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Snapshot of Jaye Austin Williams

Jaye Austin Williams, MFA, PhD

History/Literature & Criticism/Performance

Bio:Jaye Austin Williams (Assistant Professor) is a director, playwright, actor, teacher, writer and consultant whose work has appeared in New York and regionally over the past thirty years, including at the Long Wharf Theatre, Karamu Playhouse, The New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theatre, Joe’s Pub at the Public, the Cherry Lane Theatre, New Jersey NJPAC, the historic Apollo Theatre and the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, New York (where she directed two regional premieres of Pulitzer Prize-winning plays: David Auburne’s Proof and Suzan-Lori Parks’ Topdog/Underdog). She also directed the Historical Black College and University (HBCU) tour of Emily Mann’s Having Our Say, which she later reprised at the Hangar. Last spring, she directed the University Players production of Kia Corthron’s A Cool Dip in the Barren Saharan Crick. Other recent productions include the regional premiere of Naomi Wallace’s new play, The Liquid Plain; the American premiere of The Trial of Dedan Kimathi by Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Micere Mugo; and George C. Wolfe’s The Colored Museum – the latter three at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). Other college and university credits include Suzan-Lori Parks’ In the Blood at Middlebury College, and Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls... at Gallaudet University. Her adaptation of Sapphire’s book, American Dreams premiered at the Sundance Theatre Lab in Utah, and later at the Joseph Papp Public Theatre in New York. She has received numerous fellowships and commissions, including the UCI Chancellor’s ADVANCE Postdoctoral Fellowship; the NEA/TCG Career Development Program for Directors; the Van Lier Playwriting Fellowship at the Manhattan Theatre Club; and commissions by the Joseph Papp Public Theatre and the Mark Taper Forum.

A specialist in the melding of drama theory and critical Black studies, Jaye travels internationally, lecturing and teaching interdisciplinary seminars on the analysis of structural racism(s) and their myriad performances, both subtle and overt, in modernity; in particular, she focuses on Black dramatists’ treatments of these performed antagonisms. She holds a Ph.D. in Drama and Theatre from UCI; an MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts; and a BS in Theatre from Skidmore College. Her publications include, “On the Table: Crumbs of Freedom and Fugitivity – A 21st Century (re)reading of Crumbs from the Table of Joy,” in A Critical Companion to Lynn Nottage, Jocelyn L. Buckner, Ed., Routledge, June 2016; “A Review of Suzan-Lori Parks in Person, Philip C. Kolin and Harvey Young, Eds.”, in Text & Presentation, McFarland, 2015; and “Apollo Theatre,” Oxford Bibliographies, Oxford University Press, July 2016. She is currently editing a critical anthology on playwright Kia Corthron’s selected works; and working on a monograph entitled, Staging Slavery, Postcoloniality and Modernity: Melding Theory and Practice, which renders a critical analysis of several of her university productions. She most recently directed Lynn Nottage’s Intimate Apparel as visiting director at Chapman University, and is currently directing Kirsten Child’s Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin, which will open on March 10th in the University Theatre here at CSULB.

Snapshot of Alexandra Billings-Blankenship

Alexandra Billings-Blankenship, MFA


Bio:Ms. Billings currently plays Davina on Amazon’s Transparent; winner of 15 Emmy Awards, The Critic’s Choice Award, the 2014 Golden Globe Award and the 2014 Peabody Award for most groundbreaking Television comedy. She was nominated for a 2015 SAG Award for her performance, along with the rest of the cast, in the category of Best Ensemble. She is the second transgender actress to play a transgender character in the history of television for her role in: Romy and Michelle-Behind the Velvet Rope for ABC Disney. Other TV credits include:
How To Get Away With Murder, Grey's Anatomy, Eli Stone, E.R., Karen Sisco, Nurses and playing opposite Dot Jones in the Ryan Murphy pilot Pretty/Handsome.

Alexandra 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 and is considered to be the first transgender actress to portray most of her stage roles. She has appeared at The Steppenwolf Theater, The Goodman Theater, Chicago Shakespeare, The Marriott Lincolnshire, Second City, and The Bailiwick Theater. Her critically acclaimed, one-woman autobiographical show: Before I Disappear, toured from Chicago to Boston to Los Angeles, and finally, off Broadway at The Producer's Club. She originated the role of Alejandra in Time to Burn by Charles Mee at the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago and toured off-Broadway in the Jeff Richmond and Michael Thomas camp classic: Hamlet! The Musical! Her CD: Being Alive, was up for Grammy consideration in 2002.

She is the recipient of five After Dark Awards and one Joseph Jefferson Award and the MAC Hanson Award for Best Cabaret Artist. She has sung in nightclubs all through the country including Feinstein’s, 88’s and Don’t Tell Mama’s; in New York, and Toulouse at the Park, Pops For Champagne, The Park West, The Emerald Room and The Gentry; in Chicago. Her life story: From Schoolboy to Showgirl, for PBS television, was nominated for an Emmy in 2009 for Best Documentary. In 2016 Ms. Billings finished shooting her first feature film: Valley of Bones, starring Autumn Reeser, and finished a run of her new autobiographical musical theater piece: S/He and Me directed by Joanne Gordon and making its debut at CSU Long Beach. This world premiere workshop version was lauded as one of the best theater pieces of 2013 by Broadway World.

Ms. Billings was inducted into the LGBT Hall of Fame in 2010. In 2014 she moderated a panel discussion on Transgender issues at The White House and was honored by the Human Right’s Campaign in 2016 and presented with their coveted Visibility Award. She is a long-term AIDS survivor and activist, and works with the LGBT community around the world as well as locally in Long Beach through The Center along with sitting on the Board of directors for Fringe Theater company.

Ms. Billings has been the Viewpoints Associate at The Steppenwolf Theater since 1994; the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning theater in Chicago and Los Angeles, and has taught Viewpoints in Universities and conservatories across the country since 1996. She matriculated from CSU Long Beach in 2013 with an MFA in Theater Arts and graduated with honors, giving the commencement speech in 2014 as well as being named Most Distinguished Alum. In 1996, she married Chrisanne Blankenship, her High School sweetheart whom she met in 1976. They have two cats and live happily and gratefully in a story that continues to be written.

Anthony Byrnes, MFA

Theatre Management


Snapshot of Andrea Caban

Andrea Caban, MFA

Voice and Speech

Bio: Andrea Caban (Head of Voice and Speech) has toured her solo play The Voice Bank, originally workshopped and produced in the Theatre Arts Department in October of 2015, to various places including Penn State’s Art and Design Research Incubator, UC Santa Cruz’s Department of Biological and Physical Sciences and Chicago’s Greenhouse Theater Solo Celebration in conjunction with the Voice and Speech Trainer’s Association Conference. The Voice Bank tells the story of one woman who defies her ALS diagnosis to fight for the privilege to keep speaking. Caban plays both herself and Terry, a woman with an indomitable spirit and a passion for performance, as they manage Terry’s progressing symptoms through voice and accent training. With every performance, Caban partners with local chapters of the ALS Association to raise awareness for the disease and the research around it. Click here for photos.

Andrea is a voice/speech/dialects expert and an award winning playwright/solo artist (New York Innovative Theater Award-Solo Performance). Her latest solo play Questions My Mother Can’t Answer, which is featured in the 10th Edition of Robert Cohen’s Theatre, has toured throughout the US, Africa and most recently South America. Her tours always include a community-engagement component, everything from developing a documentary theatre piece with Long Beach High School students and CSULB students to creating a clown show with sex-workers in Cape Town to developing poetry performances with rural South African youth.

Andrea has been on the faculty at UC Irvine and CSU Fullerton, and has been an artist-in-residence at University of Cape Town and University of Costa Rica. She is the dialect expert on HowCast.com, demonstrating over 35 accents. She coaches theatrical productions (Tony Award-winning South Coast Rep, New Swan Shakespeare Festival, and Resident Dialect Coach at Pacific Symphony), TED talk speakers, and privately for actors, opera singers, scientists and business professionals from around the world. As Associate Director of Knight-Thompson Speechwork and Associate Teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework, she trains other teachers in the certification programs for both pedagogies. Designated Master Teacher, Knight-Thompson Speechwork. Professional Affiliations include: AEA, SAG/AFTRA, VASTA, Dramatists Guild, League of Professional Theatre Women. MFA, UCI.

production shot of The Voice Bank
production shot of The Voice Bank

Above and left: Production photos from The Voice Bank. Photo credit: Kip Polokoff.

Anne D'Zmura, MFA


Bio: Anne Justine D’Zmura has served as resident director at the nationally acclaimed Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis where she directed Peer Gynt, Bert’s Folly, Billy and Dago, and Poster of the Cosmos; artistic associate for the NYC-based The Acting Company where she directed the national tours of Macbeth and The Tempest; artistic associate for the Playwright’s Center where she spearheaded the Stage-Time New Play Series and co-artistic director for Yale Cabaret. Some additional directing credits include Tony Award winning South Coast Repertory World Premiere of Silent Sky by Lauren Gunderson, Sideways Stories From Wayside School, The Little Prince, The BFG, Phantom Tollbooth and The Stinky Cheese Man, A Noise Within (Triumph of Love), Shakespeare Santa Cruz (The Forest) and Idaho Shakespeare Festival (Two Gentlemen of Verona and Julius Caesar). She was assistant director for Trevor Nunn on Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia on Broadway. Anne has directed many new play development workshops at theatres including South Coast Repertory, Playwright’s Center, BACA Downtown, Bristol Riverside Theatre, The Acting Company and Women’s Project Theatre.

Anne currently serves as Head of Directing of Theatre Arts at California State University, Long Beach where she also served as Chair and Artistic Director and initiated EPIC (Educational Performance in Community) and the Affinity Series in collaboration with the faculty and staff. She has directed The Saint Plays, LADCC nominated The Cannibals, (M)asking Questions, Poetry of Pizza and The Thugs for California Repertory Company and will be directing the upcoming Cal Rep production of Mutual Consent by Nancy Bell and Peter Grandbois. She has also directed Metamorphoses, Spring Awakening, an original ecodrama titled Green Piece and 9 Parts of Desire and served as Artistic Director for Songs of the Siren: The Greeks Remixed for University Players. She has served as visiting professor at Denison University (directed Dangerous Liaisons), guest director and educator at The Juilliard School (directed Iphigenia in Aulis, Iphigenia at Tauris, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Eugene Onegin, The Oresteia), University of Minnesota MFA program, USD/Old Globe Theatre (directed Pericles), University of Redlands (directed Waiting for Godot) and University of Michigan.

Anne is the recipient of grants including a National Endowment for The Arts/TCG Directing Fellowship, with which she studied in Bali, Indonesia; a Drama League: New Works/New Directors Grant, two CSULB Scholarly and Creative Awards with which she developed Green Piece and continued to develop her international work in ecology and theatre; two CSULB awards for student mentorships, an International Education Incentive Award, several CCE international community-based program awards andthree Alumni Association Grants. Anne was invited to present her work in ecology and theatre at Earth Matters on Stage: Ecodrama Festival and Symposium in Eugene, Oregon, International Drama/Theatre Education Association in Belem, Brazil and International University Theatre Association in Leicester, England. Anne’s work on ecology and theatre is in Readings in Performance and Ecology published by Palgrave Macmillan. Anne served as guest artist/scholar at Carnegie Mellon where she was invited to develop a course and project merging theatre and ecology for the Drama School and The Center for Arts and Society.

Anne continues to develop international arts activism projects and has taken students for three summers to Bacho village Tanzania with Karimu International Help Foundation to build schools, create community based environmental arts projects and with the award of a Center for Community Engagement grant, developed a remote learning program with Bacho schools. She developed a short-term study abroad course in Ireland, which has been offered for seven summers.

Anne served as CSU Summer Arts Coordinator for Cornerstone Theater & Community-based Theater and served on CSU Summer Arts Advisory Board. Anne has served on numerous panels including a Drama League collaboration panel, TCG new play development panel and a NAST University recruitment strategy panel. Anne has served as a selection panelist for TCG’s Fox Foundation Fellowship Awards. Anne is an advisory board member for CSULB’s Global Studies Institute and University Honors Program. Anne is a member of SDC, SAG-AFTRA. She received her BA from Hampshire College and her MFA in Directing from Yale School of Drama.

Joanne Gordon, PhD

Directing, Retiring in Spring 2018

Bio: Joanne Gordon, Professor Emerita and former Artistic Director of California Repertory Company and Chair of the Department of Theatre Arts at CSULB (2004 – 2013) is an award-winning director whose accolades include five Drama-Logue Awards, a Los Angeles Critics Choice Award, Woman in Theatre Red Carpet Award, Long Beach Playhouse Diva Award and being named "Best of the Year" by the Los Angeles Times. Her adaptation and production of Love, Bukowski was nominated for several awards by the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, which also conferred on Cal Rep the Polly Warfield Award. In addition, Love, Bukowski was nominated for Best New Play of the Year by the O.C. Weekly. Gordon has directed a number of Stephen Sondheim works worldwide, including the first Chinese language production of West Side Story in Beijing. Published work includes Stephen Sondheim: A Casebook; frequent contributions to The Sondheim Review and Art Isn't Easy: The Theater of Stephen Sondheim one of the seminal studies of Sondheim’s work. As an internationally renowned Sondheim scholar, Gordon directs and conducts workshops in the U.S., Russia and Europe. Her essay Something Just Broke was included by Oxford University Press in The Oxford Handbook of Sondheim Studies (2013). While internationally renowned for her work on Sondheim and the dramatization of the work of Charles Bukowski, Gordon’s most recent work with Alexandra Billings S/he and me is provoking a great deal of attention and interest. Gordon did her undergraduate work in South Africa and her Ph.D. at UCLA.

Snapshot of David Jacques

David Jacques, MFA

Lighting Design

Bio: David Martin Jacques’ design career has spanned across stages worldwide. He has served as a lighting, scenic, and media designer at such notable venues as: The Royal Opera House Covent Garden (London), Teatro alla Scala (Milan), The English National Opera (London), Teatro La Fenice (Venice), The Lyric Opera of Chicago, Brooklyn Academy of Music (NY) The Norwegian Opera and Ballet (Oslo), Los Angeles Philharmonic, The New National Theater of Tokyo, Hong Kong Opera, The Canadian Opera Company (Toronto), Chicago Opera Theater, Portland Opera, Central City Opera (Denver), Teatro San Carlo (Naples), Teatro dell’Opera Roma (Rome), Vancouver Opera, Welsh National Opera (Cardiff), Long Beach Opera, Memphis Opera, Mobile Opera, Dallas Theatre Center, Teatro Perez Galdos (Grand Canary Island), Kirov/Mariinsky Theatre (St. Petersburg), Chautauqua Opera (NY), Maggio Musicale (Florence), Manitoba Opera (Canada), Opera Pacific (LA), Dallas Shakespeare Festival, and Teatro Lirico di Cagliari (Sardinia).

David also designed for television on A&E, NBC, and PBS. He has served as a consultant/designer for the Walt Disney Corporation, as well as for many houses of worship in the United States. David has led the graduate design programs at Southern Methodist University and California State University Long Beach. His book, Introduction to the Musical Art of Stage Lighting Design, is used at several prominent universities as their primary lighting design text. Learn more at www.davidmartinjacques.com.

Snapshot of Jeff Janisheski

Jeff Janisheski

Department Chair

Bio: Jeff Janisheski is a teacher, arts manager, director and writer. He focuses extensively on international collaborations: over the past twenty years he has taught and directed in Australia, England, Japan, Korea, Russia, Vietnam and the US. Before he joined CSU – as Chair of the Theatre Arts Department and Artistic Director of Cal Rep – from 2012-2015 he was Head of Acting at Australia’s leading drama school, the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA). From 2008-2011 Jeff was Artistic Director of the National Theater Institute (NTI) at the Tony Award-winning Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Connecticut, America’s preeminent organization dedicated to the development of new plays and music theatre. From 2004-2008 he was Associate Artistic Director at New York’s Classic Stage Company (CSC) where he associate-produced shows featuring Anne Bogart/SITI Company, Alan Cumming, David Ives, Pavol Liska/Nature Theater of Oklahoma, David Oyelowo, John Turturro and Dianne Wiest. He co-founded and co-directed the biennial New York International Butoh Festival; from 2003-2007 he presented the work of over fifty butoh-inspired artists from Europe, Japan, South America and the US. He is currently writing a chapter for the forthcoming Palgrave book, The Training and Education of Actors, which will be an international survey of contemporary theatre training. Jeff holds an MFA in Directing from Columbia University and studied in Japan for over three years with butoh’s co-creator Kazuo Ohno. www.jeffjanisheski.com

Snapshot of Danila Korogodsky

Danila Korogodsky, MFA

Scenic Design, Retiring in Spring 2019

Bio: Danila Korogodsky – director and stage designer. Born into a theatrical family, his father Zinovy Korogodsky, a Stanislavsky prize winner, was one of the most important directors and theater pedagogues in Soviet Union. His mother, Liah Danilina, was a playwright. Danila grew up and was educated in the Soviet Union. He graduated from Leningrad Theater Academy in 1977 as a stage and costume designer, and after graduation worked as a resident designer at the Leningrad TYS (Theater for Young Spectators) - a premier company for young audiences in the Soviet Union.

During that time he also worked as a freelance designer for theaters around the country designing more than 80 productions for various companies such as Baku Youth Theater, Tallin Drama Theater, Leningrad Comedy Theater, Novy Drama Theater, Mossoviet Theater, Ilkhom Theater, and Tashkent. In 1989 he was invited to design a show at Honolulu Theater for Youth. Since then he has worked in the United States as a stage designer and design professor. He designed more than 250 productions in the United States and around the world. He also started designing for the opera, and has worked with Chicago Lyric Opera, Opera Bielefeld and Opera Dessau in Germany, Opera Nantes in France, The Spoleto Festival and Opera Theater of Pittsburgh. Other theatrical design work has been with NYC Japan Society, A Noise Within, Actors Gang, Pittsburgh Playhouse, Minneapolis Children Company, ACT, Wheelock Theater, and more. He currently teaches set design at California State University, Long Beach.

In 2005 he became Artistic Director of Pokoleniy Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia. He has directed “Without Lear” based on “King Lear” by Shakespeare, “Far Away on Lake Tchad,” “The Table,” “Peter-Burg,” “Songs of Love and Death,” “The Light Bulb” all conceived and developed by the company, which were well received by the Russian and international press. He developed a project based on a play by Maxim Gorky “The Summer Folks,” which opened in Theater Pokoleniy in October 2012.

Theater Pokoleniy “Antigone” by Sophocles was invited to Chur Theater Festival in Switzerland in November 2007 as part of the program of the best new European Theater. “The Table” went on tour of Theater Schlachthaus Bern and Theater Winkelwiese Zurich in 2010 in Switzerland. In 2012 “The Table” travelled to Erlangen, Germany.

In 2014 he designed and directed a play “Alle Voegel Sind Schon Da” at Theater Schlachthaus Bern in cooperation with Theater Pokoleniy, which then toured to Zurich, Chur, and Skupi Festival in Skopje, Macedonia.

Ezra LeBank, MFA


Bio: Ezra LeBank is the Head of Movement and Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts at California State University, Long Beach. He was previously Assistant Professor of Theatre & Dance at The University of Montana, and has taught at The Juilliard School, Purchase College, Smith College, and Vassar College/Powerhouse Theatre. Recently he taught workshops in Sweden, France, Poland, Germany, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Israel, Estonia, Canada, Italy, Belgium, and across the United States. He is recognized internationally as a specialist in Biomechanics, Partner Acrobatics, Contact Improvisation & Somatic Practice, Stage Combat, and Clown. He is the editor of the national periodical for the Association for Theatre Movement Educators ATME News. His book CLOWNS: In Conversation With Modern Masters is available from Routledge Publishing, UK.

Snapshot of Nancy Josh Nathan

Josh Nathan, MFA

Graduate Advisor / Generalist

Bio: Josh Nathan has been acting and writing professionally since 1997 when he completed his undergraduate education in Theatre Arts. After four months of Acting and Theatre Studies in London, Josh returned to his home city of Los Angeles. He's worked as a stand-up comic, a writer for television, a copywriter for film and has appeared on stage, screen and television. Josh completed the training program at The Groundlings and was a member of the Sunday Company. After completing the MFA program at California State University, Long Beach, Josh was hired on as a lecturer and advisor with California State University, Long Beach, where he currently teaches Theatre Studies. Josh lives in Dana Point, CA with his wife and his 2 children, Josie and Elliott.

Hugh O'Gorman, MFA


Bio: 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 & Order and 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 runs his own acting studio in Los Angeles, The Praxis Studio. Hugh is the national Co-Chair of the Craftsmen of Dionysus: A Society of Acting Teachers; he earned a BA from Cornell University and MFA in Acting from the University of Washington.


Snapshot of Shanti Pillai

Shanti Pillai, PhD

History/Literature & Criticism/Performance

Bio: Shanti Pillai is an artist, scholar, and writer. She holds a B.A. in Anthropology and International Relations from Stanford University (1989), an M.A. in Asian Studies from the University of California at Berkeley (1990), and a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from New York University (2005). Over the course of her career she has taught students from thirty countries at institutions on four continents. She has offered seminars on theatrical forms of Asia, cultural policy, globalization, urban development, and performance in relation to issues of race, gender and class. She has taught studio courses in dance as well as physical expression for actors. Before joining CSULB, Shanti served as Resident Director of the Princeton University Semester in Cuba, a program that she helped to create in 2010. Her writing has appeared in The Drama Review, Women and Performance, the Dance Research Journal, Trialog and the blog of the Michigan Quarterly.

In 2017 Shanti was awarded a Fulbright Research Award for her research in India on leading women artists’ contributions to the evolving world of contemporary performance during the last fifteen years across the genres of theater, dance, digital media, and performance art. Her focus is on how these innovators develop new forms of performance practice that offer new aesthetic paradigms, facilitate communities of young artists and audiences through teaching and institution building, and propose alternative perspectives on the relationship between the body, space, and identity. She is also interested in the intersection between ethnography and theater, in particular how the artist-researcher can create performance as a context for fieldwork with artists and audiences.

Shanti is a bharatanatyam dancer trained by T. Balasaraswati’s two senior disciples, Nandini Ramani of Chennai and Priyamvada Sankar of Montreal. She has also worked in contemporary dance and theater. From 1991-1996 she performed with the Frente de Danza Independiente in Ecuador. Since 2005 she has worked for extended periods in Cuba, collaborating with dancers and actors and creating and performing in original works, including a multicultural version of Shakuntala. Her current projects include the performative lecture, To the Academy, and an in-progress, full-length work of text and movement, In Transit, both under the auspices of Third Space Laboratory Theatre.

In her creative work Shanti investigates ways in which the principles and techniques of traditional Indian theater can serve the creation of a contemporary, physical language that explores the theatrical form and cultural politics. This includes endeavoring to create intimacy and distance through the juxtaposition of multiple acting styles as well as challenging the audience to question where the lines between performer and character begin and end.

Snapshot of Nancy Jo Smith

Nancy Jo Smith, MFA

Costume Design

Bio: Nancy Jo Smith has created costumes for Theatre, Dance, Ice-Skating, Stunt Shows and TV. During that time, she worked across the United States in various venues, including Shakespeare festivals, Regional Theatres, Sound Stages, Theme Parks and Ice Rinks. She has received numerous honors and awards in design including Drama-Logue (Merlin, Cal Rep; Little Foxes, San Diego Gaslamp; and Red Noses, San Diego Rep) Critics Circle (Children’s Show, La Jolla Playhouse) , and Themed Entertainment (World Rhythms on Ice, SeaWorld and Waterworld, Universal Studios) for excellence in costume design.

Nancy Jo’s costume design is identified by her creation of the fabric for the costumes through dyeing, printing, discharging and otherwise manipulating the fabric surface. Her work in color and texture is an integral part of her design. In 1999, Nancy Jo took her experience in theatre and fabric into the fiber art arena and has created a line of both fine and wearable art working as Doshi, which she continues to produce and evolve. Her work has been featured in Ornament, Fiber Arts, and Surface Design magazines.

Nancy Jo heads the costume area, supervising the undergraduate and graduate programs in costume, teaching courses in costume design, patterning, tailoring, costume crafts, and dyeing.

Part-Time Faculty & Lecturers

Snapshot of Roberto Alcaraz

Roberto Alcaraz, MFA


Bio: Roberto Alcaraz has been a professional actor for over 20 years. His credits cover stage and screen and include appearances on CSI: Miami, Longmire, In Justice, and the musical Paquito’s Christmas at the Kennedy Center. Most recently Mr. Alcaraz performed in the musical Man of La Mancha for the Reprise Theatre Company. Roberto is a former director of Chicano Latino Student Services at Loyola Marymount University and has taught in the Chicano Studies department of Cal State University, Northridge and the theatre department at Cal State University, Long Beach. Over the years his work has focused on diversity in the arts and improving dialogue across diverse communities. He has had the pleasure of portraying Cesar Chavez in Ed Begley’s play with music Cesar and Ruben and hosted the series My Americas/Mi Americas, for which he traveled throughout the Americas experiencing and sharing diverse traditions and cultures with viewers. Mr. Alcaraz recently completed a graduate thesis at CSULB entitled Race and Ethnicity in Actor Training.

Snapshot of Gayle Baizer

Gayle Baizer, MFA

Makeup Design


Gayle Susan Baizer, Costume Design. Theatrical Costume Design: “Maureen McGovern and the Fabulous Palm Springs Follies”; “Carry It On”-Maureen McGovern-GEVA, 2 Rivers Theatre and National Tour; Pasadena Pops Solute to Hollywood, Maureen McGovern and Brian Stokes Mitchell with the Boston Pops at Tanglewood, NJ; “Dangling Conversations-Maureen McGovern” Razz Room, SF; Ai and Yuki-DNB-US-American Debut; The Magic of Lawrence and Priscilla-American Tour, Blackstone Magik; On The Verge (set and costumes), CSUN; A Christmas Carol, ICT; Swimming In The Shallows, Dreams Of A Sunday Afternoon, Panama, Cal Rep; Vinegar Tom, Work­shop360; Vinegar Tom, Pride and Prejudice, University of Southern California; The Magician, Broadway Bound Musical Workshop; Pinnochio, Great American Children’s Theatre Co. National Tour; Bengal Tigers Ball, Disney Florida; Johnny Johnson, Odyssey Theatre (Drama-Logue Award); Gaité Parisienne, Los Angeles Chamber Ballet; Orphans, Downey Civic Light Opera.

Film and Television Costume Design: Maureen McGovern In Concert-P.B.S. Special; Twice Upon A Christmas, Once Upon A Christmas, Legacy/Lyonsgate; Follow Your Heart, Misery Bros., Storybook, Amore, Mad About You, DMG/Pinnacle/Spelling Prods.; Miami Hustle, Showtime Television, Make My Day, Pilot-Wheeler Sussman; Olympics Closing Ceremonies, 1996, Centennial Events; Main Wardrobe (10 years), A.B.C. Television; Help Wanted: Kids, Disney MOW.

Commercial Costume Design: K Mart (4), Frito Lay (10), Tropicana Twisters (4), Crossroads Prods.; Gas Company (2), Ridley Scott & Assoc. Prods.; McDonalds (24), Chrysler (10), Kellogg’s (12), Straw Hat Pizza (25), The Bernstein Company.

Concert Tours, Pas and Stylist: Maureen McGovern, The Pointer Sisters, Nell Carter, The Fifth Dimension, Swoosie Kurtz, Ali McGraw, Kathy Ireland, Dyan Cannon, Diahann Carroll, Cindy Williams, Joey Heatherton, Vendela, Naomi Campbell, Andrea Evans, Donna Douglas, Elliot Gould, Ed Bagley Jr., Jack Scalia.

Apparel Design and Vice President-Merchandising (23 years): Kathy Ireland Worldwide, Apparel Ventures, Jantzen Worldwide, Catalina, Inc., Kosugi Sanyo (Japan), Karina Claudia (Brazil).

Costume Illustrator: Edith Head, William Ware Theiss, Donfeld, Jean Louis, Warner Bros

Book  Illustrator: Celebration Day On The Farm, Miss Donna And Mulberry Acres Farm, Pelican Publishing Co.; The Little Treasure Bag; Donna’s Critters, Character Creations, Look Like A Winner, Putnam Publishing; Inside Fashion Design, Canfield Press

Affiliations: Costume Designers Guild, IATSE 892; United Scenic Artists, IATSE 829; ATAS; USITT. Gayle holds a BFA in Design from Chouinard Art School/Cal-Arts, and an MFA in Costume Design/Technical Theatre, from California State University, Long Beach and teaches in the Theatre Department.

Snapshot of Catherine Baumgardner

Catherine Baumgardner, MFA

Costume Construction

Bio: Catherine began her career by designing musicals in the DFW area of Texas. Some of her work there includes The Wizard of Oz, South Pacific, Guys and Dolls, and Beauty and the Beast. All of which she also built. She recently completed her MFA in costume design from California State University in May 2013. Since then, she has designed for commercials, films, and stage, including A Macbeth and They Won’t Pay? We Won’t Pay! at East LA College and Taming of the Shrew and Twelfth Night for the Santa Monica Shakespeare Festival, along with several shows at The Ensemble Studio Theatre in LA. To date, she has designed and built for over 35 stage productions.

Snapshot of Jody Berger

Jody Berger, MFA

Theatre Studies

Bio: Jody Berger has taught Theatre Arts 122 at CSULB since January 2005. Her classes challenge students to view theatre through the lens of a social historian while developing a greater understanding of the human heart, mind and soul. Her classes are not about gathering data; rather, she asks students to confront life-challenges honestly, discern notions of "myth" and those of "reality," examine the meaning of "subjective truth" and discover the role of storytelling through the ages. Additionally, Ms. Berger coaches ESL students who wish to improve pronunciation of the English language.

Jody has over twenty-five years experience as a special events producer and professional fundraiser. Having pioneered the “edu-tainment” format for family events, Jody co-founded Kids Stuff Expo – Southern California’s largest, longest running family expo. Her professional experience includes serving as the Director of Cultural Arts at the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach; Associate Director of Corporate Development, Opera Pacific; and Marketing & Special Events Manager – Pacific Symphony Orchestra. This diverse background and experience with not-for-profit organizations, gives Jody the advantage of real-life experience to pass along to motivated young professionals.

Jody is passionate about student success and takes pride in assisting students. As a faculty mentor, she is equipped to provide support and guidance to students regardless of degree objective or department affiliation.

Trevor Biship, MFA


Bio: Trevor directs the works of diverse contemporary playwrights. His most recent directorial work includes the Orange County Premiere of Sarah Ruhl's Passion Play. His production of the Southern California Premieres of Jerry Springer: The Opera, earned the Ovation Award for Best Musical – Intimate Theatre, and Trevor received the Backstage Garland Award for Best Direction. World and regional premieres include Up, Film, Grey Gardens, Just Say No, Bash: Latterday Plays and Psalms of a Questionable Nature. He has worked with numerous Los Angeles theatres, including South Coast Repertory, Circle X Theatre, Theatre of NOTE, California Repertory Company, Cornerstone Theatre Company and the Pasadena Playhouse. Biship's productions have been lauded by every major press outlet in Southern California and have received nominations from the Los Angeles Ovation Awards, Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards, Los Angeles Weekly Theatre Awards and Backstage Garland Awards. Trevor received his M.F.A. in Directing from the University of California, Irvine.

Snapshot of Simon Brooke

Simon Brooke, MFA


Bio: Simon Brooke is a graduate of the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in New York City, studying under Sanford Meisner and Richard Pinter. Simon has had films at Cannes, Sundance and the Berlin International Film Festival. TV Credits include: THE SHIELD, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, CSI, NYPD BLUE, FRASIER, JAG, MELROSE PLACE, CHARMED, FIREFLY, THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS and more. Extensive work on the stage has included stops in New York, Los Angeles and here in Long Beach at Cal Rep.

Erin Caron, PhD

Theatre Studies

Bio: After graduating with a B.A. in performance/directing and an M.A. in English from CSULB, Erin went on to earn a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California. Her research is on 20th century American drama, the drama of the Vietnam War, and theatre of social change. She is proud to be a founding member of the Elephant Theatre Company in Hollywood. Erin lives in Long Beach with her husband Tim and her two children.

Rob Clare


Snapshot of François-Pierre Couture

François-Pierre Couture, MFA

Scene and Digital Design

Bio: Originally from Montreal, François-Pierre Couture has had the privilege of working across the United States for the last decade as a scenic, lighting and projection designer. Some of his designs include Everything you Touch for Rattlestick productions at the Cherry Lane Theatre; La Voix Humaine, double bill of the Cocteau play and Poulenc Opera at the Castleton Opera Festival; OZ 2.5 and James and the Giant Peach at South Coast Repertory; The Year of Magical Thinking at the Laguna Playhouse; Death of a Salesgirl at the Bootleg Theatre; The Children at the Boston court Theatre; A Picasso Geffen Playhouse; Médée and Teseo for the Chicago Opera Theatre; Metamorphoses and Woyzeck at the Santa Barbara Ensemble Theatre; For more information, please visit www.fpcouture.com

Hazel Kuang, MFA


Bio: Hazel Kuang is a proud alumni of Cal-State University Long Beach with an MFA in Scenic Design. Originally from Taipei, Taiwan, she designed her first stages there in early 2000. During 2007 to 2010, as a member of California Repertory, she designed sets for In the Blood, Machinal, Jeff Perry’s Out of Thin Air, and other newly developed plays. Hazel has a passion for new theatre works and is dedicated to cultural exchanges that happen in arts. She curated, interrupted, and participated in a workshop on The Cherry Orchard in Taipei in the summer of 2013. Her latest works include The Sexual Life of Savages at The Skylight Theatre, and Dirty Filthy Love Story at Rogue Machine Theatre, which won her 2013 The LA Weekly Theatre Awards and a nomination for 2012 LADCC Award.

Stacey McKenney

Lighting Lab Supervisor


Snapshot of Brian Mulligan

Brian Mulligan, MFA


Bio: Brian Mulligan is an actor, director, and acting teacher. He also does private coaching for professional actors, and for students auditioning for college BFA and MFA acting programs. He is an Adjunct Professor of Acting at California State University, Long Beach, and in his 18th year on the Drama Faculty at Crossroads School in Santa Monica. Brian teaches both Meisner and Hagen techniques, scene study, audition technique and improvisation. He won “Best of Fringe” for his direction of Evolution of a Kiss at the 2011 Hollywood Fringe Festival. Film acting credits include: White Oleander, Armageddon, Soul Plane. TV acting credits include: True Blood, Criminal Minds, Scandal, Hart of Dixie, Vegas, Big Love, Charmed, Malcolm in the Middle, and The Practice. Theatre: Off Broadway: Riverside Shakespeare; Macbeth, Candida. Regional theatres in the US and Canada. Cal Rep: The Goat, Or, Who is Sylvia?, Penelope, Tartuffe Lab, B.S.-Bukowski/Sondheim. Brian has done several national commercials. Training: MFA – Acting and Directing, California State University, Long Beach; Hagen technique – Uta Hagen, HB Studios, New York; Meisner technique – William Alderson, Los Angeles; and Studio 58 Theatre School, Vancouver, Canada

Snapshot of Robert Prior

Robert Prior, MFA


Bio: Director, Designer and Performer Robert A. Prior creates multi-disciplinary theater works inspired by world mythology and literature. He is the Founder/Director of Los Angeles' treasured company Fabulous Monsters Performance Group with whom he has created 25 pieces during the last two decades. Several of these productions won multiple awards including; SPEED-HEDDA, Project: Alice, A Grimm Evening, Voluptuous Madness and The Importance of Being Earnest. The Company toured to The Bailiwick Theater in Chicago with The Importance of Being Earnest in 1997 and to La MaMa in New York with SPEED-HEDDA. His most recent work with Monsters was Shadowdance in Toyland, featuring shadow puppets integrated with live performers, and a version of Wilde’s “Salome”.

In 2002, the Company began an extensive development process centered on the Ramayana myth. Prior, together with choreographer Stephen Hues, visited Indonesia to experience its dance drama forms and research the project, This led to the award-winning Ramayana 2K, a theatrical spectacle integrating dancers, actors and acrobats and incorporating puppetry and an electronic score. It had a successful run at La MaMa and was nominated for five New York Drama Desk Awards. This led to Prior and Hues collaborating on the 40th Anniversary revival of the musical Hair in Toronto.

As a designer, Prior has worked with the Long Beach Opera, The Actors Gang, The LA Children's Opera and Metallica. He has won numerous awards (LA Weekly, Garland, Ovation Awards) for his set and costume designs.

Robert is thrilled to have received his MFA in Theatre Arts from CSULB.

Snapshot of Chris Shaw

Christopher Shaw, MFA


Bio: Christopher Shaw teaches Acting / Scene Study, and Acting Techniques Class as Adjunct faculty at CSU Long Beach, CSU Fullerton, and AMDA Hollywood (American Music and Dramatic Academy) in the BA and BFA acting programs, and also teaches a Mask/Acting class as guest faculty with Steppenwolf Theater West Summer Intensive. Christopher also serves as a guest director for productions at CSU Fullerton and developed the Young Actors Conservatory at Pacific Resident Theatre in Venice, CA.

Christopher trained at North Carolina School of the Arts, Circle in the Square Theatre School, and earned his MFA from CSULB. He has worked with a myriad of excellent teachers including the outstanding faculty at CSULB, Nikos Psacharopoulos, Michael Kahn, Theresa Haden, Tony Greco, Slava Dolgachev, Ron Van Lieu and Larry Moss. He has also trained in Mask and LeCoq Techniques in Paris and Padua, Italy, with Masters of the craft and disciples of Lecoq; Paola Colleto, Mateo Destro and Katrien van Beurden. Recent professional work includes the feature film “Annabelle” and the world premier of Tommy Smith’s new play “Fugue” with the award winning Echo Theatre Company. As a director, Christopher recently directed “Farragut North” in the Grand Central space at CSU Fullerton. Other acting credits include “The 39 Steps” at Ensemble Theatre in Santa Barbara, “Blackbird” and “The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer"  and “Thugs”at Cal Rep, as well as “Becky's New Car" by Steven Deitz, at Pacific Resident Theatre in Venice. Other productions at PRT include “Fuddy Meers”, "The Time of Your Life" , “The Hasty Heart”, Raymond Chandler's "The Blue Dahlia",  and the Brecht/Weill musical "Happy End" playing the Japanese gangster Dr. Nakamura (Best Ensemble and Revival awards).  Other Theatre includes: The Nancy Keystone and Critical Mass production of "Apollo - parts 1, 2 & 3 " at the Kirk Douglas Theatre (CTG) , and Portland Center Stage; "War Music"  at the Geffen Playhouse, and the original Echo Theater Co production of "War Music" at LATC (Ovation award for Best Ensemble and Best Play); and "Never Land" written and directed by Phyllis Nagy, at Rogue Machine. NYC THEATRE includes: “Marvin's Room” at Minetta Lane Theatre , “Walking the Dead” at Circle Rep, Painted Rain at Playwrights Horizons, Romeo and Juliet at The NY Public. REGIONAL THEATRE includes: Marvin's Room at Seattle Rep and The Kennedy Center, Present Laughter at Baltimore Center Stage, three seasons at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center , and Innocent's Crusade by Keith Reddin, directed by Joe Mantello at The Long Wharf. Film and TV of note: CBS Mini-Series "Bella Mafia"  with James Marsden , the feature film Dogfight with River Phoenix and Lili Taylor, and the award winning short “Sunnyslope” directed by Chris Fields. Mr. Shaw is a proud member of Pacific Resident Theatre, and The Echo Theatre Company.

Snapshot of Anna Steers

Anna Steers, MFA


Bio: Anna is an actor, educator and director. Since 2010 Anna has taught multiple subjects in the Department of Theatre Arts at CSULB, such as Theatre of Community Engagement, Meisner, Advanced Meisner, Uta Hagen, Script Analysis, Theatre Today, Introduction to Theatre for the 21st Century and EPIC (Educational Performance in Community).

Anna trained extensively at Oxford University (BADA), University of San Francisco (BA in Performing Arts and Social Justice), Anne Bogart’s SITI Company (Suzuki/Viewpoints), The John Ruskin School of Acting (Meisner) and Teacher Development Program at The Actors Center in NYC, she holds an MFA in Acting/Directing from California State University Long Beach.

TV/film appearances include Day out of Days by Zoe Cassavetes, short film Strangers, feature films Shadows of the Dead and Coldplay, American Body Shop (Comedy Central), Las Vegas (NBC), Bill Nye the Science Guy (Jean) and iDrive digital commercial. San Francisco theatre credits include Angels in America, Blue Room, and Blind Spot. Cal Rep theatre credits include Blackbird, Quills, Hyacinth Macaw, Festen, Brittannicus, Out of Thin Air, Saint Plays, Kentucky Cycle, And the War Came and Pool of Bethesda. Other LA credits: Through the Lyres Strings at Ruskin Group Theatre, Tartuffe and A Chorusline at Norris Theatre, Little Shop of Horrors Curtains Up! Theatre. Directing credits: created/directed the CSULB University Players production #ethnocentricCRAP and co-directed devised play In or Out. Directed for the 24 Hour Plays in collaboration with Cornerstone Theatre Comapany.

Ms. Steers has developed and directed summer conservatory programs at Mount Holyoke College, Long Beach Playhouse and Shakespeare Santa Barbara. Her philanthropic work, inspired by theatre for social change, led her to teach at an orphanage in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Most recently at CSULB, Anna's EPIC classes worked in collaboration with such Long Beach communities as Kaiser Permanente, the VA Hospital, Boys and Girls Club, Women to Women Shelter, Flossie Lewis, Long Beach LGBTQ Center and Arts and Services for the Disabled. Ms. Steers received a grant from Cal State's Center for Community Engagement to create the first authenticated Service-Learning course implemented in Theatre Arts curriculum. Anna is co-founder of The Actors Lab at Manhattan Beach Studios, she is a founding member of The National Alliance of Acting Teachers.

Snapshot of Sarah Underwood Saviano

Sarah Underwood Saviano, MFA


Bio: Sarah Underwood Saviano has an extensive professional career in the theatre. She played Harper in the National Tour of Angels In America and in Chicago, performed at the Goodman, Steppenwolf, Northlight, Victory Gardens, Apple Tree, and Apollo theatres, to name a few. She was nominated for a Joseph Jefferson award for her role as Louise in the long running Midwest premiere of Always,... Patsy Cline. She was in the Chicago production of The Vagina Monologues, which also enjoyed a long run. Sarah has had the great fortune to work with some of our most outstanding directors and playwrights including Michael Mayer, Rick Cleveland, Tony Kushner, Frank Galati, Kim Rubinstein, and Curt Columbus. For her television work, she was celebrated in Chicago’s Screen Magazine. She is a highly accomplished jazz musician (saxophones, clarinet, and flute) and has performed onstage and/or recorded with Little Feat, Shaun LaBelle, The O’Jay’s, Bob Weir, Heat, Jules Day, Kenny Rankin, and Robert Irving III (formerly of Miles Davis Group). Sarah has been on the faculty at CSULB since 2010.