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Caity Shea Violette: An Impressive College Career

It’s rare for an undergraduate’s work to receive national attention. Most students hope for success as a professional down the road. Caity Shea Violette didn’t wait. She was a writer, actress, and 2012 Playwriting Excellence Award recipient, all before she was a senior. Those who can, craft their own scenes.

Caity Shea Violette

Caity Shea Violette’s play Target Behavior captured the 2012 Playwriting Excellence Award at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in Washington D.C.

A senior at UMD, Caity Shea Violette has accomplished more in her three years of college than many professional playwrights do in the early years of their career. An acting major, Violette has been involved in a wide range of theatrical training, both as a stage actor and a playwright.

As an actor, she has performed in Shakespeare’s Richard III and The Laramie Project at UMD. In November 2012, honoring the 25th anniversary of the Duluth Sister City relationship with Vaxjo, Sweden, Violette played Marie in the UMD production of White Baby.

As a playwright, Violette’s first full-length play Target Behavior, became the first student written play to showcase on UMD’s main stage theater. She has completed three Undergraduate Research Opportunity Projects (UROPs), all of which focused on playwriting. Violette is the recipient of multiple scholarships, including the prestigious Iron Range Merit Scholarship, the Olive Anna Tezla Scholarship, the Gershgol Fine Arts Scholarship, and the Kanter Family Scholarship.

Violette says her most memorable experience at UMD was the opening night of Target Behavior.  The show was sold out. “It was a great feeling to sit in the audience with my mentor and my friends, while seeing some of my classmates interpreting my words for the crowd.” In addition to winning the Kennedy Center award, Target Behavior was a finalist for the David Mark Cohen National Playwriting Award.

The theater projects Violette has participated in are not limited to UMD. She has been actively performing in the Duluth community, playing Rebecca in Our Town at the Duluth Playhouse in 2010. In September 2012, her new play, The Cabin, written with the help of a UROP, was produced at the Duluth Playground in downtown Duluth.

Violette's ten-minute play Lily was produced at UMD in October 2012. Lily was selected as a National Semi-Finalist at the KCACTF Ten-Minute Play Competition in June 2012, and it received a concert reading at the regional festival. In December, she played the role of Inez in No Exit at UMD.

Her career began in high school. Violette worked with the Minneapolis Children’s Theater Company, a regional theater company. She had the opportunity to perform in Fashion 47 and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. She also wrote and directed a play at the Minneapolis Fringe Festival.

After she graduates in May 2013, Violette plans to move to Chicago to try her hand at acting before going to graduate school for an MFA in playwriting. 

Violette said UMD has a really strong BFA program and that she owes a large part of her achievements to her mentor, Tom Isbell, professor of theater.

“We have a phenomenal faculty,” Violette said. “It has completely made the difference.”


Those Who Can, Duluth


Written by Cheryl Reitan with Madiha Mirza, January 2013

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UMD home page editor, Cheryl Reitan,

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