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Snapshot of Anthony Byrnes

Anthony Byrnes, MFA

Theatre Management

Bio: Anthony Byrnes is a director, producer, educator, critic and arts administrator. He has served as the founding Artistic Director of Burning Wheel & the Umbrella Company. He is also a weekly columnist and theatre critic on KCRW, currently hosting Opening The Curtain on KCRW’s radio talk show. He has served as Director of Cultural Relations for the University of Southern California, and Associate Producer of New Play Development for Center Theatre Group. He earned his MFA from CalArts.

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, 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.

Snapshot of Anne D'Zmura

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.

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

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.

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.

Snapshot of Ezra LeBank

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 Ezra LeBank

Martha Carter, MFA

Lighting Design and Technical Theatre

Bio: Martha Carter studied theatrical design with an emphasis in lighting at the University of Florida. Since her graduation from the University of Florida she has worked professionally as a lighting designer, master electrician, drafts person, and as an assistant on lighting for both entertainment and architectural designs. She continued her dream by obtaining her MFA in Lighting Design from the University of California at Irvine. Martha enjoys working in a wide array of theatrical entertainments including theme parks, live events, dance, theatre and art installations. She has designed and assisted in many theatres on the east and west coasts, some of which include Romeo and Juliet at Great River Shakespeare Festival, The Why at The Blank Theater, The Chance Theater, Pygmalion at Long Beach Playhouse, and Marry me a Little at Theater Out. She works with a number of choreographers as their lighting designer and collaborates with them throughout their creative process. She focuses on teaching her students about lighting composition and how color, beam angle, and the brush strokes of light can aid in storytelling. Martha enjoys collaborating with ensemble companies to create new work that addresses the current political and social issues of today to incite positive change within communities.

Snapshot of 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.

Snapshot of Hugh OGorman

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 Asha Kamali Blankinship

Asha Kamali Blankinship, MFA


Bio: "Protective Spirit of Life," is the meaning of her Swahili name, Asha Kamali. An alumna of Howard University, Kamali is the 2015 female winner of the 2015 American Black Film Festival/NBC STAR PROJECT. Currently, Asha stars as Nia, in the digital series, Milk and Honey alongside Debbie Allen, Lance Gross and Boris Kodjoe which is executive produced by Idris Elba. While at Howard University, Asha was crowned Miss Howard University. From there, she began her career in entertainment as a dancer and choreographer for Keke Palmer, choreographing her debut music videos for Atlantic Records and national tours for Disney and the WNBA. Asha is the co-founder of Howardwood, a non-profit day of workshops at Howard University that supports students interested in careers in entertainment. Howardwood is in its eighth year and has been sponsored by BET, NBC Universal, DreamWorks, CBS and Fox. Asha completed her MFA acting & pedagogy degree at California State University, Long Beach and is currently an adjunct professor of theatre.

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.

Snapshot of Erin Caron

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.

Snapshot of Jenny Jacobs Raine

Jenny Jacobs Raine

Stage Management Lecturer

Bio: Jenny Jacobs is from Huntington Beach, CA, received her AA from Golden West Community College, her BA from Cal State University of Long Beach, and her MFA from University of California Irvine. She is a proud member of Actors Equity Association for the last 8 years and has had an exciting 7 years (2010-17) of touring with Menopause the Musical throughout the United States and Canada. Her past credits include corporate events with The Harris Goldman Productions, Plaid Tidings at Laguna Playhouse, 3-D Theatricals on The Sound of Music, Hello Dolly, Altar Boyz & All Shook Up, Peter Pan, Noises Off at South Coast Repertory; Titus Andronicus, Reefer Madness, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Anything Goes, Urinetown, The Tempest & Cider House Rules. She is happy to be teaching at Cal State University of Long Beach to help students find ways to reach their dreams.

Snapshot of Paula Higgins

Paula Higgins

Intermediate Stagecraft

Snapshot of Megan Knowles

Megan Knowles, MFA

Costume Design/Crafts Lecturer

Bio: Megan holds her BFA in Theatre Production Design & Technology from Ohio University and her MFA from CSULB. She currently works as a freelance costume designer and cutter/draper in the Los Angeles area at professional theaters including South Coast Rep and the Geffen. Recent design credits include Macbeth and A Piece of My Heart at Golden West College, and recent assistant designer credits include Gem of the Ocean at SCR, Once at SCR, and Constellations at The Geffen.

Snapshot of Michael Millar

Michael Millar

Stagecraft Lecturer

Bio: Michael is having a blast teaching stagecraft and design here at The Beach! He brings with him nearly 30 years of experience in live entertainment that has carried him around the world in search of strange but good food, art, and entertainment. He has been a Flying Director and Mechanical Designer for Flying by Foy in Las Vegas, creating effects for the Hong Kong Ballet, Houston Grand Opera, and Tokyo Disney; a Mechanical Designer for Scenic Technologies on Broadway’s Nick and Nora; a Technical Consultant for BRC Imagination Arts on Universal Studios Osaka’s Movie Magic, Texas Spirit Theater at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin, TX, and Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, IL. He has also worked as a Technical Director and Production Manager for a variety of theatre companies, such as Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theatre, The Geffen Playhouse, Tennessee Repertory Theatre, Berkshire Theatre Festival, and Shakespeare Center LA, including their annual Simply Shakespeare fundraiser hosted by Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson. He is a personal chef to the lovely and talented award winning costume designer Holly Poe Durbin. He is on the Board of Directors at Orange Home Grown in the City of Orange. He holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Arizona, specializing in mechanical effects for the theatre.

Snapshot of Melissa Minniefree

Melissa Minniefree

Theater History Lecturer

Bio: Dr. Melissa Minniefee is a scholar/artist whose work examines the intersections between gender studies, critical race studies, and performance. Her recent scholarship focused on how theatre responded to national rhetoric and iconography after two massive internal displacements. This work focused on theatre during German-Occupied France and The United States Post-Katrina. Dr. Minniefee has 21 years of experience in theatre where she has worked as an actor, dramaturg, and director. She also worked in theatre administration for 15 years most recently as the Operations Director of a performing arts center and Promotions Manager for the UC San Diego Theatre department. Dr. Minniefee holds a PhD from UC San Diego, MA from San Diego State University, and a BA from Seattle University.

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 Jerry Prell

Jerry Prell, MFA


Bio: Jerry Prell has been working as a director, actor and teacher for over thirty years. He was Dean of the Musical Theater at the Hartford Conservatory, and the founder and former Artistic Director of New England Actors’/Academy of Theatre (NEAT). Directing credits include: The Laramie Project, Lysistrata – the jukebox musical, Nine, Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie, The Boys from Syracuse, You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown, Pippin, Fiddler on the Roof, The Apple Tree, Side by Side by Sondheim, Nunsense, No, No, A Million Times, No! -- for the Mystic Summer Melodrama, and for NEAT, Beyond Therapy, one-acts for NEAT’s Short & NEAT Festival at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven, Connecticut, and Domestic Chaos at the Samuel French One-Act Play Festival in NYC. Some of Jerry’s television acting credits include; The Young & The Restless, The Bold and The Beautiful,Hill Street Blues, Cheers and others. Jerry has worked in feature films and on stage in New York, Los Angeles, regionally and in Europe. He is the recipient of the Arts Council of Greater New Haven’s Arts Award and the Connecticut Commission on the Arts Distinguish Advocate for the Arts Award. Jerry teaches theatre courses at El Camino College, LMU, Cerritos College, Los Angeles City College and CSULB. He is a graduate of Carnegie Melon University (BFA) and California State University, Long Beach (MFA).

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 Tyler Seiple

Tyler Seiple, MFA

Voice Lecturer

Bio: Tyler Seiple is an actor, director, writer, producer, and freelance voice and speech coach in the Los Angeles area. He is the founder of phonetic phreedom™, which draws extensively from Knight-Thompson Speechwork. His private clients have been heard onscreen in projects ranging from True Blood and Shameless to Crazy Ex Girlfriend and House of Cards. He has coached shows throughout the Los Angeles area, with companies including the Fountain Theatre, the Antaeus Theatre Company, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Rogue Machine Theatre, the LA Philharmonic Association, and the Museum of Natural History. Tyler holds a Master of the Fine Arts degree from the University of California, Irvine. He is an Associate Teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework® and a Certified Teacher of Knight-Thompson Speechwork®. He has taught at the University of California, Irvine, Chapman University, and multiple studios in Los Angeles, as well as at CSU Long Beach. An L.A. Stage Alliance Ovation-nominated actor, Tyler produces and directs onstage around Los Angeles, and he has served as a Board Member of the SRS Production Wing for the past three years. His film credits include Separation Anxiety, Travelling Salesman, and his award-winning short, Life, Perfected.

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.