October 18, 2012

Theatre Faculty, Students and Alumni Land Roles on Documentary Series

By Rachel Judy

October 18, 2012

"The most effective mentors and teachers are those who remain practitioners of their craft," said Eric Harrell, associate professor of theatre in Regent University's School of Communication & the Arts. "When we have opportunities to apply what we teach professionally, we are more effective in the classroom."

Watch this clip to find out A Haunting using special effects makeup 
in order to recreate supernatural experiences.  Featuring current Regent MFA students
Brad Brinkley, Ashley Dakin and Chad Stem.

Harrell and fellow professor Dr. Michael Hil-Kirkland recently seized the opportunity to apply their own skills as actors by landing guest roles on the new television documentary series A Haunting. Airing on the Destination America channel, the show is a docudrama about paranormal activity produced in conjunction with New Dominion Pictures in Suffolk, Va.

"As a professional actor and member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), this was a rare opportunity to work on a television project in Hampton Roads," Harrell said. "We live in a largely non-union market so it was wonderful to have a SAG opportunity in our backyard."

"Every time I have the opportunity to engage the profession I walk away with valuable real-world experience I can share with my students," Hill-Kirkland added. "It allows me to better prepare them for the world that awaits them outside the protective environment of the academy."

A Haunting showcases first-person claims of supernatural activity, unraveling the mystery behind these happenings. Each episode showcases real-life tales of haunted houses and, sometimes, even haunted people. 

American Haunting Bloopers featuring Regent faculty: Dr. Michael Hill-Kirkland, 
theatre alumnus: Amy Dunlap and MFA Student: Brad Brinkley.

The genre is a bit unique, but not a complete stretch, for an actor who is a Christian, Harrell explained. "We often think of this genre of entertainment as glorifying the presence of evil. In reality, it is one of the few in the industry that frequently acknowledges the power of Jesus Christ and uses his name reverently to rebuke the powers of evil," he said. 

Hill-Kirkland agreed. "I look upon this role as no different than if I were performing [Shakespeare's] Hamlet," he said. "It's a ghost tale that acknowledges a spiritual dimension exists in our universe that there is, indeed, life after death." 

Harrell's episode will air on the Destination America channel on Friday, Oct. 19. Hill-Kirkland's episode is set to air on Friday, Nov. 2. In addition to their roles, a number of Regent alumni and students appear on screen with small acting roles or as extras. Others landed work behind the cameras on the production crew. 

The Destination America channel is part of Discovery Communications, the world's number one nonfiction media company reaching more than 1.5 billion cumulative subscribers in 200 countries and territories. 

Learn more about the School of Communication & the Arts' Theatre Dept.

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