Irene Ryan Award:Tyson and Boucher Nominated

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Close to two months before the April Florida sun awakened students to another ending, the hot Texas heat of 1975 blazed through Swisher Theater. It lingered and continued to affect the audience and critics days after. Though the entire performance succeeded in the eyes of the commentators, two students stood out. Nick Boucher and Elaine Tyson have been nominated for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Irene Ryan Award in acting for their work in “Laundry & Bourbon” and “Lone Star.”

According to the Kennedy Center website, this scholarship provides “recognition, honor, and financial assistance to outstanding student performers wishing to pursue further education.” Senior and theater major Tyson says winning the nomination felt “pretty amazing” and sees the nomination as solidification for all she is working for.

“I think being able to work very closely in the field that I’m majoring in as well as having someone come in and nominate me will greatly help me when I graduate and go out in the real world,” Tyson said. “It just shows me that what I’m doing is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing for the rest of my life and that I can do my job. I don’t really see it as a job; I see it as doing what I love every single day.”

Tyson attributes much of her success to the department she was able to be a part of at Jacksonville University.

“I think our acting program at JU produces student actors with a firmly rooted acting process and technique, and also provides them with the tools to pursue further training on the graduate level,” said Deborah Jordan, assistant professor of theater, in a press release.

Before winning the nomination, Tyson and Boucher had to develop their characters, train and rehearse.

“After reading the script I found out that my character in a lot of ways caries my personality and characteristics so I tried to take my character and my own life and put it together and in the parts of my character that did not apply to me I found ways to apply them and found situations that I could probably understand to develop my character to the best possible ability,” Tyson said.

The nomination recipients also had the challenge and privilege of working with a smaller cast.

“Working with such a small cast is great because you get to know each other really well,” Tyson said. “I’ve worked with small and large casts at JU and you get to know each other on a more personal level and you get to see each other grow a lot more than if you work with a large cast.”

Along with the Irene Ryan Award nomination, Boucher and Tyson have also won other honors within the university. For the College of Fine Arts awards, Boucher won Student of the Year and Tyson won the award for theater. For theater awards, Boucher was honored Best Actor and Tyson Best Actress. Both students also won the 2012 Dean’s Award for Excellence.

“I’m glad to have had the opportunity to go to JU,” Tyson said. “It’s definitely been one of the greatest experiences I’ve had in the last four years. We have some great professors and they really want you to succeed once you graduate and I’m really blessed to have had this opportunity.”

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