Access the insight and experience of those who have made theater their life’s work. With expertise ranging from acting and directing to playwriting and dramaturgy, A.C.T. faculty members are some of the most extraordinary artists—and inspiring educators—in the business.
Instructors for any given term are drawn from this list and are subject to change.
Jessica Berman is a dialect, voice, text, and acting teacher and coach. She currently teaches at UC Berkeley, A.C.T. (STC and SFS), and Academy of Art University, and has led workshops and vocal warm ups for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Recent dialect and vocal coaching credits include: Kiss my Aztec!, The Good Book, Paradise Square: A New Musical, Angels in America, and What the Constitution Means to Me (Berkeley Rep); An American in Paris (North American Tour); In Old Age, The Eva Trilogy, The Baltimore Waltz, Sojourners, and runboyrun (Magic Theatre); and Oslo, The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley, Shakespeare in Love, Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, Native Son, and August: Osage County (Marin Theatre Company). In addition to her work in the theatre, Jessica works with business professionals and private individuals on communication, presence, and presentation skills. She holds an MA from the Birmingham School of Acting, and an MFA from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.
Julie Douglas is a Bay Area actor, devisor, clown and teacher. She holds an MFA in Ensemble Based Physical Theatre from Dell'Arte International and a BA in Theatre from UC Santa Cruz. She has taught/teaches for a variety of organizations including A.C.T. (Studio, SFS, MFA), St. Mary's College, We Players, SF Shakes, Cal Performances, Stanford Live, and more. Julie is a certified instructor of the Michael Chekhov Technique and is training to be an Alexander Technique teacher. She has performed in the Bay Area with Cutting Ball, Idiot String, We Players, Impact Theatre, SF Shakes, Shotgun Players, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, the Medical Clown Project, and more.
Mark Jackson (Studio A.C.T. Director) is an award-winning theater maker whose work in theater, dance, and performance has been seen in the Bay Area at the American Conservatory Theater MFA, Art Street Theatre, Aurora Theatre Company, Cutting Ball Theatre, Encore Theatre Company, EXIT Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, Potrzebie Dance Project, San Francisco International Arts Festival, SF State University, Shotgun Players, and Z Space; Nationally at The Studio Theatre (Washington D.C.), The Catamounts (Denver), and Hunger & Thirst (NYC); Internationally at Arts International Festival IV (Japan), Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Bread & Roses Theatre (UK), English Theatre Berlin and Deutsches Theater Berlin (Germany).
Warren David Keith is an actor, teacher and director. He is a graduate of Wesleyan University and the Yale School of Drama and has served on the faculties of Barnard College, The New School, UC Davis, American Conservatory Theater, The Nueva School, and as a Teaching Fellow for the National Endowment for the Humanities. In addition to theaters in NYC and across the East Coast he has also appeared at A.C.T., Aurora Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, California Shakespeare Theater, Marin Theatre Company, SF Playhouse, TheatreWork,s and Word for Word. Onscreen appearances include: Haiku Tunnel, Love and Taxes, Raising Arizona, Fargo, The Big Lebowski and A Serious Man.
Patrick Russell has performed in the theaters across the Bay Area, including A.C.T., California Shakespeare Theater (As You Like It), Aurora Theatre Company (Body Awareness, Trouble in Mind, Awake and Sing!), San Francisco Playhouse (Noises Off, Red Velvet, Seminar, reasons to be pretty, 77%, and Trouble Cometh), Magic Theatre (Fool for Love), Marin Theatre Company, Marin Shakespeare Company (Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Three Musketeers), CenterREP (Old Wicked Songs), and Shotgun Players (Care of Trees). Film credits include Being Us and Rapunzel’s Etymology of Zero. Patrick is a member of Actors' Equity and SAG-AFTRA. He received his BFA in acting from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an MFA in acting from A.C.T.
Jack F. Sharrar, PhD (Director of Academic Affairs/Theater History/Accreditation Liaison
Officer) received A.C.T.’s Managing Director’s Award for 2003. He has served as a theater panelist for the National Foundation for Advancement of the Arts and has taught both university and secondary theater arts. A member of Actors’ Equity and the Screen Actors Guild, his credits include roles at Pioneer Theatre Company, Michigan Repertory Theater, Mountainside Theater, the BoarsHead Theatre, Theatre 40, LA; A.C.T. (Studio), numerous media roles, and direction of over 50 plays and musicals. He is author of Avery Hopwood, His Life and Play (UMI Press) , editor (with an Afterword) of Avery Hopwood’s heretofore unpublished novel, The Great Bordello, a Story of the Theatre (Mondial), contributor to The American National Biography (Oxford), and The Gay and Lesbian Theatrical Heritage: A Biographical Dictionary of Major Figures in American Stage History in the Pre-Stonewall Era (UMI Press); coeditor (with Craig Slaight) of numerous award-winning volumes of scenes and monologues for young actors published by Smith & Kraus, and adapter of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s play The Debutante, Avery Hopwood’s comedy Fair and Warmer (both published by Playscripts, Inc.) and author of an original play, “Up in Avery’s Room”, which received a staged reading at Theatre Rhinoceros. His one-act play, Better Angels, drawn from the Civil War writings of Louisa May Alcott and Walt Whitman, and his adaptation of Dr. Faustus were performed in A.C.T.’s Sky Festival. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan, and holds a Ph.D. in theater history and dramatic literature from the University of Utah.
Master Class Faculty
Christine Adaire (Head of Voice) is a Designated Master Linklater Voice teacher, trained by the world-renowned voice teacher Kristin Linklater. She has worked as an actor, voice coach, and director in many American regional theaters, including the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Old Globe, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, the Guthrie Theater, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Goodman Theatre, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Court Theatre, American Players Theatre, Theatre for a New Audience, Santa Cruz Shakespeare, and Shakespeare & Company. She has coached the dialects for the Broadway production and first national tour of Mary Poppins. Adaire has taught at DePaul University, National Theatre School of Canada, University of Massachusetts–Amherst, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, and Roosevelt University. She taught workshops in Shanghai, Barcelona, London, Australia, New Zealand, and Birmingham, England. Her current area of research and writing is transgender voice. She works with transgender individuals so that they can modify their voice to more fully express their gender identity.
Danyon Davis (Head of Movement) is the former Head of Movement at Stella Adler Studio. Danyon has performed in classical, contemporary, and experimental plays throughout the U.S. and Europe. A former associate with Bill T. Jones and with the SITI Co., Danyon also performed, taught, and directed for many years with the Guthrie Theater. A decade ago, Danyon was invited to return to his alma mater, the Juilliard Drama Division, by the late Jim Houghton to receive Moni Yakim’s Movement/ Physical Acting methodology. Danyon has adapted Mr. Yakim’s approach while serving as a faculty member at the Neighborhood Playhouse, Circle in the Square Theatre School, and HB Studio’s one-year Hagen Core Training Program. Danyon has taught movement in many workshop intensive settings, including community and arts-in-education based work with Stephen DiMenna, as well as workshop intensives with the Bill Reed Voice Studio, Middlebury College, and the Public Theater.
Andy Donald (A.C.T. Associate Artistic Director) is the associate artistic director at A.C.T. Previously, he created the position of Producer of Artistic Development and Community Programming at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. Some of his NJPAC producing/commissioning highlights include The Hip Hop Nutcracker (with United Palace; international tour); Carefree: Dancin’ with Fred and Ginger (national tour); NJPAC Stage Exchange (guaranteeing commissioned world premieres at New Jersey’s regional theaters); Jimmy Fallon in Conversation with Stephen Colbert; John Leguizamo’s Ghetto Klown (HBO); American Songbook (with Ted Chapin; PBS); Meredith Willson’s Music Man (all black cast, with Two River Theater); Second City Does New Jersey; and Jessie Mueller & Jarrod Spector (debut). Prior to NJPAC, he served as artistic director of Naked Angels, where his producing credits include Next Fall (Broadway, Tony Award nomination); This Wide Night with Edie Falco and Alison Pill (five Lucille Lortel Award nominations); Outside People (Vineyard Theatre); Naked Radio (weekly podcast); Oh the Horror!; Armed and Naked in America; and A Long and Happy Life. He also started the “3-Step Formula,” a bi-coastal new play development series, and spearheaded the merger of Naked Angels with The New School for Drama. He also served as producing associate at New York Stage & Film/The Public Theater and Second Stage Theater, pilot development assistant at ABC and HBO, and artistic director of the Charlie B. Theater Company. Donald has a BFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and an MFA from Columbia University. He is the recipient of the Barbara Whitman Prize for Theatre Management & Producing.
Janet Foster, CSA (Audition) has cast for A.C.T. for seven seasons, including The Great Leap, Her Portmanteau, Edward Albee’s Seascape, Men on Boats, Sweat, Hamlet, A Thousand Splendid Suns, King Charles III, John, Arcadia, Stuck Elevator, The Orphan of Zhao, Napoli!, and Endgame and Play. On Broadway, she cast The Light in the Piazza (Artios Award nomination), Lennon, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and Taking Sides (cocast). Off-Broadway credits include True Love, Floyd Collins, A Cheever Evening, The Monogamist, and Later Life. Regionally, she has worked at Intiman Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, California Shakespeare Theater, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, The Old Globe, and American Repertory Theater. Film, television, and radio credits include Cosby, Tracey Takes On New York, The Deal, Advice from a Caterpillar, The Day That Lehman Died (Peabody, SONY, and Wincott awards), and “T” Is for Tom (Tom Stoppard radio plays, WNYC and WQXR). She also cast the podcasts LifeAfter (GE Theater) and Passenger List, featuring Patti LuPone.
Peter J. Kuo (Associate Conservatory Director, Director of A.C.T.'s San Francisco Semester) is a director, producer, writer, and educator focused on raising the visibility of marginalized communities. He just finished a First Stage Residency at The Drama League and was recently named one of Theatre Communications Group's Rising Leaders of Color. Recently, he was the social justice programs coordinator at The New School, where he founded the NSD: Affinity Groups program and was involved with several equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives. He taught the class “Acting Beyond Marginalization” at HB Studio, and has directed students in productions at the Atlantic Acting School and Redhouse Arts Center. Kuo previously worked as an art administrator at South Coast Repertory, East West Players, Soho Rep., and LA STAGE Alliance. He is the co-founder of Artists at Play, a Los Angeles Asian American Theatre Collective. As a director and assistant director, he has worked at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, The Play Company, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, East West Players, South Coast Repertory, Geffen Playhouse, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Leviathan Lab, Ma-Yi Theater Company, and Pan Asian Repertory Theatre, among others. He holds a BA in drama with a minor in business management from UC Irvine and an MFA in directing from The New School’s School for Drama.
Pam MacKinnon (A.C.T. Artistic Director) is a Tony, Drama Desk, and Obie Award–winning director, and A.C.T.'s Artistic Director since 2018. She has directed upwards of 70 productions around the country, off-Broadway, and on Broadway. Her Broadway credits include Beau Willimon’s The Parisian Woman (with Uma Thurman), Amelie: A New Musical, David Mamet’s China Doll (with Al Pacino), Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles (with Elisabeth Moss), Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance (with Glenn Close and John Lithgow), Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Tony and Drama Desk Awards; Outer Critics Circle Award nomination), and Bruce Norris’s Clybourne Park (Obie Award for Excellence in Direction; Tony and Lucille Lortel Award nominations). After five years as board chair of Clubbed Thumb, a downtown New York theater company dedicated to new American plays, she sits on its advisory board. She is an artistic associate of Roundabout Theatre Company, a Usual Suspect of New York Theatre Workshop, a former board president of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC), and an alum of the Drama League, Women’s Project, and Lincoln Center Theater’s Directors’ Labs. She grew up in Toronto, Canada, and Buffalo, New York, acted through her teens but majored in economics and political science at the University of Toronto and briefly pursued a PhD at UC San Diego before returning to her true passion: theater.
Joy Meads is the A.C.T. Director of Dramaturgy and New Works, where her credits include Sweat, Men on Boats, Edward Albee’s Seascape, Her Portmanteau, The Great Leap, and Rhinoceros. Prior to A.C.T., she was the literary manager and artistic engagement strategist at Center Theatre Group, where her dramaturgy credits included the world premieres of Marco Ramirez’s The Royale, Jordan Harrison’s Marjorie Prime (2015 Pulitzer Prize finalist), and Forever by Dael Orlandersmith. Previously, she was literary manager at Steppenwolf Theatre Company and associate artistic director at California Shakespeare Theater. Additionally, Meads has developed plays with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, New York Theatre Workshop, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, Ojai Playwrights Conference, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Portland Center Stage, South Coast Repertory, and Campo Santo, among others. Meads has worked with playwrights Will Eno, Sheila Callaghan, Naomi Iizuka, Lucas Hnath, Paula Vogel, Rajiv Joseph, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Kimber Lee, Qui Nguyen, Jocelyn Bioh, David Adjmi, Universes, and many more. She is a proud co-founder of The Kilroys, a gang of playwrights and dramaturgs working for gender parity on American stages. A second anthology of monologues from plays on The Kilroys’ annual List was recently published by TCG books. thekilroys.org
Lisa Anne Porter (Head of Voice and Dialects) has served on the faculties of UC Berkeley, UC Davis, Shakespeare & Company, Syracuse University’s Tepper Semester, Naropa University, and Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Prior to coming to A.C.T., she was an associate professor of voice, acting, and text in the BFA program at Syracuse University (2001–06), where she was awarded the Most Inspirational Faculty Award during her first year teaching. She has coached voice and dialect in more than 70 productions nationwide. As a professional actor, she has performed with numerous repertory companies and Shakespeare festivals throughout the country. Most recently, she has been seen in the Bay Area in Eureka Day at Aurora Theatre Company, The Eva Trilogy and Bright Half Life at Magic Theatre, and Twelfth Night at California Shakespeare Theater. She has an MFA from A.C.T., a BA in theater and American studies from Wesleyan University, and is certified in Linklater voice training.
Melissa Smith (Conservatory Director, Head of Acting) has served as Conservatory Director and Head of Acting at A.C.T. since 1995. During that time, she has overseen the expansion of the M.F.A. Program from a two- to a three-year program and the further integration of the M.F.A. Program faculty and student body with A.C.T.’s artistic wing. Prior to assuming leadership of the A.C.T. Conservatory, Smith was the director of the program in theater and dance at Princeton University, where she taught introductory, intermediate, and advanced acting. She has taught acting, improvisation, and scene study to students of all ages in various colleges, high schools, and studios and is featured in Acting Teachers of America: A Vital Tradition. As a professional actor, she has performed at regional and off-Broadway theaters, including Soho Rep, Primary Stages, the Hangar Theatre, A.C.T., California Shakespeare Theater, and Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Smith holds a BA from Yale College and an MFA in acting from Yale School of Drama.
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