Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) was founded in 1913 as the first of the American actor unions. Equity’s mission is to advance, promote, and foster the art of live theatre as an essential component of our society. Today, Equity represents more than 40,000 actors, singers, dancers, and stage managers working in hundreds of theatres across the United States. Equity members are dedicated to working in the theatre as a profession, upholding the highest artistic standards. Equity negotiates wages and working conditions and provides a wide range of benefits, including health and pension plans for its members. Through its agreement with Equity, Tennessee Shakespeare Company has committed to the fair treatment of the actors and stage managers employed in this production. AEA is a member of the AFL-CIO and is affiliated with FIA, an international organization of performing arts unions. For more information, visit www.actorsequity.org.
Rachel Brun (TSC Journeyman; Lady Anne/Prince Edward/Grey/ensemble in Richard III; Antonio in Twelfth Night) is thrilled to return to TSC after appearing as Juliet in last season’s Romeo and Juliet. Back in her native city of Seattle, Rachel has appeared in an immersive-found-space production of Attempts on Her Life (The Horse in Motion), Owen Meany’s Christmas Pageant (Book-It Repertory Theatre), Domesticity (The Town Theater), Calling Nancy Drew (STAGEright), and Brilliant Traces (The Market Theatre). She received her BA from the University of Washington, where her favorite credits include Macbeth (Lady Macduff), August: Osage County (Ivy), Rough Magic (Miranda), Urinetown, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, and Stone Cold Dead Serious (Sharice). Film: Dead Body (Ilsa) and The Delicate Art of Birdwatching (Gabriella).
Bruce Bui (Costume Designer for Richard III) TSC: The Taming of the Shrew, Unto the Breach, Shakes Rattle & Roll, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Julius Caesar, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), It’s a Wonderful Life: a LiveRadio Play, Rebel Shakespeare and His Women, and Shakespeare’s Greatest Hits. Originally from Southern California, Bruce now lives in Memphis and is in his twelfth season as the Wardrobe Director and Resident Costume Designer for Ballet Memphis. His works can be seen regularly on the Orpheum stage and numerous other venues around the Mid-South. He has also worked with The Western Stage (Always, Patsy Cline), Cabrillo Musical Theatre (Funny Girl), Santa Susanna Repertory Theatre (Shiloh, War of the World), and Kingsmen Shakespeare Company (As You Like It), among others.
Crash Buist (TSC Journeyman; Richmond/Rivers/Brakenbury/Archbishop/ensemble in Richard III; Maria in Twelfth Night) is very excited to be performing in his first show with Tennessee Shakespeare Company. This past summer, he appeared as Valentine in The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Houston Shakespeare Festival) and as Berowne in Love’s Labor's Lost (Charlotte Shakespeare Company). Other credits: Silvius/Charles in As You Like It, Menas/Diomedes in Antony and Cleopatra, Ross/Ketch in Our Country’s Good, the Bridegroom in Blood Wedding, Constantine in Big Love, Kent in reasons to be pretty, and the Doctors in Next to Normal. Crash has a BFA from Texas Tech University, and he recently completed his graduate training, receiving an MFA from the University of Houston Professional Actor Training Program.
MaConnia Chesser* (King Edward/Duchess of York/Catesby/ensemble in Richard III) is elated to be returning to TSC after appearing as Katherine in last season’s The Taming of the Shrew. Regionally, she has worked with The Kennedy Center, Ensemble Studio Theatre, York Shakespeare Company, Totem Pole Playhouse, African Continuum Theatre, Woolly Mammoth, Venus Theatre, Capital Renaissance, Washington Shakespeare Company, Ford’s Theatre, Folger Theatre, and Black Women Playwrights Group. For their work in Theater Alliance’s production of Insurrection: Holding History, MaConnia and her cast mates received a Helen Hayes nomination for Outstanding Ensemble. Film and television credits include Nothing But the Truth, Misnomer,Ghosts of Hamilton Street, Diseasels, and HBO’s The Wire. MaConnia trained at the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts, and is also a summa cum laude graduate of Alcorn State University with a B.A. in English Literature.
Johnny Lee Davenport* (Hastings in Richard III; Malvolio in Twelfth Night), a veteran of stage and screen, appeared in TSC's The Tempest (Prospero), Macbeth (Duncan), Othello (title role), and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Oberon/Theseus). He has been a member of Shakespeare & Company for 25 years and has performed in 26 of the 37 plays in Shakespeare's canon. Johnny has performed for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada, for the Second Age Theatre Company in Dublin, Ireland on four separate occasions (three as Othello and once as Iago), and for more than 50 regional theatres across the U.S., including Boston’s Huntington; Seattle’s ACT; Chicago’s Steppenwolf, Goodman, Shakespeare Repertory, and Court Theatres; Orlando Shakespeare; Yale Rep; and The Shakespeare Theatre in D.C. Johnny received a 2014 IRNE Award for Best Actor in Driving Miss Daisy in Boston; Washington, D.C.’s 2013 Helen Hayes Award for Best Ensemble in Invisible Man; and Boston’s 2011 Elliot Norton Award for Best Actor in Broke-ology. Visit www.johnnyleedavenport.com to view his complete performance history.
Dave Demke+ (Director of Richard III) was last seen here in Tennessee Shakespeare Company’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the role of Peter Quince. As an actor, he has appeared in productions in New York and regionally, including a production of Richard III (in the role of Richard) in Portland, OR. Internationally, he has performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and has played the role of Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Beijing, China. As a director, Dave has worked extensively in Portland, OR, where he was the Artistic Director of Stark Raving Theatre. His productions of Friedrich Durrenmatt’sThe Visit and Steve Patterson’s Liberation garnered him Best Director Drammy Award nominations, and under his stewardship Stark Raving grew into a vital member of the Portland theatre community. From 2000 to 2010, he was the Associate Director of Training at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA, where he directed productions of Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Life and Times of Queen Meg, and Measure for Measure. He has been a guest director at Purdue University (Richard III), Skidmore College (Richard II and Back County Crimes), and Mary Baldwin College, where he assisted Tina Packer on a production of Pericles. Dave is also a Designated Linklater Voice teacher. He has taught throughout the country in universities, colleges, theatre companies, and at the Linklater Center in New York. Most notably, in 2011 he traveled to Ghana and taught a workshop at the National Theatre of Ghana. This spring he will be in residence at the University of Memphis. He received his M.F.A. in Performance from the University of Maryland, and his B.A. in Theatre Arts from Minnesota State University.
Craig Wesley Divino* (Buckingham in Richard III) NYC: Breathing Time, From White Plains, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Frogs, Doctor Faustus (Fault Line Theatre); A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare at the Manor); The Tragedy of Arthur, King John, and The Two Noble Kinsmen (The Guerrilla Shakespeare Project); Romeo and Hamlet (Abingdon/GayfestNYC); The Tragedy of Cardenio (Brain Trust Theatricals); Tennis in Nablus (NY Theatre Workshop). Regional: A Christmas Carol (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park); From White Plains (Kitchen Theatre Co); Amadeus (Chautauqua Theater Company/Virginia Arts Festival); In the Next Room (SpeakEasy Stage Company); The Winter's Tale, Rx, and Arcadia (Chautauqua Theatre Company); In Spite of the Devil (Brown/Trinity Playwrights Repertory Theatre); Henry V (Rites and Reason Theatre); A Christmas Carol (Trinity Repertory Company). FILM: Girlfriend, The Automatic Hate. Craig is co-founder and co-Artistic Director of Fault Line Theatre.
Jeremy Allen Fisher (Lighting Designer for Richard III and Twelfth Night) TSC: Unto the Breach, It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, and Hamlet. He is the Resident Lighting Designer for Theatre Memphis. Jeremy also has worked with Ballet Memphis, Busch Gardens, Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park, The University of Memphis, Northern Oklahoma College, Collage Dance, and The Santa Fe Opera. Awards include seven Ostrander nominations for his Lighting Designs, first place in lighting design at SW-USITT(2011), and first runner-up for the National Barbizon Lighting Award (2011). He is a graduate of Oklahoma City University with a BFA in Lighting Design. Jeremy thanks his wife, friends, family, mentors, and colleagues for all their support.
Neil Freeman (Text Consultant) is a teacher, director, text coach, and actor. He is the man behind the acclaimed First Folio editions published by Applause and utilized across the globe. Currently Associate Professor Emeritus (of Theatre) at the University of British Columbia in Canada, he is also a Master Teacher with Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, and Text Consultant to several other U.S. and Canadian theatres. His range of teaching, coaching, and directing ranges from the fifteen-year-olds in youth companies to high school teachers, through university level students (undergraduate and graduate in both liberal arts and the top-ranked professional training schools) to professional theatre companies and individual actors.
Paul Kiernan* (Clarence/Ensemble in Richard III) TSC: The Taming of the Shrew (Petruchio) Regional theatre: Hamlet, 12 Angry Men, Is He Dead, Pride and Prejudice, Our Town, The Tempest at Pioneer Theatre; Freedomland, Skin in Flames, The Beard of Avon, Six years, End Days at Salt Lake Acting Company; Julius Caesar, Henry IV at Salt Lake Shakespeare; Romeo and Juliet at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Company; Cyrano de Bergerac (title role) at Hangar Theatre; Macbeth, As You Like It, The Tempest, The Taming of the Shrew at St. Louis Shakespeare; The Merry Wives of Windsor, You Can't Take it With You, Amadeus at Great Lakes Shakespeare; Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing, Richard III, As You Like It at Orlando Shakespeare Theater. Film/TV: HBO series From the Earth to the Moon, Luck of the Irish, Go Figure, The Cell 2. MFA in Acting from Brandeis University.
Taylor Starr Knight (Assistant Lighting Designer for Richard III) TSC: The Taming of the Shrew (lighting designer, master electrician). Taylor also has worked with Cirque du Soleil, Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Ballet, and Oklahoma City's Civic Center Music Hall. She won best regional lighting design at KCACTF in 2012. Taylor has a BFA in Theatre Design and Production with an Emphasis in Lighting from Oklahoma City University. Thanks to her family, friends, and mentors for all they inspired and have shown her along the way.
Janice Benning Lacek (Costume Designer for Twelfth Night and A Midsummer Night's Dream) TSC: Makeup design for A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Tempest. National credits since 1987 include La Jolla Playhouse, A.C.T., Syracuse Stage, San Diego Rep, the American University of Cairo, Egypt, and the Oregon, Utah, and Colorado Shakespeare Festivals. CSF's Richard II was included by invitation in the U.S. entry at the 1999 Prague Quadrennial. The former resident designer with Denver's Curious Theatre Company (1999-2003), Janice has taught costume design at the University of Colorado at Boulder and Kenyon College. Local audiences have seen her work since 2007 at Opera Memphis, Theatre Memphis, and the University of Memphis, where she is Associate Professor of Costume Design & Technology.
Dan McCleary (title role in Richard III; director of Twelfth Night) is a native Memphian and a graduate of Germantown High School and its Poplar Pike Playhouse. Dan directed and acted in TSC’s inaugural production of As You Like It (Jaques) as well as The Glass Menagerie and The Taming of the Shrew. He directed TSC’s Hamlet,The Tempest, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, all-female Julius Caesar, Othello, Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), and Themes from a Midsummer Night. He also has directed productions of As You Like It at Orlando Shakespeare Theater, The Servant of Two Masters outdoors in downtown Atlanta and at Seattle Shakespeare Company, and All’s Well That Ends Well at Georgia Shakespeare Festival. At the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, he directed the world premiere of The Stone Face and played the title roles in Antony and Cleopatra and Richard III, Brutus in Julius Caesar, Porfiry in Crime and Punishment, Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew, and Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor. As Associate Artistic Director at Shakespeare & Company in the Berkshires, Dan acted in and directed over 30 productions, appearing as Coriolanus, Macbeth, Herman Melville, Stephano, Don Armado, Hotspur, Master Ford, Bertram, and Antipholus/Dromio of Ephesus. He directed S&Co’s first production of The Servant of Two Masters, also his own adaptation of Anaïs Nin’s Henry & June, Vita & Virginia, My Own Stranger, and The Fiery Rain. Other Regional/New York theatre: Merrimack Rep, North Shore Music Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, StageWest, Alabama Shakespeare, Arden Theatre, Studio 4-A, and Huntington Theatre.
Dan is a published poet and teaches Shakespeare master classes around the country. Memphis Magazine has named him among the “Who’s Who in Memphis” each year from 2009-12, and the Germantown Arts Alliance honored him with its 2009 Distinguished Arts and Humanities Medal for Performing Arts. He serves on the City of Germantown’s Telecommunications Committee, and holds a B.A. in Advertising and Journalism from Temple University. Dan and his wife Stephanie are the proud parents of three-year-old twin boys, Sullivan and Collins.
Caley Milliken* (Elizabeth in Richard III) TSC: The Tempest (Ariel), Romeo and Juliet (Lady Capulet/Tybalt), Julius Caesar (Marc Antony), and A Midsummer Night's Dream (Peaseblossom). New York: The Dick & the Rose at Cherry Lane Theatre/FringeNYC; Francis Goes to War at The Humanist Project. Regional: Clybourne Park at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park; Wittenberg at Portland Stage Company; Women Beware Women at Constellation Theatre; Much Ado About Nothing, Antigone at Corning Classics; Leap Year, Othello, Cindy Bella, The Ladies Man, A Midsummer Night's Dream at Shakespeare & Company. TV: VEEP. Training: MFA (Acting) Purdue University; Shakespeare & Company.
Melissa A. Nathan* (Production Stage Manager for Richard III and Twelfth Night) is very excited to be back at TSC, where she previously stage managed The Taming of the Shrew. Other credits include: What the Butler Saw and As You Like It (Theater at Monmouth), RED (Triad Stage), Deathtrap (Centenary Stage), Educating Rita (Florida Rep), August: Osage County (WPPAC), The Mound Builders (Kaliyuga Arts), Lost in Yonkers (Atlantic Stage), The Diary of Anne Frank (Chenango River Theatre), Bonnie & Clyde (Asolo Rep), China: The Whole Enchilada (FringeNYC), and The Imaginary Invalid (Orlando Shakespeare). She has her BA in Technical Theatre from Florida Atlantic University, and was recently an adjunct professor at the University of Memphis. Melissa is a proud member of AEA and co-secretary of the Stage Managers’ Association.
Brian Ruggaber (Scenic Designer for Richard III, Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night's Dream) is a recent transplant to Memphis working with TSC for the first time. He is an award-winning scenic designer currently heading the Scenic Design Program at the University of Memphis. He has designed scenery for over 120 productions including opera, drama, musical theatre, and dance. Prior to joining the university's faculty, he was an Assistant Professor of Scenic Design at University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) and an Associate Professor of Design at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He is a proud member of United Scenic Artists Local 82,9 and has an MFA from UMass and BFA from VCU.
Blakely Saucier (Assistant Stage Manager for Richard III and Twelfth Night) is very excited to be working with Tennessee Shakespeare Company for the first time! She has previously worked as a stage manager for Theatre Memphis, the Orlando Repertory Theatre, the Sands Theater Company, and PCPA Theaterfest. Some of her favorite stage management credits include The Addams Family, Freckleface Strawberry, Shrek: The Musical, The Rivals, Hairspray, and The Phantom of the Opera. Blakely received her BFA in Theatre Design and Technical Production from the University of Memphis.
William Shakespeare (Playwright) was probably a lot like you, regardless of your age. He was also a Revolutionary. He was born into an Age of alarming innovation and discovery in every field of study: voyage, religion, printing, science, commerce, history, disaster, and triumph. Just like you. There was revolution all around him. William was born into an Age of religious ambivalence, often with accompanying violence, and he received the usual education for a boy of the Age until he is 12 years old. He married an older woman, perhaps because they were pregnant first. And there are two periods in his early adult life that we know very little about. When he emerges in documentation, he is a player and a writer. But he doesn’t write like the others around him. He writes, using known stories, through the rhythm of his heart. You can hear it in his verse lines. He began to write his life into his plays: when his son Hamnet and father die, there is Hamlet; after his mother dies and England’s riots create domestic war, there is Coriolanus; after he falls in love with a dark-haired woman in the city, there are the Sonnets to his Dark Lady and all of his Rosalinds in As You Like It and Romeo and Juliet and Love’s Labor’s Lost; and when his daughters come of age, there are his final plays in which the daughters redeem their fathers. It is said he created the human being, which is to say he developed characters on stage with psychological underpinnings and fragile grace resulting in landmark joys or the end of lives. Like a genuine poet, he forces no answers upon us. He lends us timeless questions. William was a Revolutionary because he dared to question his life in a public forum. He discovered that which is most personal is shared by us all. It is collectively held and needs to be articulated and felt. In so doing, he redefined the function of theatre. His Age compelled and inspired him, just as our own Age can do for us.
Stephanie Shine (director of A Midsummer Night's Dream; creator/director of touring Shakespeare Said It!) spent 18 years with Seattle Shakespeare Company, 13 as Artistic Director, before departing in June of 2011 to join her husband in Memphis and the staff of Tennessee Shakespeare Company. For Seattle Shakespeare, she directed 17 productions, including The Threepenny Opera, Cyrano de Bergerac, and the lauded all-male Taming of the Shrew. Her other directorial credits include Romeo and Juliet for Tennessee Shakespeare Company, Taming of the Shrew and The Comedy of Errors for Colorado Shakespeare Festival; I Am of Ireland (which she also conceived and adapted) for Book-It Repertory Theatre; Love's Labor's Lost for Cornish College of the Arts; A Christmas Carol (also adapted) for Bainbridge Performing Arts; Romeo and Juliet for Seattle University, When the Messenger is Hot for Theater Schmeater, and the international award-winning one-woman Marilyn Monroe Biopic, Marilyn: Forever Blonde. A well-known actress in the Northwest, she has performed for Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare Company, ACT, The Empty Space, Seattle Children's Theatre, Book-It Repertory Theatre, and Tacoma Actors Guild. Regionally, she appeared with the Oregon and New Jersey Shakespeare Festivals, Houston's Alley Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, and NYC's Theatre for a New Audience. Her Shakespeare roles include Juliet, Rosalind, Lady Macbeth, Beatrice, Regan, Feste, Kate, Bianca, Dionyza, The Princess of France, Hero, Perdita, and most recently The Chorus in Henry V. Ms. Shine is the newly appointed Artistic Director of the robust young company Shakespeare Walla Walla in Washington State, and she is the lucky mother of Conor, Cahilan, Sullivan, and Collins.
* Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
+ Member of The Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, Inc., an independent national labor union.