Established Actors Return to the Rand Theater
By Mary Margaret Hogan '18 | Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Mary Margaret Hogan '18
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
UMass alumni Rob Corddry ‘93 and Jeff Donovan ‘91 returned to their alma mater on Friday, November 21, 2016 to present the scholarship they created (with fellow alum and actor Bill Pullman '80) in honor of their mentor, Professor Emeritus Ed Golden. This scholarship will honor the exemplary teaching career of Ed Golden by recognizing and fostering students with exceptional acting talent through scholarship awards. Students Lily Filippatos '17 and Jordan Reed '17 were the first recipients of the Ed Golden Acting Scholarship, UMass Amherst's first fund in support of acting.
Prior to the evening's performance of The Misanthrope, Corddry and Donovan took the stage to discuss their experiences at UMass. Donovan, perhaps best known for his role in the television series Burn Notice, cited Golden as one of the first people he met when he arrived on campus. “He was my professor in my acting class, and in my senior year Ed directed me, along with a wonderful cast, in the production of The Playboy of The Western World,” he recalled. “And after winning a competition, we were invited to perform at the Kennedy Center. We got there because of his incredible direction.”
Corddry, who is known for his appearances on The Daily Show and his role in the HBO series Ballers, added that the performance of the cast of that show is what drew him to the department. “I had been performing with various student groups,” he said, “and seeing Ed’s show blew me away. It inspired me to take acting seriously.” As for Donovan, Corddry cited him as a beacon of hope in the industry. “While he graduated before me,” he explained, “I really continued to look at Jeff as a gentle reminder that I could move up on in this industry because he was from the same place and he was doing it.”
Donovan continued to reminisce on the department and Golden’s impact on his life, saying, “I found a safe haven in this department. Here, I really learned some incredible techniques that I still carry with me.” Golden simplified acting with one statement: “What do you want in this scene?”
Corddry added, “I think really [Golden] demystified acting. Actors like to make their craft a secret, but it can be debunked with hard work, and that’s what I really gained from his teachings.”
When asked about the steps the actors took after graduation, Corddry responded, “It seems like I moved to New York the day I left UMass, and from then on, I just kept auditioning. I recognized that I wasn’t necessarily a bad actor, but I was definitely bad at auditioning. I would look in Backstage Magazine for any casting calls, even if they didn’t fit my type, and just go and audition. Eventually, I didn’t feel any pressure with auditioning—it was just part of my job.”
The high-profile guests kept the audience entertained with light-hearted humor, but they also supplied advice for students in the audience trying to make it in the entertainment business. At the end of the Q&A session, Gina Kaufmann, chair of the department of theater, thanked the actors for their generosity in setting up the scholarship. "Your support is so important to our students, and your presence as working professionals from our department is inspiring,” she said. "I cannot express my gratitude enough, and I know I’m met with appreciation by everyone in this room."