Actor Stacy Keach to Spend a Day with Mason’s Theater Department

Posted: December 8, 2010 at 1:02 am, Last Updated: December 7, 2010 at 4:47 pm

By Catherine Ferraro

Mason’s Department of Theater has seen many accomplished playwrights, directors, actors and choreographers walk its hallways throughout the years. Robert Brustein, a theatrical critic, producer, playwright and educator; Anne Bogart, a theater director; and Ed Asner, a film, television, stage and voice actor, are among them.

Adding another “big name” to its impressive list of guests, the Theater Department will welcome Stacy Keach, an American star of stage and screen, on Monday, Dec. 13. Keach will spend the day on the Fairfax Campus getting to know Mason administrators, faculty, staff and students.

As part of his visit, Keach will conduct a master class for theater students. During the class, Keach will talk with students about how to prepare for their careers and how to be successful after they graduate.

He plans to bring several scripts from some of his previous roles for students to use in “cold readings” — reading aloud from a script without advanced rehearsal — and will work with them on other audition techniques.

“The experience and knowledge the students will receive from Mr. Keach’s visit is priceless, and we are thrilled that he decided to come to Mason,” says Ken Elston, chair and associate professor in the Theater Department.

“We hope to use this visit as an opportunity for him to get to know the university and vice versa so we might open the door for future collaborations.”

Keach might be best remembered for his classic portrayal of a private detective in the popular 1980s television series, “Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer.” He began his career in the 1960s in an off-Broadway play, and he has since played more than 80 roles on the stage, in film and on television.  He has won numerous awards, including a Golden Globe Award and three Helen Hayes Awards.

In recent years, Keach has had recurring roles on television shows such as “Prison Break” and “Two and a Half Men” and has narrated several educational programs on PBS and the Discovery Channel. He is currently performing in “Other Desert Cities,” an off-Broadway play.

As a prominent Shakespearean actor, Keach has worked with Ed Gero, associate professor of theater, and that relationship is what’s bringing him to Mason. Keach and Gero were most recently reunited on stage in 2009 during the Shakespeare Theater Company’s production of “King Lear” in Washington, D.C. Keach played Lear and Gero played Gloucester.

“Stacy has been a good friend and colleague for many years, and while working together on ‘Lear’ we spoke about the importance of preparing students for their professional careers in an academic setting,” says Gero.

“I asked if he would be willing to come to Mason to work with our students, and he happily agreed. Stacy does not typically make visits to speak to students, so this is a unique opportunity for the university.”

Keach will begin his visit by joining Mason President Alan Merten and his wife, Sally, and students and faculty from the Theater Department for lunch at the Mason Inn. After lunch, Elston and Gero will interview Keach about his extensive career. The interview will be filmed and added to an archive of guest interviews for later viewing by theater students.

Later that evening, Keach will join theater students and faculty, members of the Friends of Theater and other invited guests for dinner and a reception at the Center for the Arts.

“Hosting an actor of this caliber is another ingredient that demonstrates Mason’s Theater Department can compete with any other in the nation,” says Elston. “His visit helps solidify our desire to formalize a guest artist program and make others aware of the quality our theater program offers.”

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