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In his thirteenth year at the College, Fisler is no stranger to the county, the field or the program; in fact, the program has flourished every year since he began.
Harford Community College students interested in pursuing theater studies are in good hands with Ben Fisler, associate professor of theater.
Not only does Fisler oversee student productions here for the theater department in HCC's Chesapeake Theater and Joppa Hall's Black Box Theater every year, he is also one of the founding collaborators for the theater program. From the supporting partnerships developed between areas like the photography department to the evolution of the Black Box Theater, Fisler's impact has created a positive effect on enrollment and quality of graduates from the program.
It's a two-way street, as Fisler sees it, and he commends HCC's support of the arts. It's what drew him to the position in the first place, in what he says was a "right fit." That fit came directly from his personal view on "building community relationships," which he says is "one of the good things about HCC" and continues saying, "we've got workspace, we've got performance space, we've got what students need to do their experiment. But to be perfectly honest, Harford has always been supportive of the theater program. I like to think that Harford is supportive of the arts in general."
But in order to study theater, not only do students need to perform, they also need to learn. Fisler takes a unique approach in terms of acting, in which he strays away from the obsession with celebrity culture and praising those with remarkable talents. Instead, he tells it how it is: "Work begets work begets work." His goal for every student is that no matter what they wind up studying elsewhere, he wants them prepared for any future path.
Fisler is also a mentor and resource to the theater community at large. He has connected students to internships based on theaters he has worked at during his 25 years in the business. He advises his students to take what they've learned - from how to break down a script, perform a scene, work with specialty voices, stage combat training, dialect training - and just go for it. "It's not enough to be a good teacher and a good mentor," said Fisler. "You've got to also be a professional. Because the opportunities that provides are amazing."
In his eyes, the most important part of the theater education he provides is not only "presenting opportunities but even more so, making sure that students learn how to pursue those opportunities themselves." This past summer, he led by example, as he performed the lead role in The Baltimore Shakespeare Factory's production of Macbeth at The Great Hall Theater at St. Mary's Community Center.
Fisler is a great example of all that HCC has to offer, which is why he is this month's faculty spotlight. Keep up the great work!
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