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Marion fellowships awarded to young New York City artists
Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Marion fellowships awarded to young New York City artists

Rebekah Allen (left) and Jessica Kahkoska.

Two rising New York City theatre artists, Jessica Kahkoska and Rebekah Allen, have been named as recipients of the 2017-2018 Marion International Fellowship for the Visual and Performing Arts for “The Untitled Agent 355 Project,” a rock musical theatre exploration of the mysterious female member of the Culper Spy Ring during the American Revolutionary War.

With shared interests in the musical theatre exploration of heritage, fear, resistance and mystery, Ms. Allen and Ms. Kahkoska will reimagine prominent colonial women of the Revolutionary period as a punk-rock girl band. They will utilize the Marion fellowship to create an innovative, subversive musical theatre piece.

"These two emerging young artists continue the tradition of exciting, innovative ideas supported by the Marion International Fellowship. Kahkoska and Allen's proposal for an all-female rock musical set in the American Colonial period was articulate and full of energy,” said Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts Ralph Blasting.

Both recipients are currently working artists in New York City who have had residencies at the American Music Theatre Project and Musical Theatre Factory and have participated numerous productions and workshops off-Broadway.

The Marion fellowship was created in 2013 through the Fredonia College Foundation by Fredonia alumna Cathy (’79) and Jesse Marion, of Houston, Texas, to support new artistic journeys. The 2017-2018 grant, valued at $18,000, will support a creative journey to at least four of the five institutions of the Marion Circle: Chautauqua Institution; Ucross Foundation, Wyoming; Alley Theatre, Houston; Alberta College of Art and Design, Alberta, Canada; and Fredonia.

The journey that Allen and Kahkoska will undertake will begin at Chautauqua Institution during Week 7, whose theme is “The Nature of Fear.”

Kahkoska, who has a B.A. in Theatre from Northwestern University, is a co-creator of the Discount Ghost Stories, a New York City rock theatre band that conceptualizes dark American legends into research-based rock concerts. Kahkoska is affiliated with the Repertory Theater in Colorado, and Detroit (Mich.) Public Theatre in the areas of marketing and communications, and will serve the marketing and external communications director of the Chautauqua Theater Company this summer.

As a performer, Kahkoska has appeared in regional theatre, workshops in New York City and educational theatre at Northwestern.
Allen, a writer, composer and lyricist, has a B.A. in Theater, with a focus on Acting, Writing and Comedy Studies, from Columbia College in Chicago. She is also an alumna of the Second City Comedy Studies Program of Chicago and the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Writing Workshop.

Her work has been presented at the New York Musical Festival, Musical Theatre Factory, York Theatre, Gallery Players, Second City Chicago and Feinstein’s/54 Below. Allen conceived and wrote the book, music and lyrics for “We Are the Tigers,” an original pop/rock murder mystery musical that was the L.A. Stage Alliance Ovation winner for Best Lyrics/Composition. She also wrote the book, music and lyrics for “Remission,” an original new musical.

“As we enter year five of the Marion Fellowship, I am even more grateful for the opportunity to help bring new artistic works to life" Dean Blasting said.

Juanita Rockwell, the 2016-17 Marion Fellow, continues work on her project, “Calutron Girls,” having completed residencies at the Alley Theatre and Ucross Foundation. Ms. Rockwell will present her work on Thursday, Oct. 19 just prior to Fredonia’s fall Homecoming festivities. More information about Ms. Rockwell is available online.

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