Mad Cat Theatre Announces 2014 Nine Lives Scholarship Awards

Mad Cat Theatre Announces 2014 Nine Lives Scholarship Awards

Mad Cat Theatre Company has announced its third annual Nine Lives Scholarship Awards to Cheyenne Nicole Hardy (Outstanding High School Senior) and Kayla Bussel (Outstanding College Senior).

Each recipient will receive a $1,000 scholarship and an engraved crystal award which will be presented to the winners on opening night of Mad Cat's summer production at the SandBox at the Miami Theater Center on August 16, 2014.

For 14 years and running, Mad Cat has provided a home for young artists from the South Florida community to hone their skills and exercise their talents. Paul Tei, founder and Artistic Director and Ann Kelly Anthony, Executive director founded the 9 Lives Scholarship Awards because there was a need to do more than just offer someone an opportunity to show their talents. The company is committed to develop future theatre professionals through the Nine Lives Scholarships because 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.

Our outstanding high school senior is Cheyenne Nicole Hardy who recently graduated from New World School of the Arts. In her own words Cheyenne told us, "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." We also asked one of her teachers, Elena Maria Garcia, Adjunct of Acting at New World School of Arts to tell us about this remarkable young woman and this is what she 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!" Cheyenne performed in 13 plays while at New World and also attended RADA Young Actors' Summer School. She will be a freshman at Chicago College Chicago. A motto at Columbia is "live what you love" thus we know this will be a wonderful place for Cheyenne to thrive as she pursues her career in theatre.

Below is what Cheyenne wrote about choosing Columbia:

I will be studying acting at Columbia, but I hope to also explore other arts including music and film. I chose Columbia for a number of reasons. The first of which is that unlike many acting programs, they allow their students to work outside of school. I hope that by the time I graduate I have a credible resume to enter the acting world. The second reason I chose Columbia is because of the amount of student produced work that goes on there. I feel that is important to be around creative people of my generation because they are the future of art. If you surround yourself with people who are just as hungry and excited to create as you are, there is no denying that the product will be magical. Finally, and most importantly, I 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."

Our outstanding college senior, Kayla Bussel will be finishing her studies this summer at Florida Atlantic University with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance and a minor in English. Kayla was not simply focused on acting while at FAU, but also directing multiple productions, working as a sound operator, a stage manager, a properties master and a dramaturge. This summer Kayla is acting and working in the various FAU summer productions. Though Kayla will be pursing acting as a part of her career, her ultimate goal is to work as an artistic director and an education manager for a theatre company. She stated "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." Kathryn L. Johnston, Assistant Professor, FAU Department of Theatre and Dance had this to say: "Kayla came to FAU when she was seventeen 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. I have no doubt she'll continue to demand the best of herself as she takes the next step toward a bright future as a performer. It's been an immense pleasure watching Kayla bloom into the talented, poised and radiant artist she is today. In the fall she has been accepted as an apprentice at Florida Studio Theatre. She will be acting in various children productions and will be an understudy for various main stage productions. She will also be involved in outreach classes in local schools and will be working all other aspects of the theatre (i.e. working crew, scene shop, front of house and box office). It's truly a full time commitment that begins in September and is thru May of 2015. What an impressive way to start to a bright future for this young woman.

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 her home state of New York; and Arielle Hoffman, a recent YoungArts finalized who can also be seen on stage this summer at Gablestage's production of the Whale.

Through POWER2GIVE.ORG, Mad Cat successfully 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, thus the all of the funds benefit the award recipients. Visit for all information regarding Mad Cat Theatre Company.

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