Kelly Quinnett Wins Uta Hagen Drama Teacher Award

Kelly Quinnett, winner of the 2019 Uta Hagen award, created by 2020 OWOV Festival to reocgnize outstanding female theatre teachers

Uta says in “Respect for Acting,” We must overcome the notion that we must be regular. ‘Be like one of us. Don’t put on airs. Don’t get so fancy.’ It robs you of the chance to be extraordinary.”

Kelly Quinnett

The College of Fellows of the American Theatre Uta Hagen Award was presented at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in DC. The Award was created by the 2020 One Woman One Vote Festival in celebration of Uta Hagen at 100 (2019) and the 2020 centennial of the women’s vote. Kelly Quinnett a professor of theatre at the University of Idaho is its first recipient of the award named for the legendary drama teacher.

Since 1998, Quinnett has taught a broad spectrum of courses in in acting and directing, for the theatre as well as film and television.  She helped create the  Musical Theatre and Opera curriculum for Idaho University’s Lionel Hampton School of Music.  Kelly is a leader in the arts through her work with the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival where she has been a major contributor for over 25 years. She was first awarded the national Irene Ryan scholarship for her work as an actor when she was in college. This led to her success as a commercial actor and ultimately her work as a teaching artist.   

Uta Hagen

April 19, 2019

“I am holding this text,  Respect for Acting, an acting text book, by Uta Hagen. I was first introduced to the text in grad school 25 years ago. Let me just say that not many acting texts were written by women and used in classes during this time, so this was a very influential text from a fierce female teaching artist. My graduate MFA class was an ensemble of 7 women!! Women write books about acting!

I am so very grateful to be standing on this stage in the presence of all of you, my colleagues, our students, their families and friends, especially many of my own students. Because this is for you and about you and more importantly what you have given to me.

To my students:

Uta says in Respect for Acting, “We must overcome the notion that we must be regular. ‘Be like one of us. Don’t put on airs. Don’t get so fancy.’ It robs you of the chance to be extraordinary.”

I have known for a very long time that I am anything but regular. And I don’t feel that I am a particularly amazing teacher but I am confident in calling myself a cultivator. I cultivate the space for you to find the extraordinary, your extraordinary. As a cultivator, I must be my most brave, genuine, vulnerable, humble and aware self, because this arena I invite you to step into is one I have built for you by partnering with my own fears; fears of not being enough, of being rejected, of being a disappointment. I have built this space, this arena, because I believe in the power of just showing up, no matter what. This is an invitation for you to meet yourself and I mean really meet yourself; a genuine encounter with your humanity. How courageous that you say yes!

Don’t wait. Accept the invitation. Play the possibility.

I guess you say, that I also cultivate experiences to help you wake up to this life; see more color and complexity with breath taking appreciation and less judgment; taste the sweetest of kisses, touch the hardest of armored hearts and discover the softness behind the armor. Wake up to meaningful experiences, which open your mind, heart and body to connection, connection to you, to others, to characters, to what is possible.

How will you measure the quality of a life well lived?

Don’t wait. Accept the invitation. Play the possibility. Play the best possible outcome, the best super objective, by allowing the EXTRAORDINARY! By leaning into the shakiness of connection; connection to a character’s mourning heart, or to a stranger on a plane, who is traveling to the funeral of her mother, or to someone, who feels hopeless, rejected, excluded, not enough. Allowing yourself to EMPATHIZE with another; then my dear friend, you will have experienced what it means to be here, right now, THE EXTRAORDINARY!

I love you and I honor each one of you! Thank you so much!”