CYS Teaching Artists
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 classically trained actor with her MA in Classical Acting from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, and has been working professionally in Chicago since graduating. 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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Jeremy Ohringer is a director and teaching artist. Recent directing credits include an adaptation of Frank Wedekind’s Spring Awakening with Fearless Theatre, Who Rowed Across Oceans by Danielle Littman, which was seen in both Chicago and at the Edinburgh Fringe festival, Virginia Woolf’s Orlando Adapted by Sarah Ruhl, and Salve Regina, which premiered at the Ringwald Theatre before moving to the United Solo Theatre Festival in NYC. His Shakespeare directing includes A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Skidmore College and Macbeth, As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, and Hamlet with high school students. As an educator, Jeremy has worked with the National High School Institute “Cherubs” program at Northwestern University as well as Steppenwolf, Global Voices Initiative, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Actors Training Center, Northlight, Emerald City, Shattered Globe, American Theater Company, CO/LAB and Parker Plus.
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.
Evelyn Reidy is a graduate of Tufts University with a double major in English and Drama. During her undergraduate career, she studied through the Shakespeare Program at the British American Drama Academy. Evelyn has taught with the Boston Shakespeare Project and served as a founding member of Lord Barnum's Players, a traveling troupe that writes, directs, and performs adaptations of Shakespeare's plays for schools across greater Boston. In Chicago, Evelyn teaches with The Viola Project and Chicago Youth Shakespeare, where she also serves as the Artistic & Administrative Associate and Social Media Manager.
Samuel Taylor is a founding partner and stakeholder in 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, Tricklock 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. He holds a BFA in Acting from the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theatre professional actor training program.
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 Measurewith 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. 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.
Kelly Wren is a recent graduate of The Second City Training Center’s Improvisation Conservatory and continues to study and perform improv and sketch comedy at various Chicago theaters. Kelly has also worked for The New Colony as a stage manager and Youth Company Chicago as an education intern and currently works at Chicago Fringe Festival as the Sponsorship and Community Relations Manager and at Steppenwolf Theatre Company as an Audience Outreach Associate. Until recently, Kelly was a full-time high school English and ESL teacher in the Chicagoland suburbs where she directed four fully produced high school plays and musicals.