The Old Globe and University of San Diego Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Program Renamed to Honor Donald and Darlene Shiley

The Old Globe and University of San Diego Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Program has been renamed as The Old Globe and University of San Diego Shiley Graduate Theatre Program in honor of Donald and Darlene Shiley, the two institutions announced today.

“The new name reflects the Shileys’ passion for the theatre and investment in The Old Globe and M.F.A. program over the years,” said University of San Diego Vice President and Provost Andrew T. Allen. “We are grateful for their tremendous support that has allowed the Shiley Graduate Theatre Program to become one of the most acclaimed classical training programs in the United States.”

“The philanthropy of Darlene and Donald Shiley is the bedrock on which The Old Globe stands,” said Old Globe Artistic Director Barry Edelstein. “They have shaped the future of our field in the form of the actors who go on to important work after graduating the acclaimed classical training program that now bears the Shiley name. We are glad of this opportunity to honor Donald’s memory, and grateful for Darlene’s continuing support.”

Private funding for the M.F.A. program has been contributed through a generous endowment established by the Shileys that allows students to attend tuition-free. In 2010, they also gave a substantial gift to endow the Craig Noel Distinguished Professorship in Graduate Theater, in honor of the Old Globe’s founding director.

By the early 1980s, The Old Globe’s national reputation as a major Shakespeare theatre was well established. Founding director Craig Noel understood that the future of classical theatre depended on young actors steeped in the techniques required to bring the world’s great plays to vivid life. Noel took the visionary step of developing a program to train these actors close to home, giving them a conservatory in which to learn new skills and a professional stage on which to use them. In 1987, Noel and University of San Diego Vice President and Provost Sister Sally Furay, R.S.C.J., established The Old Globe and University of San Diego M.F.A. program.

Currently the Shiley Graduate Theatre Program accepts seven students each year from hundreds of applicants. With only a two-percent acceptance rate, it has become one of the most competitive graduate acting programs in the country.
The program’s graduates, including Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor Jim Parsons, star of “The Big Bang Theory,” have made their mark on the profession, performing extensively on and Off Broadway, in regional theatres and feature films, and on television. They have also founded successful theatre companies, written award-winning plays and screenplays, and performed throughout Europe and Canada.

At the University of San Diego, students receive a comprehensive curriculum, including acting, voice, and performance opportunities in studio productions. At The Old Globe, students receive invaluable practical experience at a major professional theatre, appearing in all Summer Shakespeare Festival productions, playing occasional supporting roles during the winter season, and serving as understudies for many productions year-round. Graduates also form the core company of “Globe for All,” The Old Globe’s nationally renowned tour of professional Shakespeare to underserved audiences in non-traditional venues throughout San Diego.

“Each year at as we meet the incoming actors at an annual lunch, we hear updates about former students, and seeing those eager, talented—and young—faces reminds you of why you give to the theatre,” said Darlene Shiley, herself a former actress.

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Jeryldine Tully
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