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teaching artists

Trained theater professionals lead camps, residencies, and playshops

Bay Area Shakespeare Camps, Residencies, and Playshops are led by trained theater professionals, including members of our Education Workgroup and independent teaching artists

Natalie Ayala headshotNATALIE AYALA
TEACHING ARTIST
Natalie (she/her) is ecstatic to be back as a teaching artist with SF Shakes after playing Luciana and Duke in The Comedy of Errors, as well as playing Juliet in Romeo and Juliet on tour. She was most recently seen in Plethos Productions as Yolanda in In The Heights. Other performances include Memoria del Silencio ( Elia) SF Shakes’ Hamlet (Voltemand/Player Sailor), Sweet Charity ( Hostess), and All In The Timing (Kafka). At San Francisco State University her credits include Shakespeare Goes To School Cabaret, Trifles (Mrs. Peters) and Immaculate (Gabriel.) When she is not acting, she is teaching drama/directing shows at many schools.

BIANCA CHESNUT
TEACHING ARTIST
Bianca (she/her) is so excited to be joining SF Shakes as a Teaching Artist. Bianca began her TA experience in high school when she was part of a group that visited middle schools in the Santa Cruz County doing performances, Q&As, and workshops, and is so grateful to be continuing this work as part of the SF Shakes community! Along with teaching residencies, Bianca was part of the SF Shakes touring production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, alternating for the roles of Helena/Egeus/Snout/Peaseblossom. She is a recent graduate of New York University Tisch School of the Arts and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, receiving her degrees in Drama and Classical Acting. Some of her recent credits include Juliet/Sampson in Romeo & Juliet and Olivia in Twelfth NightBiancaChesnut.com

Anthony Doan HeadshotANTHONY DOAN
TEACHING ARTIST
Anthony (he/they) is a queer, first-generation Vietnamese-American Bay Area-based theatre artist. They strive to viscerally entertain and challenge audiences, provoke political thoughts, and inspire people to empathetically listen to the world in a different vibration. Acting credits include the touring production of As You Like It (San Francisco Shakespeare Festival), the world premiere of Colonialism is Terrible, but Pho is Delicious (Aurora Theatre Company and Oregon Contemporary Theatre), Cyrano de Bergerac: A Queeroic Comedy (Island Shakespeare Festival). Directing credits include the 2023 Fresh Baked Pears One Act Festival. He was recognized as a Semi-Finalist for the 44th Annual Bay Area Playwrights Festival 2021 for his play Eggshell, or Vỏ Trứng.

ROBYN GRAHN
TEACHING ARTIST
Robyn (she/her) is a Resident Artist with San Francisco Shakespeare Festival and is very excited to be working with Bay Area Shakespeare Camps! She was recently Production Manager for SF Shakes’ touring show, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She’s also worked with Playground SF, Livermore Shakespeare, Shotz-Amios West, Marin Shakespeare, 6NewPlays, SF Olympians, and Ross Valley Players. Her basic staples as a teaching artist are Shakespeare, clowning, basic stage combat, and directing. She takes joy in teaching various ages about the joy of character development and theatrical art. More at robyngrahn.com

Headshot Julie MonteleoneJULIE MONTELEONE
TEACHING ARTIST
Julie  (she/they) is an education artist, director, and intimacy/fight choreographer. They primarily focus on making Shakespeare accessible and invigorating for young, modern audiences. Having recently graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre, Julie is thrilled to join the Bay Area Shakespeare Camps teaching team this summer! They have also worked as an education artist at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Massachusetts and as an assistant teacher at the Mildred Ave K-8 School in Boston, where they taught science and led a middle-school Gender-Sexuality Alliance. Some previous favorite directing credits include How to Defend Yourself by Liliana Padilla, Macbeth, and Much Ado About Nothing. Julie has assistant directed for Manna-Symone Middlebrook’s production of sandblasted by Charly Evon Simpson and King Lear, alongside Kevin Hopkins and Claire Nicholls, for the Prague Shakespeare Company. Fight and intimacy credits include Fun Home, Rent, Falsettos, Fefu and Her Friends, and Spring Awakening.

AL NIOTTA
TEACHING ARTIST
Al (they/he) has been an actor since a nativity play at 10, and an atheist since 13. With a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from SF State University, they have had the privilege of training and gaining experience across mediums in both LA and the Bay Area. Al takes their passion and wit into every role and classroom. Equipped with an affinity for Shakespeare, the arts, and good timez, Al has made a home in several of SF Shakes’ education and community programs. Much of their professional journey prior to Shakes has been in youth education, theatrical arts, and outdoor recreation, with employers such as SF and Oakland USD, the GGNRA and MTC, as well as Americorps and the National Park Service. Al aims to cultivate a creative and welcoming space (cause that’s where the best stuff is made). They seek to make art, whether it be tender or laughable.

Kunal Prasad headshotKUNAL PRASAD
TEACHING ARTIST
Kunal Prasad is a Theatre Artist and SDCF Directing Fellow on ‘Wizard of Oz’ at American Conservatory Theater and has an interest in the intersection of poetry, gesture and social dance. They direct and lead workshops and residencies at San Francisco Shakespeare Festival. As an actor, they are featured in the indie film ‘Gone in the Night,’ starring Winona Ryder, and they perform in ‘Baloney’ at The Oasis nightclub. Other theater credits include: Wives, (Aurora Theatre Company) A Thousand Splendid Suns, (A.C.T.) Taylor Mac: A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, (SF Curran) and Hedda Gabler, (The Cutting Ball Theater.) On instagram follow @kunalized.

Joe Schmitz headshotJOSEPH SCHMITZ
TEACHING ARTIST & AUTISM THEATRE SPECIALIST
Joseph Schmitz, founder of Eureka Street Learning, and our partner in the “Shakespeare’s Heartbeat” program for kids on the autism spectrum, feels fortunate to work in technology, education, and theater in the Bay Area — exciting fields in a wonderful place. When not making video, writing, or acting, he has the pleasure of teaching improv and videomaking in Bay Area classrooms. He is a co-founder of Special Focus, a performing arts program for special education students in Northern California.

Headshot Mayreni SweisMAYRENI SWEIS
TEACHING ARTIST
Mayreni is a film and theatre actor, Teaching Artist (NCTC, Town Hall, and SF Shakespeare Festival), public speaking teacher, writer, and creative artist. She received her B.F.A. Acting for the Stage and Screen from Azusa Pacific University where she honed her craft in voice, movement, Shakespeare, stage + camera acting, and more. Mayreni went on to study at NYU’s Atlantic Acting School and at San Francisco’s American Conservatory of Theater. Some of her favorite projects include the award winning short film Golden (Amazon), The Peripatetic Players Summer Tour: A Lord of a Ring in a Suitcase!, Thorton Wilder’s Our Town, Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad, The Shape of Things, and all of Shakespeare’s work she’s gotten to dive into! She has performed with Golden Thread Productions, Crowded Fire, Brava Theater, and Pasadena Playhouse and worked with Anaheim’s Chance Theater.

Brittany Vi-King 2024 HeadshotBRITTANY VI-KING
TEACHING ARTIST
Brittany (they/them) is a stage director, and a teaching artist. Born and raised in Seattle, WA. Brittany graduated with a B.A. in Communications: film studies and a minor in dramatic arts from Northwest University. They are currently pursuing their Masters in Fine Arts in Directing from Columbia University, receiving training from Anne Bogart and Brian Kulick. They have served as a teaching artist with Seattle’s Young Shakespeare Workshop, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, and Magic Theatre. Some of their credits include Shakespeare to Shange- Devised Piece (2023, Director/T.A). Imogen Says Nothing for the BaWTF (2021. Assistant Director). Tempest (2017, Director), They love to tell and hear stories especially if it fosters human connection. It is their hope to continue to create space for collective storytelling..

Headshot Anya ArmentroutANYA ARMENTROUT
EDUCATION INTERN
Anya (she/her) is thrilled to join SF Shakes after years of being a camper herself! SF Shakes sparked her love of theater, and she looks forward to being able to facilitate the magical camp experience she herself experienced. She is currently an undergraduate at Macalester College studying Mathematics and Education Studies.

LARISSA KELLOWAY
TEACHING ARTIST
Larissa is a conservatory trained performer who, when not performing, teaches singing and theatre arts, specializing in voice and bodywork pertaining to vocal production. She completed her PhD, titled “Investigating the role of Pilates in the posture and vocal production of singers,” in which she researched how vocal production can be supported by posture and strength. Alongside her artistry, she is passionate about performing arts research and teaching, believing that high quality research supports pedagogical practices, enhances student learning, and champions career longevity. By blending her diverse sources of knowledge, she provides artists with tools to enhance vocal production (in spoken word and singing voice), body use, prevent and/or maintain injuries, and optimize their instrument. Ph.D., B.Sc.(Hons.)Biochem, B.A. (Musical Theatre)
Cert IV Trainer & Assessor, Pilates Practitioner

Suzanne Halka headshotSUZANNE HALKA
TEACHING ARTIST
Suzanne Halka is a San Francisco based director, costume designer, choreographer, writer, actor, dancer, and teaching artist. She joined the SF Shakes team as a teaching artist in 2012, and has also taught for San Francisco Recreation and Parks, Destination Art, New Conservatory Theatre Center, and The Jewish Community Center of San Francisco. Her favorite theatre role to date was as The Nurse in Romeo and Juliet: CSI, a deconstructionist version of the well-known play. Suzanne most recently performed in the Oakland-based sketch comedy group, Running With Glitter as The Plant Virus and as Carla, a dancing zombie. She also practices and performs with her all-women improv troupe, the HAMAZONS! Suzanne feels privileged to have interned with The American Shakespeare Center and to have studied theatre while abroad in London. Her most recent directing credit was a personal passion project: a contemporary dress version of Hamlet with the Harvey Milk Center for the Arts Junior Acting Troupe. Suzanne can’t wait to have fun with the Bard and all of our young actors at BASC this summer! Huzzah!