6 Theater Studies Students Win Benenson Awards

6 headshots
Six of this year's Benenson Award Winners are majoring or minoring in Theater Studies. Clockwise from top left: Anastacia Pogodina, Tenley Seidel, John Kang, Nicholas Kim, Tia Smith and Madison Canfora.

Six of this year's 24 Benenson Award winners have a major or minor in the Department of Theater Studies.

Given annually, the prize offers funding for arts-centered projects proposed by undergraduates, including graduating seniors. The Theater Studies students include:

  • Madison Canfora '22, Major: Neuroscience, Minors: Chemistry; Musical Theater, Project Area: Theater
  • John Kang '23, Major: Visual & Media Studies (Concentration in Cinematic Arts), Minors: Neuroscience; Theater Studies, Project Area: Film
  • Nicholas Kim '23, Major: Computer Science, Minor: Theater Studies, Project Area: Theater
  • Anastacia Pogodina '23, Majors: English; Theater Studies, Project Area: Writing
  • Tenley Seidel '22, Majors: Theater Studies; Global Cultural Studies, Minor: History, Project Area: Writing
  • Tia Smith '23, Majors: Theater Studies; African & African American Studies, Project Area: Writing

“We had a fantastic group of applicants this year from graduating seniors to rising sophomores," said Jules Odendahl-James, who chaired the Benenson Selection Committee. "We returned to our previous process of supporting projects at variable levels of funding, especially those with travel needs as the ongoing pandemic makes more space for arts to offer more workshops, intensives and artistic internships."

Odendahl-James, Duke's director of academic engagement for the arts and humanities and a lecturer of Theater Studies, went on to explain that many students will use the award to continue or start projects connected to honors theses.

"Students who took time off during the pandemic seized the opportunity to pursue supplemental training and students this year will pursue training in fields (e.g., fashion, architectural and sustainable design) that have a smaller footprint at Duke," she said.

"We continue to see students engage the different but related mentorships provided by StudioDuke and the Benenson to take their work through multiple development dimensions, leaving Duke with impressive portfolios to carry out into the broader world of arts making. Duke is incredibly lucky and thankful for this resource to support student artists.”

The application cycle for the 2023 Benenson Awards will begin in December.