Scene from SMU Theatre’s Production of “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” by Tom Stoppard (photo by Kim Leeson)

Collaboration and connection doesn’t end after four years.

SMU Meadows Theatre alumni can be found on stage locally as well as in major regional theatres and Broadway, on screen in movie theaters and television, and offstage writing, designing and directing. Some start their own theatre companies, including Signature Theatre in New York, The House Theatre in Chicago, and Kitchen Dog Theater in Dallas. Our alums also lead the way in executive suites such as Spoke Media (Dallas) and The Drama League (New York). SMU Theatre graduates, whether in acting, writing, design or business, can be found on the rosters of Tony, Academy Award and Pulitzer Prize winners. Below are some of our featured recent alumni, all on their way up.

FEATURED | Recent Alumni

About NATHAN ALLEN (B.F.A. Theatre ’00)

Nathan founded The House Theatre of Chicago with friends in 2001 and continues to lead the company as artistic director. Writing and directing credits include Death and Harry Houdini; The Last Defender; The Sparrow; Rose and the Rime; and The Hammer Trinity (The Iron Stag King, The Crownless King, and The Excelsior King.) He wrote and starred in The Valentine Trilogy and directed The Magnificents by fellow SMU Hunt Scholar Dennis Watkins, who also created the weekly magic show The Magic Parlour.

Nathan has received acknowledgements from The Joseph Jefferson Awards, the Orgie Theatre Awards and The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.  He is an Eagle Scout and an SMU Hunt Leadership Scholar. He has been named an associate artist at The Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami, and received the Emerging Leader Award from Southern Methodist University.

What are you working on now?

Artistic Director, The House Theatre of Chicago

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

SMU Theatre provided a rigorous conservatory foundation in the fundamental instruments of physical body and design. The Hunt Scholarship then sent me abroad to the British American Drama Academy for my junior year of study. This opened me to new questions of ethics and aesthetics in performance. Those questions were then encouraged and scaffolded in my capstone year back at SMU by a faculty focused on deepening my understanding of the fundamentals while encouraging challenge to the contemporary theatre’s status quo.

What advice would you give students?

Your hustle is worth so much more than your talent. Surround yourself with people who inspire and challenge you. Be rigorous. Be prepared. Be early. And above all, be kind.


About ANEESHA KUDTARKAR (B.F.A. Theatre Studies ’12)

 

Photo by T. Charles Erickson

  • Freelance Director and Assistant Director, New York City, 2012–present
  • M.F.A. Drama, Yale School of Drama 2019
  • Directors Project Fellow, The Drama League, 2015. As one of a select group of directors chosen by The Drama League, I was given the opportunity to work at the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, N.Y. as both a director and teacher.
  • Artistic Fellow, The Westport Country Playhouse, 2013. The position of Artistic Fellow included the opportunity to work closely with the artistic director and associate artistic director for the theatre. I also served as the assistant director on all five shows in their 2013 season.
  • Artistic Intern/Production Assistant, Signature Theatre, 2012–13
  • My directing work has been seen at various festivals in NYC (including Tiny Rhino, Yes! Noise, INTAR’s American Nightcap) and at the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, New York.
  • I have assistant directed at Signature Theatre Company, Lincoln Center Theatre, Soho Rep, and The Juilliard School. I continue to identify as a New York-based director because my proximity to New York has made it possible for me to maintain professional connections as I complete my master’s degree.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently an M.F.A. candidate at the Yale School of Drama, set to graduate in 2019.

The School of Drama directing program is a prestigious one which only admits three students every year. As an M.F.A. candidate, I direct several shows every year at the School of Drama and the Yale Cabaret. I collaborate with new playwrights on original works, and re-imagine classics in a contemporary context. I am also employed as a TA, teaching Acting for Shakespeare to undergraduate students.

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

My time at SMU instilled in me a strong work ethic and sense of curiosity about the world, both of which have served me well in my career. As a freelance director, I’ve had to forge my own path. My professors at SMU taught me to never be afraid of what I didn’t know. They taught me that gaps in my own knowledge or experience could be filled by going to the library, interviewing experts, relying on the knowledge of my peers, or engaging with my community. SMU taught me that one of the joys of being an artist is that there’s always more to be discovered if you’re willing to do the work.

What advice would you give students?

Take advantage of the resources and community that Meadows has to offer. Meadows is unique because you can walk through the halls of the main building and pass people from a wide range of disciplines—dance, theatre, visual art, communications, management, etc. You’re all studying under one roof, and you have the opportunity to collaborate on all sorts of incredible projects. The school is ready to supply you with both the funding and space to do so; take advantage of that!


About MOLLY BEACH MURPHY (B.F.A. Theatre Studies ’09)

I have worked as an associate to world-class theater artists including Tina Landau, Jo Bonney, John Guare and Suzan-Lori Parks, among others.

What are you working on now?

Playwright and director working in various capacities on Broadway, Off-Broadway and regionally.

Most recently, my musical Cowboy Bob was workshopped at New York Stage and Film in summer 2018. I am the 2019 recipient of the Drama League’s Beatrice Terry Residency, a $10,000 award designed exclusively for women-identified artists who both write and direct their own work, for my play Galveston.

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

SMU helped me learn about myself as an artist and, most practically, I learned how to navigate the necessary challenges of making my art. SMU Student Theatre (SMUST) is where I learned how to make a play happen—how to convince my friends to work on the play, how to run a rehearsal, how to find costumes, props, etc. Essentially, the best lesson I learned at SMU was how to make something from nothing. How to get scrappy and will a play into existence.

What advice would you give students?

In whatever capacity is most interesting, you must participate in SMUST. Pick a play and do it. Rehearse it, even if the rehearsals aren’t going the way you thought. Let it be performed, even if you are so nervous you can’t watch. The bad news is it will always be terrifying. The good news is you will have done it. And isn’t that why you are in the game in the first place?


About WRENN SCHMIDT (B.F.A. Theatre Studies, B.A. History ’05)

Previous television projects include The Looming Tower (Hulu/Legendary) 2018; Outcast (Cinemax/Fox International Studios) 2016–17; Person of Interest (CBS) 2014–16; The Americans (FX) 2014; Boardwalk Empire (HBO) 2012–13.

Previous film work includes 13 Hours (Paramount Pictures) 2016; I Saw the Light (Sony Pictures) 2015; How to Follow Strangers 2013; and Our Idiot Brother (Big Beach Films/Weinstein Co.) 2011.

Favorite theatre productions include The Master Builder at The Brooklyn Academy of Music 2013; the world-premiere production of Be a Good Little Widow 2011; and the national tour of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 2006–07.

What are you working on now? 

Currently “Margo Madison” on For All Mankind, produced by Apple/Sony Pictures 2019

FEATURED STORY: ‘Tyrant’ Star Wrenn Schmidt Shares Her Experiences from SMU Meadows


About ALIA TAVAKOLIAN (B.F.A. Theatre Studies ’12)

What are you working on now?

I’m the co-founder and EVP of Content at Spoke Media. We make podcasts—everything from investigative series to zany comedy shows to scripted fiction series.

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

My SMU Theatre education taught me many things that I use every day in my career, including how to listen—really listen—with my whole self.

What advice would you give students?

Work hard. It matters SO much more than talent. Ask for feedback often, make a to-do list every day that cannot possibly be completed, and do the work that scares you.

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