Students will learn under the leadership of Michael Kahn, the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Artistic Director and one of the leading directors and teachers of classical actors in the country, and ACA Director Alec Wild. Joining ACA’s faculty are members of the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s acting company, as well as other working professionals, actors, scholars, and artists who understand the challenges that must be met by the next generation of classical actors.
Michael Kahn, Artistic Director
Michael Kahn, America’s leading classical theatre director and a renowned teacher, has collaborated with, directed, and taught three generations of America’s foremost artists. He has served as the Artistic Director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company since 1986. In 2000, Michael Kahn and STC, in conjunction with The George Washington University, launched the Academy for Classical Acting.
Kahn’s directorial credits with STC include both Shakespeare’s plays and other works such as Eugene O’Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra and Tennessee Williams’ Sweet Bird of Youth and Camino Real. He has directed the Washington premieres of Shakespeare’s King John and Timon of Athens, Jonson’s The Silent Woman and Musset’s Lorenzaccio, and three world-premiere translations by David Ives of Corneille’s The Liar, Regnard’s The Heir Apparent, and Piron’s The Metromaniacs. His production of The Oedipus Plays played at the Athens Festival in 2003, and his Love’s Labor’s Lost was selected to represent the United States at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Complete Works Festival in 2006.
Kahn attended Columbia University, where he collaborated with budding artists like Terrence McNally and Andy Warhol. In 1968, he was invited to join the faculty at the newly-established Drama Division of the Juilliard School, where he continues to teach today. He served there as the Richard Rodgers Director of the Drama Division from 1992 to 2006. Among his former students: Christine Baranski, André Braugher, Kevin Kline, Laura Linney, Patti LuPone, Christopher Reeve, and Robin Williams. In 1969, Kahn was named artistic director of the American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Connecticut, a position he held for 10 years. His productions of Shakespeare’s Othello and Henry V and Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof transferred to highly successful Broadway runs. He simultaneously became a producing director at Princeton’s McCarter Theatre Center in 1974. He helped found The Acting Company in Manhattan in 1978 and served as its Artistic Director for a decade. In 1983, his production of Show Boat at the Houston Grand Opera transferred to Broadway and earned him a Tony nomination. The following year, he founded the Chautauqua Theater Company.
In 2013, Kahn was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame and was named an Honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. Kahn was the recipient of the 2005 Person of the Year from the National Theatre Conference. He has received the Shakespeare Society Medal; the William Shakespeare Award for Classical Theatre; the Distinguished Washingtonian Award from The University Club; the GLAAD Capitol Award; the Washingtonian Magazine Washingtonian of the Year (1989); the Washington Post Award for Distinguished Community Service; the First Annual Shakespeare’s Globe Award; the John Houseman Award; the Bravo International Award, Opera Music Theater International; and the Mayor’s Arts Award for Excellence in an Artistic Discipline. He has received Honorary Doctorates from the University of South Carolina, Kean College, The Julliard School, and The American University.
The 2016–2017 Season marks the 30th anniversary of STC, which under Kahn’s leadership has grown into “the nation’s foremost Shakespeare company” (Wall Street Journal).
Alec Wild, Director
Alec Wild was Founder and Artistic Director of the award-winning Folio Theatre in Chicago, and Founder/Producing Director of the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Minnesota. As the recipient of a 1997 Fox Fellowship, Mr. Wild traveled to Saint Petersburg, Russia, where he studied Directing and Biomechanics at the Saint Petersburg Academy of Theater. Among more than 50 productions of Shakespeare’s plays, he has directed The Taming of the Shrew at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles, TitusAndronicus and Richard II for Milwaukee Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Chautauqua Theater Company, Macbeth for the UMN/Guthrie Training Program, The Winter’s Tale, Richard III, Twelfth Night, Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest, Othello, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at The Great River Shakespeare Festival, and The Maid’s Tragedy at the ACA. Mr. Wild has taught and directed at American Conservatory’s Advanced Training Program in San Francisco, University of Minnesota/Guthrie Conservatory, Fordham University, and Manhattanville College in New York. He was a guest lecturer on Shakespeare at New York University, and was an Adjunct Professor in the Theater Department at University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He holds an M.F.A. in Directing from the Yale School of Drama, and a B.F.A. in Acting from Chicago’s Goodman School of Drama.
Director of Graduate Studies for the Academy of Classical Acting
Leslie Jacobson has spent close to 40 years producing, writing, directing, and teaching theatre committed to addressing societal challenges and to giving voice to people often marginalized by the dominant culture. She is the Founding Artistic Director of Horizons Theatre. Under her leadership from 1977 to 2007, Horizons introduced Washington audiences to over 60 new plays and playwrights through fully staged productions, and another 50 through public staged readings. The Women’s Committee of the Dramatists Guild gave Horizons a special award for its outstanding work in producing plays by women playwrights. Jacobson has been nominated for the Helen Hayes Award in the category of Outstanding Director three times. Her production of A…My Name Is Alice received a Helen Hayes Award for outstanding production; and her production of Chris White’s Rhythms won the Charles MacArthur Award for best new play.
Jacobson has been a Professor of Theatre at The George Washington University since 1977. She served as Chair of the Department of Theatre & Dance for 13 years, during which time she helped bring the Academy for Classical Acting to GW, and inaugurated several other new courses and programs.
In 2003, Jacobson began a relationship with the impoverished rural township of Winterveldt, South Africa. In collaboration with composer Roy Barber, she has created seven music/theatre pieces with at-risk youth from the Bokamoso Youth Centre in Winterveldt, addressing the many challenges confronting these youth. Since 2003, she has helped organize an annual cultural exchange program, where 12 youth travel to Washington each January to perform and serve as informal ambassadors to the D.C. community. They have a residency at GW. Each summer, Jacobson takes GW students with her to work at the Bokamoso Youth Centre.
In 2008, Jacobson was awarded a Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship to Australia. She was a member of the 2001 Leadership America class, joining 99 other women leaders from around the country; and is a past president of the League of Washington Theatres. She graduated cum laude with a degree in Theatre, from Northwestern University, and with a Master of Fine Arts in Directing from Boston University.
Teacher: Columbia University MFA acting program. New York University Experimental Theater Wing. National Theater Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. Barnard College. NIDA – National Institute of Dramatic Art ( Australia ). 1996 founded a company to coach individuals in corporations, book publishing houses and politics to build presence and public speaking. Actor: Australian state theater companies: A Streetcar Named Desire (Blanche Dubois) The Playboy of the Western World (Widow Quinn) A Midsummer Nights Dream (Titania). Nicholas Nickelby (Kate Nickelby), The Pillars of the Community (Marta). Top Girls (Pope Joan). Heartbreak House (Ariadne) Macbeth (Lady Macbeth) Twelfth Night (Olivia). Created and performed one woman show (masked) New Sky CD Recording: Magical Tales of Truth Film: (20th Century Fox) Great Expectations. Careful He Might Hear You. Rebel. Undercover. Television: The Dismissal, The Scales of Justice, A Country Practice. Gobe la Lune Movement Director: Le Jeune Theatre National De Paris for Si Jamais Je Te Pince, Australia: The Tempest, Gone With Hardy, The Struggle of the Nada Tribe, Hamlet, A Clockwork Orange, The National Health, A Midsummer Night’s Dream Director: Jnaneshwar. A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Dog in the Manger ( Nominated outstanding direction 2005 Greater Baltimore Theater Awards) Training: LSDA. (Licentiate, Speech and Drama,) B.A. Honors degree-English Literature, Queensland University. Jacques Lecoq, L’Ecole International de Theatre. Peter Brook and Yoshi Oida – International Center of Theater Research Paris. Jerzy Grotowski, Theater Laboratory, Poland (Mountain Project) and voice with Cicely Berry.
Christopher Cherry is the director of Studio 2C, a studio for the performing arts and the Alexander Technique, where he focuses his Alexander practice exclusively on helping performing artists attain greater freedom, grace, clarity, and skill. He has given lessons backstage at Lincoln Center, taught workshops at theatres and universities across the U.S., and consulted on many productions in Washington, D.C., and New York City. A charter member of the ACA faculty, he previously taught at the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Summer Acting Conservatory, and is himself a graduate of that program.As a playwright and composer, Cherry has created several musicals for family audiences, including Buried Treasure, Homeward Bound, The Joy Gods Return, Perseus and the Gorgon and a musical version of As You Like It. He regularly directs theatre productions in the Washington, D.C., area in collaboration with his partner, pianist and musical director Stefan Brodd, with whom he also coaches singing actors. Before becoming a certified teaching member of the American Society for the Alexander Technique, he earned his bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary, and his master’s and law degrees from the University of Virginia.
Mask, Clown and Physical Comedy
Dody DiSanto trained in Paris and is an esteemed teaching protégé of the late Jacques Lecoq, whose teachings she carries forward. She is also on the faculties of The Catholic University of America and the Center for Movement Theatre, and has recently been a Guest Artist for Cirque du Soleil and The Yale School of Drama. She is the founder and artistic director of the Membrane Ensemble Theatre, and was a founding member of Phoenix Dance Theatre. She has been a member of several ensembles, including Chantier Theatre, Present Company and Barking Rooster Theatre. Her thirty years of performing include Off-Broadway at LaMaMa E.T.C., Lincoln Center Serious Fun Festival, Theatre for the New City, the Avignon Festival, and television and film work. DiSanto’s teaching credits include Fundamentals of Lecoq at the Center for Movement Theatre, Dynamic Studies in Space, Gesture and Structure at the Corcoran College of Art and Design, Graduate Acting: Performance Ensemble and Neutral Mask at Towson State University, a Lecoq Colloquium at Tufts University, Mask at University of Toledo, Neutral Mask at M.I.T., and various workshops and courses for Ringling Clown College, Penn State University, Amherst College Department of Theatre and Dance, The George Washington University, the Mid-Atlantic Movement Theatre Festival, MotionFest and the ATA National Convention at Tulane. She holds a diploma and teaching certification from Ecole Jacques Lecoq, where she received a private pedagogic apprenticeship and also completed the Laboratoire Etude de Movement course of study. She studied corporal mime with Etienne Decroux, wire, juggling, acrobatics and tap under the direction of Annie Fratellini at the Ecole Nationale du Cirque, and was the assistant to Jacques Lecoq at the Theatre of Creation Festival. She is nationally certified for Massage Therapy and Bodywork and also created, owned and managed the internationally acclaimed music venue Nightclub 9:30 in Washington, D.C. from 1980-1987.
In 31 seasons with the Shakespeare Theatre Company, he most recently appeared as King Henry in Henry IV, Part 1 and Part 2. 70 other roles for STC include Hotspur in Henry IV (Helen Hayes Award), Bolingbroke in Richard II (Helen Hayes Award) and Macduff in Macbeth (Helen Hayes Award). A 32-season veteran of the Washington Theatre community, he is a fifteen-time nominee of the Helen Hayes Award and four-time recipient. In 2015, he created the role of Justice Antonin Scalia in the world premiere of John Strand’s acclaimed play The Originalist directed by Molly Smith at Arena Stage. He appeared as Mark Rothko in Robert Falls’ production of RED at the Goodman Theater in Chicago and Arena Stage in Washington, DC. Other DC credits include Scrooge in A Christmas Carol at Ford’s Theatre; Salieri in Amadeus at Roundhouse Theatre; Donny in American Buffalo at The Studio Theatre and Sweeney Todd in Sweeney Todd at Signature Theatre. He has played Richard Nixon in Nixon’s Nixon at Roundhouse Theatre in 1999 and 2008 and received a Helen Hayes nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor both times. Other favorite performances include John in Shining City, Ivan in The Seafarer, Tom Sargeant in Skylight (Helen Hayes Award), Vershinin in Three Sisters, and Philip Gelberg in Broken Glass. Other regional credits include Horace Vandergelder in The Matchmaker at Center Stage in Baltimore. Film and television credits include House of Cards, Turn: Washington’s Spies, Die Hard II, Striking Distance, and narrations for The Discovery Channel and PBS. He is an Associate Professor of Theater at George Mason University. He earned a BA in Speech and Theater at Montclair State University. Mr. Gero was also honored to receive the 2015 Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship.
The Shakespeare Theatre: Sir Lucius O’Trigger in The Rivals, Second Murderer in Richard III, Sir Amourous La Foole in The Silent Woman, Osric/Gravedigger in Hamlet, Launce in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Peter in Romeo & Juliet, Mr. Sparkish in The Country Wife, Bottom in A Midsimmer Night’s Dream, Fool in King Lear, Master Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Malvolio in Twelfth Night, Lavatch in All’s Well That Ends Well, Trinculo in The Tempest, Jaques in As You Like It, Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing, Pandarus in Troilus and Cressida, Touchstone in As You Like It, Parolles in All’s Well That Ends Well (Helen Hayes Award), many others. Regional: Folger Elizabethan Theatre: The Dresser, Mad About the Bard; Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company: Quills (Helen Hayes Award); Studio Theatre: The Lisbon Traviata (Helen Hayes Award), A Tale of Two Cities (Helen Hayes Award), The Mystery of Irma Vep; Olney Theatre Center; Alley Theatre; Pittsburgh Public Theatre; Alliance Theatre Company. Honors: Fulbright Fellowship 1995-19996. Teaching: The Juilliard School; Shakespeare Theatre Acting Classes; University of South Carolina; British American Drama Academy, Oxford, England.
Lisae C. Jordan
Lisae C. Jordan is a dancer and teacher. She is on the faculty of the renowned Maryland Youth Ballet, and for ten years taught at the American Dance Institute under the direction of Michael and Pam Bjerknes. She received her early training in classical ballet with Marilyn Ramsey in upstate New York and with the School of the Hartford Ballet in Connecticut. She has worked as a principal dancer with Womenwerks (an actor/dancer collaborative) and was a member and principal dancer at Ballet North in New York. Since moving to the D.C. area, she has danced with the Washington National Opera under the direction of Placido Domingo, the Baltimore Opera, Artefacts and several others. With the Washington National Opera, she danced in, among others, Hamlet (soloist), Turandot, Samson et Dalila, Maid of Orleans, Aida and as one of the Witches in Macbeth. Her Stretch class works on passive, active-isolated, and contract-release methods, encouraging healthy alignment and range of motion, and she draws on principles found in gyrokinesis, Feldenkrais, yoga and dance.
Voice and Text
Ellen O’Brien, Head of Voice and Text for the Shakespeare Theatre Company, has also coached dozens of Shakespeare productions for such theatres as the Kennedy Center, People’s Light and Theatre Company, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Charlotte Repertory Theatre and The North Carolina Shakespeare Festival. At Shakespeare Santa Cruz, she also served as Associate Director for Antony and Cleopatra and Julius Caesar. She has led workshops on Shakespeare’s verse and language for theatre companies, colleges, universities and other organizations, including the Shakespeare Association of America, the Association for Theatre in Higher Education and the National Council of Teachers of English. Her dialect work includes productions at the Shakespeare Theatre Company, Ford’s Theatre, People’s Light and Theatre Company, the Aurora Theater (San Francisco), Aruba Productions, and Guilford College.
A member of the Voice and Speech Trainers Association, O’Brien holds Advanced and Post-Graduate Diplomas in Voice Studies from Central School of Speech and Drama (London) and a PhD in English from Yale University. She served as the Associate Editor for Heightened Text, Verse and Scansion for The Voice and Speech Review, 2011. Her publications include essays in Shakespeare Quarterly, Shakespeare Survey, Selected Proceedings of the World Shakespeare Congress, 1996, Approaches to Teaching Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Shakespearean Illuminations: Insights from Performance and elsewhere. Before coming to the ACA, she taught at the University of California Santa Cruz, Kirkland College and Guilford College, where her directing work included Measure for Measure and Henry V.
Roberta Stiehm has been dancing since the age of 8. At 12, she began professional training in ballet and modern dance with Loyce Houlton at the Minnesota Dance Theater and School in Minneapolis, Minnesota. At 16, she began dancing with that company and went on to dance leading roles in such ballets as Sir Frederick Ashton’s Les Patineurs and Facade, Herbert Ross’ Capprichios, George Balanchine’s Serenade, Concerto Borocco, and Allegro Brilliante, Glen Tetley’s Mythical Hunters, and over fifty world premieres by resident choreographer Loyce Houlton. She later joined the Bat Dor Company of Israel, where her favorite role was the Lamentoso solo in Alvin Ailey’s Streams. In South Africa, she danced with several small dance groups and with the American tour of Disney on Parade. In the early 80’s, she played the roles of Bebe and Diana in the National and International companies of A Chorus Line and was honored to have worked directly with Michael Bennett. In Washington, D.C., she acted in the Studio Theater’s acclaimed production of Fifth of July, emceed the Folger Theater’s Annual High School Shakespeare Festival, and performed and choreographed for D.C. Cabaret Theater. Ms. Stiehm spent more than one year on Broadway in Cats, playing the role of Cassandra. She also performed various other roles from the musical in the National company. Ms. Stiehm was Rehearsal Director of the D.C. Contemporary Dance Theater under the Artistic Direction of Miiya Hisaka, and she has been on the teaching staff of many companies and schools, including The Shakespeare Theatre, George Mason University, Feet First, Joy of Motion, The Ballet Center, The Jewish Community Center, and Model Secondary School for the Deaf at Gallaudet University (where she also choreographed numerous production and concert modern dance pieces). She is on the permanent senior teaching staff of the Academy of the Maryland Youth Ballet, where she has choreographed numerous concert and demonstration pieces for senior-level students of the Academy. Ms. Stiehm studied Pilates under the tutelage of Romana Kryzanowska, a former student of Joseph Pilates, and has been a certified instructor since 1999.
Brad Alan Waller
Brad Alan Waller is a certified teacher of stage combat through the Society of American Fight Directors, is a member of SAG and AEA, and is an Honorary Member of the Nordic Stage Fight Society, Fight Directors Canada, and the New Zealand Stage Combat Society. He has served the Washington, D.C., theatre community as a Fight Choreographer and Teacher of Stage Combat since 1989. He has choreographed more than 150 professional shows for such theatres as the Shakespeare Theater Company, The Folger Theatre, Arena Stage, the Kennedy Center, Washington National Opera, Ford’s Theatre, The Washington Ballet, WSC Avant Bard, Huntington Theatre Company, New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, Olney Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Source Theatre, Round House Theatre, the Virginia Stage Company and others. He has lectured at the Smithsonian Institution and the Folger Shakespeare Library. Over the last 20 years, Waller has also been teaching and training internationally for the Stage Combat Arts and the Historical Martial Arts in such countries as Canada, England, Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Australia and South Africa. He is currently developing and teaching an advanced training program for the Nordic Stage Fight Society. Honors include the Maestro’s Buckle Award from Paddy Crean, the Maestro’s Dagger Award from Henry Marshall and the Society of British Fight Directors, the Henry Marshall Memorial Award for Distinguished Service from Fight Directors Canada and Guest Curator of The Sword and the Pen exhibit at the Folger Shakespeare Library. He holds an MFA in Acting from Temple University and attended the Stella Adler Conservatory of Acting and studied with Uta Hagen, Sandy Dennis and Herbert Berghof at the H.B. Studio.