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Theater scholarship honors late student’s memory

Joshua Hastings was 22 years old and just months away from graduating with a degree in theater from Tidewater Community College when he died tragically in a house fire.

Hastings was a beloved classmate and an active student who had performed in “Romeo and Juliet,” “Barefoot in the Park,” and “Bus Stop.” He played a crooked priest in “The Pearl,” stepping into the role just before opening night.

His last role was as a chorus member in “Antigone.”

Matthew Gorris, head of the technical theatre department at the time, was devastated. “We canceled everything for a week,” he said. The department dedicated “Antigone” to Hastings and started plans for a scholarship fund in his name.

Matthew Gorris, program head of TCC Theatre
Matthew Gorris, program head of TCC Theatre

Gorris established the Josh Hastings Memorial Theatre Scholarship in 2008 through his family business. The scholarship, which can be applied toward tuition, books and fees, is awarded to a theater student who demonstrates academic excellence and shares Hastings’ passion for performance.

This year’s recipient, Anthony Fattizzi, has many of Hasting’s characteristics, including his upbeat personality and love of the stage.

One big difference between the two: which side of the curtain they prefer.

Hastings loved to perform. Fattizzi’s passion is behind the scenes.

“I started acting in sixth grade,” Fattizzi said. “In high school I moved to crew and I’ve done that ever since. I love the technical side of the theater – light and sound.”

Fattizzi will graduate in December with a Career Studies Certificate in Theatre Arts. He’s looking forward to working on Shakespeare in the Grove at the Chesapeake Campus over the summer and completing a theater internship this fall.

The scholarship has helped relieve some of the financial pressure of an arts degree. “Professor Gorris uses textbooks that are free and available online,” Fattizzi said. “The only cost of my classes is the tuition and fees, which I apply my scholarship award toward.”

Gorris, now program head of TCC Theatre, stresses you don’t need to be a current performer or technician to get involved in the program.

“We encourage students who have not experienced live theater to take in a show and broaden their horizons,” he said. “The arts are all around us – in the form of books, television and radio. We show students how to be part of all of this, even if in a small way.”

Joshua Hastings - TCC Theatre
Joshua Hastings performing in a TCC Theatre production.

Hastings was awarded a posthumous degree. He planned to transfer to Christopher Newport University and talked about becoming a theater teacher.

His memory lives on in the theater program at the Chesapeake Campus.

“Some of Josh’s friends are still involved in the program,” Gorris said. “Every year I tell my theater students about Josh. His friends and I meet to talk about him. We never forget him.”

For more information about available scholarships at TCC, visit To learn more about establishing a scholarship at TCC, contact the TCC Educational Foundation at or 757-822-1080.