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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of Theatre and Dance


MFA Actors | Class of 2017

Introducing our new Graduate Acting students, Class of 2017!

Carin Bendas

A native of Pittsburgh, PA, Carin is thrilled to return to Columbia after previously completing her BA in Theatre at USC in 2008.  Carin is a professional actress and model and has worked for many companies including Fisher-Price, Big Lots, Dick's Sporting Goods, and Sally Beauty Supply.  Most recently, Carin originated the role of Jenny in If There Were Such a Thing as Happiness as part of the Pittsburgh Fringe Festival.  She is a proud member of a select group of actors employed by Kaufmann Forensic Acting, through whom she is contracted to work with several government agencies.  In her favorite role, Carin is the very lucky wife of USC MFA Acting Graduate Ben Blazer.  www.carinandbenblazer.com

Matthew Cavender

Matthew Cavender recieved a Theatre and Creative Writing minor from Susquehanna University.  Past performances include roles in Into the Woods, The Full Monty and The Sound of Music at Susquehanna Univ., Hippolytus at American Thymele Theatre and A Murder Announced at Mount Gretna Theatre.  

Nicole Dietze

Nicole Dietze received her BA in English at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania.  She has appeared at PA's The Shawnee Playhouse in Visions of Joanna, The Thwarting of Baron BolligrewSpanakopita and The Importance of Being Earnest, among others.  She has also been seen on stage at Pennsylvania Rep Co. in Of Mice and Men and Romeo and Juliet.

Joshua Jeffers

Josh received his Bachelor's degree from Ball State University in 2010.  Shortly after he moved to New York City where he worked for many companies including the New York Shakespeare Exchange and the New York Classical Theatre, as well as regionally with the Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival and the Hamptons Shakespeare Festival.

Rachel Kuhnle

Rachel is a first year MFA Acting candidate. Locally, she has performed with Trustus Theatre in The House of Blue Leaves, Clybourne Park, and the world premier of Pine. Before moving to South Carolina, Rachel completed a year long acting apprenticeship with the Commonweal Theatre in Minnesota where she performed in To Kill a Mockingbird, Metamorphoses and The Metal Children. She has also worked with CLIMB Theatre and Prairie Fire Theatre. She would like to thank her favorite person ever, Josiah, for being awesome.

Benjamin Roberts

Benjamin Roberts studied theatre at West Virgina University.  Past performances include roles in The Crucible, Buried Child and God of Carnage (WVU Theatre), Art (HACC TheatreWorks) and Arsenic and Old Lace (Theatre Harrisburg).

Candace Thomas

Candace Thomas received her BA in Communication Studies and Theatre from Ursinus College.  Past performances include roles in Andrew Lippa's Wild Party, Passing Strange and Little Shop of Horrors (11th Hour Theatre Company), For Colored Girls... (New Freedom Theatre) and Joe Turner's Come and Gone (Plays and Players Theatre).  

Dimitri Woods

Dimitri is a recent graduate of Santa Clara University where he received his B.A. Theatre Arts with an emphasis in Acting and Directing. Since graduating, he has performed in the Bay Area for a number of companies, most recently with Berkeley Rep’s Ground Floor program and the Playwright Center of San Francisco on new works. He’s also performed in In The Heights as Benny, The Color Purple, Follow Me to Nellie’s and Cinderella. In undergrad, his favorite roles he performed as were Paul in Six Degrees of Separation, Schroeder in You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown, and as Assistant Director for For Colored Girls. Dimitri is excited to be a part of the MFA program, here at University of South Carolina, and thanks everyone for their love and support.