Theatre Arts, Communication senior wins national Arts Impact Award
Senior Alex Tolle won a national award to represent region II at the April 9-13 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) arts leadership program — and then, while at the national arts festival, earned a top award for her arts leadership and advocacy.
Tolle, a Theatre Arts and Communication double major from Woodstock, Md., received The College of Fellows Arts Impact Award, which includes a cash prize, an eight-day summer residency at the Kennedy Center and a return visit to D.C. in March 2019 for Arts Advocacy Day. The award was based on work Tolle did during the recent ASPIRE Arts Leadership Fellows Program as well as a video she submitted prior to attending that focused on what arts advocacy means to her.
“I think it is really important for everyone to figure out what they are passionate about, what they stand for,” said Tolle, looking forward to the summer residency and possibly sh aring her advocacy with Congress. “I want to be a role model for women in the arts and to go out into the world to be a leader and arts advocate for years to come.”
Tolle told the story in her video of how it all began with her first role as the dog Toto in “Oz” at the age of 12.
“That little dog set me on a course that changed my entire life,” she said, noting that she started off as a dog and worked her way up to a recent McDaniel production of “A Streetcar Named Desire” in which she played Stella Kowalski, a leading role. “I look back on how the arts shaped me as a person giving me confidence, drive and a place to belong.
“How can I be so deeply impacted by something and not share it with the world?”
During the regional festival in January, Tolle created as her project, “WomenWork,” a theatre company dedicated to producing the words and work of women. The project included crafting a mission, devising a staffing model and raising funds to support it.
While “Women Work” may not be a reality just yet, Tolle remains dedicated to promoting women’s work in the arts, where women and people of color are in a stark minority.
During Tolle’s semesters at McDaniel, she’s been active in theatre productions and organizations both on and off campus. In addition to a leading role as Stella in the College production of “A Streetcar Named Desire,” she has also appeared in “Hair,” “School for Wives,” “Laramie Project,” “Dead Man’s Cellphone,” “Mid-Summer’s Night’s Dream” and “The Bakkhai.”
She’s artfully integrated both of her majors into her studies as well as into her activities. In addition to the marketing internship at MET, she served as marketing intern at Everyman Theatre in Baltimore and currently is a marketing intern for the College.
Tolle has made a difference in McDaniel’s Theatre department by creating a Theatre Instagram account and adding weekly updates to the McDaniel Theatre Facebook page about what students are doing with their summers — internships, summer outdoor theatre gigs and more, according to department chair Elizabeth van den Berg.
“I’m so proud of her, and excited for her to have this experience and the opportunity it provides,” van den Berg says. “It seems that Arts Advocacy is the perfect blend of her two majors, Theatre and Communication.”