By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)–Matt Street ’19 has been selected to join the Professional Training Company (PTC) at Actors Theatre in Louisville.
The apprenticeship program gives 39 members in all areas of performance, production and management the opportunity to produce a full season of shows focused on new works and emerging artists.
Street is the first IU Southeast graduate to be selected.
Street’s roles include Hamlet (Hamlet) and Tom / Ensemble (Night of the Living Dead) with Kentucky Shakespeare; Billy (The Goat or, Who is Sylvia?) with The Liminal Playhouse; Eugene (Brighton Beach Memoirs) with TheatreWorks of Southern Indiana.
IU Southeast audiences will recall Street from standout performances in STEAM, Zoo Story, Almost Maine, 9 to 5–The Musical and several other plays.
Jim Hesselman, dean of the School of Arts and Letters and associate professor of theatre, recognized Street’s commitment early in his student journey. Hesselman recalls walking down a hallway in the theatre department and hearing someone in the rehearsal room working on a monologue. He opened the door to find Street. Hesselman introduced himself and asked what class Street was rehearsing for. Street responded that he wasn’t rehearsing for a class, he was just working.
“Right then and there, not knowing anything about his talent or abilities, I knew he had what it took to be successful, not only in theatre, but in life,” Hesselman said.
True to form, Street has wanted to be part of Actors Theatre since he began acting, and set about researching and working until he felt confident enough to audition.
Hesselman praises Street’s curiosity and determination to expand his knowledge and range in theatre, which he sees reflected in his resilience.
“The most important thing that theatre teaches you is to get back up after you fall,” Hesselman said. “You may go through 100 auditions that don’t work out but you have to go on to number 101 with even more determination and a good attitude, and Matt has that.”
For Street, the coronavirus pandemic has clearly impacted the experience of theater.
PTC members will meet virtually for the time being, and activities like working backstage or understudying are not possible. Still Street sees in the new situation a new opportunity.
“As always, it’s a chance for us to stretch and grow,” Street said. “How do we connect with an audience right now? How do we continue to challenge them with new ideas and experiences?”
As for the community, theater may be more important than ever.
“I think the idea of theatre as a meeting place matters even more right now,” Street said. “I know that I have missed being in a communal space with other people, and I think finding ways to allow people to do that virtually could be really powerful.”
In a time of civil unrest, Street sees the theater as an agent of change that could benefit both performers and the community.
“It’s a place to make something, and get a small bit of catharsis,” Street said. “We all need little victories.”
Homepage photo courtesy of Matt Street ’19.