There may never have been such a need for acting teachers to gather for mutual support, for the sharing of tangible ideas that advance our professional ways that truly serve an increasingly diverse body of student – and ultimately expand the viability of our field.
The Teacher Development Program (TDP) is designed to do just that – and to do so under the guidance of some of the world’s leading practitioners. It’s a rare opportunity for acting teachers, and professional actors interested in teaching, to return to the classroom and rediscover the joy and excitement that drew us to this profession.
The TDP’s mission has always been to elevate standards of training, enabling a deeper understanding of, and passion for, the craft of teaching by (1) exposing teachers to a variety of approaches and methodologies, (2) providing mentorship to future generations of educators, and (3) strengthening the bond of community within each TDP cohort and, by extension, the wider field of acting teachers.
In 2021, our flagship Teacher Development Program (TDP) returns for its 25th year – online and in-person (we hope!) Join us for an inspiring and revitalizing 12 days devoted to the craft of teaching acting alongside a cadre of exceptional and internationally recognized faculty. In attending the Teacher Development Program, those teachers in the room are asked to step into the work as ’student’. In doing so, we begin to identify once again with the physical, emotional, intellectual, and imaginative experience of those we instruct. This personal revisit is done within a group of like-minded individuals exploring a number of disciplines under the guidance of a distinguished group of practitioners. This ‘practice of process’ and discussion allow the participants to delve deeply into the ‘what’, the ‘why’, the ‘how’ and the ‘who’ in teaching the individual before them.”
2021 TDP provisional faculty:
Alexandra Billings, Viewpoints
Anita Dashiell-Sparks, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
Peter Jay Fernandez, Scene Study
Antoinette LaVecchia, Games
Stephen McKinley Henderson, Scene Study
Kenneth Noel Mitchell, Pedagogy
Jane Nichols, Clown and Movement
Michele Shay, Acting
Fay Simpson, Lucid Body
Welker White and Damian Young, Screen Acting
Due to the participatory nature of the TDP, spots in both sessions are limited.
In each two-week intensive, participants engage as learners – remembering viscerally what it means to be an acting student – but always with an eye toward the craft of teaching. By offering multiple pedagogies side by side, the program creates a rigorous, fertile environment in which students work on their feet every day, questions are answered in “the doing,” and issues of teaching practice are examined first through experiencing, then through discussion. Students observe how to develop their diagnostic eye and hone their ability to teach to the individual, while learning ways to cultivate an instructional atmosphere that supports artistry and creative risk-taking.
Presented in collaboration with
The 2021 Teacher Development Program was made possible through the generous support of the Lui & Wan Foundation.
Applications are now being accepted and are evaluated on a rolling basis.
Due to the participatory nature of the TDP, spots in both cohorts are limited. Admission is made on a rolling basis to give applicants time to secure funding. Some education institutions have funds available to support faculty in professional development.
Admission is based on your stated personal approach to the actor’s process, your background, and your demonstrated interest in personal and professional development. To apply, please prepare the following items and attach on the application form at the bottom of this page.
Tuition for the Teacher Development Program is normally $3900 for the in-person sessions. In 2020 we lowered the cost for the program in its online form to $1900 and we will hold that tuition rate for the first 2021 session in June.
Some education institutions and foundations have funds available to support faculty in professional development. We encourage all participants to explore these avenues for financial support. Discounts are also made available to existing members of the National Alliance of Acting Teachers and alumni of the program.
In addition, we offer some partial scholarships for adjunct faculty, instructors, and coaches without access to professional development funding. We also offer need-based and merit-based scholarships to individuals who would otherwise not be able to attend. In order to be eligible for scholarships, individuals should first submit their application to the Teacher Development Program. Subsequently, please write to Managing Director, Jane McPherson at email@example.com to inquire about scholarship availability.
The Teacher Development Program originated at The Actors Center in New York in 1996. In the 24 years since its inception the program has graduated more than 250 alumni, many of whom are now teaching at premier institutions across the country. Founded by J. Michael Miller, the program’s four initial faculty included Earle Gister, Michael Kahn, Lloyd Richards, and Ron Van Lieu. In 2017, the program expanded to the west coast for the first time and now continues on both coasts each summer.
Over the years, TDP faculty and guest speakers have included:
Sharon Marie Carnicke
Peter Jay Fernandez
Kenneth Noel Mitchell
Ron Van Lieu
Alexandra Billings is an actress, singer, author, teacher and activist.
Billings is currently on stage as Madame Morrible in the Broadway production Wicked at the Gershwin Theatre. She played Davina on Amazon’s Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning hit TV show Transparent and has appeared on How To Get Away With Murder, Grey’s Anatomy and the Amazon series Goliath, starring Billy Bob Thornton. In 2005, Billings played Donna, opposite Katherine Heigel, in the ABC film Romy and Michelle: A New Beginning. It was the second time a transgender actress played a transgender character in the history of television. She’s had guest starring roles on How To Get Away With Murder, Grey’s Anatomy, Eli Stone, E.R., Karen Sisco, Nurses opposite Lynn Redgrave, and playing opposite Dot Jones in the Ryan Murphy pilot Pretty/Handsome, co-starring Blythe Danner and Robert Wagner. Her first feature film role as a non-trans character, Valley of Bones, debuted in the fall of 2017.
Billings has been acting since 1968 and has performed across the United States in hundreds of plays and musicals. She’s played everyone from Mama Rose in Gypsy to Mrs. Lynde in A Doll House. Most every stage role is considered to be a first for a transgender actress. Her one-woman autobiographical show, Before I Disappear, toured from Chicago to Boston to Los Angeles, and finally off-Broadway at The Producer’s Club, winning rave reviews and running for over 10 years. She originated the role of Alejandra in Time to Burn by Charles Mee at the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago and toured to off-Broadway in Jeff Richmond and Michael Thomas’ camp classic, Hamlet! The Musical! Her album Being Alive, produced by Ralph Lampkin, Jr., was up for Grammy consideration in 2002.
She is the recipient of five After Dark Awards and one Joseph Jefferson Award.
Billings’ activism stretches across the continent. She has won the TPA Award and the Rainbow Spirit Award, and she was inducted into the Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in Chicago in 2007. She has been living with AIDS since 1995. Her life story From Schoolboy to Showgirl, produced by Alex Silets for PBS television, was nominated for an Emmy for best documentary.
David Bridel served as dean of the USC School of Dramatic Arts from 2016-2020. Prior to his appointment as dean, he served as the director of the school’s MFA in Acting program (2014-2016).
An accomplished director, choreographer, playwright, librettist and performer, his work in these disciplines has been seen at the Mark Taper Forum, the Odyssey Theater, the Ford Amphitheatre, the Norton Simon Museum, the Los Angeles Theatre Ensemble, the Rockwell Table and Stage, and the Broad Stage in Los Angeles; the Kennedy Center in Washington DC; the BMI Musical Workshop, Classic Stage Company, Studio 54, and the Bound for Broadway series in New York; at Shakespeare & Company and Barrington Stage in Mass.; the Roy Hart Theatre in Malerargues, France; in opera houses in Los Angeles, Posnan (Poland), Paris, Vienna, Munich, Mexico City, Guanajuato, Santiago and Madrid; on screen (PBS’ Great Performances series and ABC’s Dancing With the Stars); and at festivals and theatres in the U.S., U.K., Israel, China, Hong Kong, Australia, Austria and Brazil – including the Beijing Film Academy, the National Theatre of China and at the Stanislavsky Institute in Sao Paulo. As a teacher, he has brought his unique blend of movement, text and physical theatre to universities, conservatories, and studios all over the world.
Bridel’s original plays Lunatics and Actors, I Gelosi and Sublimity are published by Original Works Press (Sublimity, Bridel’s solo performance, won the Best Satire Award at the 2013 United Solo Festival in New York). He is also the winner of an ARC grant from the Center for Cultural Initiatives, a cultural engagement grant from the Department of Cultural Affairs, an Entertainment Weekly Special Events Award, a NYFA Fiction Award, an Anna Sosenko Musical Theater Award, and a Zumberge Award for his research project, Clowns Across Continents. He also co-authored Clowns: In Conversation with Modern Masters, published by Routledge. Current projects include his new adaptation of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale with Teddy Abrams and the Louisville Orchestra, and his adaptation of Trojan Women with Elan Ensemble.
He has contributed to Parodos, SDC Journal, and American Theatre magazine, and he sits on the board of the National Alliance of Acting Teachers. He is also the founding and artistic director of The Clown School in Los Angeles, the only studio in the city devoted exclusively to the study and practice of clowning.
Anita Dashiell-Sparks is an actor, director, Associate Professor of Theatre Practice, Associate Dean of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion for the USC School of Dramatic Arts and Artistic Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting. She has taught acting, performance, and critical studies courses in multi-cultural classical and contemporary theatre for 19 years at USC. For over 20 years, she has centered diversity, equity, and inclusion issues and initiatives in her career in theatre and higher education. She has also taught at Barnard College, NY; guest lectured in undergraduate drama at New York University; and has performed and presented at St. Mary of the Woods, Indiana State University and DePauw University and at national conferences such as the AACU, NADOHE, SSWR, APA, AATE and Imagining America. She is a CET (Center for Excellence in Teaching) Faculty Fellow and serves on the USC CET Advisory Board.
As an actor Dashiell-Sparks has performed on Broadway in Night Must Fall starring Matthew Broderick and The Sunshine Boys starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. She has also guest starred in numerous television shows (West Wing, Lincoln Heights, et al.) and independent films. Among her LORT regional theatre credits she has performed in productions of Blues from an Alabama Sky, Zora Neale Hurston’s Spunk, and in the Mark Taper Forum’s production of House of Bernarda Alba with Chita Rivera. She has also recently performed in world premiere productions of HELEN at the Getty Villa, Twilight Country at the Pittsburgh Humanities Festival (starring opposite Kathleen Chalfant), Laws of Sympathy and SICK at Playwright’s Arena, Memoirs of a Preacher’s Daughter at the Ebony Repertory Theatre and the workshop of Massoud: The Lion of Panjshir, commissioned by the Mark Taper Forum, directed by Dominique Serrand.
Anita directed Letters from Zora at the Tony Award winning Crossroads Theatre and two critically acclaimed engagements at the Pasadena Playhouse. She directed world premiere of Tira Palmquist’s “Safe Harbor” as part of Lower Depth Theater Ensemble’s commissioned new play series of advocacy and breaking cycles of violence. She was commissioned to create and direct “UpSpoken” an Interactive theater piece to debut a million dollar African-American women’s health and wellness initiative of the California Wellness Foundation in Oakland, CA and Los Angeles, CA. She served as co-director & performer of musical segments in Acts of Love at the Geffen Playhouse. She has directed original performances featuring at-risk youth for Voices of Our Children at The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels and Girl-Un-Interrupted for Eve Ensler’s V-Day Celebration in New York. She has also directed several plays for the USC School of Dramatic Arts, including Men on Boats by Jaclyn Backhaus, An Octoroon by Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins, Paula Cizmar’s Antigone X, Kia Korthon’s Breath Boom, Lynn Nottage’s Intimate Apparel, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, adapted by Lydia Diamond (honored with NAACP Theatre Award); and VENUS by Suzan-Lori-Parks.
Anita Dashiell-Sparks is the founder and director of Building Bridges: Communication, Expression, and Empowerment Theatre Arts Program, teaching self-expression, self- presentation, and self-empowerment to at-risk youth based at USC. Her outreach and arts education programs have been supported by several University Neighborhood Outreach grants, Visions and Voices Arts and Humanities grants, and the Provost Research Grant at USC, California Arts Council Grant, the Fox Foundation in New York, and the U.S. Department of Justice Westside Story Project. She is member of AEA, SAG, and SDC (Stage Directors & Choreographers Society). Anita Dashiell-Sparks received her MFA training and degree from the acclaimed NYU Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Acting Program and in addition to teaching and directing, she is a trained Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) practitioner and is certified from the following organizations: NADOHE (National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education); National SEED Project Leader/Facilitator (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity); and Barrett Values Centre Consultant/Facilitator.
Crystal Dickinson is an Actor, Educator and a New Jersey Native. Her New York career began at The Signature Theater alongside her husband, Brandon Dirden, and Brother-In-Law, Jason Dirden, in Leslie Lee’s, First Breeze of Summer, which starred Leslie Uggums and was directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson. She went on to perform on Broadway in the Tony Award Winning Play, Clybourne Park, for which she received an illustrious Theater World Award http://www.theatreworldawards.org/past-recipients.html , and the Tony Nominated Play, You Can’t Take It With You, alongside James Earl Jones and Rose Byrne. She has also performed Off Broadway at Lincoln Center, The Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons and Theater for A New Audience and The Atlantic, among others, and worked with Thomas Kail, Micheal Grief, Scott Ellis, Bryan Cranston, Wendell Pierce, Pam Mackinnon, Lila Neugebauer, and Leigh Silverman. Her Film & Television credits include: I Origins, The Good Wife, New Amsterdam and recurring roles on Showtime’s The Chi and the second season of ABC’s For Life.
Crystal has also had an illustrious career teaching acting at Stella Adler Studio, Spelman College, NYU, Princeton, Pace University, University of Arkansas and both of her Alumni schools, University of Illinois and Seton Hall and helped countless students get into the best graduate training programs across the country. She believes theatre is both an individual and a communal celebration of humanity and those who choose to educate performing artists must provide their students with an inclusive awareness of theatre and all its facets. Actor training can begin with technique, but it must also prepare the actor for the creative world in which he/she/they will enter.
A proud MFA graduate of The University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, she also studied at the London Academy for Music and Dramatic Art and is an elite member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab. Currently, she is involved with an artist collective called, The Commissary, which creates and examines work around issues of racial and social injustice in America.
Brandon J. Dirden is Associate Arts Professor in the Graduate Acting Department. He received his B.A. in Mathematics and Drama from Morehouse College and his MFA in Acting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Dirden is an actor and director perhaps best known for portraying Martin Luther King Jr. in the Tony Award-winning Broadway production of Robert Schenkkan’s All The Way opposite Bryan Cranston’s Lyndon B. Johnson. In 2017, he starred in the Broadway premier of August Wilson’s Tony Award winning Jitney, directed by frequent collaborator, Ruben Santiago-Hudson.
He made his directorial debut with August Wilson’s Seven Guitars at Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ to great acclaim in 2016 and in 2018 he returned to Two River to direct Wilson’s King Hedley II to a sold-out run. Brandon played Agent Dennis Aderholt on FX’s hit series The Americans. Other television appearances include Baz Lehrman’s The Get Down for Netflix, FX’s Mrs. America, and ABC’s new hit drama For Life.
His work onstage has been recognized with a Theater World Award, OBIE award, AUDELCO award, Drama League distinction, Lucille Lortel nomination and others. He has been a guest lecturer at Black Arts Institute, Spelman College, Yale University, Princeton University, Brown University, Columbia University and Juilliard.
Viacheslav Dolgachev is regarded as one of Russia’s leading theater directors. He has directed over 65 productions in every major theater in Moscow and St. Petersburg, as well as in major cities in Russia and abroad. He is a recipient of numerous prizes and awards, including the title of “Distinguished Artist of Russia” (Russia’s highest award for a theater director, presented by the President of the Russian Federation).
From 1990 to 2000, Mr. Dolgachev served as a leading director of Moscow Art Theatre, where he directed such notable productions as After Rehearsal (Ingmar Bergman, for which he received the 1998 national “Golden Mask” Award), Melpomena’s Tales (Anton Chekhov), Bobok (Fyodor Dostoyevsky), Toybele and Her Demons (Isaac Zinger), Impossible Encounter (Paul Bartz), The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore (Tennessee Williams), and The Light Shines in Darkness (Leo Tolstoy).
In 2001, Mr. Dolgachev assumed the position of Artistic Director of Moscow New Drama Theatre (MNDT). Some of his notable productions at MNDT include Nastasya Filippovna (based on “Idiot” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky; winner of the 2009 Grand Prix Award at the International Dostoyevsky Theater Festival), The Robbers (Friedrich Schiller), Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur (Tennessee Williams), One of the Last Carnival Nights (Carlo Goldoni), Ages of the Moon (Sam Shepard). CHEKHOV. PROJECT in 4 versions: If You Know, The Plot for a Short Story, People, Foreheads, Eagles and Partridges …, Finita La Comedia.
Besides a distinguished career as a director, Viacheslav Dolgachev is an internationally recognized educator. He has taught acting and directing at the School of the Moscow Art Theatre; International Theatre Institute in Pontremoli, Italy; Columbia University, New York University, Stella Adler Conservatory of Acting and The Actors Center in New York; Roosevelt University and the University of Illinois in Chicago; Portland University in Portland, Oregon; and The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
Peter Jay Fernandez currently teaches acting in the MFA Program in Columbia’s School of the Arts. He previously taught for eight years in the MFA Program at The New School where he also served as Co-Head of Acting from 2017-2019. Other teaching positions include NYU Tisch MFA program, Sarah Lawrence and The Actors Center. He has taught master classes at Yale MFA, Brown Trinity MFA and Berkley College of Music, among others.
He has enjoyed a long career as an actor on Broadway; All The Way starring Bryan Cranston, Julius Caesar, starring Denzel Washington, Cyrano De Bergerac, starring Kevin Kline, Jelly’s Last Jam, starring Brian Stokes Mitchell and Phylicia Rashad, and more. Off Broadway credits include most recently; Socrates, Othello, Father Comes Home from the Wars (The Public Theater,) Seven Spots on the Sun (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater), Red Speedo (New York Theatre Workshop), and more. Film and television work include; Marvel’s Luke Cage, Brawl in Cell Block 99, Funny Valentines, Shades of Blue, Blacklist, The Redemption, Royal Pains, Gotham, Elementary, The Good Wife, Blue Bloods, House of Cards, Deception, Law and Order(s), The Irishman, and much more.
Vernice Klier is the first woman to graduate from Ringling Bros. College of Clowns. She created “Basic Skills through Art” programs for Montessori schools in Paris, France. A graduate of the International School of Mime Marcel Marceau and private student for many years with Etienne Decroux; Vernice taught movement for film animators and actors. Vernice’s teaching at Blanche Salant Actor’s Studio in Paris familiarized her with various methods of acting.
Her work as a writer and photographer has appeared in many European magazines. As a painter (with several exhibitions of her work), she helps clients discover their “voice” by extensive drawing and painting.
Vernice is often a guest teacher in Europe as well as the US coaching ensemble work for International Films as well as individual actors for feature films and theatre. As a teacher and facilitator, she directs her students in unique ways using left brain, right brain drawing, doing extensive work on sense and affective/emotional memory; building self-confidence and self-knowledge through writing and painting while using physical movement to authenticate authentic and natural speech.
Scene study, work on monologues and improvisation (both verbal and non verbal) are a part of the achievements accomplished by her students as well as writing and performing an original soliloquy and/or scene. Her students also learn to prepare for auditions, self-tapes and interviews. She recently added Stand-Up to her skills.
Vernice’s philosophy is that one must not only teach students but also accompany them during their growth as artists. She credits this knowledge and experience to her late husband, the renowned film critic Gene Moskowitz. Vernice resides both in Paris, France and Santa Monica, California.
Vernice coached Juliette Binoche on all three films where Juliette won the most coveted world prizes and she recently coached Vincent Cassel on HBO’s WESTWORLD. (www.verniceklier.com)
Antoinette LaVecchia has appeared as an actress on and off Broadway, and extensively at regional theatres throughout the country, as well as in television and film.
For seven years, Antoinette served on the faculty of NYU’s Graduate Acting Program, where she taught theatre games and co-founded the advanced workshop, “Kinetics of Literature,” with James Calder, which challenges actors to create visceral theatre inspired by great literature, movies and art. She also co-founded NYU’s Alumni Lab helping graduates to create and work on original material and also co-taught and co-directed NYU undergraduate theatre majors in the basics of Commedia dell’Arte with James Calder at La Pietra (NYU) in Florence, Italy. She has also taught at The Actors Center, where she was a teaching fellow, and the New York Institute of Technology, as well as numerous independent improvisation workshops, and private coaching.
As an actress she was featured on Broadway in A View From The Bridge (Cort Theater) starring Scarlett Johansson and Liev Schreiber. In NYC, she has performed at Manhattan Theatre Club, The Public Theater, Lincoln Center Inst., Primary Stages, SoHo Playhouse, Cherry Lane, The Flea, Urban Stages and more. Most recently, she has appeared in back to back world premieres: Project Dawn (People’s Light), The Blameless (The Old Globe), A Comedy of Tenors (McCarter & Cleveland Play House), I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti (her award-winning solo performance, in which she originated the role of “Giulia” at Hartford Theatre Works, George St. Playhouse, Asolo Rep & Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park), Two Point OH (59E59 Theaters, *NY Times Critics Pick), Stella and Lou (Merrimack Rep), You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up! (national tour) and Tough Titty! (Williamstown Theatre Festival).
Antoinette’s film and television credits include Deliver Us From Evil, Lost Cat Corona, Delirious, The David Dance, Jesus’ Son, and the award-winning shorts, Paralysis and Lily of the Feast. On TV she has appeared in Blindspot, Blue Bloods, DONNY!, Killing Kennedy, Taxi Brooklyn, The Sopranos, Guiding Light, One Life To Live and multiple episodes of Law & Order and Law & Order: SVU.
Awarded a Fox Fellowship, she studied with members of Theatre de Complicite and Philippe Gaulier in London. She studied English Literature at Cornell University and received her MFA at NYU’s Tisch Graduate Acting Program and has also studied at the Moscow Art Theatre.
Mr. Henderson has worked on stages throughout the United States, abroad, on Broadway, off-Broadway, in television and film. He received a 2017 Virtuoso Award from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival for his work in August Wilson’s, Fences starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. In the 2010 Broadway revival of Fences Stephen received a Tony nomination and was presented with the Richard Seff Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor from Actor’s Equity Association. His OBIE and LUCILLE LORTEL awards in the outstanding lead actor category are for his work as Pops in Stephen Adley Guirgis’, Between Riverside and Crazy. The play premiered at the Atlantic Theater Co. and moved to the Second Stage Theater in 2015, receiving The Pulitzer Prize for Drama that season.
Henderson’s film work includes performances in five Oscar Nominated films: Greta Gerwig’s, Lady Bird; Steven Spielberg’s, LINCOLN; Mr. Washington’s, Fences, Kenneth Lonergan’s, Manchester by the Sea and Stephen Daldry’s, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Noteworthy television work includes the FX/HULU limited series, DEVS; WU TANG, An American Saga; and HBO’s THE NEWSROOM.
The last of his six Broadway roles was Torvald in the heralded replacement cast of A Doll’s House Part 2 led by Julie White in 2017. Off-Broadway his seven roles include Pontius Pilate in the LAByrinth Theatre Company’s production of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, directed by Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Henderson has been part of several productions at Kennedy Center, most notably as a member of the acting company for Kenny Leon’s historic staged readings of August Wilson’s entire American Century Cycle in 2008. In the fall of 2013 Stephen served as Ruben Santiago Hudson’s associate artistic director for audio recordings of Wilson’s Cycle which were live streamed throughout the cyber world from WNYC/NPR’s Greene Space.
In fall of 2016 Stephen was the Denzel Washington Endowed Chair at Fordham University. He is a Fox Foundation Fellow, a Master Teacher for The Lunt-Fontanne Ten Chimneys Fellowship Program, and Distinguished Alumnus of Purdue University Graduate School, College of Liberal Arts.
Stephen delivered the commencement address and was conferred Juilliard’s Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, May 19, 2017. During his 30 years on faculty for the Department of Theatre and Dance, State University of New York at Buffalo, he served terms as Head of Performance and Department Chair. Stephen retired Professor emeritus in 2016.
Joanna Merlin is an actor, teacher and former casting director, and the last living student of Michael Chekhov. She is a faculty member at New York University’s Graduate Acting program at the Tisch School of the Arts and has served as President of MICHA, the Michael Chekhov Association, since its founding in 1999.
As a Casting Director, she is the recipient of two Casting Society of America Artios Awards for casting Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor and Sondheim’s Into the Woods. As Harold Prince’s casting director, she cast the original Broadway productions of Sondheim’s Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures, Sweeney Todd, and Merrily We Roll Along, as well as Evita, Candide, and On the Twentieth Century, among others.
As an actor, her several Broadway credits include Becket opposite Laurence Olivier, A Far Country with Kim Stanley, and Fiddler on the Roof in which she created the role of Tzeitel, Tevye’s eldest daughter. Films include Sarah’s Key, The Wackness, Invasion, City of Angels, Class Action, Mystic Pizza, Fame, The Killing Fields, The Ten Commandments and recently, Active Adults on Amazon. She has appeared on “The Good Wife”, “Homeland” and had a recurring role on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” as Judge Petrovsky for 11 seasons.
Joanna is a co-founder of the Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts (formerly the Non-Traditional Casting Project) and was a member of the Tony Awards Nominating Committee. Her book, Auditioning: An Actor-Friendly Guide, was published by Vintage in May, 2001, is still in print. The Spanish translation was released in 2016 in Madrid.
Kenneth Noel Mitchell is a professor of theatre practice in musical theatre and head of musical theatre at the USC School of Dramatic Arts. Prior to that, he was the founding head of acting for the New Studio on Broadway and the associate chair at New York University. He served as the coordinator of acting at the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater BFA Professional Theatre Training Program.
As a director, Mitchell’s work has been represented in New York at the Home for the Contemporary Theater and Art, the Joseph Papp Public Theatre, Soho Rep, The American Globe Theatre, Musical Theatre Works and The Sanford Meisner Theatre. Regionally, he has directed productions for The American Stage, Stage Works, Bristol Valley Theatre, White River Junction Theatre Festival, The Asolo Conservatory Theatre, The Eckerd Theatre Company, The Fredonia Opera House, the Guthrie Experience and the Provincetown Theater.
As an actor, he has appeared at The New York Shakespeare Festival, The Atlantic Theatre, The Performing Garage, The American Globe Theatre, The Dramatist Guild, Bristol Valley Theatre, American Stage the Greenbrier Valley Theater and Stageworks. Mitchell has served as the artistic director for American Stage and Theater Outrageous, and he has been affiliated with the New Shakespeare Festival, Circle Rep and the Manhattan Theatre Club. He is a member of Actors Equity, the Actor Center and on the board of the National Alliance of Acting Teachers.
JANE NICHOLS is an actress, director, and teacher. Her work brings together skills and techniques of Improvisation, Mask, Le Jeu, Physical Comedy, Clown, and Bouffon. She has studied with Philippe Gaulier (Ecole Gaulier), Clive Mendes (Theatre Complic-ite), Ronlin Foreman (DellArte School of Physical Theatre), Michael Kennard (co-founder of Canada’s Mump & Smoot, and Master teacher of the Richard Pochinko native American mask/clown technique), Avner Eisenberg (Avner the Eccentric), Davis Robin-son (author of Physical Comedy Handbook), Keith Johnstone (Impro and Impro for Sto-rytellers), Bolek Polivka, and Merry Conway, and has been associated for 30 years with Shakespeare & Co in Lenox, MA. She was the Founder and Artistic Director of Cross-walk Theatre in Boston, and served for five years as Artistic Director of Children’s pro-gramming for Shakespeare & Co. She has taught at the Yale School of Drama, Juilliard, Harvard University, American Repertory Theatre, American Conservatory Theatre, Stel-la Adler Conservatory, the Actors Center in NYC, Shakespeare & Co, Emerson College, Lesley College Graduate School, Simon’s Rock College of Bard, and University of Washington.
Acting: Off-Broadway – En Garde Arts, New Georges, Synapse Co; Regional – Dallas Theatre Center, Portland Stage, Gloucester Stage, Shakespeare & Co, Lyric Stage, Nora Theatre, and Berkshire Public. Film and TV: School Ties, Heights, Law & Order SVU, Ed, America’s Most Wanted, and Rachel’s Dinner with Olympia Dukakis.
Directing: Madwoman of Chaillot; Our Lady of 121st ST – Seattle University; The Tempest – Cornish College of the Arts; Comedy of Errors – Seattle Shakespeare Co; Twelfth Night – Brown University; Tall Skinny Cruel Boys – Washington Ensemble The-atre (WET); We Won’t Pay! We Won’t Pay! – Intiman Theatre; Clown Shorts, an original show created to benefit Room Circus medical clowning at Seattle Childrens Hospital; Les Liaisons Dangereux, Feed the Monkey, Noises Off, A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Harvard University; The Tempest, King Lear, Julius Caesar, A Midsummer Nights Dream – Shakespeare & Co schools program; Desdemona’s Dream, Schaden, Freude, and You: A 3 Clown Seminar, TiVO la Resistance, New Shorts, and A Night at the Trojan Wall: a Clown version of the Iliad – Logic Limited, Ltd; and development of cabaret Your New Best Friends – Cirque du Soleil. For Crosswalk Theatre, Firework, Baby and the Bear, Cords, House That Oliver Built.
Hugh O’Gorman is an actor, director and writer active in professional theatre for 25 years; since 2002 he has been the Head of Acting at California State University Long Beach where he oversees the BA and MFA actor training programs. Hugh has appeared on Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-Off-Broadway and at over a dozen of the nation’s most respected Regional Theatres and Shakespeare Festivals. He is a founding member of New York City’s Mint Theatre Company (2002 Drama Desk Award). For four years Hugh portrayed Jeff Singer on AMC’s critically acclaimed, Emmy and CableAce award-winning show Remember WENN (SAG Award nomination). Other television: HBO’s multiple Golden Globe and Emmy Award winning John Adams, for CBS Still Standing, That’s Life, and for NBC The 10th Kingdom, Law & Orderand ER. Film: Killers, Upstate, The Bend. Hugh is the author of the book “The Keys to Acting”; he is also a faculty member of MICHA: the Michael Chekhov Association and has his own acting studio in Los Angeles, The Praxis Studio. Hugh earned a BA from Cornell University and MFA in Acting from the University of Washington. www.hughogorman.com
Michele Shay is an award-winning actress, director and producer, perhaps best known for her Tony Award-nominated performance as Louise in August Wilson’s Seven Guitars. Ms Shay has served on Theater Panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, New York and New Jersey State Arts Councils and the TCG Board. She teaches Acting at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts,Columbia University. and the Black Arts Institute .
Fay Simpson is the Founder of the Lucid Body, a holistic physical process for actors based on the exploration of the chakra energy centers alongside the psycho-physical work of Carl Jung. She is an Associate Arts Professor at NYU’s Graduate Acting Program and has been the Artistic Director and co-founder of Impact Theatre since its creation in 1990 (Marital Bliss of Francis and Maxine, Kurt’s Wife: A Story of Lotte Lenya, Grey Gone, and SCOTTY). The Lucid Body House opened in March of 2013, in midtown Manhattan and holds monthly Performance Salons for her artistic community. Fay has taught at The Yale School of Drama, The Studio/NY, The New School, Michael Howard Studios, and Marymount Manhattan College. She coaches privately for stage, TV, and film and has brought the work to theatre companies in New York and abroad. She co-founded a Theatre for Social Change summer program in Tanzania for the Yale Drama students, and in New York has developed The Veterans Project, bringing theatre to VA centers around NY to stimulate dialogue and change. She has a two-year teacher training program now in place and is an Intimacy Coordinator.
Fay has received a Fellowship from the Likhachev Foundation for research in St. Petersburg, Russia, Fox Foundation Fellowship, which enabled her to serve as an Assistant at the New Globe Theatre in London under the artistic directorship of Mark Rylance and is the recipient of the ‘Amy and Eric Berger National Theatre Essay Award’ for development of her book, The Lucid Body; A Guide for the Physical Actor. This book was hailed by Drama Book Shop as “one of the ten most essential books for the actor.” She is a member of The Actors Center.
Ron Van Lieu was the Master Teacher of Acting and eventually Chair of the NYU Graduate Acting Program where he taught from 1975 to 2004. In 2004 he was appointed the Lloyd Richards Professor of Acting and Chair of the Acting Program at the Yale School of Drama where he taught until 2017. He now serves a Professor of Professional Practice on the faculty of Columbia University.
Ron trained at New York University Tisch School of the Arts. His acting credits include major regional theaters, leading roles off-Broadway, New York Shakespeare Festival, The Public Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, and a member of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s acting company. His directing credits include productions at Playwrights Horizons, The Public Theater, Syracuse Stage, the Greer Garson Theater in Santa Fe, and over 50 productions at the NYU Graduate Acting Program. In 1993 he was awarded the New York University Distinguished Teaching Medal, the university’s highest award given in recognition of outstanding achievement in classroom teaching.
In addition to his university work, Ron is a founding faculty member of both The Shakespeare Lab at the New York Shakespeare Festival Public Theater where he headed the actor training for 10 years, as well as The Actors Center in New York where continues to teach both professional actors as well as teachers of acting. Students who have trained with Ron over the past 43 years have won every major award in the field of theater and acting including the Pulitzer Prize, the Academy Award, Tonys, Drama Desk Awards, Golden Globes, Emmys, Obies, etc. Ron serves on the Advisory Council of the National Alliance of Acting Teachers.
Gregory Wallace is a Professor in the Practice of Acting at the Yale School of Drama. He is an actor, director, and teaching artist with over 40 years of experience in the professional theatre. His career includes numerous appearances on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and in regional theatres, where he has worked with some of the leading directors in the American theatre, including John Doyle, Adrian Hall, Israel Hicks, Mark Lamos, Irene Lewis, Austin Pendleton, Carey Perloff, Lisa Peterson, John Rando, Mark Rucker, and Ruben Santiago-Hudson.
For 12 years, he was a member of the resident acting company at American Conservatory Theater, where his credits included “Kevin” in Clybourne Park, “Ogun” in Marcus: Or The Secret Of Sweet, “Tzara” in Travesties, “Caesar” in Gem of the Ocean, “Krogstad” in A Doll’s House, “Kulygin” in The Three Sisters, “Estragon” in Waiting for Godot, “Willie” in Master Harold… and the Boys, and “Belize” in Angels in America.
As an actor, he’s been involved in the development of new plays such as Robert O’Hara’s Insurrection: Holding History, Peter Parnell’s The Cider House Rules, Philip Kan Gotanda’s After The War, and Lillian Groag’s War Music.
While at A.C.T., he was a core faculty member in the MFA Acting program, teaching courses in Contemporary Scene Study, Acting Chekhov, and Heightened Language in Action. He also directed a number of productions for the Conservatory, including plays by Eugene O’Neill, Sophocles, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Anton Chekhov, and Georges Feydeau.
From 2011-2016, he served as Head of Graduate Acting at University of California, San Diego. He received his BFA in Acting through the Stella Adler Conservatory at New York University and his MFA in Acting at the Yale School of Drama.
Welker White and Damian Young are actors, educators, and founders of The Moving Frame. Dedicated to a process-oriented exploration of screen acting, The Moving Frame offers actors an immersion into the world of cinematic storytelling. Welker and Damian have conducted screen acting intensives in universities and training programs across the U.S. and abroad, including: The Actors Center, NYU Grad Acting, Brown/Trinity MFA, FSU/Asolo Conservatory, American Conservatory Theatre, Syracuse University/ Tepper, Bowdoin College, Columbia MFA Acting, The Freeman Studio, Montclair State, Emerson MFA Film, Wesleyan University, The Atlantic Conservatory, The Hartt School, and the 16th Street Actors Studio in Australia. Welker and Damian have been invited to speak about their work in a variety of settings, including ATHE where they led a panel of presenters on the topic “New Revolutions in Acting Training: Technology as an Instrument for Advancing Acting Curriculum”. Welker has written several published essays on using the camera in acting training and has been awarded a Fulbright Specialist designation. She is on faculty at Brooklyn College’s MFA Acting program. Welker and Damian are members of The Actor’s Center.
“This was one of the richest experiences of my creative life. What struck me most, was how satisfying it was to study with a group of mature artists who all share a passion for the work that extends beyond self to the ‘how’ and legacy of the craft. I truly felt, perhaps for the first time, that we are part of a lineage. I would recommend the TDP to anyone who wishes to deepen their connection to the heart of what it is to be an actor. ”
“Even as early as “day one,” I was able to implement exercises, ideas, and concepts that I learned at TDP West into my own teaching with much success. ”
UCLA Extension Instructor, Entertainment Studies – Acting Program
“All the classes were tremendously stimulating, and I know my work will benefit and be informed by those experiences for years to come. I hope that when I get back to teaching this season, I’ll be able to pass on at least some of those traditions that Ron, Chris and Slava embody. Thank you for an experience I will always cherish.”
Actor/Teacher, Actors Theatre of Louisville
“My experience in the Teacher Development Program was exactly what I wanted. I was constantly being challenged and motivated. Learning from Master Teachers, and alongside exceptional artists, pushed me to evaluate my work and process both as an actor and educator. I completed the program inspired to continue the work with my own students. ”
Oral Roberts University
“You have given me a renewed commitment and perspective. You have given me a deeper understanding of my place and of my work. A vigorous assertion back toward my ideals and what I truly love and find rewarding. It has been a redefining of my artistic self. It is, in essence, a truly valuable second chance.”
“To people who have asked, I say that walking into a master’s class is like walking onto a tennis court, thinking you can play a little tennis, and then Roger Federer walks in on the other side. Often what I learned was not about what was taught, but how it was taught. Master teachers don’t earn that designation simply because they have been teaching for a long time, but because they are that much better at what they do.”
Texas Tech University
“Simply put, the five summers I spent in The Actors Center Teacher Development Program rank among the most important acting experiences I’ve had. For any acting teacher, nascent or seasoned, serious about improving their approach toward, eye for, and understanding of the actor’s work this program is de rigueur.”
California State University, Long Beach
“Easily the best training I’ve encountered anywhere. The two weeks of exceptional teaching, vital discussion, and intensive hands-on work continue to inspire me on a daily basis, and the connections I made with the talented and dedicated theatre artists who were my classmates have been strong and surprisingly lasting. I was challenged, encouraged, and renewed.”
University of Arkansas