, said, “As a teacher, it’s a part of the gig when you enter your classroom to share, teach, and create. But when you enter your classroom and are inspired because your lesson is now reinforced by your students, who now hold the joy of their new discovery and bring new ideas and priceless gifts to you in order for you to grow as they have, well, that’s what makes it all worthwhile. Cheyenne Hardy was my gift giver– thank you.”
Hardy wrote that she chose Columbia “because the school encourages their students to blur the lines of what defines their craft. I can’t stand the concept of putting a label on what you are as an artist. Yes, I want to pursue acting; but, I am also passionate about music. I also have the desire to direct and write. Who’s to say that one day I won’t want to pick up a paintbrush or slip into a pair of pointe shoes? In the words of Anthony Rapp, “Labels are for cans, not people.”
Bussel plans to graduate this summer from Florida Atlantic University with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance and a minor in English. Bussel not only acted at FAU but directed, worked as a sound board operator, a stage manager, a properties master and a dramaturg.
She plans to pursue acting as part of her career, but her ultimate goal is to become an artistic director and an education manager for a theatre company.
She told Mad Cat staffers,“I believe theatre teaches us all to be emotionally healthy, kinder and more socially aware human beings. Giving at-risk youth this opportunity can change the course of their lives.”
One of her teachers, Kathryn L. Johnston, said, “Kayla came to FAU when she was 17 years old. She was very green, but her talent was quite evident. Fortunately, she was and is an extremely intelligent young woman who pursued excellence in acting with a great deal of drive and diligence during her time here…. It’s been an immense pleasure watching Kayla bloom into the talented, poised and radiant artist she is today.”
This fall, Bussel will work as an apprentice at Florida Studio Theatre, acting in children productions, understudying roles in main stage productions, working in outreach classes in local schools and serving in other aspects of the company including working on the crew, in the scene shop, front of house and box office.
Past recipients include Christian Frost, currently studying at the Department of Performing Arts at Elon University; Vanessa Elise, who has been cast in several local productions since graduating from New World School of the Arts; Emilie Paap, a Barry University graduate and Mad Cat Company member, who has continued her acting career in stage and film in New this summer in Gablestage’s production of The Whale.
Through POWER2GIVE.ORG, Mad Cat raised funds to increase each scholarship to $1,000 from $500 in previous years. Through this platform, Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs graciously underwrote all of the administrative fees, therefore the all of the funds benefit the award recipients.