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Acting Graduates Receive Rave Reviews at ArtsNaples World Festival

By Rachel Judy

August 21, 2015

Regent's Master of Fine Arts in Acting graduating cohort performs

Regent's Master of Fine Arts in Acting graduating cohort performs The Government Inspector Photo by Tim Kling


Rather than going their separate ways immediately after Commencement, the ten students in the Master of Fine Arts in Acting graduating cohort traveled together to perform at the ArtsNaples World Festival, held May 12-18 in Naples, Fla.

The cohort was invited to perform The Government Inspector, written by famed Russian author Nikolai Gogol and adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher.

"It is a great honor to be asked to perform as the only theatre event for this international arts festival," said Scott Hayes, associate professor in the School of Communication & the Arts. Hayes served as director of the production. "There are scores of graduate actor training programs, and Regent is humbled and excited to be chosen .... I know the cohort is pleased to work with each other; three years of constant classes, productions and regular group prayer makes all of our cohorts uniquely connected."

After graduation, each MFA in Acting cohort traditionally travels to New York City to perform in a showcase for casting directors, agents and other industry professionals in an effort to launch their professional acting careers. When the opportunity to perform at ArtsNaples came up, this year's graduating class decided to veer from the traditional expectation to head straight for the Big Apple.

"This gave our group the opportunity to have a professional experience right out of grad school," explained cohort member Jeff Fazakerley, who was instrumental in connecting the group with the ArtsNaples organization. Fazakerley was also invited to perform in Stravinski's L'Histoire du Soldat which was staged in honor of the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak.

"The festival is also in their first year and is receiving national and international recognition for their unification of the arts community in Naples and around the world," Fazakerley added.

So, the group decided to spend some extra time in Naples, performing at the festival and then mounting a showcase for a group of casting directors and industry professionals flown in just for the occasion.

"This business is just a lot about people knowing you, noticing that you're doing good work consistently and that you're in this business for the long haul," explained Mark Paladini, professional-in-residence in the School of Communication & the Arts. As a casting director, executive producer and actor, Paladini knows the entertainment industry from every angle and wants to pass on that knowledge to his students.

"Usually when we go to New York, if industry people express interest in our actors, it will only result in something if the actor decides to move to New York," Paladini continued. "What we did [this year] was ask our students to target different people in the places that they're moving to."

"The ArtsNaples World Festival was our first job post-graduation," said cohort member Mike Salsbury. "It was a great professional credit to add to our individual résumés, as it is important to begin replacing our academic production credentials with 'real world' credentials."

"What was truly successful about this showcase was the fact that we are creating opportunities in a multitude of areas," Paladini added. "I don't know of anyone else doing this, and that's why it's so innovative and exciting."

Learn more about Regent's MFA in Acting.