Bossier Parish Community College Dean of Communication and Performing Arts, Dr. Ray Scott Crawford, was awarded the prestigious Kennedy Center Gold Medallion for Region 6 during the 54th Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) on February 27th.
The Kennedy Center Gold Medallion is the highest award the festival gives and is considered a great honor in theatre education. Region VI covers Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. BPCC Chancellor Dr. Rick Bateman Jr. was on hand to present the award to Dr. Crawford.
Crawford states, “I am honored by the recognition from the Kennedy Center. But more importantly, I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from BPCC, from my academic and professional colleagues, and especially from my students—both present and past. I learned of my receiving the Gold Medallion immediately following a local Mardi Gras Bal where no less than a dozen current and former BPCC Theatre students were working professionally—creating theatre magic through performance and technology. That is what makes me most proud, that I have been able to help provide these types of opportunities to our students.”
Each year, the eight KCACTF regions honor individuals or organizations that have made extraordinary contributions to the teaching and producing of theatre, and who have significantly dedicated their time, artistry, and enthusiasm to the development of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.
With theatre degrees from Louisiana Tech and Texas Tech University, and a dozen years of professional work in and around the Chicago area, Crawford has taught theatre performance, directing, management, and applied voice at BPCC for almost 24 years. He helped establish the Associate of Arts in Theatre along with Stephen W. Slaughter shortly upon his arrival at the school. The degree continues as the AA in Performing Arts (with concentrations in Theatre and Music) as the only two-year theatre degree offered in the state. He was promoted to dean of Communication and Performing Arts in 2012 but has continued teaching and directing plays and musicals for the school all during his tenure.
For KCACTF, Crawford has served as a regional respondent, traveling to Arkansas, Texas, and within Louisiana to evaluate and respond to other college and university theatre productions hoping to be considered for presentation at the regional festival.
For BPCC, he has coached dozens of performers and singers in the regional Irene Ryan acting and Musical Theatre Initiatives (singing) scholarship competitions for KCACTF. Many of his students have been finalists. He has also entered numerous shows in festivals in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas. BPCC’s productions of The Woman in Black, Echoes, The Turn of the Screw, and A Texas Romance all received the highest recognition at the state level. The Turn of the Screw went on to garner top honors regionally and to become one of the top five productions in the nation at the National KCACTF in 2016, with Crawford as Distinguished Director.
This summer Crawford begins his 37th year as Artistic Director of the Canterbury Summer Theatre in Michigan City, Indiana. Each year he offers professional opportunities to many, including BPCC students, some of whom he hires as talent and technicians for the whole season. Others who are the cast and crew of the summer show at BPCC are hired to tour the production to the Canterbury at the end of the summer to complete the season at the Canterbury. “It’s a win for both the Canterbury and for BPCC,” Crawford says, “as the Canterbury gets an additional show for the summer and the students get a professional gig.”
All in all, “Dr. C,” as his students call him, has produced, directed, and/or designed almost 300 theatre productions, providing opportunities for innumerable students and young theatre professionals from all over the world.