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UI Theatre Arts Student Wins National Award

February 02, 2017

University of Idaho Theatre Arts student Keely Wright-Ogren of Orange City, Iowa, has been selected as the national winner of the 2017 Robert E. Cohen Sound Achievement Award. The award is part of the U.S. Institute of Theatre Technology’s (USITT) prestigious Awards for Young Designers and Technicians in the Performing Arts.

The award recognizes Wright-Ogren for her excellence and creative application of sound in the performing arts. While pursuing her master of fine arts in the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, she has been active in the USITT student chapter and has designed sound for several productions including UI’s productions of “Medea: Her Story” and “The Little Prince,” as well as the Lewiston Civic Theatre’s “The Night of the Iguana.”

“Keely’s a natural talent,” said Ann Hoste, chair of UI Theatre Arts. “She weaves together individual ‘sounds’ to create these seamless soundscapes that are deeply evocative but never intrusive. She’s also an incredibly generous artist, always willing to share her expertise with others. You definitely want Keely in your lifeboat.”
Assistant professor Jesse Dreikosen, head of theatre design and technology, agrees.

“I nominated Keely because the growth that she has exhibited in the University of Idaho Theatre Arts Department in such a short period of time should be commended,” Dreikosen said. “She is talented and dedicated to continuing to learn all of the new technology out there while still finding the essence in what is really needed to tell a story on stage.”

“I’ve always loved technology and working with my hands,” said Wright-Ogren, who has explored all angles of theater, from performing and directing to costume, scenic and lighting design.

Ultimately, designing theater soundscapes helps to move the story forward, Wright-Ogren said. “Sound is so much fun. You look at the big picture – the beginning, middle and end. You think about the characters and the theme.”

As winner of the national sound award, Wright-Ogren receives complimentary registration to the USITT Annual Conference March 8-11 in St. Louis, Missouri, where she will be presented with her award.

For more information, contact Theatre Arts at 208-885-6465 or visit

Media Contacts

Kelly O’Neill
Media Relations, Theatre Arts Department

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