After appearing in many drama productions over the past four years at Hofstra, Rafael Benoit, at interview time, is getting ready to take the stage one last time: at Hofstra spring commencement on May 17, 2009. The drama major’s next role is extremely challenging and exciting: Rafael is the recipient of a prestigious theater arts fellowship from Columbia University that will allow him to pursue an M.F.A.
Born and raised in Howard Beach, NY, Rafael, 22, says he received a rich cultural upbringing from his parents that made him proud of his Puerto Rican and Dominican heritage. Rafael says he is very family-minded. For many years his mother has been debilitated by multiple sclerosis. He ultimately chose to attend Hofstra because of its proximity to Manhattan and so he could stay close to his mother and help with her care. Also swaying his decision to attend Hofstra were the academic scholarship and financial aid he received that allowed him to pursue his interest in theater.
When asked about the strengths of Hofstra’s Department of Drama and Dance, Rafael says his studies helped him develop technique and the ability to categorize and understand characters. Learning how to research roles in theater, film and literature have also been an important part of his studies.
Among Rafael’s most memorable productions at Hofstra have been in Six Characters in Search of An Author, where he played the lead role of The Father; the 2008 Shakespeare Festival, featuring Hamlet, where he had the dual roles of Francisco and Fortenbras; and his senior practica, References to Salvador Dalí Make Me Hot.
Before beginning his studies at Columbia in September, Rafael plans to spend the summer umpiring little league games throughout Queens and Brooklyn, New York and land a job at the Drama Book Shop in Manhattan. Once his graduate studies are completed he hopes to pursue roles in theater and film and to someday open his own drama studio.