Meet Our Educators
Director of Education – MEG HEIMSTEAD has been a professional actress, director and teacher for over 10 years. Prior to becoming the Director of Education, Meg was a Teaching Artist with American Stage. She taught playwriting and acting to children and adults throughout Pinellas County, focusing on at risk/special needs populations. As an actress, she has worked with the California Shakespeare Festival in Berkley, CA, Summer Repertory Theatre in Santa Rosa, CA, PlayMakers Repertory Theatre in Chapel Hill, NC, The Gorilla Theatre and Jobsite Theater in Tampa, freefall Theatre, and The Backlot Theater in Sarasota. Most recently, Meg was seen as Karen in American Stage’s production of August: Osage County. She is also the Managing Director for A Simple Theatre. Meg holds a B.F.A. in Theatre Performance from the University of Evansville in Evansville, IN. She also attended the Professional Actor Training Program at University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.
Education Assistant/Teaching Artist – KATIE CASTONGUAY is an Eckerd College graduate with a BA in theatre arts. She has performed in three of American Stage's past school tour productions including Sideways Stories from Wayside School, Charlotte's Web, and The Wind in the Willows. She has been a teaching artist at American Stage since 2007. Recent acting credits include William Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew at Jobsite Theatreand Eckerd Theatre Company's touring production of I Never Saw Another Butterfly. Katie also recently completed shooting a short film entitled The Bedford Devil.
Lecturer (Mainstage Lecture Series) – DEDEE ALECCIA Professor Emerita Dedee Aleccia received her Bachelor’s degree in English from Rosary Hill College and her two Masters’ degrees (in English and Art History) from SUNY Binghamton. For her Master’s degree in Art History, Dedee conducted on-site research on the Thomas Becket window cycle at Canterbury Cathedral in England. Dedee has held professorships at Broome Community College and Montgomery College and has served as adjunct professor at SUNY Binghamton, the University of Baltimore, and Eckerd College. Among the many literature subjects she has taught are world literature, British literature, the Bible as Literature, 19th century literature, modern drama, and Shakespeare. In art history she has taught such subjects as world art, Greco-Roman art, medieval art, Renaissance art, and 19th century art. She has served as director of Montgomery College’s Honors Program and has taught several honors courses. Awarded the opportunity to serve as a Smithsonian Fellow, she researched images of labor in 19th century art.
Teaching Artist – JEAN E. CALANDRA started her professional career on stage as an Equity actor and singer with the St. Louis Municipal Opera Company. She received her BFA in Theatre and Music, and her MA in Theatre and Speech from the University of Nebraska. Her teaching experience includes assignments at the University of Regensburg in Germany; Middlesex University in London, where she taught the Drama Diploma Course offered jointly by Middlesex and the Royal Academy of Music and Drama; adjunct instructor at USF in the Communications Department and the School of Theatre and Dance; and drama/speech instruction in private and public schools in the Tampa Bay area. In addition to a long and diverse career as an Equity actor Jean has participated in professional workshops led by Robert Cole (Michael Chekov Technique), Augusto Boal (Forum Theatre), Peggy Loft (Voice for the Professional Actor), and Marge Barstow (Alexander Technique), which has enhanced her scope and practice as a performance teacher for students of all ages.
Teaching Artist – GILES DAVIES completed his M.F.A. at The Ohio State University. He has taught workshops, residencies and classes for all ages and experience levels. He was an Ohio Arts Council resident teaching artist for 7 years and adjunct professor at The University of Cincinnati, College Conservatory of Music and Drama for 6 years. He specializes in teaching Shakespeare, movement, and acting. He has had the privilege of studying with Marcel Marceau, The SITI Co., Richard Schechner, The Wooster Group, Kevin Kling, and Danny Hoch, among others. He initiated a High School age actor training program at The Cincinnati Shakespeare Co., where he worked full time as an ensemble member for 9 years (performing in over 45 productions on their stage). In the Tampa area he has taught with The Patel Conservatory, The American Stage summer programs, Hillsborough Community College, workshops at The Gorilla Theatre and independent sessions with various local artists and students. As an actor, Giles has worked throughout the country. Most recent Tampa Bay credits include A Mid Summer Night’s Dream (freeFall Theatre), Death and the Maiden (A Simple Theatre) and November (American Stage.)
Teaching Artist – GAVIN HAWK may be known to American Stage audiences as one half of Hawk and Wayne, who have performed their long-form improv showsThe Dumb Show and 321 as part of First Sunday Improv in the cabaret space for the past two years. Other acting credits include Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (freeFall Theatre), Hate Mail (The Studio@620),Circumference of a Squirrel (The Studio@620), Love, Bukowski(California Repertory Company), Cider House Rules: Parts I & II (California Repertory Company), Gross Indecency (Huntington Theatre), Over the Tavern II: King O' The Moon (Studio Arena/Pittsburgh Public), and Refuge (Soho Repertory). Recently he formed his own non-profit theatre company called A Simple Theatre, and directed their inaugural production of Death and the Maiden at The Studio@620 in early September. In addition to acting and directing, he is an Assistant Professor of Theatre at Eckerd College. He holds a Diploma in Acting from The Juilliard School Drama Division, and an M.F.A. in Acting/Directing from California State University, Long Beach. He is a proud member of the Actors Equity Association.
Teaching Artist – JESSICA ROSE KERNER is thrilled to begin teaching at American Stage as she makes her transition to Florida from New York City. She has served as faculty at Broadway Dance Center, New York Film Academy, Gateway Playhouse, Front and Center for Performing Arts and Applause NYC. As an actress, Jessica has appeared on 30 Rock, One Life to Live, 3 Lbs., Rubicon and Gossip Girl. She has also performed Off-Broadway and in numerous play readings and festivals. Some favorite shows include, The Lunar Academy, Savage in Limbo, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Room Service and Sweet Charity. Jessica has danced in and choreographed musicals, music videos, commercials, live concerts and at Madison Square Garden on the NY Titans Dance Team. As a director/choreographer some of her favorite credits include The Witching Hour, Godspell, and Seussical. Jessica holds her B.A. in Theatre Arts from SUNY New Paltz. She also attended the Professional Performing Arts School, CAP21, and The Actor’s Institute of New York City where she continues to study with master teacher, Allen Schoer. You can find out more about Jessica at jessicarosekerner.com
Teaching Artist – TIA JEMISON graduated from USF with a degree in Psychology and Theatre Performance. Tampa audiences have seen her in productions at USF; 100 Saints You Should Know; Last Days of Judas Iscariot; Hair; The Amen Corner (HCC Ybor). She directed the 2010 USF Honors production of Animals and Plant, which was also remounted at the Silver Meteor Gallery. She has appeared in The Young Dramatists Project (Gorilla Theatre), As Bees in Honey Drown, and A Lesson Before Dying (both at Stageworks). Jobsite audiences have seen her in Race, Einstein’s Dreams, and Taming of the Shrew. American Stage credits include Seven Guitars, August: Osage County and A Very Merry Children’s Scientology Pageant. She is also a part of Talitha Anyabwele’s Black Girl Speaks: A Three Part Harmony. Outside of the theatre, Tia is a professional vocalist and saxophonist, having toured with Ted Shumate and many other world class musicians.
Teaching Artist – LOGAN MECKLENBURG has over two decades of experience in the arts. In 2002, she earned her BFA from University of the Arts. She has since performed on stage and television, directed theatrical events, and completed an internship with the prestigious Mike Lemon Casting company.
Teaching Artist – TODD OLSON is in his 9th season as Producing Artistic Director at American Stage Theatre Company. He has directed over 120 plays, musicals, and operas, including My Way, A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra, (which he co-created) at the Actor's Theatre of Louisville. For American Stage Todd has directed several plays which have been recognized by Creative Loafing as “Best of the Bay” Awards for “Top-10 Productions of the Year” and “Best Director,” including Stones in His Pockets, A Moon for the Misbegotten, Much Ado About Nothing, and Anna in the Tropics. Other American Stage credits include Suddenly Last Summer, Crowns, Three Days of Rain, The Exonerated, I Am My Own Wife, Coronado, The Pirates of Penzance, Betrayal, Dinner with Friends, This Wonderful Life, and The Seafarer. Recent guest directing credits include Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte for St. Petersburg Opera, The Mystery of Irma Vep at Wellfleet Harbor Actor’s Theatre on Cape Cod, and Dracula for Arkansas Shakespeare Festival. Todd received his M.F.A. from The University of North Carolina, and is a graduate from the Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard. He was a Teaching Fellow at Harvard, and has taught classes at Vanderbilt, Boston University, University of North Carolina, among others colleges.
Teaching Artist – BETTY-JANE PARKS is a professional actor in the Tampa Bay area. Favorite area productions include The Drunken City and Six Degrees of Separation (both with the Gorilla Theatre), Embedded (Jobsite), Incorruptible (HatTrick), Battledrum (Eckerd Theater Company), and Another Evening Wasted with the Songs of Tom Lehrer (Economic Stimulus Productions). She also has road managed and performed in three consecutive American Stage Theatre Company’s educational tours. Betty-Jane has been seen at American Stage in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf? and Barefoot in the Park. A graduate of Eckerd College, Betty-Jane has been working for American Stage’s Education department since 2006.
Teaching Artist – JAMES RAYFIELD has been a theatre educator for over thirty years. Most recently he taught at Blake High School for the Arts and at the Straz Center’s Patel Conservatory. He holds an MFA in theatre from the University of Texas in Austin and studied acting in Los Angeles with Viola Spolin. He was selected as Theatre Teacher of the Year by the Florida Association of Theatre Educators in 1992 and Best Local Playwright by Creative Loafing in 1994. He has directed for Gorilla Theatre, Stageworks, Revolve Theatre, The Loft, Playmakers, School of Night, and Blue Scarf Collective. He also directed I Am a Cuban Sandwich which has been frequently seen at The American Stage. As an actor, he most recently appeared in Oliver Parker at the Silver Meteor Gallery and is in Time Keeper, a web series now it is second season.
Teaching Artist – RICKY WAYNE was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Ricky trained at American Conservatory Theatre in theatre and acting and at The Groundlings in Los Angeles in improvisation and sketch comedy writing for many years. American Stage audiences might remember him as Carl, the cellist, from Opus. Also at American Stage, he is in his fourth season of performing, as Hawk and Wayne, a long form improv show with Gavin Hawk (The Dumb Show, 321, The Memory). Their new show, News of the Weird, based on Chuck Sheperd’s nationally syndicated column in Creative Loafing, premieres in September, 2012 and will continue the first Sunday of every month through 2013. Other theater credits include A Simple Theatre’s Congratulations, Joe!, Speed-the-Plow, On Tidy Endings, Glengarry Glen Ross, Noises Off!, The Foreigner and Come Blow Your Horn. Some film credits include Barefoot, An Act of God, Free Ride, Sucker, Real Steel, Love and Honor and SWAT: Firefight. Some television credits: Army Wives, Burn Notice, The Glades, Charlie’s Angels and currently in a recurring role in the HBO series, Treme, as defense attorney Paul Murphy. He is a member of SAG-AFTRA and Actors’ Equity Association.
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