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“Hurricane Diane” Named Finalist for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival

Submitted by on January 23, 2024 – 2:18 pm
student with short cropped hair sits on a zebra print chair grinning at the audience

Mirrorajah Metcalfe as Diane

Haverhill, MA (January 23, 2024) – The spring semester started with a bang for Northern Essex Community College theater students and professor Brianne Beatrice. They went right back into the theater to start re-rehearsing last spring’s production, Hurricane Diane. Beatrice learned just before the holiday break that representatives from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) selected the production as a finalist for the Region 1 Festival, taking place from January 30 to February 3.

“We have to remount the entire production to perform at festival,” says Beatrice. “All the students, everyone got right back into it. By next Monday, we’ll be good to go. We get there on a Tuesday, load in Wednesday, and perform Thursday.”

“Festival,” as it’s called, brings together hundreds of college theater students, professors, and professionals from New England and New York to showcase their work and share their expertise. Hurricane Diane was one of just six finalists chosen out of 60 productions, including shows from many prestigious, four-year schools.

“It’s crazy our work is being honored like this. They’re looking for good art, and our art is being recognized,” Beatrice remarks. This is the second show Beatrice has produced at NECC to be chosen for festival. The first was Stupid F*cking Bird in 2019.

The title role in Hurricane Diane is played by Liberal Arts: Writing major Mirrorajah Metcalfe of Haverhill. describes the character as “a permaculture gardener dripping with butch charm.” In reality, Diane is the Greek god Dionysus. She’s returned to the modern world to gather mortal followers and restore the Earth to its natural state. Where better to begin than with four housewives in a suburban New Jersey cul-de-sac? The comedy serves as a commentary on the blind eye we all turn to climate change and “the bacchanalian catharsis that awaits us, even in our own backyards.”

student in striped shirt goes over script with student in a beanie cap

Mirrorajah Metcalfe and Gwynnethe Glickman during rehearsal

Four more Northern Essex students round out the cast: Olivia Barberian, Gwynnethe Glickman, Jessica Newey, and Ana Barrera. Metcalfe and Barberian were also selected to compete for Irene Ryan Acting Scholarships. Each will perform two monologues and a scene. Newey, meanwhile, is nominated for The LMDA/KCACTF Student Dramaturgy Award.

Winners in each award category, including the production, will move on to the national festival later this spring in Washington, D.C. Regardless of the outcome, it won’t be the final curtain call for Diane. NECC Theater is restaging the production on the Haverhill Campus from February 23 to 25. Ticket sales for the revival will start soon.

Northern Essex offers a variety of theater and acting courses. Additionally, they stage several full productions and readings throughout the year. Anyone interested in learning more about NECC Theater or the audition process should email Professor Beatrice at

The KCACTF is a national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide, which has served as a catalyst for improving the quality of college theater in the United States. More than 600 academic institutions participate in state, regional, and national Kennedy Center American College Theater Festivals. The National Festival will be held in April in Washington, D.C.