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Theatre Graduates Find Success

April 29, 2010

By: Sarah Rubenoff, '10

The theater department at Averett University is a close knit community that is thriving and producing graduates who have participated in a whirlwind of amazing theater opportunities. Recent graduates have been involved in children's theater, traveling troops, cruise boat entertainment and even local Danville, Va. theater endeavors.

Nicole Floyd, a 2008 graduate, has spent most of her time in Kentucky since graduating with a degree in theater. She participated in the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, where she was a camp manager for Shakespeare camps designed for children. "Midsummer Night's Dream" and "The Tempest" were two of many works Floyd taught children attending the camp, from the ages of four to 12. After her work with the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, she interned at the Lexington Children's Theater and is now finishing up her second internship, while performing in children's shows, such as "The Snow Queen," and "Holes."

During the summer of 2009, Floyd came back to Danville to help with the production of "High School Musical," presented by the Danville Parks and Recreation Department.

Recently, Floyd performed "If You Give a Pig a Pancake," for the Southern Eastern Theater Conference, which Averett University's theater department annually attends.

"I am so proud to perform for my former colleagues and new Averett theater students," Floyd said. It was through the Southern Eastern Theater Conference that Floyd found her jobs at both the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival and the Lexington Children's Theater. "I think the Averett Theater Department does initiate a very good transition from college to work," Floyd said.

After Floyd's contract with the Lexington Children's theater is completed she intends to move to New York City. "I want to see how far I can pursue my dream," Floyd said.

Floyd encourages current theater students to be proactive about their careers and passion. "Follow your vision. If you think or feel like you're being held back, start writing your own script. Direct your own play. Be a self-starter."

Another Averett graduate chose to stay in the community of Virginia theater but ventured to its capitol. Matt Doss, a 2006 graduate, became involved with the prestigious Richmond troop, Theater IV, after a summer at the Snowcamp Outdoor Theater located in Burlington, N.C.

Doss's first role with Theater IV was in "Hugs & Kisses," a touring children's show for the prevention of sexual abuse. After this inspiring debut, Doss went on to work with Theater IV's main-stage production of "Thoroughly Modern Millie" and touring shows such as "T'was the Night before Christmas." He is currently touring "The Velveteen Rabbit." Doss performs with multiple Richmond improvisational groups in his spare time.

Averett's small size allows theater students to play many different roles and experience many different types of theater, which prepares students for the rigors and versatile nature of a theater career. "What's great about Averett is that it's a smaller school so you don't get lost in the crowd. Whereas at big school you would only be cast in maybe two shows your entire career, the theater department at Averett gives you the opportunity to work on a variety of roles over the course of you four years at the university," Doss said.

Doss intends to eventually move to Chicago and take classes with the Second City Theater. He hopes to audition for films and television in the future.

Doss firmly stands by the well known fact of theater, "Don't give up. You're going to get 100 no's before you get a yes."

Liz Johnson, '08, took a less traveled route to pursue her theater career. Johnson chose to go explore the world through her passion for theater. Johnson landed a dream job, working for Carnival Cruise Lines directly out of college, but that was not the beginning of her professional theater career.

Johnson did not come to Averett University for theater, but later changed majors after a successful audition and some encouragement from the theater department professors.

"The theater department was so welcoming and encouraging that I became more and more involved in productions," said Johnson.

Johnson, like Floyd, found her first professional theater opportunities through the Southern Eastern Theater Conference during a trip with Averett University. She gained two summer internships through the conference, working as a stage hand at Hershey Park in Hershey, Pa., and as a production assistant at the Brevard Music Center.

Johnson also found her current job with Carnival Cruise Lines through the Southern Eastern Theater Conference. She has been working with the cruise line since June 2008 and is already weeks into her third contract. Johnson has worked as a floor manager, and now works in automation, which includes running computer based backstage mechanics.

"I hope that in the future I will be able to use what I've learned at Carnival Cruise Lines to get a job on Broadway or with a touring theater company," Johnson said.

Johnson encourages current Averett theater students to, "take every opportunity Averett gives you to go to conferences, meet people, and network. You never know what contacts you'll make even from the lowliest of internships."

The inviting size and closeness of Averett's theater department provides a challenging hands-on environment that allows its students to experience many different aspects of theater. Theater students are involved in musicals, dramas, and comedies, to name a few. This broad range of opportunities, along with personal attention from professors and colleagues, provide program graduates with the experience and tools they need to succeed in their careers to come.