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Setting the stage for success

UMKC Theatre student reflects on program

As UMKC Theatre reflects on its 54th anniversary, students, faculty and alumni continue its tradition of success.

Based on Missouri's Campus for the Arts, UMKC Theatre features Master of Fine Arts programs in Acting/Performance, Costume Design, Lighting Design, Scenic Design, Stage Management, Sound Design and Technical Direction. UMKC Theatre also offers a Master of Arts in Theatre and a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre. It has 100 graduate students and approximately 60 undergraduate students.

Each year, UMKC Theatre presents six or seven full-scale graduate productions.

"We try to get our students involved in many ways with the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, which is right on campus," said Tom Mardikes, chair of UMKC Theatre and professor of sound design. "We also do co-productions with professional theatres, and we create new works that put our students in a working relationship with amazingly creative artists of national or international stature."

In the spring of 2009, award-winning playwright and screenwriter Ron Hutchinson adapted Mikhail Bulgakov's "The Master and the Margarita" for UMKC Theatre to perform. Eventually, the play will be performed in theatres in the United Kingdom.

Off campus, UMKC Theatre graduates have gone on to act, design, and stage manage for leading professional theatres, films and television studios across the country. In Kansas City, UMKC Theatre alumni have founded several theatre companies, including the Unicorn Theatre, Coterie Theatre, New Theatre Restaurant, Gorilla Theatre, American Heartland Theatre, Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, Martin City Melodrama, Kansas City Repertory Theatre and Kansas City Actors Theatre.

Because of UMKC Theatre's focus on personalized training, Zachary Andrews was drawn to the program's MFA in Acting/Performance.

"Your journey that you're on is very personal, and if you open yourself up to it, it starts to sort of change the way you see the world," said Andrews, an MFA in Acting/Performance student. "That's what this whole program is. It's about finding your personal habits that are getting in the way of your talent. If you want to come train, this is the kind of place you want to be."

In terms of recruiting, the MFA in Acting/Performance is UMKC Theatre's most competitive program. Each year, UMKC Theatre faculty interview more than 1,000 potential students and select fewer than 10.

"They basically come on full-rides; we pay their tuition for three years and give them a living stipend," Mardikes said. "We have been doing wonderfully well since Ted Swetz became head of acting and was joined by Ricardo Khan on the recruiting trail!"

Unlike any other program in the U.S., the MFA in Acting/Performance offers classroom training and hands-on production experience, supports theatre that is engaged in public issues and provides individualized training to each student. The three-year program features training in acting, text analysis, ballroom dance, acrobatics, voice, movement, singing, stage combat and comedy. For more information about UMKC Theatre, visit http://cas.umkc.edu/theatre/.

Posted: July 1, 2009

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"Your journey that you're on is very personal, and if you open yourself up to it, it starts to sort of change the way you see the world."

Zachary Andrews
MFA Student, Acting/Performance

Zachary Andrews plays Master in UMKC Theatre's world premiere of "The Master and the Margarita." Each year, UMKC Theatre presents six or seven full-scale graduate productions.

In addition to being an actor, Zachary Andrews is a photographer and graphic designer. He created the following photography Web site: http://shinyscale.jalbum.net/365/index.html