M.F.A. Program Students Make A.C.T. Mainstage Debuts in Elektra

Posted by Cait Robinson, Publications Fellow

Every season, third-year students in their final year of A.C.T.’s Master of Fine Arts Program put their education into practice when they appear for the first time on The Geary stage. Elektra debuts four talented members of the class of 2013: Nick Steen and Allegra Rose Edwards are taking on major roles as Elektra’s siblings, the vengeful Orestes and the complacent Chrysothemis; Titus Tompkins is playing the less verbal part of Pylades and Rebekah Brockman is understudying the title role after recently appearing in the U.S. premiere of Happy to Stand by Sirkku Peltola at A.C.T.’s Costume Shop last month.

The cast of Elektra in rehearsal. L to R: Titus Tompkins, M.F.A. Program class of 2013, René Augesen, Anthony Fusco, Steven Anthony Jones, Nick Steen, M.F.A. Program class of 2013, and Olympia Dukakis. Photo by Dan Rubin.
The cast of Elektra includes stars, legends, and their own teachers—and the students are the first confess their initial intimidation. Steen recalls his first rehearsal, at which he was almost too nervous to speak:  “I definitely worried, ‘What can I offer this production? But when I head the other actors ask the questions that I was just too self-conscious to ask, I realized that the work of the artist is never done, and it doesn’t necessarily get easier as you get older. A.C.T. prepares us to be in the room with these leviathans and collaborate,” he says. “That is the point.”

Edwards agrees that collaborating alongside her role models has been both exciting and scary. “Over the last two years, René [Augesen] has gone from star to teacher to mentor and peer,” she says. Edwards is fascinated by the diversity of the other actors’ techniques. She describes the M.F.A. Program as “all about helping the student find what works for them as an individual actor,” and finds the importance of this confirmed by her cast mates. “Everyone meets the work in a different way and nowhere is that more apparent than in these rehearsals. But they come together to live in the same text and tell the same story.” Was she nervous? “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t,” she laughs. “But I could not be in better hands.”

L to R: Allegra Rose Edwards, M.F.A. Program class of 2013, with René Augesen. Photo by Dan Rubin.
Keeping our actors-in-training in good hands in essential to “Geary readiness,” the goal around which the M.F.A. Program curriculum is organized. Conservatory Director Melissa Smith describes The Geary stage as a space that is “amazing, but also very challenging. It requires a level of craft, professionalism, and pure physical and emotional muscle that very few actors in the country possess,” she explains. “By their third year in the Master of Fine Arts Program, our students are ready to stand side by side and toe to toe with professional actors on that stage—and any stage.”

Performances of Elektra begin October 25. Click here to learn more about the production and grab tickets.

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