Kansas City, a mecca for theatre artists of all stripes, is not only training actors, it is also providing them with an ideal environment in which to continue to grow and work. Two of Kansas City’s brightest talents, both graduates of UMKC’s MFA Acting program, have been working on stage since graduating. Logan Black (MFA Acting 2014) and Nicole Marie Green (MFA Acting 2015) both hail from other states. Black, a native of Salt Lake City, and Green, who grew up in New York and did her undergraduate studies in Florida, were both inspired to come to UMKC out of the desire for the high-quality acting education they knew they would receive from a professional and inspirational faculty.
“As soon as I talked to Ted Swetz,” says Black, “I didn’t consider any of the other programs. I said, I’m going to UMKC. That’s where I need to be.” Black says he appreciated the balance in the program between strong classical training and modern techniques, such as those from Morris Carnovsky, which brought out his strengths as an actor. “It’s about finding the balance of how much is the character and how much is me, the individual. Ted’s philosophy is so beautifully simple. It brings the character to life in a way I had never encountered before.”
Some of Black’s previous work includes rol
es in the KC Rep productions of Our Town and A Christmas Carol, in Blithe Spirit at the Okoboji Summer Festival, as well as at the Coterie. Most recently, he performed at The Fishtank his show, Bond: A Soldier and his Dog. Black spent eleven years in the Army, one year in Iraq, and the story tells of the life-saving love between Black and his yellow lab Diego, who worked as a bomb-detecting dog. The show, rated Best of Fringe 2015, has received rave reviews and is known to elicit powerful emotions from those who see it.
For Nicole Marie Green, the decision to jump into UMKC and Kansas City was a big one, and one that has paid off. “UMKC changed me. I am a better actor because of it. I made lasting friendships, I was put through a lot of tests. I grew up. I found my own voice.” When asked which faculty made the most impact on her time there, she struggles to pick just one: “Jennifer Martin, who had the biggest heart and taught me to first honor life, and with it, my life in the theatre. Felicia Londré is an inspiration because she is absolutely an expert in what she does. Carla Noack taught me to use my body as a tool. Ted Swetz taught me to have ownership of my craft. Stephanie Roberts ignited my intense passion for mask work, red nose clown, and comedy; her classes demanded everything from me.” Not long after graduating, Green has been busy. Last summer, she was cast in Tribes at the Unicorn and in two Fringe shows, one of which was ThisThatThen at the Living Room. She is currently rehearsing for The Turn of the Screw by Jeffrey Hatcher at Spinning Tree Theatre, and will play as Margot in the KC Rep production of The Diary of Anne Frank. “I love what I do,” she says. It shows.
By Amanda Davison