Carlos Aguirre (actor, musician, vocal percussionist, educator) has been performing and educating in the Bay Area for over 24 years. He has shared the stage with The Roots, Eryka Badu, Black Eyed Peas, Mary J. Blige, Jam Master Jay, L.L.Cool J and has recently as a guest star with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award winning show, Freestyle Love Supreme. He is also currently producing his original rap and beatbox adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tell Tale Heart as well as recording and releasing new music. Aguirre shares his experience by teaching at various schools and at-risk environments throughout the Bay Area.
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.
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.
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.
MARGO HALL award winning actor/director/playwright/educator and the Artistic Director of Lorraine Hansberry Theatre. Recently awarded the 2021 Kenneth Rainin Fellowship in Theater, and listed as one of the YBCA 100 honorees.
Acting credits include Black Odyssey*, Fences, Twelfth Night, A Raisin in the Sun, A Winter’s Tale, American Night: the Ballad of Juan Jose and SPUNK for the California Shakespeare Theater, JAZZ, Skeleton Crew, Gem of the Ocean, Fences and Seven Guitars for Marin Theater Company. Ah! Wilderness, Once in a Lifetime and Marcus or the Secret of Sweet* at The American Conservatory Theater. Exit Strategy, and Trouble in Mind*, at the Aurora Theater, Marcus Gardley’s A World in a Woman’s Hands for Shotgun Players. Barbecue* (also directed), and MF with a Hat at SF Playhouse.
Some of her acting credits for Campo Santo** include Dennis Johnson’s Nobody Move, Chinaka Hodges' Mirrors in Every Corner, Jessica Hagedorn's Fe in the Desert and Stairway to Heaven, and Naomi Iizuka’s Hamlet: Blood in the Brain, 17 Reasons (Why) and Polaroid Stories, floating weeds, a world premier by Philip Kan Gotanda, References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot, by Jose Rivera, Bethlehem by Octavio Solis, and Hurricane, by Erin Cressida Wilson. She has toured France with Word for Word as Missie May in The Gilded Six-Bits by Zora Neale Hurston, and Oceola in The Blues I’m Playing by Langston Hughes.
Margo’s recent film credits include Leslie White in All Day and a Night, and Nancy in Blindspotting, and the voice of Melba in Pixar’s SOUL. TV credits include Nancy in Blindspotting coming to STARZ summer 2021, Helen in Chances, Marsha Watkins and Blind Witness on Nash Bridges.
She debuted as a Theater Director with The World Premiere of Joyride, from the novel Grand Avenue by Greg Sarris, which was the Bay Area Critics Circle Winner for Best Original Script; the SF Weekly Black Box Awards for Best Production, Best Ensemble, Best Director; Drama-Logue Awards- Northern California for Best Production, Best Ensemble; the Backstage West-Garland Awards- Northern California for Best Production, Best Ensemble, and the Bay Guardian GOLDIE Award Winner for Stage. She most recently directed Hieroglyph by Erika Dickerson- Despenza which was a co-pro for LHT and SF Playhouse. The play was filmed live onstage and streamed virually. Other credits include How I Learned What I Learned for Lorraine Hansberry Theater, Ubuntu and MTC-Co-production, Barbecue, Red Velvet and The Story, a SF Playhouse/Lorraine Hansberry Theatre Co- Production, and Thurgood, and Rejoice! for the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre. Prior directing credits include Sonny’s Blues a story by James Baldwin, for Word for Word, which toured France. She co-directed Bulrusher with Ellen Chang, a play by Eisa Davis, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and Once on This Island, Hamlet, Blood in the Brain, SPUNK, The Trojan Women, It Falls, Ragtime, and A Streetcar Named Desire for Chabot College.
Margo completed her first writing project in April 2005 with the World Premier of The People’s Temple at Berkeley Repertory Theater, which won the Glickman award for best new play in the Bay Area for 2005. She was a part of a collaborative team of four writers who used interviews of survivors, and archival material to form a play exploring the People’s Temple movement and the tragic ending at Jonestown. The play went on from Berkeley Rep. to The Perseverance Theater in Juneau, Alaska and the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. Margo is also part of the acting ensemble. In 2013 she premiered her semi biographical piece, Be Bop Baby, a Musical Memoir, at Z Space, featuring the 15 piece Marcus Shelby Orchestra, which chronicled her life growing up in Detroit with her jazz musician stepfather who was with Motown. Lyrics and book by Margo Hall, with original music composed by Marcus Shelby.
**She is a founding member of Campo Santo, multi-cultural Theater Company in San Francisco *Theater Bay Area best actress recipient
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. She is currently an apprentice with Intimacy Directors International. Favorite intimacy credits include Women Laughing Alone with Salad (Shotgun Players) and La Ronde (Cutting Ball Theater).
Baily Hopkins has been acting on-camera for over a decade in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, and has a degree in Theatre from UC, San Diego. She's worked with director Joe Robert Cole (Netflix: All Day And A Night), Academy Award-winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (Pre-production VFX for Gravity), Academy Award-winning director Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master), Academy Award-winning director Barry Jenkins (Venmo spot), and Emmy award-winning choreographer Mandy Moore (Stella Artois national spot). Commercially, she’s had principal roles in campaigns for over 60 nationally recognized companies including Comcast, Toyota, Rocket Mortgage, Uber, NerdWallet, Roku, Credit Karma, and Visa. When not in front of the camera, Baily can be found as a Casting Associate at Nancy Hayes Casting in San Francisco. She's also helped cast national SAG and non-union commercials with Kristen Beck, Gregg Cohen, Kristen Armstrong, and Cathi Carlton, so she has her finger on the pulse of what TV and commercial directors are looking for. Going back to her roots in the theater, she's had the opportunity to perform with The Shotgun Players, New Conservatory Theatre Center, We Players, The Speakeasy SF, UCSD/La Jolla Playhouse, American Conservatory Theatre (Youth Company), Contra Costa Civic Theatre, and Masquer’s Playhouse
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
Monique Jenkinson is an artist, choreographer, performer and writer whose work dwells at the intersection of contemporary dance and cabaret, and considers the performance of femininity as a powerful, vulnerable and subversive act. Her alter-ego, Fauxnique, made herstory as the first cis-woman to win a major drag queen pageant. Her solo performance works have toured nationally and internationally in wide-ranging contexts from nightclubs to theaters to museums. Her memoir, Faux Queen is out now on Amble Press. www.fauxnique.net
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.
Peter J. Kuo
Peter J. Kuo (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.
Dave Maier is a prolific combat instructor and fight director. He has choreographed violence for several ACT productions including Poor Yella Rednecks-Vietgone 2, Top Girls, Rhinoceros and Sweat. He is the resident fight director at SF Opera, Cal Shakes and Oakland Theatre Project. His work has also been seen at Berkeley Rep, Opera San Jose, Livermore Valley Opera, Magic Theatre, Marin Theatre Co., Santa Cruz Shakespeare, African American Theatre Co. and Shotgun Players, among others. He is recognized as a Master Instructor and Fight Director with Dueling Arts International. He has taught stage combat classes for Studio ACT, Stanford University, UC Santa Cruz, St. Mary’s College of California, Berkeley Rep School of Theatre, Dueling Arts San Francisco and Dueling Arts International.
James Mercer II
James Mercer II is an actor, singer, writer, and visual artist of Afro-Carolinian and Afro-Chesapeake descent from Philadelphia, PA, who enjoys people watching, good food, soul music, horror films, and history. They are a Taurus. Described as a youthful old soul, they have a thirst for knowledge fueled by a love for storytelling and the human condition, often curious about the life journey of each person they encounter. As an actor, James has developed a reputation as a shapeshifter, has traveled around the country doing physical theatre, and has joined processes to develop new works in theatre. James has studied with Lee Edward Colston II (PTMI/PTAI), The School at Steppenwolf, and holds an MFA from American Conservatory Theater.
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), 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 played the role of Lucia in FADE by Tanya Saracho for PCPA’s InterPlay 2021 series. Carolina is currently playing Marina in Pericles, Prince of Tyre, with the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival.
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.
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.
Patrick Russell has performed in theaters across the Bay Area, including ACT (King Charles III, A Christmas Carol, Once in a Lifetime), TheatreWorks (Frost/Nixon), California Shakespeare Theater (As You Like It), San Francisco Playhouse (Noises Off, Red Velvet), Aurora Theatre Company (Body Awareness), Magic Theatre (Fool for Love), Marin Theatre Company (Othello), Marin Shakespeare Company (Measure for Measure, Love’s Labour’s Lost), CenterREP (Old Wicked Songs), and Shotgun Players (Care of Trees). Film credits include the feature film Being Us and the award-winning animated short film Rapunzel’s Etymology of Zero. Most recently, Patrick directed The Arsonists at UC Berkeley, As a teaching artist, Patrick has taught at ACT in various programs, Southern Oregon University as the movement instructor for the BFA program, and currently serves as a lecturer at UC Berkeley, where he teaches acting and movement. In addition, Patrick is the co-founder of The Actors Space professional actor training program in San Francisco. He received his B.F.A. in acting from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and is a graduate of American Conservatory Theater’s Master of Fine Arts Program in Acting. Patrick is a member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA.
Elyse Shafarman, MA
Elyse Shafarman is faculty at American Conservatory Theater MFA program, Berkeley Rep School of Theatre, and San Francisco State University. She attended SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance, and choreographed and performed in the SF Bay Area for 10 years. She holds an MA in Physiological Psychology from San Francisco State University and Alexander Technique Teacher Certification from ATI-SF, under the direction of Frank Ottiwell. Ms. Shafarman maintains a private practice in San Francisco & Berkeley teaching Alexander Technique and Yoga, and writes frequently about Mind-body connections as they relate to wellness, mobility, and performing arts on her blog. https://www.bodyproject.us/blog-body-project/
Anna Marie Sharpe
Anna Marie Sharpe is an actor and teaching artist in the Bay Area. Her recent credits include Nollywood Dreams (SF Playhouse), Paradise Blue (Aurora Theatre), and A Christmas Carol (American Conservatory Theatre). Other credits include The Incrementalist (Aurora Theatre Company), and the filmed production of [hieroglyph] (San Francisco Playhouse). Sharpe made her film debut in the award winning short film, “The Best Time.” She received her B.A. from UC Berkeley where she double majored in Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies. In addition to performing Anna is a dedicated mother, director, and writer.
Dee Dee Stephens
Dee Dee Stephens is an actor/comedian, producer and arts educator. She uses her voice as an artist to discuss tough social issues like civil rights, mental health, and gender equality to name a few. The underlying belief always being that radical love and radical art can change the world for the better. A first generation American born to Caribbean parents and raised in San Jose, California, Dee Dee received her MFA degree in Acting from University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and her undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley. deedeestephens.com
Jomar Tagatac is a graduate of the American Conservatory Master of Fine Arts program, earning this degree in 2005. He also holds a Bachelor's Degree in Theater from San Diego State University. Jomar has been in productions throughout the Bay Area such as San Francisco Playhouse, CalShakes, Berkeley Repertory Theater, Theatreworks, The Magic Theater, Playground Company, Crowded Fire Theater Company, Shotgun Players, and ACT, most notably as Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol, and Playwright in Vietgone. Jomar first started teaching at New Conservatory Theater, where he has taught a range of age groups focusing on fundamental theater techniques, improv skills, and movement. Jomar's hope is that each student will have a clearer picture of who they are as an artist, and to honor each person's own unique voice and point of view.
Valerie Weak is an Equity actor, teaching artist and communications coach with 20 years of teaching experience with companies such as Word for Word’s Youth Arts, California Shakespeare Theater, and ACT’s Young Conservatory. She has performed everything from Shakespeare to world premieres at theaters including CenterREP, Shotgun Players and the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival. Valerie also works in indie film, commercials, and voiceover, and can be seen as Mrs. Miller in Season 2 of 13 Reasons Why on Netflix. Additionally, she is a Theatre Bay Area TITAN winner, has trained at Skidmore College with Anne Bogart and the SITI Company, and holds a BA in Theatre Arts from UCLA. valerieweak.com