Faculty

Liz Anderson is an actor, filmmaker, and teaching artist. She is a graduate of the San Francisco School of the Arts theater program and holds a B.F.A. in theater from NYU 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. Liz has worked with numerous Bay Area theater companies, and is a company member with the Leela Faculty Armando Ensemble and PlayGround at Berkeley Rep.

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 work 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.

Elizabeth Carter has been an actor, director and educator in the Bay Area for many years. Most recently she directed King Lear for SF Shakespeare Festival. She had the great pleasure of directing Bondage for Alter Theatre, Every 28 Hours Plays and A Place To Belong for A.C.T., for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf for African American Shakespeare Company, From the Ground Up, Participants and Just One Day for TheatreFirst. She has directed for the California Shakespeare Theater Conservatory for nearly 20 years, including Richard III, The Winter’s Tale, and As You Like It. As a Bay Area actor Elizabeth has appeared at California Shakespeare Theater, Marin Theatre Co., Aurora Theatre Co., SF Shakespeare Festival, The Magic Theatre, San Jose Stage, and TheatreWorks. She been nominated for TBA award for The Convert at MTC and is a SFBATCCO award recipient for Trouble in Mind at the Aurora Theatre Co. as well as the Bay Area and Off Broadway productions of Eureka Day! Currently she is Assistant Director of the Theatre Department at Ruth Asawa School of the Arts in San Francisco.

 

file

Eugenie Chan is artistic director and playwright of Eugenie Chan Theater Projects. Theatres that have produced or developed her award-winning plays include: ECTP/6NewPlays, The Public, Playwrights Horizons, Ma-Yi, Houston Grand Opera: HGOco, Cutting Ball, Magic Theatre, SF Mime Troupe, Crowded Fire, Northwest Asian American Theatre, East West, and Perishable. She has received commissions from Houston Grand Opera, Cutting Ball, San Francisco Arts Commission, and the Magic/Sloan Science Initiative. Her award-winning screenplays have been seen at the Big Apple, San Diego, Disorient, Berlin, and Cinestory Film Festivals. Eugenie is a Resident Alumna of New Dramatists, Playwrights Foundation, and Cutting Ball. Adjunct Professor, University of San Francisco Performing Arts & Social Justice Department.

Julie Douglas is a Bay Area actor, 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 UCSC. She has taught students of all ages for a variety of organizations including A.C.T., St. Mary's College, We Players, S.F. Shakes, Cal Performances, Stanford Live, Spotlight: Girls, and more. Julie is a certified instructor of the Michael Chekhov Technique. She has performed in the Bay Area with Idiot String, We Players, Impact Theatre, SF Shakes, Shotgun Players, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, the Medical Clown Project, and more. 

Frances Epsen-Devlin has performed for the past 30 years in national tours and regional productions of musicals and plays, working with Houston Grand Opera, Pasadena Playhouse, Westchester Broadway Theatre (NY), Starlight Theater (KS), Spreckels Theatre (SD), A.C.T., 42nd Street Moon, Woodminster and San Jose Stage Company. Since 1998, Ms. Devlin has served on the faculty of Studio A.C.T., STC, A.C.T.’s M.F.A. Program and Young Conservatory, teaching Voice Building, Musical Theater, Acting, Voice and Speech, and directing the Spring Cabarets. Frances holds a B.S. in Theater /Vocal Performance from Northwestern University and an MFA in Acting from A.C.T.

 

Amanda Farbstein received her first pair of tap shoes at 8 weeks old. Since then she has studied Musical Theatre tap under Berle Davis, Robyn Tribuzi, and Dottie Lester-White. Amanda has taught tap privately, at Hillbarn Theatre Conservatory, Broadway by the Bay Conservatory, Musical Theatre Conservatory, Notre Dame de Namur University, and at Dance Arts Center. She has performed in many iconic tap musicals, including Singing in the Rain (Kathy Seldon), White Christmas (Judy Haynes), and Crazy for You (Mitzi). Her dream of sneaking her passion for tap into a dramatic play was finally realized in 2019 at The Shotgun Players in Kill the Debbie Downers! directed Mark Jackson and Beth Wilmurt. 

amandafarbstein.com

Deb Fink has been an acting teacher and career coach in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and New York, since the early 1990’s.  She currently teaches, coaches and consults on camera acting through her program Comfort On Camera, in group classes, to corporate clients and in private and semi-private sessions. Deb teaches, or has taught, for The Waterfront Conservatory, the San Francisco Acting Academy/SFAA (Casting Networks), Voice One, UC extension, Marin Shakespeare Company, JE Talent as well as on set for TV, Commercial, Film and Industrial shoots. While in New York, Deb coached on camera auditions for clients at the William Morris Agency (WME).  A graduate of The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Deb is a professional actor in Theater, Film, TV and Voiceover.

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.

 

Jo (Josephine) Gray (BMus, Auckland University N.Z, M AmSAT.) started studying Alexander Technique in 1983, and was able to salvage her career as a violinist, which had been adversely affected by chronic tendonitis. She trained with master teacher Frank Ottiwell, who taught the Alexander Technique at A.C.T. since the company’s Pittsburgh beginnings in 1965. After certifying in 1998, Jo taught for 5 years in the A.C.T. Summer Training Congress and from 2010-2018 at USF. She has also taught theater students at UTEP and University of NV, Reno. In 2014, Jo certified in Jessica Wolf’s Art of Breathing. She currently performs in several orchestras and has also been on stage as a singer and musician at Shotgun Players.

jograyalextech.com

 

Margo Hall is an award winning actor, director, and playwright who has performed and directed in theaters throughout the Bay Area. She has taught and directed in the A.C.T. MFA program, and appeared on the Geary Stage. She is a founding member of Campo Santo, an award winning multi-cultural ensemble, where she has directed, performed and collaborated on several new plays with artists such as Naomi Iizuka, Jessica Hagedorn, Phillip Kan Gotanda, and Octavio Solis. She received her MFA from Catholic University of America teaches acting at Chabot College and UC Berkeley.

www.margohall.com

Maya Herbsman is a theatre director, intimacy director, and teaching artist. She is also currently the Associate Artistic Director at Cutting Ball Theater. She received her BA in Theater from Wesleyan University, where she was awarded the Rachel Henderson Memorial Prize for excellence in directing. As an intimacy director, she has worked with Shotgun Players, Aurora Theatre Company, Cutting Ball Theater, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, Crowded Fire Theater, New Conservatory Theatre Center, Quantum Dragon Theatre, Custom Made Theatre Co., and Golden Thread Productions. Favorite intimacy credits include Women Laughing Alone with Salad (Shotgun Players) and La Ronde (Cutting Ball Theater). She is currently an apprentice with Intimacy Directors International.

Chauntee’ Schuler Irving is a Broadway actor and professor who recently moved to the Bay Area. Favorite NY and professional credits include: The Lion King, The Producers, Dreamgirls, Applause, Murder Ballad, Everyday Rapture, Party Come Here, Smokey Joe’s Café, Crumbs from the Table of Joy, As the World Turns, and national commercials. She has trained and worked with The Actors’ Studio Drama School, The Barrow Group Theater Company, Alvin Ailey, and the Virginia Governor’s School for the Performing Arts prior to receiving her MFA in Theatre Pedagogy from Virginia Commonwealth University.

chauntee.com

 

Mark Jackson 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 M.F.A., 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).

markjackson-theatermaker.com

 

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.

Drew Khalouf has a wide range of experience teaching students of all ages and abilities. For two years he toured nationally as an actor and interpreter, teaching hearing and deaf students in both spoken English and American Sign Language. Terry Gross interviewed him about his work with inner-city students in Cleveland's public schools for NPR's Fresh Air. Drew has acted in over forty productions with touring and repertory companies in the United States. In the Bay Area he has performed at A.C.T., Golden Gate Opera, Sierra Repertory Theatre, and in The Muse, a musical he wrote, composed and performed. Drew is a graduate of A.C.T. MFA.

 

Michelle Maxson is a professional actress, maker, teacher, and occasional casting director for independent film. As an actress she has worked in New York City, the SF Bay Area, and internationally. She has created original works in NYC at The Culture Project, HERE Arts Center, Ontological-Hysteric Theatre, and in SF at the Climate Theater. In film she has worked as an actress and local casting director for the independent films Burn Country, starring James Franco and Melissa Leo, and Freeland, starring Krisha Fairchild and Lily Gladstone. Michelle started her teaching career in 2002 using theater as tool to teach conflict resolution/social emotional learning to at-risk youth in New York City. From 2008-2010, she was the program director of San Francisco based Rising Voices, a writing and performance internship for formerly incarcerated women, and she is currently an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco.

 

Carolina Morones is an Actor and Bilingual Teaching Artist who returns to the Bay Area after 7 seasons in residence at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. A proud graduate of Santa Clara University (BA) and Kent State University (MFA), she earned a teaching certificate in the Michael Chekhov Acting Technique from the Great Lakes Michael Chekhov Consortium. In 2020 she was honored to be the Choreographer and Cultural Consultant for Octavio Solis’ Retablos: Life on the Border with Word For Word at Z Space. Most recently she was cast in a virtual classical play reading series with Shakespeare in Detroit. This fall she will play the role of Ginny in Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue at The Pear Theatre.

Liliana Padilla makes plays about community, the body, power, and healing. Their play How to Defend Yourself, won the Yale Drama Series Prizewas a Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Finalist, and was produced at the Humana Festival & Victory Gardens Theatre. Liliana is a theatre maker, performer, teacher and creative doula. MFA Playwriting: UCSD.

Thaddeus Pinkston has been a member of the YC and Studio A.C.T. faculty for 12 years. As the YC Cabaret Program accompanist, he plays and arranges music for the Musical Ensemble, Cabaret Ensemble, Middle School Cabaret Ensemble, and a number of special events and musical theater classes. Thaddeus was musical director and co-composer for “Saint Tous” which premiered at La Mama along with Broadway Legend Andre De Shields. He also musical directed and toured with the Fifth Dimension’s rendering of “Ain’t Misbehavin” and served Musical Director for The Color Purple's Benefit Concert in San Francisco. He has accompanied a host of stellar performers and ensembles for American Conservatory Theater, Berkeley Repertory Theater, Telluride Jazz Festival, Jazz Legend Stan Getz, Blues icon singer Koko Taylor known as the “The Queen of the Blues,” American folk singer Joan Baez, Maurice Hines, Freda Payne, and Jennifer Holiday.

Lisa Anne Porter is a core member of the A.C.T. MFA Faculty, and has also 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.

 

Mark Rafael is a writer, teacher, and actor. Bay Area appearances include Jihad Jones and the Kashalnikov Babes and ReOrient Fest for Goldenthread, Ted Kaczinski Killed People with Bombs, Schrodinger’s Girlfriend, and Joe Goode’s Body Familiar for the Magic Theatre. Film and Television credits include Titanic, Star Trek Voyager, The Practice, Babylon 5, Trauma, and Chance for Hulu. He teaches at the University of San Francisco, Studio A.C.T., and at the Academy of Art University. He received a BA from Brown and an MFA from Yale University. He is author of Telling Stories: A Grand Unifying Theory of Acting Techniques.

 

Radhika Rao is an actor, improviser, storyteller, director, writer, and arts educator/consultant. She has performed theater in the United States and abroad. She has an Ed.D from Harvard Graduate School of Education, and specializes in creating curriculum that integrates theater into diverse learning situations for various populations and organizations. Her work is steeped deeply in respect for life and social justice. Her collaborations include work with American Conservatory Theater, Cutting Ball Theater, Young Audiences of Northern California, Noorani Dance, Leela Improv, Enacte, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Eth-Noh-Tec Storytelling, Berkeley Repertory Theater, New Conservatory Theatre Center, Larkin St Youth Services, Life Theatre Services, Green Art Workshop, University of San Francisco, Santa Clara University, Samuel Merritt University, Stanford University, Adyen, Cisco, and HCL America.

radhikarao.org