CSU Theatre Student Earns Rare Scholarship to National Fellowship

When De’Marcus Monroe, a senior at Columbus State University, headed to the Region IV American Theatre College Festival in Americus, he thought he was competing for a chance to attend the organization’s national festival. Little did he know that he would impress the judges so much that they would offer him a full paid scholarship to a prestigious fellowship in D.C.

“I never thought that people would see my work and be wowed by it,” said Monroe.

Monroe received an all-expense paid scholarship to attend the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society Directing Initiative. Out of thousands of students who participate in the regional festivals nationwide, ultimately only about 15 participants are selected for the fellowship. This includes undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty. The attendees engage in a week long intensive workshop with some of the top directors in the country. In past years, they have worked together to produce new works, and some attendees have stepped away with job opportunities.

“This is showing me that this can be a career and that theatre students can go just as many places as those in traditional careers,” said Monroe. “It is truly an honor.”

Monroe’s road to the opportunity was not easy. To participate in the regional festival, he had to be nominated for his work in directing CSU performances. Then he was responsible for preparing a scene, director’s statement, and director’s book. He had to recruit peers to practice and perform the scene at the festival. Fellow CSU students, Macy Frazier, Zamar Griffin, Jennifer Jones, Roberto Mendez, and Nick Rulon, volunteered for the roles. Finally, Monroe had to meet with judges for a personal interview. He explains that his time at CSU prepared him well for the experience.

“The judges were so impressed with my director’s book that they said it was a graduate level book,” said Monroe. “I think it is because of the professors at CSU’s Theatre Department. Each one has given me something to grow upon as a performer and a director.”

Monroe is grateful for his mentors and CSU professors, specifically Brenda May Ito, David Turner, Molly Claassen, for their support in getting him to the competition. He also thanks his actors who traveled with him to the regional festival.

“They put in so much time and effort into my scene,” said Monroe. “My peers recognize that I can go further and they wanted to be a part of that. I’m so thankful they were there. I think Columbus State has one of the top theatre programs in the nation. If people haven’t recognized it yet, they are about to start.”

Monroe will attend the Choreographers Society Directing Initiative in D.C. this July. He graduates in May with a bachelor’s of fine arts in theatre performance.