Press Release - Acting Intensive Program Director Announced

Matthew Arkin Appointed Director of South Coast Repertory’s Acting Intensive Program

COSTA MESA, Calif. (Jan. 30, 2015)—Acclaimed actor, director and teacher Matthew Arkin has been named director of South Coast Repertory’s Acting Intensive Program, a nationally recognized seven-week summer training program for career-minded students.  Arkin takes the reins from Karen Hensel, who has been director for nearly 30 years.  Hensel will continue to teach in the program and will serve in a consultant role during the transition. 

Arkin has appeared in numerous productions on- and off-Broadway—from The Sunshine Boys with Jack Klugman and Tony Randall, to the Drama Desk-nominated role of Gabe in Donald Margulies’ Dinner With Friends—and in film, television and regional theatre.  He most recently received acclaim for his portrayal of the 600-pound Charlie in Samuel D. Hunter’s The Whale at SCR.  

Arkin attended New York’s HB Studio, where he studied with Uta Hagen, Austin Pendleton and Sheldon Patinkin.  He has taught at HB Studio and in SCR’s Adult Acting Program.  He currently teaches and coaches privately in Los Angeles. 

According to SCR Founding Artistic Director David Emmes, “Matthew is that rare combination of visionary teacher and accomplished actor.  His broad experience in theatre and film—on both coasts—will serve our students as a bridge from the classroom into the professional world.”

The Acting Intensive Program was established in 1970 as the Professional Conservatory and has been in operation continually since.  The program is designed to provide students with a candid and comprehensive assessment of the abilities they bring to class, strengthen and deepen those talents and create a plan to guide them toward career paths.  Graduates have appeared on SCR’s stages and in film, television and theatre across the country, among them Will Farrell (Anchorman 2), Arye Gross (“Castle”) and Alison Case (Broadway, Hair and Mamma Mia).

Instructors and seminar guests have included Emmy-nominated film and television actor John de Lancie (Q in “Star Trek the Next Generation”); Emmy-nominated television director Lee Challat Chemel (“The Middle”), who was the program’s director, 1978-85; and Marin Hinkle (“Two and a Half Men”). 

At the conclusion of the seven-week program, students present a showcase before an audience of theatre and industry professionals.  Arkin has directed showcase performances for the past two seasons. 

According to Theatre Conservatory Director Hisa Takakuwa, who oversees all of SCR’s acting programs, “Matthew’s history with SCR is very valuable to us.  Because he has performed, taught and directed here, he understands the theatre’s mission and shares its deep commitment to the students.  Equally important, Matthew brings with him a broad wealth of professional experience as well as new ideas to spark, deepen and enrich the program.” 

“I’m really excited to join the Acting Intensive Program and to add some of my own perspective to the training,” Arkin said.  “Early in my career, I only knew that I wanted to be an Actor with a capital A.  I had no sense of the larger issues that can surround that ambition, that can give a deeper purpose to one’s life as an artist.  I hope to influence this program in a way that can give the students a greater sense of mission to sustain them on the long journey of the actor’s life.”

A member of a renowned acting-directing family,that includes father Alan and brothers Adam and Anthony, Arkin is also a noir novelist.  His book, In the Country of the Blind, was published last year by Hawkshaw Books.

Enrollment in the Acting Intensive Program is by audition only; the summer program runs June 1-July 18.  Applications for audition appointments are now being accepted.  Call (714) 708-5549 or visit

ABOUT SOUTH COAST REPERTORY: Tony Award-winning South Coast Repertory, founded in 1964 by David Emmes and Martin Benson, is widely recognized as one of the leading professional theatres in the United States. While its productions represent a balance of classic and modern theatre, SCR is renowned for its extensive new-play development program, which includes the nation’s largest commissioning program for emerging and established writers. One-quarter of SCR’s 525 productions have been world premieres. SCR-developed works have garnered two Pulitzer Prizes and eight Pulitzer nominations, several Obie Awards and scores of major new-play awards. Located in Costa Mesa, Calif., SCR is home to the 507-seat Segerstrom Stage, the 336-seat Julianne Argyros Stage and the 94-seat Nicholas Studio.