Hector Alvarez is a writer, actor and director from Spain. He holds a master’s degree in modernist literature from University College London, and a bachelor’s degree in theater from Macalester College. He is a Watson Fellowship recipient, which allowed him to conduct research on community based performance in Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil for a year. Most recently, he became a member of Theatre Y’s ensemble and is one of the theater critics at Chicago Stage Standard. He is currently working on a production of Macbeth with Theatre Y directed by the acclaimed French actor Georges Bigot.
James Bell is an English teacher and theatre director at Oak Park & River Forest High School, where he has created and currently teaches a series of senior Shakespeare electives. James has a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an M.A. from DePaul, and, in 2012 received an M.A. from the University of St Andrews, Scotland in Shakespeare and Renaissance Literary Culture. Emphasizing performance and community within and outside the classroom, last year, James organized the world’s first live streams between a high school and The Globe Theatre in London.
Sarah Liz Bell is a Chicago and LA-based actor and teaching artist. She holds a Master’s in Classical Acting from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), and a BFA in Acting from Baldwin Wallace University. While studying in London, Sarah trained in various movement techniques including Laban, Viewpoints, Flamenco Dance, and 15th Century English Country Dances. She is also certified by the British Academy of Dramatic Combat in four different combat styles, including Rapier-Dagger and Sword & Buckler. Recent acting credits include Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice (Edge of the Wood Resident Theatre) and Desdemona in Othello (Babes with Blades Theatre Co.). Sarah’s passion for sharing Shakespeare with students knows no bounds!
Grant Chapman's acting credits include the Guthrie Theater, Trinity Rep, Bristol Riverside Theatre, Stonington Opera House, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, and Shakespeare on the Cape, among others. He has taught for Brown University, Barnard College, the University of Minnesota, Pennsylvania Shakespeare, and the Shakespearean Youth Theater. He has a BFA from the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater, an MFA from Brown University/Trinity Rep, and has studied with notable Shakespeareans John Barton, Michael Langham, and Mark Rylance.
Braden Cleary is a teaching artist who maintains relationships with Chicago Youth Shakespeare and Columbia College's Center for Community Arts Partnerships while also acting as the Manager of Sales and Marketing for Imagination Theater. Previous education credits include Classic Stage Company (NYC), Young Actors Theatre (Indianapolis, IN), Bloomington Playwright's Project (Bloomington, IN), and Chicago Street Theatre (Valparaiso, IN). Braden holds a B.A. in Theatre and Drama and a B.S. in Arts Management from Indiana University Bloomington.
Caitlin Costello is a graduate of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) and DePaul University. Teaching credits include Mosaic with American Theater Company, improv coaching and creating a summer camp drama program. Teaching credits include Mosaic with American Theater Company, improv coaching, workshops at Hope College and Northwestern University, facilitating theater classes on Norwegian Cruise Lines, and creating a summer camp drama program. She has performed improv and sketch comedy with iO Chicago and Second City theatricals. An active member of the Chicago theater scene for 10 years, her favorite projects include Back Room Shakespeare, Vintage Theatre Collective, and The Nerdologues.
Mark Dodge received his B.A. in Directing from Columbia College Chicago in 2001. Originally from New Jersey, he was bitten by the theater bug in high school and has endeavored to direct, act and design wherever he roams. As a founding member of Fury Theatre he created the SAST fest, Teen Bard, and Bard at the Boundary programs. He has written Fury Theatre's three original kids shows Hamlet & Eggs: A Scrambled Shakespeare Adventure, Professor Evil's Bedtime Stories for Zombies! And Creature Double Feature! and has directed Fury's inaugural show as an incorporated company, The Glass Menagerie in 2011. He has also worked with the Chicago Park District to create a strong arts partnership with both Indian Boundary Park and Chase Park where Fury conducts theater classes and performance events for the park’s neighborhood kids and families. As Fury’s Artistic Director, he has stressed the mission of emotion and physicality as a precursor to verbal action as the drive behind each production.
Louis Fantasia, [President Emeritus / Senior Artistic Advisor / Visiting Artist] is the director of The Los Angeles Shakespeare Institute, a joint project of the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles and the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library at UCLA. He served as Director of the Shakespeare Globe Centre's Teaching Shakespeare Through Performance Institute from 1997 to 2002 and as Education Director of the Shakespeare Globe Centre's Western Region. Mr. Fantasia has produced and directed more than a hundred and fifty plays and operas worldwide, and was the first American to direct on the reconstructed London Globe stage, with a workshop production of Much Ado About Nothing in 1996. He has taught at the Juilliard School and the University of Southern California School of Theatre, the London Theatre School (Head of Acting and Director of Studies) and Schiller College-Europe University (Chair and Artistic Director of Theatre Programs). Mr. Fantasia is the author of the critically acclaimed, Instant Shakespeare, A Proven Technique for Actors, Directors, and Teachers, published in the U.S. by Ivan R. Dee and by A & C Black in England; Tragedy in the Age of Oprah: Essays on Five Great Plays, published by Scarecrow Press; and Talking Shakespeare, published by Peter Lang Publishers. He is the General Editor of the recently released Playing Shakespeare’s Characters series for Peter Lang Publishers. Mr. Fantasia can be heard regularly on NPR's KCRW (89.9 FM) as a theatre critic and arts commentator.
Sarah Fornace is a Chicago-based narrative designer, fight choreographer, puppeteer, and director. She is a co-artistic director of Manual Cinema, a shadow puppetry and animation company. Her interests include: narrative structure, theories of time, non-verbal storytelling, spectacle, and interactions with (in)animate objects. Sarah has choreographed stunts and fights for Court Theatre, The Adventure Stage, The New Colony, Pavement Group at the Steppenwolf Garage, A Red Orchid Theatre, Dog and Pony, and elsewhere. She staged everything from blindfolded boxing to all-girl sword battles to roller skate brawls. As a performer, she has hung from silks, animated Moby Dick puppets made of driftwood, fallen off tall ladders, and danced ballet in a giant rabbit suit in front of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Sarah teaches at Columbia College Chicago and is a member of Blair Thomas and Co.
José Antonio García has had the honor of working with some of the best theaters in and around Chicago, including: Chicago Dramatists, Shakespeare Project of Chicago, Windy City Playhouse, The Goodman Theatre, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Steep Theatre, Factory Theatre, Stage Left Theatre, Boho Theatre Ensemble, Adventure Stage Chicago, Collaboraction, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival, and Illinois Shakespeare Festival. TV/Film credits include: “The Chi”, “Chicago Med”, "Win It All", "Captive State", "Pages”, "Working", "Animator", "Shameless", “Written Off,” "Easy", “Sense8,” “Cleveland Abduction,” “Consumed,” “Chicago Fire,” “Mob Doctor,” “Boss,” and “Prison Break.” He holds a BFA from The University of Connecticut and an MFA from Indiana University. Jose can be seen next as HERBIE, in Porchlight Music Theatre's production of GYPSY, this fall. He is represented by Stewart Talent. To find out more about what Jose/Tony is up, visit the following: facebook.com/jose.a.garcia.actor , instagram.com/josetonygarcia , and search Jose Antonio Garcia (VI) on IMDB.
Evelyn Gaynor, MFA is an instructor of Voice and Speech and Acting for The Chicago High School for the Arts, a company member of Barrel of Monkeys, and a teaching artist with Chicago Youth Shakespeare and The Viola Project. She recently understudied the original play COCKED by Sarah Gubbins at Victory Gardens Theater, and appeared on Chicago P.D. Other stage credits include work at Syracuse Stage, Indiana Festival Theater, and The Hangar Theatre. Evelyn recently moved to Chicago after living in NYC where she was a teaching artist with Periwinkle Theater for Youth, Broadway Classroom, and Inside Broadway. She received her BFA in Acting from Syracuse University and her MFA in Acting from Indiana University.
Lawrence Grimm has been an professional actor and teaching artist for over 20 years, and holds a Master’s in Education from DePaul University. His teaching work includes extensive residencies in New York and Chicago’s public, private, and parochial schools, social services facilities, and businesses including the Lincoln Center Institute, Roundabout Theatre, Theatre for a New Audience, Arts Connection, Second City, Piven Theater, the Acting Studio, Writers Theatre, Lookingglass Theater, The Illinois Arts Council, CAPE, Urban Gateways, and Steppenwolf for Young Audiences where he served as Senior Facilitator for Curriculum and Instruction for many years. As an actor, Mr. Grimm is a founding ensemble member of A Red Orchid Theater and has appeared on many of Chicago’s most prominent stages, including Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Steppenwolf, Lookingglass, Victory Gardens, Next, Timeline, Court, Collaboraction, Piven Theater Workshop and The Goodman.
Nicholas Harazin is a professional actor in the Chicago area and a proud Stakeholder in The Backroom Shakespeare Project. In Chicago, he has worked with Steppenwolf Theater, Chicago Shakespeare, Chicago Dramatists, Lyric Opera, and many others. Regionally, his work includes plays with Theatre de la Jeune Lune, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, American Players Theater, Illinois Shakespeare, and Shakespeare Santa Cruz to list a few. TV credits include episodes of both Chicago FIRE and Chicago PD on NBC. He is an honored graduate from The School at Steppenwolf.
Margaret Grace Hee is a Chicago based theatre and teaching artist who specializes in devised works. She holds her MFA in Directing from the New school for Drama and her BFA in Acting from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design. She has had the fortune of working as teaching artist with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, New School for Drama, Bethel Center for the Arts, Pathways to Leadership, Redwood High School, and Mudlark Theatre, and is the founding artistic director of Baby Crow Productions.
Amelia Hefferon is an actor and teaching artist in the Chicago area. Since graduating from Northwestern University, Amelia has worked as an actor with Lookingglass Theatre Company, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Porchlight Music Theatre and more. She also took part in the development of a new play which made its debut at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2014. As a teaching artist, Amelia works with Adventure Stage Chicago, Dream Big Performing Arts Workshop and Lookingglass Theatre company among others. She is particularly interested in the intersection between the visual and performing arts and enjoys working on fusing those two media with her students. Amelia loves Lake Michigan, cats, burritos, and hockey.
Lee Huttner has studied English with a focus on Renaissance drama at the University of Pennsylvania and Northwestern University, and cross-disciplinary theatre studies at NYU and Queen's College, University of London. He has worked in various artistic and production capacities for Philadelphia Live Arts + Philly Fringe, the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre, Mauckingbird Theatre Company, and the Chicago Fringe Festival. Lee currently teaches writing at Northwestern and works as the text and voice coach for CYS Ensemble productions. Favorite three Shakespeare plays: Richard II, The Tempest, Macbeth.
James Krag has been designing and conducting Shakespeare workshops for middle and high schoolers since 2011. Last summer, his adaptation of MACBETH for Middle School was published by LMS Innovations. Presently, he teaches Shakespeare as part of a reading comprehension program called Play In A Book, conducting eight classes a week for middle schools in the Uptown neighborhood.
Michael Leon has been a Teaching Artist for seven years. Throughout the year, he works with Steppenwolf Theatre, Northlight Theatre and Emerald City as a teaching artist for their education programs. He was also part of the teaching faculty at Miami Children's Theater in South Florida, working as Director of Creative Camps for two consecutive years. Michael is originally from Miami, Florida where he received a BFA in Theatre from Florida International University.
Avi Lessing teaches English and directs plays at Oak Park River Forest High School. Most recently, he directed the Starfish Project, a documentary play about home, which was featured by WBEZ and Minor Interruptions, a podcast produced by Becky Vevea. He also trained at Second City and Improv Olympic in Chicago.
Danielle Littman is a theatre artist, playwright, educator, and civic practitioner. She graduated with a BA in Theatre and Creative Writing from Northwestern University and also completed the Civic Engagement Certificate Program in the School of Education and Social Policy. Currently, she holds a position as a Cultural Liaison for the Chicago Park District Department of Culture, Arts, and Nature. She also teaches writing and theatre workshops throughout Chicago through organizations such as Congo Square, ArtsXChange, Chicago Youth Shakespeare, and Youth Organizations Umbrella, among others. Her plays have been produced at Northwestern University, Collaboraction Theatre, Next Theatre, Vivarium Theatre, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Kevin Long is the Director of Theatre and Assistant Professor of Theatre at Harper College in Palatine, IL, the recipient of the Illinois Theatre Association’s 2012 Award for Excellence in College Theatre Teaching, and is an associate member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society. Kevin has worked professionally in various equity and summer stock theatres in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana and Illinois. Kevin has been teaching acting and theatre classes for over twenty-five years and has directed over fifty productions including his recent highly acclaimed production of Parade (Winner: 2013 BroadwayWorld Chicago for Best Revival of a Musical, Resident Non-Equity). Additionally, Kevin frequently presents the workshop “Shakespeare Whispers in Your Ear” which explores the language and theatre of Shakespeare through the use of the First Folio. Most notably, he presented his workshop at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre’s teacher workshop for the 2014 production of Henry V and the 2005 production of The Comedy of Errors.
Josie McCanse is a local teacher and improviser. After receiving her B.A. in Theatre from the University of Iowa, she moved to Chicago to pursue her love of acting. She is a graduate of IO and the Second City Conservatory program and an original member of the improv group HHDM, which can be seen performing in venues around Chicago. In 2007 she went back to school at Loyola University where she earned her Master's of Education in Secondary Education with endorsements in English and Theatre. Ms. McCanse has taught English in public and private schools and is thrilled to be combining her love of theatre and literature at The Chicago High School for the Arts (ChiArts).
Ericka Ratcliff is a professional actor and ensemble member with Congo Square Company in Chicago. Her acting credits with Congo Square include Stickfly, African Company Presents Richard III, Talented Tenth, The Colored Museum, 365 Plays/365 Days, and Bulrusher. Other Chicago and regional credits include Black Diamond: The Year the Locusts Have Eaten, Around the World in 80 Days, Peter Pan A Play (Lookingglass Theatre Company); Rose and The Rime House at The Adrienne Arshdt Center; Court Martial at Fort Devens (Victory Gardens Theater); Sketchbook (Collaboraction); Ruined (Mixed Blood); Raisin in the Sun (Milwaukee Rep); Seven Guitars (Pittsburgh Playwrights); Funk It Up About Nothin and the inaugural Shakespere In The Park production, Taming of the Shrew in the title role; both with Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Currently you can see Ericka in Marie Antoinette at Steppenwolf Theatre. Outside of acting, Ericka is also an certified yoga instructor. She is a graduate of The Theatre Conservatory at Roosevelt University.
Evey Reidy is a Chicago-based actress and teaching artist. Evey has worked with Chicago Youth Shakespeare on seven productions and multiple CYS In-Schools residencies across Chicago and the suburbs. Other teaching artist credits include work with Writers Theatre (where she is the Education Coordinator), The Viola Project and The Boston Shakespeare Project. As an actor, she has worked in Chicago with Dandelion Theatre, Commission Theatre, The New Colony, The Boston Shakespeare Project, and more. As a director, she recently assistant directed the Chicago premiere of I'm Gonna Pray For You So Hard with First Floor Theatre. A proud graduate of Tufts University, Evey's scholarly work has explored how Shakespeare writes about gender identity and mental illness. She is so grateful she gets to show students all the ways Shakespeare can be vibrant, current, and accessible to them and to all! Evey served as CYS's Director of Community Engagement & Lead Artistic Staff from 2016-2020. She is currently pursuing graduate studies at The Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon, where she will earn a Masters in Shakespeare and Creativity.
Samuel Taylor is a founding partner and stakeholder of the Backroom Shakespeare Project. He has worked on over 19 professional productions of Shakespeare's plays, including work with Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, The Guthrie Theatre, Greasy Joan & Co., Ticklock Theatre, and The Acting Company (touring nationally). Other credits include work at Steppenwolf, Syracuse Stage, Redmoon, Lookingglass Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, and New Victory (Off Broadway). Television credits include time on HBO's Boardwalk Empire and NBC's Crisis. He is one subject of a PBS documentary, Still on the Road, an in-depth look at The Acting Company's 2008/2009 national tour of Henry V. Teaching work has included high school workshops on that tour, as well as in Chicago and Albuquerque. He has taught intensives at UNM, Syracuse Stage, UMN/Guthrie, Columbia, and at Door County Shakespeare. Samuel holds a BFA in Acting from The University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theatre Professional Actor Training Program, and is author of My Life With A Shakespeare Cult.
Sarah J. Taylor has been a company member at Shakespeare & Company since 1998. She has worked with Shakespeare & Company’s Education Program as an actor, director, choreographer and teacher with the Fall and Spring Festivals of Shakespeare, Shakespeare & Young Company, Shakespeare in the Berkshire Juvenile Courts as well as many other residencies. She has also worked as a director, teacher and actor with the education programs at Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s Young Artists at Play, The Orlando Shakespeare Festival, Once Upon a Time and the Play Ground Children’s Theatre. Performance experience includes Clara, an original one woman show about the life of Clara Schumann at Ventfort Hall, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, The Tamer Tamed, The Tempest, Love’s Labor’s Lost, A View Beyond, Wild and Whirling Words and Dibble Dance at Shakespeare & Company; Cymbeline and Trolius and Cressida at The Chicago Shakespeare Theatre; and Twelfth Night, Taming of the Shrew and Measure for Measure with the Back Room Shakespeare Project; Machinal, Visions of Keroauc and The Furies at the Chicago College of Performing Arts; Macbeth at the Worcester Foothills Theatre and The Taming of the Shrew with Coast-to-Coast Theatre. She can next be seen as Mary in It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play this winter at Shakespeare & Company. Sarah holds a BFA in Acting from the University of Central Florida and an MFA in Acting from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.
Conner Wilson is a Chicago based Director and Producer. He has worked locally and regionally at such theatre’s as Filament Theatre, Marriott Theatre, Arc Theatre, The American Theatre Company, Stage Left, Three Brothers, JPAC, The Great River Shakespeare Festival, Adapt Theatre, The Clarence Brown Theatre, Muse of Fire, and Second Stage. In the past 5 years he has studied under a number of great American directors including: Moisés Kaufman, Nick Bowling, PJ Paparelli, Paul Mason Barnes, and Jim Edmondson. He graduated from The University of Oklahoma.