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.

“What sparked my interest in UofL’s MFA in Performance program was their mission statement. I am dedicated to using theatre as a community-building tool and this program offers many avenues in which I can achieve that goal.” –Sarah Chen-Elston, 3rd year MFA 

“I’m from Louisville, so generally speaking it was the work that I saw faculty doing in the community. More specifically, Dr. Ari Calvano directed me in a show, and it was some of the best work I had ever done, so I was like, I want to go learn more.” –Alicia Fireel, 3rd year MFA

“The African American Theatre program is the only one of its kind in all of America, so when I saw that there was an opportunity to study theatre about my culture, I said, ‘Yep, that’s where I need to be.’” –Tajleed Hardy, 2nd year MFA

“I was looking to continue my training as an actor, but I also believed an understanding of higher education would benefit my professional career.” –Nick Willis, 2nd year MFA

“My creative work is the container through which I engage in activism. It is how I know best to speak to the current issues, and how we can dream and find hope in better days.” –Sarah Chen-Elston, 3rd year MFA

“It’s two pronged really. First, I want to stand up front and write and perform stories that sit at the intersection of queer identity and neurodivergent identity. I also believe that Black artists matter, so I want to step back out of the spotlight and give support to theatre artists that have been denied support and had their voices silenced.” –Alicia Fireel, 3rd year MFA

“For me, the most important issue we are facing today is a lack of social connection. My creative work allows me to connect different groups of people to each other. My work helps bridge the gap between people who may not have necessarily tried to connect with each other.” –Tajleed Hardy, 2nd year MFA

“I am currently doing research to prepare for my thesis show, which shall remain nameless for the moment. That play revolves around the idea that ‘people are hell.’ This concept seems prevalent at a time when people are more connected yet feel more isolated than ever.” –Nick Wills, 2nd year MFA

“The most impactful production I have participated in at UofL was the 2021-2022 Repertory Company’s Code Switch. This was a devised piece we worked on as a cohort. This introduction to Theatre for Young Audiences challenged my perception of how we can bring more forms of theatre and community engagement to Mainstage productions.” –Sarah Chen-Elston, 3rd year MFA

“My thesis role was a one-person play that I wrote and performed. It’s the hardest and best work I’ve ever done, and it wouldn’t have happened without this program pushing me to be my best artistic self.” –Alicia Fireel, 3rd year MFA

“For me, it would have to be the Spring Shorts of the 2021-2022 season. I got to write my first play and see it produced. It is my proudest moment because I got to share my voice with the world and share stories of some of the incredible people I have met in my life.” –Tajleed Hardy, 2nd year MFA

“I am proudest of my work on Twelfth Night (2021). It was my first Shakespeare show and the experience was pivotal to my growth as an actor.” –Nick Wills, Second Year Grad

“The faculty here have supplied me with a strong foundation as a performer. While I have gained structure, I am continuously being pushed to create meaningful work that speaks directly to my praxis.” –Sarah Chen-Elston, 3rd year MFA

“There are a lot of things that I had convinced myself I couldn’t do or wasn’t good at. My professors here helped me overcome those beliefs and helped me excel at things I thought I’d never be able to do at all.” –Alicia Fireel, 3rd year MFA

“I think I’ve been influenced by the community side of my artistry. How can I as an artist influence not just students, but the community? I have discovered that theatre needs to be accessible to everyone, and if it is not, then it should be changed so it can be.” –Tajleed Hardy, 2nd year MFA

“My goals in acting are still somewhat the same, but my self-confidence has definitely been raised and I am more open to stepping into new opportunities since I came here. I would attribute both of those changes to my professors.” –Nick Wills, 2nd year MFA