At age nineteen, Thomas Keegan, CCAS MFA ’10, first read the play Fool for Love by Sam Shepard and thought, “Someday, I’d love to perform this story.”
This September, he’ll be doing just that at Maryland’s Roundhouse Theatre—and Keegan says GW’s Academy of Classical Acting (ACA) program helped him get there.
An intensive, one-year master of fine arts program, the Academy of Classical Acting features an unprecedented collaboration between GW and another leading DC institution—The Shakespeare Theatre Company.
Lead by artistic director Michael Kahn, the program graduates 12 to 18 students each year and provides comprehensive training in classical repertory. ACA is the only MFA program dedicated solely to classical acting that can be completed in one year, giving its students a one-of-a-kind experience.
“If you can command the language and human experience that Shakespeare demands, you’ll be set for the stage.” Keegan explains. “[ACA] really arms you with the ability to be the best actor you can be, no matter the text.”
Keegan moved to the DC area in 2009 to attend ACA, but his passion for his craft began many years ago. The son of an actor, Keegan says that that he “fell in love with language” at an early age.
After receiving his undergrad degree from the University of Delaware, Keegan spent several years honing his craft and learning from other actors. He knew that graduate school was on the horizon, but after meeting Kahn at an audition, Keegan soon realized ACA was the place to be.
“You won’t find better faculty anywhere—these people have established, acclaimed careers in theatre and are still working right now, so they really understand how the industry is changing. ACA changed the way I looked at theatre and my own work,” says Keegan.
He also says the partnership between GW and the Shakespeare Theatre gives many young actors the chance of a lifetime, as tuition is partially covered by the university.
“If you want to give to the arts,” says Keegan, “there are actors who will truly benefit from scholarships and support.”
“Throughout that year,” he adds, “you’re a constant practitioner, working closely with 15 other gifted actors. It’s such a unique and valuable experience.”
After graduating in 2010, Keegan, who lives in Arlington, VA, put that experience to good use. He soon found enough work to pay the bills solely through acting. But as Keegan’s wife and fellow ACA alum, Alyssa Wilmoth Keegan says, “the harder you work, the luckier you get.”
Keegan’s hard work has led him to roles on the stage and the screen, including a recurring role on AMC’s TURN, which airs on Sunday nights.
And while Keegan loves television work, his passion for the stage is unwavering. As he prepares for his role in Fool for Love, he’s looking forward to “collaborating and performing for a live audience again.”
But before the show opens, Keegan will take on another new role—first time father. He and Alyssa are excited to welcome their first child, a boy, into their family this August.
In his spare time, Keegan he often speaks to prospective ACA students and other aspiring actors to offer advice. What does he tell them?
“It can be hard to have your own vision as an actor,” he says, “but make sure you find it. Read everything you can. Gifted actors find a way to connect to different worlds and different people—and that will teach you what you need to know when it comes to telling their stories.”
Don’t miss Keegan in TURN (Sundays 9/8c on AMC), a historical thriller set during the Revolutionary War that tells the untold story of America’s first spy ring! Learn more by visiting amctv.com, and be sure to follow Keegan for news and updates: @TheThomasKeegan.