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Letter from the Producing Artistic Director

Vivienne Benesch

Dear Actor,

            Welcome, and thank you for your interest in the Professional Actor Training Program at UNC-Chapel Hill. I’m Vivienne, the Producing Artistic Director here at PlayMakers Repertory Company, North Carolina’s premiere professional theater, housed on the campus of UNC.  I have just begun my eighth season and feel like I’m now fully in the swing of things in this unique and very special community.

            PlayMakers is a nationally regarded LORT theater, recognized by the Drama League of New York and American Theater Magazine as one of the very best in the US.  Fully integrated with UNC’s Professional Actor Training Program (PATP), each year, we audition hundreds of applicants to identify a diverse cohort of 6-8 early-career actors, all of whom demonstrate immense vitality, vision and a readiness to make professional production a central part of the next phase of their development. This is because, as part of the PATP, every MFA candidate will be cast in a number of productions on PlayMakers’ two professional stages, led by a who’s who of directors and designers working in the industry. Upon graduating, PATP students will not only have received incredible theatrical training, but will leave UNC with an Equity card, a robust network of industry contacts awaiting them in New York and across the country, and a meaningful professional resume. In other words, our actors don’t have to wait until showcase to start cultivating professional relationships — they’re meeting and collaborating with the very best in the field throughout their time with us. Beyond that, PlayMakers is home to one of the last remaining Resident Companies in the country, and the company ethos influences everything we do. From the day you start as a student here, you become a company member. The veteran actors in our cohort, with countless Broadway, film and television credits to their names, serve as your faculty members in the morning and then oftentimes double as your scene partner, choreographer or vocal coach in the afternoon. This is the century-old, time-tested apprentice model made new again, and the opportunity to combine the deep study of craft with the opportunity to act professionally makes the PATP one of the most attractive programs in the country.

                Finally, in my time as Artistic Director, it’s been my abiding vision to foster a more diverse, more inclusive environment here at PlayMakers — to draw our circle ever wider, and to encompass a broader panoply of the American experience. I believe our programming and personnel have begun to reflect that vision.  Actors in the program still get to work on Shakespeare and Chekhov, but now get to do so alongside Dominique Morrisseau, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, and Molly Smith Metzler (for example!) Today, as members of our company, PATP students get to participate in at least one PlayMakers Mobile production, taking reimagined classics out of our building and into our community — to schools, shelters and treatment facilities — while in the process, redefining the ways in which theater is thought of, created, and shared. It’s all part of our desire, and indeed our commitment, to being in taut, dynamic relationship to the industry as it evolves, and to position ourselves as not only responsive to the tides, but as forerunners, catalysts and thought-leaders in the field. Take a minute to visit our website and learn more about PlayMakers’ storied history, mission and values, and please don’t hesitate to be in touch if you have any questions or concerns.

We look forward to hearing from you,