On Tuesday, May 31, at 4:30 pm in The Moore Theater of the Hop, at the annual Arts at Dartmouth Awards, about 75 Dartmouth students will receive awards for special achievements in the performing and visual arts, and film and media. It’s a free event, and includes a reprise of the musical number All That Jazz from the Department of Theater’s stellar winter 2016 production of Chicago; the screenings of two short student-made films; and remarks by this year’s guest of honor, Michael Rafter ’82, an Emmy award-winning television and Broadway music director.
Who are these students who use their Dartmouth years to achieve milestones in the arts? Yesterday, we introduced you to Jimmy Ragan ’16. Today, we meet another!
CARENE MEKERTICHYAN ’16 knew she wanted to major in theater at Dartmouth and was ready to dive in to Acting I her freshman fall. A steadying hand from theater professor Irma Mayorga, whom Mekertichyan met at the Theater Department Open House before classes began, convinced her to start with a broader survey course on theater.
“She was the first person in the the department that I met,” Mekertichyan recalled. “I talked to her about what classes I should take. I wasn’t sure if I should sign up to audition for Acting 1, and she said, ‘No, you should take this course because it’s a great foundation.’ And it really was. Coming from LA, I knew a lot about movies and film and that sort of performance, but I didn’t know that much about theater other than having done shows in high school. I didn’t know the history, about tech, lighting, set design, the important people and eras. I hadn’t gone to see a lot of theater at home, coming from a low-income background. So that course was critical.”
Another crucial part of her education was the summer course Theater 65, in which a tight group of theater majors assist throughout the summer on a series of new and developing theatrical works: VoxFest (a week-long workshop involving works by Dartmouth professional theater alumni), the Frost-Dodd plays (readings and a production of three new student-written plays) and New York Theatre Workshop (a three-week residency by one of New York’s leading theaters in the development of new work). Not only did she get to influence plays as they are being formed, but she also made professional contacts she drew on during an internship in New York City.
Mekertichyan did go on to study acting and perform in plays, including the MainStage productions of Chicago (Mama), Don Juan Comes Back From the War (Second Part) and In The Next Room (Elizabeth) and in a reading of the musical Goree Crossing (Fannie Mae). Her crowning achievement was this spring’s production of Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf, for which she served as dramaturg—working closely with guest director Deena Selenow—and played the Lady in Red.
After graduation, she will pursue various forms of theater and acting in Los Angeles but will return to the Upper Valley this fall as one of the witches in Northern Stage’s upcoming production of Macbeth. At the Arts Awards, she will receive a Warner Bentley/Henry B. Williams Fellowship Endowment and a Mark L. Lebowitz 1977 Memorial Prize in the Performing Arts.