Featured Artists

Cooper Bates was born in Kansas, but raised by the world. After a college stint on a wrestling scholarship, Bates settled in Dallas, Texas, to study acting full time at Kim Dawson’s Acting Conservatory. Before long, Bates was invited to Los Angeles by a casting director. When a motorcycle accident forced a hiatus from acting, Bates took the opportunity to visit Haiti as an educator. After returning to Los Angeles, Bates wrote and directed 15 short films, directed a dozen plays, and wrote nine screenplays. Ultimately, an acting partner approached Bates with an idea to trademark the name “Hint Mint” as a breath mint company and sell it to fund their artistic endeavors — a six month plan that turned into a 15-year odyssey. Black When I Was A Boy is a turn back to his passion.

Featured Artist Catherine ButterfieldCatherine Butterfield’s plays include Life Expectancy, It Has to Be You, Brownstone, The Sleeper, Joined at the Head, Where the Truth Lies, Snowing at Delphi, and Life in the Trees. She received the Kennedy Center-American Express award for Outstanding Promise as a Playwright, the Kaufman & Hart Award for Best New American Comedy (The Sleeper), and the Davie Award for Best New Play in Regional Theatre (Life in the Trees). Joined at the Head, in which she starred at the Manhattan Theatre Club, appeared in “Best Plays of 1992″, won the George E. Oppenheimer/New York Newsday Award, was nominated for a Drama Desk award and has been produced extensively in this country and abroad. With Ron West, she adapted the novel The Way We Live Now, and co-wrote a satire called Welcome to Your Alternative Reality, which ran at the Open Fist in LA. A new play, Top of the World, which was a finalist in the O’Neill Playwriting Conference, is slated for a New York run this fall. Her newest project, a play with music and song entitled Electra Revisited, is being developed with composer Peter Golub. She has also written for film and television.

Featured Artist John CarianiJohn Cariani is an actor and a playwright. He recently appeared on Broadway as Itzik in the Tony Award-winning musical, The Band’s Visit. Other Broadway credits include Nigel Bottom in Something Rotten! (Outer Critics Circle nomination) and Fiddler on the Roof (Outer Critics Circle Award; Tony Award nomination). On film, he has shared the screen with Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, and Ed Asner. On television, he’s probably best known for his recurring roles on Law & Order, Numb3rs, and The Onion News Network. As a playwright, John is best known for his first play, Almost, Maine, which premiered at Portland Stage Company in 2004, opened Off-Broadway in 2006, and has since become one of the most popular plays in the United States and around the world, having been translated into over a dozen languages. Other plays include Last Gas and LOVE/SICK, both of which have had several professional productions across the country and around the world. Originally from Presque Isle, Maine, John is a graduate of Amherst College and now lives in New York City.

Eric Coble was born in Edinburgh, Scotland and raised on the Navajo and Ute reservations in New Mexico and Colorado. His plays and musicals have been produced on Broadway (Tony- and Pulitzer-nominated The Velocity of Autumn, starring Estelle Parsons and Stephen Spinella, directed by Molly Smith), Off-Broadway (Bright Ideas, directed by John Rando), in Disney Theme Parks (Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple), in all fifty states of the U.S., and on several continents, including productions at Manhattan Class Company, The Kennedy Center, Playwrights Horizons, Actors Theatre of Louisville Humana Festival, Denver Center Theatre Company, Arena Stage, South Coast Rep, Cleveland Play House, Alliance Theatre, ACT (Seattle), New York and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals, Habima Theatre (Israel), Pentacion Productions (Spain), Teatr Polski (Poland), Orange Row (Mexico), and the Contemporary American Theatre Festival (U.S.). Awards include two AATE Distinguished Play Awards for Best Adaptation, an Emmy nomination, the Chorpenning Playwriting Award for Body of Work, the AT&T Onstage Award, National Theatre Conference Playwriting Award, an NEA Playwright in Residence Grant, a TCG Extended Collaboration Grant, the Cleveland Arts Prize, two Cuyahoga Arts and Culture Fellowships, and four Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Grants. Twenty-seven of Mr. Coble’s scripts have been published by Dramatists Play Service, Samuel French, Dramatic Publishing, Smith & Krause, Playscripts, and others. For more information visit www.ericcoble.com

Featured Artist Frank CollisonFrank Collison and his wife Laura Gardner are excited to be here for their thirteenth year and to once again teach the Monologue Workshop. Frank was born into the theatre. At four months, he appeared in the role of a baby at a tent theatre in Granville, Ohio. His mother directed him in his first non-crying role, the boy in William Saroyan’s My Hearts in the Highlands. His father, John Collison, was an actor and playwright. Frank briefly flirted with the idea of becoming an archaeologist because he liked to dig up things but after seeing his father in The Diary of Anne Frank, he decided he wanted to be an actor. He earned his BA in theatre at San Francisco State University where he performed street theatre and helped establish Pinecrest Theatre in the Sierra Nevada. He trained at the American Conservatory Theatre and then went on to earn an MFA in acting at UC San Diego. Appearing in over 150 stage productions, Frank has worked Off-Broadway, with the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, Denver Center Theatre Company and Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts. He once toured 39,000 miles in nine months with Chamber Repertory Theatre of Boston. In Los Angeles, Frank has acted in productions at the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Los Angeles Theatre Company, Rogue Machine, The Road Theatre Company and Pacific Resident Theatre where he is a founding member. The LA Weekly honored his performance as Mr. Peachum in PRT’s The Beggars’ Opera as best supporting actor. Frank funds his theatre habit by working in film, television, and voice-over. Most recently, Frank guest starred as a forensic pathologist on Proven Innocent. He is sometimes approached by people on the street who ask, “What have I seen you in?” It’s usually O Brother, Where Art Thou?Twin Peaks or Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Contact Frank at www.frankcollison.com

Featured Artist Timothy DalyTimothy Daly is one of Australia’s most internationally-produced playwrights, with a string of national and international productions to his credit. Actors such as Academy-Award winners Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush have appeared in his plays. His play Derrida In Love was written expressly for the 2011 & 2013 Academy Award nominee Jacki Weaver, which she performed in a sold-out production in Sydney. His play Kafka Dances has won over a dozen national and international awards since its première, and is the most internationally-performed Australian play of all time. Its most recent production was in February-March 2015 at Theatre Grybowski in Warsaw, Poland. Timothy Daly’s play Richard III (ou presque) premiered at the 2011 Festival of Avignon, followed by a season in Paris in October to November, 2012. His play The Man in the Attic was awarded Australia’s most prestigious award for a new play, the Patrick White Playwrights’ Award. It received a Paris season in Feb, 2012, and was performed in a sold-out season at the 2013 Festival of Avignon, the third of Timothy Daly’s plays to be performed at France’s most prestigious theatre festival. The production was invited back to the 2015 Avignon Festival, and made its Italian premiere in December, 2015. Timothy Daly is the 2013 recipient of a Paris Studio Residency Award by the Australia Council for the Arts. He advises on over 100 scripts and productions a year. His book 21st Century Playwriting has just been published by Smith & Kraus, New York. Timothy Daly is represented by Victoria Wisdom and her Los Angeles-based management and production company.

Featured Artist Laura GardnerLaura Gardner is delighted to return for her thirteenth Conference with her husband, Frank Collison. Highlights of her work at the Conference include the annual work on the Monologue Workshop and performing in Julia Lederer’s With Love and a Major Organ two years ago. She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress by the LA Weekly for her performances in Fighting Words, which opened at the Celtic Arts Center in Los Angeles and then transferred to the Millennium Center in Wales. She was also nominated for an ADA Best Actress for Idle Wheels at The Road Theatre, by Alaska writer/actor James Morrison. Laura appeared on Broadway in Smile. Her Off-Broadway credits include The Cocktail Hour with Nancy Marchand and Bruce Davison, Other People’s Money, and Welded, directed by Jose Quintero. She toured nationally with ShowboatDoonesburyOliver, and My Fair Lady. Her extensive regional credits include the Arena Stage, Huntington Theatre, Cleveland Playhouse, McCarter Theatre, and the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival. LA credits include The Road Theatre, The Rogue Machine, Pasadena Playhouse, Will Geer Botanicum, Westwood Playhouse, Greenway Court, Tiffany Theatre, Fountain Theatre, Deaf West, Road Theatre Company and Sacred Fools. Some of her TV and film credits include The Romanoffs, Doubt, Outcast, Scandal, Fresh Off the BoatSecrets and LiesCriminal MindsCastleLaw and Order LATorchwoodThe ForgottenCrashERClose to Home, and The West Wing. You may have seen Laura and Frank recurring on the NBC hit My Name is Earl. Laura also shot the pilot Shredd, as Jason Lee’s wacky mother. Laura trained at Boston University, Rutgers, and HB Studio, where she studied with Uta Hagen, Carol Rosenfeld, and Ken McMillan. She is on the faculty of The Howard Fine Acting Studio, known as one of the best professional acting schools in LA, and in Australia, and teaches her ‘Authenticity Workshop’ across the country and abroad. www.lauragardner.org

Featured Artist Megan Skye Hale Megan Skye Hale is a classically trained actor and devising director working in Shakespearean and wordless theatre. Her company Speculative Drama, based in Portland, Oregon, explores the intersection of classic theatre and unconventional storytelling with wordless “plays in movement” based on lesser-known fairy tales, and immersive Shakespearean productions. Megan studied at the London Academy for Music and Dramatic Arts and has more than ten years of learning and directing experience with Speculative Drama, Mark Bell (LAMDA), and renowned movement performers and directors Carol Triffle and Jerry Mouawad (Imago Theatre). As an actor, Megan has a deep passion for fully embodied work, bringing that sensibility into both movement-focused productions and more traditional acting roles. She performs in movement-based productions each spring with Speculative Drama and regularly acts for Lecoq-influenced Portland-based Imago Theatre. Past productions include contemporary and classical work with companies such as Theatre Vertigo, Readers’ Theatre Repertory, and Shaking The Tree. Megan’s teaching credits include coaching for multi-disciplinary narrative circus troupe Prismagic Events, directing and devising for trapeze and contortionist Meg Russell and movement actors depicting Hades and Persephone for Myrrh Larsen’s Song Sagas, private coaching resident artists at The Steep and Thorny Way to Heaven, and movement workshops for ghosts in conjunction with monthly rock event SEANCE. Megan offers classes and private coaching in movement, physical storytelling, character, and Lecoq and Laban styles. As a Valdez native, Megan is extremely excited to be back at the Conference to share her experiences and work in physical theatre with you all!

Featured Artist Michael HoodMichael Hood recently retired after twenty years as Dean of the College of Fine Arts at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Prior to his service at IUP, he was professor of theatre at UAA for 22 years where he chaired the department of Theatre and Dance and served as Associate Dean of the College of Fine Arts. He was awarded the President’s Award of the Northwest Drama Conference in 1994, and received the UAA Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1998. Six of his productions have won regional recognition from the KC/ACTF, most recently The Gentleman Dancing Master in 2012. Michael has worked professionally on stage, in film, on radio and television, and has twice directed professionally in the Russian Far East. His production of True West, mounted in Yuzhno-Sahkalinsk in 1994, later traveled to Moscow where it played the new stage at the Moscow Art Theatre. It also played at the Conference in 1996. In 1997, his UAA production of A Piece of My Heart was performed by invitation at the PODIUM Festival in Moscow. He has directed for IUP and for Unseam’d Shakespeare Company in Pittsburgh (Othello Noir, 2006; Macbeth 3, 2009, The Tempest, or the Enchanted Isle, 2013). Most recently he directed She Kills Monsters at the University of Mississippi. An SAFD certified teacher of stage combat, in addition to classes and workshops in this country, Hood has taught unarmed combat workshops in Russia, China, and Indonesia. He served as President of the Northwest Drama Conference and as a Board member of the International Council of Fine Arts Deans. He currently serves as Past-President and Board Member for the National Theater Conference. In 2015 he was inducted as a fellow in the College of Fellows of the American Theatre.

Featured Artist Rob LecroneRob Lecrone helped clean up the Prince William Sound following the Exxon Valdez oil spill and once enjoyed bear stew made from the bear that almost ate him. Lecrone, originally from Anchorage, is a Los Angeles based actor, teacher, and perpetual student who is excited to be returning to Valdez for his tenth conference. He has been immersed for the past two years in a 3-year Master of Fine Arts program in Acting in Television, Film, and Theatre at Cal State LA where he has trained in Fitzmaurice Voicework, the new Barrantes system of Extended Vocal Range, Lecoq, countertechnique, unarmed and knife fighting, and Mary Overlie’s Viewpoints, among other things. For his culminating project next year, Rob has championed Cal State LA to include Bloodless by Conference playwright Nicholas Walker Herbert in its official season, with Rob playing the role of Saul. Rob has previously trained in LA at the Howard Fine Acting Studio and the Upright Citizens Brigade, and he took Hagen Teacher Training at HB Studios in New York. Rob is a member of Sacred Fools Theatre Company where he still occasionally gets to play despite being in school. He is also proud to be associated with Laughter for a Change which brings improv performances to patients and parents at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Rob has taught in Anchorage at TBA Theatre, Anchorage Community Theatre, Midnight Sun Performing Arts, and as a substitute in the Anchorage School District. In LA, he has assisted Laura Gardner with workshops several times, including once for a segment on A&E’s Born This Way, and he is a teaching assistant at Cal State LA as part of their teacher training program. This will be Lecrone’s fifth year hosting the nightly Fringe and his fourth year as a coach in the Monologue Workshop. He looks forward to seeing old conference friends and making new ones.

Featured Artist Cassandra MedleyCassandra Medley’s most recently produced plays include Cell, Adult Center Theater, Hood River, Oregon; Cell, the online production for Playing On Air Website 2018; Cell, Calavera Theatre, Dallas, Texas; Take My Advice, 2017; Survive, 2017; Cell, the full-length, Molelo Theater-San Diego, California, 2015, American Slavery Project, 2012-13, NYC; Cell, the one act, Ensemble Studio Theatre Marathon 2011; Daughter, Ensemble Studio Theatre Marathon 2009; Noon Day Sun, August, 2008, Diverse City Theatre Company—Theatre Row, New York City; and Relativity, a commission from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Ensemble Studio Theatre, 2004. Relativity has been produced by Kuntu Rep. of Pittsburg, Southern Rep. of New Orleans, 2007, the Ensemble Studio Theatre, May, 2006, the St. Louis Black Repertory Theatre –February, 2006, and the Magic Theatre in San Francisco in June, 2004. Cell is published by Dramatists Play Service in Outstanding One-Act Plays 2012Daughter published by Broadway Play Publishing, 2012. Relativity won the 2006 Audelco August Wilson Playwriting Award and was featured on Science Friday, National Public Radio, and is published by Broadway Play Publishing. Relativity was featured in online radio broadcast of the play, Los Angeles Repertory Theatre in February, 2008. Noon Day Sun was nominated for the 2008 August Wilson Playwriting Award. Noon Day Sun is published by Broadway Play Publishing, Marathon 2004-06. Ms. Medley has also the received the 2004 Going to the River Writers Life Achievement Award, 2002 Ensemble Studio Theatre 25th Anniversary Award for Theatre Excellence, the 2001 Theatrefest Regional Playwriting Award for Best Play, the 1995 New Professional Theatre Award, and the 1995 Marilyn Simpson Award. She was a 1989 finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Award in Playwriting, and won the 1990 National Endowment for the Arts Playwright Award. She was 1986 recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts Grant and a New York State Council on the Arts Grant for 1987. She teaches playwriting at Sarah Lawrence College, has taught at New York University, and has also served as guest artist at Columbia University, the University of Iowa Playwrights Workshop and Seattle University. Cassandra worked as a staff writer for ABC Television: One Life to Live – 1995-97. She is a playwright member of the Ensemble Studio Theatre, and New River Dramatists, and the Dramatists Guild

Featured Artist Schatzie SchaefersSchatzie Schaefers is an Alaskan writer whose plays have been produced in New York City, San Francisco, St. Paul, Toledo, New Jersey, Western Connecticut University, Detroit, Ft. Lauderdale, Boca Raton, and most recently at Theatre Roulette’s MadLab in Columbus, Ohio. In Alaska at Perseverance Theatre, Cyrano’s, Out North, Anchorage Community Theatre, UAA, West Anchorage High School, Prince William Sound College, Last Frontier Theatre Conference and TBA Theatre. Her play Spikes received its world premiere at Cyrano’s in April of 2018, and her new murder mystery, Silver Thaw, had its world premiere at Anchorage Community Theatre in September of 2017. Member of Blue Roses (NYC), Dramatists Guild of America, and Featured Artist at the Last Frontier Theatre Conference. Schatzie serves as General Manager of Cyrano’s Theatre. She also graces many bars and festival stages in Alaska as the lead singer of Agents of Karma and the jazz trio Sax Drive.

Featured Artist Eleanore SpeetEleanore Speert is founder and President of Speert Publishing which offers self-publishing services expressly for playwrights. Her short play The History of Me was produced by Actors Theatre of Louisville. Her full-length play Peripheral Vision was produced in New York by I.C.A.N.I. productions. Her short play Quartet Nights or the Last Good Time We Had is published by Penguin Books, and Heinemann has published a portion of her play, Madagascar Butterfly. She served on the Board of Directors of Schoharie Creek Players in Lexington, New York, for seven years. She also served as a judge for the Princess Grace Playwriting Awards, administered by New Dramatists. For 14 years, she has been an Adjudicator for FutureFest, a yearly festival of new play highlighting six new writers, sponsored by The Dayton Playhouse, in Dayton, Ohio. She was the Publications Director at Dramatists Play Service for ten years, working with well-known authors as well as soon-to-be discovered authors to publish over 600 acting editions. Prior to her position at Dramatists Play Service, she held assistant production positions with Lifetime Productions, Current Trend Productions, Twentieth Century Fox, and Universal Studio Productions. Since 2001, Eleanor has served as the Buyer at The Drama Book Shop, one of the oldest independent bookshops in the country, and one of a handful of bookshops dedicated to the performing arts. She is also Senior Copy Editor at Broadway Play Publishing, and is currently working as an Archivist on a project with Dramatists Play Service.

Featured Artist Ron WetRon West happily returned to Portland Center Stage last year and directed Twist Your Dickens, a show he has staged 5 times and appeared in 4 times (once as an emergency understudy). His adaptation of the Taming of the Shrew at Chicago Shakespeare was nominated for a Jeff Award. In the past year he directed his musical deLEARious at The Open Fist Theater in LA, his play Christmas Day Job at the Second City Hollywood, and the world premiere staged reading of Catherine Butterfield’s Top of the World. He bats right and throws right, and is a proud member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society. The Open Fist Theater will produce his adaptation of Neil Simon’s Musical Fools in 2019.

To see who was with us in the past, check out our previous programs.