SMC Theater Arts major competes in national festival for first time in history

Anthony Cloyd, 23, walks the Santa Monica College Theater Arts Department hallways like a bona fide superstar. The energy of his presence outshines his small stature as the eyes of  students follow him down the austere backstage hall. He slows down in front of huge auditorium doors as classmates, teachers, and friends welcome him in the hall with congratulatory hugs. A student cries out, “Yay, Anthony!” Cloyd returns a smile. “Thank you,” he says.

Cloyd is big news at the SMC Theater Arts Department. He will be the first SMC student in history to compete in the prestigious Kennedy Center Festival.

He has returned earlier this month from the American College Theater Festival in Ogden, Utah, as winner of a $250 scholarship. His scene partner and former SMC classmate, Celia M. Rivera, outshined about 200  student actors in the festival’s regional contest hosted at Weber State University. Cloyd was shocked when he won first place. “It didn’t even feel real!  I didn’t move. I thought it was a mistake,” he said.

Cloyd and Rivera performed selections from two plays: Richard Wesley’s “The Talented Tenth,” and “The Colored Museum,” by George C. Wolfe. Cloyd  performed a monologue from Shakespeare’s tragedy, “Troilus and Cressida”.

Cloyd will be accompanied by his partner, Rivera,  to Washington, D.C in April  for the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival. Rivera is eligible for the $250 Kingsley Colton Award for Best Partner while Cloyd is qualified for the $3000 Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship. Cloyd says, “It’s such an honor to go. It’s not even really about winning. I just want to be able to enjoy the experience.”

The scholarship is named after Irene Ryan, the actress who portrayed  “Granny Clampett” on the ‘60s comedy sitcom, “The Beverly Hillbillies”. According to the Kennedy Center website, the scholarship gives “recognition, honor, and financial assistance to outstanding student performers wishing to pursue further education.”

Perviz Sawoski, Theater Arts Department Chair at SMC, casted Cloyd in his very first play, “Camilla.” “He’s somewhat unique in the way that he absorbs material really fast and really well. He has good voice, good movement abilities, and he is a good actor,” Sawoski said.

Cloyd has been attending SMC for six years. He has acted in many plays at the SMC Theatre Arts Department including “Metamorphosis” by Mary Zimmerman’s and “The Good Woman of Szechwan” by Bertolt Brecht.

Cloyd enjoys the attention he is getting, and plans to complete a Bachelor of Arts at NYU or UCLA in the fall. “It feels amazing because you work hard, and someone finally appreciates your work,” he said.

SMC Theatre Arts Department nominated Cloyd for the competition in March, 2011. Sawoski is hopeful that Cloyd’s participation this April in Washington, D.C. will be beneficial not only to Cloyd, but to SMC.

“I think it’s a great honor. We’re excited for him. I think he’s going to bring Santa Monica College’s name to national recognition,” Sawoski said.