Theatre Arts associate professor shares personal story and encourages students to be storytellers

As a young man growing up in New England, Andy Geffken helped his mother design sets for his school plays, not knowing that one day he would be acting and directing his own. 

Now, as an associate professor and program director of productions for Theatre Arts, Geffken has fervently pursued the path the Lord has led him toward. In the process, he helped start the Americana Theatre Company in Plymouth, Massachusetts. In 2011, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in communication from Liberty University, and he became a professor at 25. 

And it all started with a single week.

“(Acting) wasn’t really the plan,” Geffken said. “Until the end of my undergraduate career, I was going into real estate development.”

In 2008, three weeks before graduation and four weeks before his wedding, a job opportunity in real estate fell through, and the market crashed.

On Monday, the real estate company called. On Tuesday, everyone he knew prayed for clarity and guidance. On Wednesday, he got a call from a recruiter at Regent University in Virginia Beach asking him to audition for the graduate program in acting.

“Acting had always been something that I loved the most, even though it wasn’t something I thought I would pursue as a career,” Geffken said. “Often, when you turn it over to the Lord, he’ll guide you to the thing that you love.”

Five days after his wedding, Geffken auditioned for the program and got in. 

“It was one of the worst auditions of my life,” Geffken said. “But clearly the Lord was working.”

While in the graduate program, Geffken auditioned for several films, theatre productions and voice-over jobs. Halfway through his graduate career, Geffken felt inspired by the Lord to enter the field of education. However, he was not offered a job at the end of his schooling.

A few months after graduating, Geffken and his close friend Derek Martin decided to start their own company. With this, the Americana Theatre Company was born.

The theater put on two shows: a touring show that traveled to different churches in the Massachusetts area and a four-person comedy called “Private Lives.”

“We put the whole show up,” Geffken said. “We put the set together, did all the marketing, rehearsed the show and put it up there, and it was a wonderful thing. … And it’s still going today.”

From completing a graduate program in acting to starting his own theatre company, Geffken admitted that he had several excellent opportunities in the theatre industry. Although, he would not hold the position he has today without the Lord’s faithfulness and abundant provision in his life.  

Geffken said God placed him in a position to be humbled.

“To be good at this discipline, you need to be self-aware,” Geffken said. “A lot of people have a proclivity to perform in front of people and are not afraid to be on stage, … but few are successful as a storyteller.”

Geffken believes that more people are actors than they think. He relates acting to faith through the “pursuit” of selflessness and empathy.

“Jesus was no slouch. His primary form of teaching was using parables. … (It) was telling stories,” Geffken said. “Once I saw it like that, (acting) became something that mattered to me. I’ve never found anything in my life that generates more empathy than acting.”

Later this semester, Geffken will direct the Department of Theatre Arts’ production “The Wiz.” The performance, which showcases a combination of Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” with rock, gospel and soul music, will run from April 19 to May 5.

Merritt is a feature reporter for the Liberty Champion

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *