Faculty

Faculty

Liz Anderson is an actor, filmmaker, teaching artist, and native San Franciscan. She is a graduate of the San Francisco School of the Arts theater program and holds a B.F.A. in theater from New York University Tisch School of the Arts. She has served as a bilingual arts educator and curriculum designer in public schools in Los Angeles and San Francisco, master teaching artist for the Brava Theater Academy, theater department chair for the Academy of Arts and Science, and program director for the Stonestreet Studios NYU Tisch LA Intensive Program. Anderson has worked with California Shakespeare Theater, Magic Theatre, Brava, Playwrights Foundation, and is a company member with the Leela Faculty Armando Ensemble and PlayGround at Berkeley Rep. Her film, TV, and voiceover work includes Trauma, Dyke CentralSanFranLand, Bioshock Infinite, TV pilot The Grey Area, WWII sci-fi film The Toll, as well as numerous TV and radio commercials.

 

Heidi Carlsen is a director and experimental theater artist whose 15 years teaching experience spans kids to adults in New York, California as well as Poland. She most recently directed You Can't Take It With You and Into The Woods in the Bay Area. Carlsen has presented in numerous venues including: BAX, NYTW, The New School, Ontological-Hysteric, HERE, Judson Church and in L.A. at REDCAT and Highways. Carlsen received a Fulbright Scholarship to Poland where she created a dance/opera titled, +--Infinity. She graduated with an MFA in directing from CalArts. Heidi is a Feldenkrais practitioner who specializes in working with performing artists.

Nancy Carlin is an actor, director, writer, producer, dialect and vocal coach, and acting teacher. A former company member of the American Conservatory Theater, Nancy is a longtime associate artist with the California Shakespeare Theater and a member of PlayGround. She has performed and directed extensively in regional theaters, including A.C.T., Berkeley Rep, San Jose Rep, Aurora Theatre, Shotgun Players, and the Oregon, California, Santa Cruz and Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festivals. As playwright, her musical, Max Understood, was developed at the O’Neill National Music Theatre Conference and the New York Musical Theater Festival, and premiered at the Cowell Theater in SF this year. Nancy co-produced the feature film Haiku Tunnel and has appeared in a number of films. Ms. Carlin is a member of SDC, AEA, SAG-AFTRA, and the Dramatists Guild. She is the recipient of numerous Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle, and DramaLogue awards for Best Principle Performance, Best Supporting Performance, and Best Director. Carlin is a Lecturer at the University of California Santa Cruz and teaches for Cal Shakes, A.C.T., Berkeley Rep, ArtsBridge, Stagebridge, and coaches privately. She holds a B.A. in comparative literature from Brown University and an M.F.A. in acting from A.C.T.

 

Matt Chapman is a performer, director, and teacher of physical theatre and clown. He is the co-founder and co-artistic director of Brooklyn’s Under the Table, collaborating on each of the company’s 11 works produced since its founding in 2001. Recently relocated to Oakland, Chapman spent the last few years on the Faculty at Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre in Blue Lake, California. He currently continues his work with the school as director of admissions and recruiting and as a guest instructor. He has taught clown at Marymount Manhattan College and Manhattanville College in New York, and has taught workshops and classes at such places as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Actors Theatre of Louisville, A.C.T., New York University, Vassar, Sarah Lawrence, Towson, the University of Iowa, Iowa State, James Madison University, University of North Dakota, Minot State, NYC’s People’s Improv Theatre, the New York International Fringe Festival, and the Brooklyn Arts eXchange.

 

Patricia Cotter is an Emmy Award winning, Groundling Theater Alum. She’s received the American Academy of Arts Letters, Richard Rodgers Award for musical theater. Other honors include the Ovation Award and the Garland Award. Plays include RULES OF COMEDY 39th Humana Festival of New American Plays, 2015; THE ANTHROPOLOGY SECTION (2015), and RULES OF COMEDY (2014) performed by The Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Evening of Ten Minute Plays, Heideman Award finalist; The City Theatre, Miami, Florida will produce THE COLONY; for its upcoming special production of Island Shorts 2016 on Key Biscayne; THE SURROGATE (Semi-finalist, O'Neill National Playwrights Conference 2016) world premiere Centenary Stage Company, February 2017; THE BREAK UP NOTEBOOK (A GLAAD Award nominee); and THREE; BEST/WORST (Apartment A Theatre Company, Venice CA, where she was playwright-in-residence). Patricia co-wrote the cabaret show, SO FAR – BETH MALONE (Joe’s Pub, NYC, The Triad, NYC, The Wheeler Opera House, Aspen, CO). Her musicals (librettist/adaptations) include ROCKET SCIENCE: A MUSICAL (Music by Stephen A. Weiner, lyrics by Jason Rhyne) and THE BREAK UP NOTEBOOK: A MUSICAL, (based on her play, music and lyrics by Lori Scarlett). She adapted MULAN, JR. based on the Disney film, MULAN for Disney Theatrical. She was the co-librettist on JUSTIN LOVE, which won The LA Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Production 2013.  She is writing a new musical with composer Lori Scarlett, LADYKILLERS, which they developed at the Rhinebeck Writer’s Retreat. She is a member of the Playground Writers Pool, where she received the 2014 June Anne Baker Prize and commission which honors the top female playwright representing a gifted new comedic or political voice for the stage. She is a 2016 Playwrights Foundation Resident Playwright.

 

Julie Douglas is a Bay Area actor, theater maker, teacher, and clown. She holds an M.F.A. in Ensemble Based Physical Theatre from Dell'Arte International and a B.A. in Theatre from University of California at Santa Cruz. She received some of her early training at ACT’s Young Conservatory and Summer Training Congress. Before getting her MFA and moving back to the Bay Julie made theatre in Chicago as a company member of The Moving Dock Theatre Company as well as performing with various local companies. She teaches students of all ages for theatre companies, schools, and community groups including Studio ACT, We Players, Cal Performances, Stanford Live, Dell'Arte International, Inferno Theatre, Summerfield Waldorf, Go Girls!, Ferndale Repertory, The Emma Center, and The Theater School (Sonoma). Julie is a certified instructor of the Michael Chekhov Technique through her training with Michael Chekhov Association. She has trained and performed internationally in Italy, Russia, and Bali. Julie has performed here in the Bay Area with Impact Theatre, SF Shakes, Shotgun Players, Shakespeare Santa Cruz and more. She is also a core actor with the site-integrated theatre company We Players where she has performed in Ondine at Sutro Baths, Macbeth at Fort Point, and Odyssey on Angel Island. Julie gets to be silly on a regular basis as a hospital clown with The Medical Clown Project and has performed in various clown cabarets and festivals of devised performance.  

 

Lauren English is a founding member and Artistic Associate at The San Francisco Playhouse where she also serves as Casting Director, casting all mainstage and Sandbox productions. Most recently she directed The World Premiere of 1 2 3 by Lila Rose Kaplan in The SF Playhouse's Sandbox Series. Some of her favorite Playhouse roles include: Kate inSeminar (TBA Award Nomination), Pilot in Grounded, Steph in reasons to be pretty, Sally in Cabaret, Emily in Our Town and Lisa in The Glory of Living. Other recent performance credits include: Sally in Talley's Folly directed by Joy Carlin at The Aurora Theatre and Helena in A Mid Summer Night's Dream at California Shakespeare Festival. Selected New York Theater performance credits: TACT's Off Broadway Production of The Cocktail PartyHamlet at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, and The Idealist at The New York Times Theatre. She has also worked at the Public Theater, Ensemble Studio Theater, Lark Theatre and Playwrights Realm. Locally, she has worked with The California Shakespeare Festival, Word for Word, Marin Theatre Company, Marin Shakespeare Company, PlayGround and The Magic Theatre, among others. She is a two-time BATCC award winner and three-time Dean Goodman award recipient. Lauren teaches acting at San Francisco State University, City College of San Francisco, San Jose State University and coaches privately. Training: Foothill Theatre Conservatory, M.F.A. from NYU’s Graduate Acting Program.

 

Frances Epsen-Devlin graduated with a Bachelor of Science from the School of Speech in Theater from Northwestern University. In 1988 she landed the lead role of Sheila in Michael Butler's twenty year revival of Hair. Since that time she has toured nationally and performed regionally with Pasadena Playhouse, Houston Grand Opera, Westchester Broadway Theatre, Kansas City-Starlight, Spreckles Theater in San Diego, A.C.T., 42nd Street Moon, Woodminster, and San Jose Stage Company. Frances performed as the lead vocalist in NYC with the Michael Carney Big Band Orchestra at the Plaza, Waldorf Astoria, and for President Clinton in Washington D.C. In San Francisco, she has had an extended runs as jazz vocalist at the Ritz Carlton, Mandarin, and Plush Rooms. For the past 20 years, Ms. Devlin has served on the faculty of Studio A.C.T., the M.F.A. Program, STC, and the Young Conservatory of the American Conservatory Theater teaching Voice Building, Musical Theater, Acting, Voice and Speech, and directing the Spring Cabarets and Musicals. She received her M.F.A. in Acting from A.C.T. in 1993. In addition, Ms. Devlin served as Master Acting Instructor of the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami from 1997–1999. Ms. Devlin runs a private voice studio in San Francisco serving clients from the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and beyond.

 

Paul Finocchiaro has taught at Studio ACT since 1989. He has performed at ACT, Berkeley Rep., The Magic Theatre, Aurora Theatre, Eureka Theatre, Marin Theatre Company and has worked with Word For Word Performing Arts Company for over 20 years in San Francisco and Europe. He is a Vietnam veteran, a long time musician in various ensembles and holds an MFA in playwriting.

 

Tim Huls is a versatile, San Francisco-based jack-of-trades when it comes to acting and video production. He began his filmmaking career on the SAG feature film, Being Us as a production coordinator in 2010. Following production jobs have included short stints as camera operator, dolly operator, many independent videography jobs, notably for LA-based dance company Mash Up. Soon after working behind the scenes, he began training at ACT in the On-Camera courses offered and eventually became an assistant to the Adv. On-Camera Course. His most recent instruction position was as technical apprentice for the Short Film Project course at ACT. Video editing is another strength of his, his specialty being actor reels. Now, as a sought-after actor in the Bay Area for the past 5 years, Tim Huls has been on over 40 commercials for products such as Soda Stream and Charles Schwab, and has acted in numerous short films. He is represented by NYLO Talent Agency and is well versed in what it takes to be a lucrative, productive, and fulfilled screen actor in the Bay Area. As a stage actor, he has performed with such companies as New Conservatory Theater Center, SF Playhouse, Marin Shakespeare Company, Breadbox, SF Olympians, and Tabard Theatre. He also hosts his own talk show, The City Seen, from his backyard shed. Check out his videos and other projects: TimHuls.com

 

Drew Khalouf teaches voice and speech, acting, and Shakespeare for Studio A.C.T., and has a wide range of experience teaching students of all ages and abilities. Terry Gross interviewed him about his work with inner-city students in Cleveland's public schools for NPR's Fresh Air. During his two years as actor, interpreter, and “voice” on national tour with a deaf theater company, he taught hearing and deaf students in both spoken English and American Sign Language. Khalouf has acted in more than 40 roles with touring and repertory companies in the United States, among them Guildenstern inRosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Johnny Boyle in Juno and the Paycock, and Jesus Christ in Godspell. He also appeared in A.C.T.'s The Tempest, Golden Gate Opera's Plump Jack, Sierra Repertory Theatre's The Threepenny Opera, and The Muse, a musical in prose and verse, which he wrote and composed. Khalouf is a graduate of A.C.T.'s Master of Fine Arts Program in Acting.

 

Jessica Kitchens is a Northern California native who did her undergraduate studies in Theater and Political Science at UC Davis and received her M.F.A. in Acting from A.C.T. After her graduate studies, she lived in New York City, working as a professional actor as well as devising, writing, and producing her own work. Kitchens has performed with such companies as A.C.T.Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Cleveland Play House, Geva Theatre, California Shakespeare Theater, Magic Theatre, Cape Playhouse, Idaho Repertory Theatre, New Light Theater Project, and Shotgun Players, among others. She is a recipient of the Maureen McKibben Alumni Fellowship Award from A.C.T. and the 2011 Shenson Performing Arts Fellowship from The Shenson Foundation.

 

Trish Mulholland is an actor, casting director, writer, teacher, and coach who has worked at theaters around the Bay Area including A.C.T., Aurora Theatre, and San Francisco Shakespeare Festival. A graduate of Australia’s National Theatre Drama School and Melbourne University, Trish has also worked in film, television, voiceover, and radio; she won an Australasian Radio Pater Award and also hosted radio shows in Italy and France. Trish taught acting at Los Medanos College and is a longtime member of Shotgun Players. She is Casting Director for Shotgun’s mainstage and Champagne Reading series and will be directing in 2016.

 

Kari Prindl grew up around the world before graduating from Oberlin College with a degree in English with a concentration in theater. At Oberlin, she also took cello lessons at the conservatory and was extensively involved with the dance department. After college, she moved to San Francisco and trained in Alexander Technique with Frank Ottiwell, who taught Alexander Technique at A.C.T. since the company’s Pittsburgh beginnings in 1965. Since her certification in 1992, Kari has maintained a private practice in San Francisco and taught at various institutions across the country, including San Francisco State University, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the Community Music Center, Henderson State University in Arkansas, and A.C.T.’s Young Conservatory, Summer Training Congress, and M.F.A. Program.

 

Mark Rafael is an actor, educator, and author. His Bay Area appearances include Jihad Jones and the Kashalnikov Babes and ReOrient Fest for Golden Thread, Ted Kaczynski Killed People With BombsSchrodinger's Girlfriend, and Joe Goode's Body Familiar for Magic Theatre, The Best of Playground (9 & 11), and the Bay Area Playwrights Festival. He has also appeared regionally at Yale Repertory Theatre, American Stage, Wisdom Bridge, and Northlight Theatre, among others. Film and television credits include TitanicStar Trek VoyagerThe PracticeBabylon 5, and Wings. He received a B.A. from Brown University and an M.F.A. from Yale University. His book, Telling Stories: A Grand Unifying Theory of Acting Techniques, was published by Smith & Kraus.

 

Katie Rubin is a nationally touring solo performer, comic, regional theater Actress, writing/improv coach, and energetic healer. She earned her MFA in Acting at UC Davis, and her BA in Theater at Amherst College. She is currently teaching Improv in the Continuing Studies Dept. at Stanford, and facilitating both an online and in-person class called “Tell Your Story” (tellyourstorywithkatie.weebly.com), which facilities solo performers, comics, authors, playwrights, and writers of all kind in developing their work. Katie has written and toured three-hour-long stand-up comedy shows to theaters, comedy clubs, and universities across the country. She has also written and toured five solo theater pieces. Her first solo show, Insides OUT!, received a nine-week Equity production at STC, and went on to tour to more than 100 events and venues for more than eight years. Why I Died: a Comedy! ran for six weeks at the Hudson Theater in Los Angeles, was then picked up by The Echo.  Most recently, Ms. Rubin’s solo work F*%k Christmas. (But Gently, and With Love), was commissioned by Capital Stage and ran for two nights. Recent acting credits include Lisette in The Heir Apparent (Aurora Theatre Company); Patricia in The Taming (Marin Shakespeare Company); Tanya in The North Plan; Mrs. Daldry in In the Next Room, or The Vibrator Play; Wendy in Hunter-Gatherers (Capital Stage Company); Izzy in Rabbit Hole; The Nurse in Wit (B Street Theater).

 

Patrick Russell has performed in theaters across the Bay Area including A.C.T., San Francisco Playhouse, Aurora Theatre Company, Magic Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, Marin Shakespeare Company, CenterREP, Shotgun Players, Killing My Lobster, and PlayGround. Most recently, Patrick appeared in the world premiere productions of Trouble Cometh and 77% at San Francisco Playhouse. Film credits include the feature film Being Us, the web series SanFranLand, the short films The Secret Life of the Hotel Room and We Were Awesome, and the animated short film The Etymology of Zero. Patrick was the voice of GooglePlay, TiVo, and SlimJims.  His voice-over work can be heard in numerous radio and Internet advertisements. As an instructor at A.C.T., Patrick has taught acting and Shakespeare in the Summer Training Congress; acting, movement, voice, speech, and film with Studio ACT; and acting and improv in the Young Conservatory. As a recruiter for ACT’s various acting programs, Patrick has taught audition workshops at universities across the country. Other institutions in which Patrick has taught include The Academy of Art University, Shakespeare at Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center with California Shakespeare Theater, the Summer Shakespeare Conservatory at California Shakespeare Theater, and with Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s outreach program. Patrick received his B.F.A. in acting from the University of California, Santa Barbara and is a graduate of A.C.T.’s Master of Fine Arts Program.

 

Naomi Sanchez has worked extensively with singers of all levels, from beginners to Broadway veterans. She has taught and accompanied singers in the Studio A.C.T. musical theater program since 2000, and has arranged original theater pieces for A.C.T.'s Young Conservatory, including the musical Forever Young: The Music of Bob Dylan, which toured to London's National Theatre. Sanchez is also a classical concert pianist and a member of the award-winning piano duo Pas de Duo, which debuted at Carnegie Hall to critical acclaim and has performed nationwide. She earned both her bachelor's and master's degrees in music from Indiana University.

 

Jonathan Spector’s plays been developed and produced at Aurora Theater, Berkeley Rep’s Ground Floor, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, San Francisco Playhouse, PlayGround, Mugwumpin, Source Theater Festival (Washington, DC) and Just Theater. He will have two plays premiering locally in the 17/18 season: Eureka Day at Aurora Theater, and Good. Better. Best. Bested. at Custom Made Theater. With Liz Lisle and Christopher White he co-­created This Is All I Need, which was listed as a "Best Play of the Year" in 2010 by both the SF Weekly and San Francisco Bay Guardian. As Co-Artistic Director of the award-­winning Just Theater, he has directed and/or produced local premieres of many adventurous new plays including Anne Washburn’s The Internationalist, Jason Grote’s 1001, Jackie Sibblies Drury’s We Are Proud to Present... and Rob Handel’s A Maze. Through Just Theater’s New Play Lab he has commissioned and developed over 35 new plays by many of the Bay Area’s leading writers including Aaron Loeb’s Ideation, Lauren Gunderson’s Toil and Trouble, and Christopher Chen’s Home Invasion. From 2006–2009 he was the Associate Artistic Director of Playwrights Foundation/Bay Area Playwrights Festival. While living in New York, he was a member of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, the Lincoln Center Director’s Lab and a frequent collaborator with The Civilians. He is a Resident Playwright at Playwrights Foundation, a two-­time winner of Aurora Theater’s Global Age Prize, holds an MFA from San Francisco State and has taught playwriting at San Jose State, Sonoma State, and Cal Shakes.

 

Rebecca Struch is a theater artist, educator, and community organizer. Before joining A.C.T., she received her M.A. in applied theater arts from the University of Southern California School of Dramatic Arts and her B.A. in theater arts and gender, women, and sexuality studies from the University of Minnesota. She has an extensive background in community and youth development through liberation arts and participatory research, including more than five years of training and experience in Theatre of the Oppressed and drama in education. Her domestic arts and community organizing experience ranges from devising new works with formerly incarcerated youth in Los Angeles to coaching youth in a pedagogies of art and social change program at Penumbra Theatre in St. Paul, Minnesota, to participating in the annual MayDay Parade and Festival at In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre in Minneapolis. She has also worked at The Warehouse Theatre and Porthouse Theatre in various production roles, including lead carpenter and properties master, for four seasons. Internationally, she has trained in Brazil at the Center for Theatre of the Oppressed and has worked with therapists, youth, and health educators in Rwanda and Kenya. While in Los Angeles, she served as the founding program coordinator for the Liberation Arts and Community Engagement (LACE) Center, working to build a coalition of community-based organizations using the arts for social transformation. Struch also worked with Peer Health Exchange for three years in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland. Most recently, she served as the Bay Area program director, training more than 200 college volunteers and managing a school-based health education program for almost 2,500 high school students.

 

Zoë Swenson-Graham returned to the States in 2015 after living in London for nearly seven years, where she worked as an actor, dancer, and trained as a stage combat instructor and fight choreographer. Skilled in more than a dozen weapons, she has served as a stage combat choreographer and teacher around the UK, including the Royal Opera House, Soho Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe, Guildford School of Acting, Royal Welsh College, Southwark Playhouse, British American Drama Academy, as well as performing stunt work for Channel 4 in Derren Brown's Apocalypse. Since returning to the Bay, Zoë has choreographed for and taught with the American Conservatory Theatre MFA Program, UC Berkeley School of Theatre, Berkeley Rep School of Theatre, Oakland School of the Arts, Sierra Repertory Theatre Company, East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, Ross Valley Players, YMTC, Palo Alto Children's Theatre, and Stapleton School of the Arts. Before leaving London, she was the leading role in the English Premiere of Neil LaBute’s Autobahn at King's Head Theatre. Other acting credits include: Our Town (Emily), Trojan Women (Helen), The Toll (Edinburgh Festival), and Twelfth Night (Viola). She received an Off-West End Best Actress nomination for At the Broken Places, a new American play that premiered in London. Zoe’s upcoming film, Lasso, featuring her acting and stunt work, premieres Summer 2017.

 

Caitlyn Tella is an artist originally from the Bay Area who directs, writes for and performs in theatre and interdisciplinary performance. In the 2016-2017 school year she served as Visiting Assistant Professor of Acting, Voice and Movement at University of Toledo where she taught Grotowski-based psychophysical acting and Viewpoints, and directed Anne Washburn’s The Internationalist and a devised play, Flower School, inspired by the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore. Her original theater work and ongoing facilitation of performance workshops for exploring the dream world have been supported by Elsewhere Studios Artist-Residency (Paonia, CO), Hemera Foundation, San Jose Repertory Theatre Emerging Artist Lab, and Naropa University. As an actress she has performed at A Noise Within, Highways Performance Space, Long Beach Playhouse, Fowler Museum, Powerhouse Theater in the Los Angeles area, and Impact Theatre, Pear Avenue Theatre, and Dragon Productions in the Bay Area. As a teaching artist she has worked with students of all ages and many backgrounds, including three years in a special-needs inclusion school. She is the co-founder of the briefly lived DIY theatre, Scatterstate (San Jose), where she directed an all-female cast and design team in Anne Carson’s Antigonick in 2014. She holds an M.F.A. in Theatre: Contemporary Performance from Naropa University where she trained in psychophysical acting with Stephen Wangh (author, Acrobat of the Heart) and Nora Woolley, and Viewpoints with one of its early developers, Wendell Beavers, and Joan Bruemmer-Holden. She holds a B.A. in Theater from UCLA. You can see her portfolio at CaitlynTella.com.