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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of Theatre and Dance

Master of Arts in Teaching Theatre | Current Students and Alumni

Jordan Beck was born in Iowa and raised in Portland, OR. He graduated with honors from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA where he studied theatre and music. He has worked for Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, dog&ponyDC, the Multnomah county Outdoor School program, and as an educational assistant at a school for students with specific needs. He enjoys producing and creating new work, and learning alongside students. Jordan is honored to be a part of the MAT program at USC, and thrilled to add his energies to a community which fiercely advocates for children and young adults.

Shirley Bell was born and raised in Columbia SC where she attended public school in Richland School District One. She is a recent USC graduate receiving a BA in theatre studies. As an undergraduate at USC, Shirley was a member of the Alpha Psi Omega theatre honor society. Shirley is a playwright and director and has directed several plays to include A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry. She designed and coordinated a youth performing arts camp. Shirley is excited about the MAT program and her future as a middle school theatre educator. 


Brian Chapman is a native of Arlington, Texas. He is studying for a Master’s of Arts in Teaching in Theatre here at USC. He received a BA in Drama from Prairie View A&M University, in Prairie View, TX. Brian served as the 2013-14 director/instructor of the Holland Middle School Drama Club in Houston, TX. Brian’s other contributions include Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Ric J Theatre Productions, The Charles Gilpin Players, PVAMU’s Classic Dance Ensemble, Black College Dance Exchange, Designed-2-Dance Ensemble Company, USC Black Graduate Student Association, USC BlackBox, and Brookland Baptist Church Young Adult Choir, and working with Children’s Defense Fund.


Janie Davis is a native of Irmo, South Carolina. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from Presbyterian College where she was able to create, devise, and adapt original pieces of theatre. She is a Disney College Program Alumni where she had the opportunity to work and perform within the Walt Disney World Entertainment Department. She has a passion for working with children and young adults who set big goals for themselves and make their dreams come true. Janie is the proud mother of a beautiful baby girl and looks forward to the future with open arms and an open heart.


Dakota Demato grew up in South Florida, but is a NY native. She recently graduated from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, holding a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre. While at UArts she performed in Kiss Me, Kate and The Rocky Horror Show, as well as took part in the Philly Fringe Festival. Growing up a competitive dancer, she has a vast background in all styles of dance. She has been choreographing full-scale musical theatre productions and teaching dance and theatre for over eight years to students ages 2 to 18. Dakota is tickled pink to be part of this thriving M.A.T. program! 


Wyatt Geist grew up in Clemson, South Carolina, and is a graduate of Wesleyan University. Wyatt completed his Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance and the Interdisciplinary Certificate in University Teaching at the University of Georgia, where he was honored with the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award. Wyatt has also studied with Larry Silverberg, earning certification as an instructor of the Meisner technique from Silverberg's True Acting Institute. He is represented as a voiceover artist by Houghton Talent.  As a performer, Wyatt's recent roles include Macduff in Macbeth, Prospero in The Tempest, and Charlie Fox in Speed-the-Plow, but his favorite role is that of teacher. A graduate course in Community-Based Theatre introduced Wyatt to the techniques of Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed and gave him the opportunity to teach theatre for social change techniques to high school students and to mentor those students as they worked to teach the techniques to their peers. This experience inspired Wyatt to pursue his Master of Arts in Theatre Education, and he looks forward to continued collaboration with students and the community.


Claire Laurent graduated from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana in the spring of 2015 with a BS in Theatre with a concentration in Musical Theatre. She spent the year after her undergrad teaching Musical Theatre at Cindy Ory Dance Studio in Harahan, Louisiana and working as a performer at Rivertown Theatre in Kenner, Louisiana (The Producers, The Addams Family, Sweet Charity, How to Succeed[...] (Miss Krumholtz), and The Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz). Claire is excited to be studying at USC and to expand her Theatre Education knowledge to pair with her Musical Theatre experience. 


Sheldon Paschal was born in Columbia into a family of artists and educators, Paschal grew up performing locally. She journeyed to Clemson for her production studies BA emphasizing theatre arts in 2008. After graduating, Paschal moved to Chicago performing with various companies, eventually moving into arts management for a few years before returning to her first loves, theatre and music. She still performs locally in the music and theatre communities and works at the College of Education planning conferences and events. The MAT theatre program is a fantastic vault into theatre education and she looks forward to training future artists in the field.


Madeleine Smith was born in Baltimore, MD, and moved to England and then Germany for most of her schooling. She returned to attend Towson University in Maryland, and received her B.S. in Theatre Studies in the Spring of 2016. She has had internship experiences with several private schools, teaching classes, stage managing, and assistant directing. Madeleine enjoys acting, and most recently performed in Brecht’s The Good Woman of Szechwan. She is overjoyed to be at USC as a part of the M.A.T. program, and can’t wait to work with and learn from the young minds of Columbia and beyond.


Mary Joy Williams grew up in Myrtle Beach, SC and is a second year MAT student. She received a B.A. in Musical Theatre from the SC School of the Arts at Anderson University, where she was involved in a variety of productions. She became interested in arts education during her undergrad and decided to teach music, and drama, at Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach. This experience led to her to pursue her MAT in Theatre here at USC. She feels blessed that her career in education will allow her to combine her passion for students and the performing arts.


Andrea Wurzburger is a 2nd year MAT-Theatre candidate who was raised in Westchester, New York. She made the move to South Carolina in 2011 and received a Bachelor of Arts in English-Secondary Education with minors in theatre and Italian at the University of South Carolina. She enjoyed performing in shows at USC such as Twelfth Night, Ajax in Iraq, Taming of the Shrew, and The Importance of Being Earnest. While performing was always a wonderful experience, she soon realized just how important theatre education is for young people. This is why she decided to further her education in order to become pursue her dream of impacting young people with the power of theatre. She hopes to become a teaching artist after graduation, and even dreams of starting up a non-profit theatre program.