The W’s Lee receives national theatre honor
Mississippi University for Women’s own Kris Lee was recently recognized on a national scale for his skills on the stage.
Lee, a newly-tenured associate professor of literature and philosophy, was the recipient of the Best Actor/Outstanding Achievement in a Lead Role award from the American Association of Community Theatre (AACT) at its annual AACTFest in June. The award was for his performance in the one man show, “Underneath the Lintel,” during Starkville Community Theatre’s (SCT) season.
“I was very fortunate to be awarded Best Actor/Outstanding Achievement in a Lead Role for my performance in ‘Underneath the Lintel,’ a one-man show, starring a character known only as The Librarian. Perhaps of interest is the fact that I carry the rare distinction of being awarded Best Actor for this role, in the same year, at every level of competition: state, regional and national. I’m particularly proud of that, not so much the awards, although, yes, they are certainly nice honors, as much as having the chance to perform in a show like this one that posed so many personal challenges. Having the chance to continue from one festival to the next was deeply rewarding and has long been a personal dream of mine to achieve,” Lee said.
“Underneath the Lintel” is the story of a librarian, who sets out on an adventure after finding a book in the return bin that is 113 years overdue.
While the award is for work done outside of The W, he credits his position with the university for his success.
Lee said, “Interestingly, it went rather hand-in-hand. The lLibrarian is the only character in the entire show, and he basically presents a ‘lecture’ to the audience and this is very familiar to me as an associate professor here at The W. In a sense, every time I taught class, I was ‘rehearsing.’ That was nice little added benefit.”
SCT submitted the show and Lee’s performance to AACT for consideration, and it just took off from there. Lee doesn’t credit himself solely for the success of the production though.
Lee said, “Despite this being an award given to me as the actor, the truth is, no theatre’s quite as ensemble as a one-person show. The phenomenal world created and maintained by Paula Mabry, Pattye Archer, Maddy Golden, Thomas LaFoe, Marsha Williams, Lyle Tate and Gabe Smith granted me permission to safely take chances in this demanding role, and to fail along the way, also necessary … for which (in team effort) we’ve been recognized at every level of competition.”
Lee believes this is best symbolized by the name on the award, or rather lack thereof.
“While returning home, trophy-in-hand, with words like ‘best’ and ‘outstanding’ etc. engraved across it, what isn’t on the award: a name. There’s no name on any of them. For a practical reason. Winners aren’t decided upon until end of festivals. But to me, it’s a more metaphorical reason. No Name means it could be anyone’s award, it means it’s an open invitation to any of us to be our best at what we love,” Lee said.
Founded in 1986, AACT is a nonprofit corporation that serves both individuals and organizations by providing expertise, assistance and support so that community theatres can provide the best possible theatrical experience for participants and audience alike.