WL theater graduates find success in NYC

Spring Awakening

By Elizabeth Knott, Staff Writer

The future is something that is frequently on college students’ minds.

Will I get a good job after school? What happens next?

For West Liberty University graduate Cassie Hackbart, her dreams have become a reality after graduating last fall.

Hackbart, who was a music and theater interdisciplinary major at WLU, recently returned from NYC where she auditioned for Yale, NYU, UCLA, and Pace.

After her audition at Pace University, Hackbart was told to save every penny so she could attend there next year.

“Pace was just listed as the 11th best theater school in the nation and this is our second student who has been accepted into the program,” said Assistant Professor and Theatre Director Michael Aulick.

The Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University in New York is the only MFA program officially sanctioned and supervised by the Actors Studio.

It is a three-year graduate program for the theater arts.

Pace was in Hackbart’s list of top five schools of interest by her senior year.

She had the opportunity to visit NYC the summer before her junior year for a 10-week summer conservatory at The Stella Adler Studio of Acting.

During her stay in New York, Hackbart took time to visit Pace University to explore the campus and visit the theater department.

“I knew the attention and training I would receive would be personal and one-of-a-kind,” said Hackbart.

Hackbart was also able to get an insider’s perspective on Pace University from West Liberty graduate Tiffany Lee who recently finished her MFA at Pace University this past May and is currently looking for acting roles in New York.

Preparing for grad school was not a last minute move for Hackbart.

During her senior year, she started researching schools that interested her.

She narrowed down her choices, applied to her top five schools and started preparing the required material for each school.

Every school has different requirements for audition materials.

Most schools required two classical monologues, such as a Shakespearian monologue, and two contemporary monologues.

For each school, she auditioned in front of a panel usually consisting of the head of the program and the heads of the other various aspects of the program, such as the head of acting.

Hackbart auditioned with the material they asked her to prepare, then they asked her to wait outside after she had presented her monologues. Then they called her back in for an interview with the panel.

“After the interview, they had me wait outside again and the head of graduate admissions came out and told me that since I came such a long way, they didn’t want me to leave without an answer. She said that I was accepted into the program and to save every penny, nickel, and dime because they want me in their program. My jaw dropped,” said Hackbart.

“I am terribly proud of them both,” Aulick said of Hackbart and Lee’s post-graduate accomplishments.

“While I was here offering them some suggestions, it really was the dedication that they had outside of the classroom that allow them to be successful.”

These two students have set the bar high for West Liberty University theater students and can be an inspiration to current and future students.

“I think there are a few ways that these students’ successes have an impact on the program,” said Aulick.

“The bigger impact is probably on the students who know these two. When we talk about hard work and dedication being necessary to be successful, we have two students who we can point to,” said Aulick.

Dedication, hard work and passion are the driving force behind success, and WLU can be an avenue to achieve that success.

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