Dream a little dream: Wayne State theatre alumnus celebrates opening season of acting company

Wayne State University alumnus Jeff Thomakos ’08 is celebrating the first season of The Inspired Acting Company in Walled Lake, Michigan.

Dreams may not often come true. But for Jeff Thomakos ’08, his are currently becoming a reality.

That’s because Thomakos — an alumnus of the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance and the Hilberry Repertory Theatre — is celebrating the first season of The Inspired Acting Company in Walled Lake, Michigan.

A non-traditional grad student, Thomakos came to Wayne State University for his master’s more than 10 years after his undergrad. And although he had worked professionally in theatre, events led Thomakos to realize he should follow his desire to obtain his next degree.

Jeff Thomakos credits Wayne State University theatre professors for introducing him to the Michael Chekhov Technique.

He recalls his WSU years as tough but invaluable. During his first show, first tech day, Thomakos’ wife, Katja, announced they were expecting a child. It set the tone for the next three years. As a new dad working repertory theatre, he said he took many naps at the Hilberry.

Wayne State professors introduced Thomakos to the Michael Chekhov Technique. This along with the intense repertory training, and his subsequent work as director of theatre at the Louisianna School for Math, Science and The Arts, merged an idea in Thomakos’ mind.

“Theatre is a public service, helping the community,” he said. “And I am unabashedly enthusiastic about the effect of theatre on the audience and how that effect can make a better world.”

When Thomakos talks about the future of local theatre, he is optimistic. His market research shows that compared to areas of similar demographics, small theatres in the region can increase by a minimum of 50%.

“The more people go to theatre,” Thomakos said, “the more people tend to go to theatre.”

His passion for theatre is clear when he talks about The Inspired Acting Company and plans for the next season, as well as long-term intentions to begin teaching classes. As the recognized and most credentialed Michael Chekhov Technique instructor in the world, he is poised and credited to teach.

However, he acknowledges the theatre must build its audience and name recognition so that people will want to take classes with them.

“In this area, actors do not feel like they need to take classes anymore and that is unfortunate,” Thomakos said. “But they also do not have a lot of choices or trust that they will get the kind of work that they want. My hope is to change that.”

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