MFA Student Testimonials

What do our current MFA students think about their University of Louisville Theatre Arts experience? We asked the MFA cohort to answer a few questions about the program. Their answers highlight the many reasons why you might also be interested in pursuing your MFA in Performance at the University of Louisville.

“During my senior year of undergraduate school, I had the privilege of attending the Southeastern Theatre Conference. The University of Louisville Theatre Arts representatives were one of the schools that were featured during this conference. I received a call back and earned the opportunity to speak with the Faculty and from this moment I was very intrigued by this institution. Not only did I learn of their Graduate Certificate in African American Theatre, but the faculty members were very welcoming.”- Kala Ross, 1st year MFA

“The diverse community.” - Lauren Dobbs, 2nd year MFA

“The African American Theatre Program is only offered at University of Louisville! That was something that sold me on this program immediately. This program has allowed me to continue to learn about the history of black theatre and encouraged me to delve deeper when developing characters in African American works. However, this program has also introduced me to plays from other cultures and times.” - LaShondra Hood, 2nd year MFA

“Shakespeare Behind Bars, The AATP and the faculty. Many graduate programs concentrate solely on performance. You see many people receive a huge amount of training just to starve in a void. I have already been hungry in a void and do not wish to learn more about that.” - Terry Tocantins, 2nd year MFA

“I was drawn to the African American Theater Certificate. I also loved that they had a focus on the Arts in Action and using theatre to make change.” - Lois Abdelmalek, 3rd year MFA

“I have always had an interest in critical art that makes a social impact, and U of L’s Theatre Arts program is invested in that kind of theatre making. I knew that my desired artistic goals would be met through my attendance of this program.” - Mia Rocchio, 3rd year MFA

“I met Professor Baron Kelly at the auditions in New York City in 2015.  I was intrigued by the mixture of creative work with performance theory.  Studying theatre academically and practically simultaneously had tremendous appeal.”  - Ross Shenker, 3rd year MFA

“I’m most looking forward to planning my community service project. I hope to address domestic and sexual violence in the queer community.” - Lauren Dobbs, 2nd year MFA

“First of all, I feel that I'm in one of the most diverse MFA programs. For my African-American Theater Certificate, I spent a year researching and creating work that showcased the plight of street children in Rwanda. I was interested in the intersection of photography and acting and wanted to play around with those two mediums together.” - Lois Abdelmalek, 3rd year MFA student

“At this moment in time, I working on creating a piece that will explore how disconnection and disassociation within the self triggers external, social disengagement. I will do this through the lens of identity as it relates to gender and, more specifically, as it relates to media representation of girlhood culture. As the research component of this piece, I am taking Dr. Diane Pecknold’s “Girl Cultures” class.” - Mia Rocchio, 3rd year MFA student

Baltimore. I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the production process. From the director to the cast and crew, the team was nothing short of amazing. This show addressed a plethora of issues that our target audience could possibly be facing today. It is always pleasing to be in a show that I know can make a difference.” - LaShondra Hood, 2nd year MFA

“I’m proudest of my work in King Lear because it was my first performance at UofL.”-Lauren Dobbs, 2nd year MFA

“U of L, rather than being an enclosed hot house, encourages you to branch out. I have been able to study the physical technique of Japanese theatre director Tadashi Suzuki in depth. Doing that has gotten me in touch with dozens of other people of my particular stripe I would never know otherwise.” - Terry Tocantins, MFA 2nd year

“This is a hard one! I loved being cast in Shakespeare's King Lear as Regan and then following that up with Sonia in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. To be able to play an evil princess in a drama and follow that up with a comedic play where I got to be a pessimistic woman in her 50s was an amazing experience last year.  One of the things I love about acting is being able to transform and play different characters.  I love being able to stretch my creative muscles in that way!” - Lois Abdelmalek, 3rd year MFA

“I am proud of all the work I have done because even though it wasn’t all perfect or didn’t come out the way I wanted it to, it was all crucial in helping me get to where I am. However, to give a specific example, I would say that the production of Masha, Sonia, Vanya and Spikethat was produced by U of L last spring and directed by Russ Vandenbroucke, significantly aided in the refining of my physical work on stage. I played a character who is 25 (ish) years my senior. It was a wonderfully opportunity to explore how the body dictates thought and expression.” - Mia Rocchio, 3rd year MFA

“I’m most proud of my original adaptation of Chekhov’s Seagull. I directed and produced, and pulled performances out of undergrads that were beyond my wildest dreams.”  - Ross Shenker, 3rd year MFA

“In terms of mentorship at U of L, Dr. Jenn Calvano has been very influential to my work and development. I am also just incredibly lucky to be in a department filled with powerful, incredibly intelligent, hardworking, and influential women. And, of course, men as well! However, it is especially exciting to be surrounded by these superhero level ladies. In my past training and educational experiences that has not been the case and to see firsthand such powerful examples of leadership and expertise from women within my field and to be trained by them has pushed me to a whole new level within my artistry.” - Mia Rocchio, 3rd year MFA

“Professor Rachel Hillmer here at UofL has taught me how to find the right mix of effort and ease in my acting, teaching, and life. She practices what she preaches.” - Ross Shenker, 3rdyear MFA

“I am looking forward to both productions I have been cast in this year which are: Our Country's Good and Eurydice. I hope to gain some new techniques and approaches to roles that I have not done before.”-Xavier Harris, 1st year MFA

“I was so overjoyed to see that I was cast in the production of Our Country’s Good, as this will be my first performance with the University of Louisville. I hope to continue to grow in my craft as a theatre artist. I am also looking forward to working with a group of such talented people.”-Kala Ross, 1st year MFA

“I am excited about our season of female playwrights this year, but dialect work is something I am particularly drawn to for the production of Our Country’s Good.”-LaShondra Hood, 2nd year MFA

“I'm really looking forward to being in Our Country's Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker and directed by Dr. Baron Kelly. By far this will be the most challenging role for me, especially due to the dialect work, so I'm really looking forward to the challenge and continuing to grow as an artist.”-Lois Abdelmalek, 3rd year MFA

“I am very excited for the production of Eurydice in which I will be playing the title character for my thesis role. I am hoping to continue to explore the themes and modes of performance that inspire me (such as storytelling though movement and girlhood vs. womanhood and the factors involved in that transformation). I have designed it so that my solo devised piece and this production inform each other and work together in terms of the development of the written component of my thesis. I am also studying independently with the movement professor, Dr. Jenn Calvano, this semester to mobilize my work within both projects. Dr. Calvano is also the director of both shows and my head thesis advisor; I am very excited to work with her to this extent as her research and methods of working align with my goals.”-Mia Rocchio, 3rd year MFA