Perfect For Them: Alumni On Their Theater Experience At Duke

Kevin Poole. (T’98) (directed Phil Watson in his Senior Distinction project, “An Iliad.”)
Studying and practicing theater at Duke enriched my college experience immensely. A thread within the fabric of my overall liberal arts education, theater provided a means to actively explore social issues by more deeply comprehending the complex relationships between individuals and systems within which those individuals operate; sometimes knowingly, often times not. Balancing practice with theory is a challenge within the field of theater in higher education and that tension played out well for me at Duke and also in graduate school.

Read more of Kevin’s observations on directing An Iliad.

Davis Hasty (T’08) (professional actor in DC area)
I loved the personal attention and mentoring you receive in the Duke Theater Department. Unlike in a larger, conservatory type program, if you have the drive and desire, you can basically be in a show from the time you matriculate to the time you graduate. The professors I studied with were fantastic and always willing to spend extra time with a serious student – not to mention you are acting with very smart people, which always makes for a more interesting experience.

Michael Ayers (T’07) (in final year of medical school at Columbia)
I loved my Duke experience, and proudly tell everyone I know that there is no place on earth better than Duke. And the Theater Department was my home at Duke. Theater is a unique endeavor. It pushes us intellectually, emotionally and physically in a way nothing else can. And when we are surrounded by other bright, driven individuals, all being pushed to the edges of their comfort zones, it provides an opportunity to make friendships that are forged of tougher stuff. My teachers and peers from Duke Theater know me better and more completely than anyone else, and those are still some of my most meaningful relationships.

Madeleine Lambert (T’08) (professional actress based in Chicago, working all over the country in both TV and on the stage)
At Duke, the Theater Studies professors are outstanding. Under the professors’ guidance, I grew artistically, intellectually, and personally. The professors are themselves engaged in the art form of theater; therefore, there is a contagious creative momentum within the Theater Studies Department. The opportunity to study all facets of theater allowed me to develop into a “whole” artist. At Duke, actors direct and writers perform. Duke provided me with a Renaissance study of theater. Duke theater creates smart performers, who are engaged and intellectually curious. My experience as a Duke Theater Studies major instilled in me the confidence to pursue a career as a professional actress.

Dana Berger (professional actress in NYC)
I loved my theater experience at Duke. I found the classes and acting training to be challenging and formative. At Duke, I had many opportunities to act and be in shows: there were student-directed projects in addition to faculty-directed shows, and the theater faculty were very supportive and helpful when it came to us putting up our own work…I graduated feeling very confident in my abilities onstage, as well as my audition technique. This has served me well in the NYC theater scene, where I work as an actress.

You may read more comments from Theater alumni on the department website.