Baldessare Wins Fulbright for AIDS Education in Africa

04/24/2003

Contributed by Anonymous

Cynthia Henderson Baldessare, an assistant professor of theater arts, has received a grant from the Fulbright Program to spend the 2003-2004 academic year at the University of Yaounde I in Cameroon, Africa. She will teach acting courses there as well as direct a production of Suzan-Lori Parks's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Topdog/Underdog.

"I will also be working with professors at the university on an AIDS project that will take us into Cameroon's rural villages," Henderson says. "We will be using theater to spread information on the AIDS epidemic from a human and personal level."

This project will require months of traveling from village to village. Henderson's son, Justin Baldessare, who is currently an eighth grader at Boynton Middle School, will accompany her.

"This is the first time I've applied for a Fulbright," Henderson says. "I'm incredibly excited about having the opportunity to use my craft in a way that will have such a potentially positive and meaningful effect on the lives of the people I will encounter."

Currently in her third year at Ithaca College, Henderson directs various Ithaca College theater productions and teaches acting in both the B.A. and B.F.A. programs. Her instruction is geared toward elevating the actors' grasp and ownership of their art and the craft of acting.

In addition to being a skilled teacher, Henderson is an accomplished performer. She has appeared in A Wrinkle in Time at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts as well as in several off-Broadway productions, including Brother's Keeper and A Star Ain't Nothin' but a Hole in Heaven. She spent four years performing in Europe with the German-based Frankfurter Englischer, an English-speaking theater company. In 1991 the European Tournament of Plays named her best supporting actress in a musical for her performance as Ronnette in Little Shop of Horrors.

Henderson holds a bachelor's degree in theater from Troy State University and a master of fine arts degree from the professional actor-training program at the Pennsylvania State University. She is a member of the Actor's Equity Association.

The Fulbright Program was established at the end of World War II to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries, through the exchange of persons, knowledge, and skills. In addition to the faculty and professional program, Fulbright grants are awarded to students who wish to teach and do research abroad.

Henderson's award marks the fourth consecutive year an Ithaca College faculty member has received a Fulbright grant. In the last five years, four students have also won Fulbrights.

Contributed by Keith Davis

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