It wasn’t long after Andy Perkins first set foot on the Avila University campus that he knew he wouldn’t be carrying on a family tradition. Perkins grew up in a family that loved the University of Missouri and had a lot of history firmly entrenched in Columbia. To this day, he says he’s a huge Mizzou sports fan.
But, when it came to deciding on a college for himself, well, he knew right away that carrying on that family tradition wasn’t going to be for him.
“MU was just too big,” Perkins said. “When I visited Avila, right away, I was greeted very warmly. Other students were there to show me around. It just made me feel good about being there.”
Perkins earned his bachelor of fine arts in acting and directing from Avila in December of 2009 and now is putting that degree, along with the master of fine arts he received from Purdue University in 2013, to good use. This summer, he will be appearing in the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival’s production of “The Winter’s Tale” playing the role of Clown. The production runs from June 20-July 6 in Southmoreland Park in Kansas City, Mo. and is free to the public.
Starting July 15, Perkins will tour with a theatre company called Art Spot, which will take him to Chile, Argentina and Mexico performing a show designed to help children improve their abilities to speak the English language.
When he’s not acting, Perkins stays busy teaching acting at camps for the Shakespeare Festival and at the Coterie Theatre. He’s also taught for the Kansas City Repertory Theatre and worked with the KC Improv Co. He also taught a workshop called “Improvising Honestly” at the Fishtank Performance Studio and has acted and stage managed there.
Perkins said the acting bug first bit him in high school, but it was at Avila that it really flourished. He performed in several University productions during his four years. A favorite, he said, was the second play his freshman year, a production of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” which was his first speaking role. Two other productions that stick out as favorites include “Hamlet,” which he called his greatest challenge, and “The Foreigner,” which “was the most fun I had on stage at Avila,” he said.
“For ‘The Foreigner,’ Avila brought in guest director Sidonie Garrett, who is artistic director for the Shakespeare Fest and has since directed me professionally,” he said. “Avila provided the opportunity to forge a professional connection while still in school. This was also the case with Theatre for Young America, which I have done multiple shows with. Gene Mackey, artistic director of TYA, is also an adjunct professor at Avila and has directed several shows there.”
“I just remember the training at Avila was excellent,” Perkins said. “The great thing about it being a smaller school is that there was plenty of opportunity for everyone. I got into all four shows my freshman year. That’s training in itself. I was able to apply what I was learning in the classroom directly to the stage which was incredibly helpful.”
Perkins said it also was helpful that the plays selected for production each and every year were so diverse in styles.
“By being exposed to that diversity in styles, you’re able to increase your range,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to have those things in your tool kit.”
Perkins lived on campus his first three years at Avila and in addition to his acting and classes also became involved in various campus activities. He was a tutor for math, English and writing students (“That set the foundation for me being able to teach later at Purdue,” he said) and was a member of the student group, GAP (Group Activities Programming). He also was in choir and sang with the University Singers.
“At other, larger places, everyone is going to be learning the same things,” he said. “At Avila, you create bonds, working relationships. I haven’t done a show yet where I haven’t worked with at least one other Avila student or alum.
“It’s what will continue to serve me.” AU
Media Contact: Bob Luder, 816.501.2434