By Arielle Feldman |
March 26, 2019

For Kate Kilpatrick, pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre for Young Audiences and directing UCF’s touring production of “The Last Paving Stone” is just the beginning. She is one of 22 students this year to receive Order of Pegasus, UCF’s highest student honor. From a pool of 77 nominations, Kilpatrick was chosen for her academic achievement, university involvement, leadership, community service and research experience. She will receive a commemorative medal, a scholarship from the Student Government Association, and have her name and picture added to the wall of Order of Pegasus recipients in the Pegasus Lounge.

“It is an extraordinary honor to receive Order of Pegasus,” says Kilpatrick. “It truly makes me feel like a part of UCF’s legacy, and I am proud to represent our school and our Theatre UCF TYA program as I continue my work and research.”

What got you interested in an MFA in Theatre for Young Audiences at UCF?

After trying the “starving actor” lifestyle in New York, I made a major career change and became a Certified Sommelier, but there was still a hole in my heart that longed for theatre. I was a hardcore theatre kid through middle and high school, so I decided to start looking specifically at TYA programs. Two of my best friends had lived in Orlando for a while, and I came down to visit them a few years ago and fell in love with the area. When I discovered the MFA track at UCF, I knew it was fate.

What really drew me to the program was its partnership with the Orlando Repertory Theatre. I was so excited for the professional opportunities it could offer and the potential ways I could learn as an artist and an educator. It truly makes our program unique to any other TYA program in the country.


What has been your favorite moment at UCF?

I took a puppetry class my first semester here and for our final, our class wrote a song for our professor and performed it with our finished puppets. It turns out that the best stress-relief during finals week is squeezing into a tiny practice room with a piano and playing with puppets and your peers. (The song still gets stuck in my head from time to time.)


What are some of the projects you’ve worked on as part of the TYA program?

There have been so many incredible opportunities! One of the projects closest to my heart has been Come to the Table, which is an intergenerational program that I designed in partnership with the Orlando REP. We took Avalon Middle School students to Encore at Avalon Retirement Community, where they interviewed seniors about family recipes and food traditions. I then took the stories and used them to inspire an original, one-act play (also titled “Come to the Table”), which was performed by the middle school students. We performed the show at the Orlando REP, and then took it to compete at the Florida Junior Thespians District Festival. It ended up being chosen to move on to the Florida Thespians State Festival, so now our middle school students are competing against the best high school one-acts in the state!

I have also been teaching at Edgewood Children’s Ranch, a residential school for at-risk youth, for the past two years. We work with students in grades 3-12 on writing and performing poems, and in the spring, we put on a full play. I also assistant-directed the Orlando REP’s Youth Academy production of “Big Fish” last summer, and I’ve taught quite a few camps and classes for the REP as well.


Are you involved in any student organizations?

I am the Vice President for our new TYA organization Celebrate TYA. Our mission is to connect emerging practitioners and young professionals to opportunities within the TYA field, including staged readings, interactions with guest artists, and guided discussions.


What do you hope to accomplish once you graduate?

I’d love to continue my work as a teaching artist and TYA playwright. I also hope to create more intergenerational community programming and continue my research on the benefits of Theatre for the Very Young (TVY) when performed for seniors with memory loss.


What have you learned through your research on Theatre for the Very Young (TVY)?

TVY, which is theatre geared toward audiences 0-6 years of age, was a passion that surprised me. It has taught me the importance of play, and that the theatre doesn’t have to be a space for focus and quiet. What I love most about TVY is that it celebrates being present in the moment rather than emphasizing a linear story. It is all about discovery, exploration and engagement.

I had the incredible opportunity to assist my colleague Maria Katsadouros ’18 in devising her thesis project, a TVY production called “When Pigs Fly,” a story about a pig exploring the concept of flight. Every time we perform it, I am so moved by how successfully it engages everyone of all ages. It is truly an incredible form of theatre. We are excited to be performing the show at this year’s UCF Celebrates the Arts.


How has UCF prepared you to achieve your goals?

UCF, and particularly the TYA program’s partnership with The Orlando Repertory Theatre, has given me so many opportunities to develop residencies and community relationships. The support I have received from Theatre UCF faculty and Orlando REP staff has been undeniably fundamental to my successes. Without my UCF network of artists and academics, I wouldn’t be the person or professional I am today.