Actor Stacy Keach launches Mason's new theater project

Golden Globe winner and Tony award nominee, actor Stacy Keach is embarking on a new journey. This time, he will be improving the acting chops of the actors at George Mason University’s Theater Department.

Known primarily for his roles in theater in both Shakespeare and his role playing former President Richard Nixon in the play “Frost/Nixon,” Keach will join Mason’s Theater Department as a Heritage Professor of Stage and Screen as part of Mason’s Professional Artist in Residency Program.

Keach got involved in the P.A.R.T. through his friendship with Mason theater professor Ed Gero, whom Keach taught a theater master class with in 2010. Gero and Keach were golfing together when, Keach mentioned he wanted to get involved in impacting upcoming theater students. Over the phone, Keach said that he told Gero that he wanted “to give something back and impart my experience to younger people.”

P.A.R.T is an “innovative opportunity for direct collaboration between students and professionals.” The program allows for students in different theater fields to interact with professionals in theater, film, and new media.


Keach, whose father was an actor and director, began acting at the age of twelve. While his dad was hesitant on his son getting involved in theater, Keach says that he couldn’t help but notice his dad’s enthusiasm on seeing him act.

Keach studied acting at the University of California Berkley for acting. He then attended the Yale school of drama for a year before receiving a Fulbright scholarship to study at the London Academy of Music and the Dramatic Arts. While some actors don’t have formal theater training from a drama school, Keach thinks it’s still important to have the experience.

“You have to begin to understand that there is a tremendous competition in the acting field,” Keach said. “In order to be a great actor, or be a good actor, you need to study. You need to be educated.The more educated you are the better chances you have of having a career.”

According to Keach, having a variety of interests is also important for actors, aside from their professional training. Keach wants to encourage his students to become modern-day renaissance men and women.

The renaissance-men, as Keach commented were just normal individuals who, “strove to be great thinker sand artists, actors, musicians, athletes; the renaissance man could do it all.”  Keach argues that a variety of interests enriches an actor’s life and gives them more exposure to the world which will enhance their acting techniques.

Along with employing his students to have a variety of interests, Keach hopes to teach them to relate their performances to the audience and to themselves.

The works of Shakespeare will also be taught in Keach’s course. Keach’s love of Shakespeare. Keach not only has a deep admiration for Shakespeare, but he  considers Shakespeare vital to teaching acting.

“Shakespeare is the greatest writer, poet of the English language for me anyway. I think that Shakespeare embodies the human condition that no other writer has ever done. He’s showing us these extraordinary people; these characters that are so full of contradictions so rich with humanity that we are drawn to them,” Keach said.



Actor Stacy Keach reads at the 2012 Shakespeare Sonnet Slam in New York City on Shakespeare's Birthday. Keach reads Shakespeare's Sonnet #1.

Keach’s work also extends to film and television, where he portrayed Warden Henry Pope in Fox’s popular television show “Prison Break.” While Keach enjoys all of the mediums he’s had the opportunity to act in, he says theater is his favorite.

“If someone were to put a gun to my head and said I had to choose one, I’d pick theater, because of the wonderful experience of a live audience. And I get to tell a story from beginning, middle, and end; it’s a journey,” Keach said over the phone.

Keach noted that the difference between film and theater lies in the lack of input film actors have in the final product. However, a theater actor does have control in trying to make each night of performance a new experience for the audience.

Keach is no stranger to the Washington D.C. area. He has performed with the D.C.'s Shakespeare Theater Company many times, which recieved the 2012 Tony award for Regional Theater. Keach has also appeared numerous times at the Kennedy Center over the years and at the Shakespeare Theater Company’s Sydney Harman Hall and Landsburgh Theater.

Over the course of both the fall and spring semester, Keach will be teaching remotely  via an online teleconferencing system and will come for in-person lessons at least four times each semester.

The course, THR 490: Professional Prespectives on Performance: Stage and Screen, will focus on enhancing screen and stage acting techniques, how directors work, and the life of a professional actor.His course will also include readings of plays, articles, and lectures featuring other professional actors from a variety of mediums.

Keach’s next appearance at Mason will be on Tuesday, October 16 at 8 am in Mason’s Theater Space. Keach will be returning to his roots in radio, where he will be joining Christine Eads and Molly Dedham in a live national broadcast of their SiriusXM radio talk show, “Broadminded.”

Photo courtesy of Stacey Keach

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