Featured Artists

As Artistic Staff is added, they will be added here.

Featured Artist Nan BarnettNan Barnett is a new play developer and producer and the Executive Director of National New Play Network, the country’s alliance of more than 125 professional theaters that collaborate in innovative ways to develop, produce, and extend the life of new plays. She worked to create and implement several of the organization’s revolutionary initiatives, including the acclaimed NNPN Rolling World Premiere and Residency programs and guided NNPN through the development and launch of its field-altering database, the New Play Exchange, now home to more than 50,000 plays by living writers. She recently led the Network through a process that resulted in a complete renovation of the organization’s governance structure to achieve racial and gender parity at the Board level and evaluate all aspects of the organization through a lens of equity, diversity, and inclusion. Nan was the Coordinating Producer for the 2015 and 2018 iterations of the Women’s Voices Theater Festival in the nation’s capital region, sits on the Artistic Council for The O’Neill’s National Playwrights Conference, and was inducted into the National Theatre Conference in 2017.

Featured Artist Jill BessJill Bess began her theatre career in Southern California where she performed professionally in shows in the L.A. area, including Fiddler on the Roof, Company, Dames at Sea, Strider, and Godspell at the Huntington Hartford Theatre in Hollywood. Jill holds a BA in Acting from U.C., Irvine and studied the Meisner method with Maria Gobetti at the Victory Theatre in Burbank for two years. In 2013 she received her Meisner Teaching Certification from True Acting Institute, where she studied with Master Teacher Larry Silverberg. In Alaska, Jill performed in A Christmas Carol with the original Alaska Repertory Theatre and spent two madly creative years with Mr. Whitekeys in The Whale Fat Follies. She is a director, visual artist, and award-winning actress and playwright who, during the last thirty years, has worked in over 100 shows with nearly every theatre company in Alaska. Jill has directed over 60 shows including Guys and Dolls, Into the Woods, Blithe Spirit, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, her award-winning one-woman show The Mommy Dance (recently updated and restaged at Cyrano’s in 2022 with Linnea Hollingsworth as Mommy) and her newest play, The Old Woman Who Lost Her Voice. Jill has served as the Artistic Director for Anchorage Community Theatre, Founding Artistic Director for Alaska Broadway Kidz, and taught theatre at Bettye Davis East Anchorage High School from 2007-2020. In 2014 she founded Alaska True Acting, where she coaches acting and teaches Improvisation and Meisner classes. Check out more at www.jillbess.com.

Featured Artist Keith Arthur BoldenKeith Arthur Bolden, a native of Los Angeles, earned his MFA in Acting from the University of Illinois, and is currently an associate professor of Theatre and Performance at Spelman College in Atlanta. He considers himself a tri-coastal actor and it is demonstrated in his work, and in his ability to transform and embody a variety of characters based on his travels, life experiences and observation of the human condition. Directing Credits include: The Mountaintop (American Stage), The Watsons Go To Birmingham (Alabama Shakespeare Festival), Hands Up! (Alliance Theatre), The Colored Museum (American Stage), Pipeline (Horizon Theatre), Two Trains Running (Triad Stage), Topdog/Underdog (NC Black Rep), Hands Up (Hattiloo Theatre), Hoodoo Love, Seven Guitars, Saturday Night/Sunday Morning, The Piano Lesson (Spelman College). Theatre Acting Credits include: Paradise Blue (True Colors Theatre), Fetch Clay Make Man (Dallas Theatre Center), Between Riverside and Crazy (True Colors Theatre), Dreamgirls (DOMA Theatre), Gem of the Ocean (The Fountain Theatre, Rubicon Theatre), A Raisin in the Sun (Kirk Douglas Theatre, Hartford Stage, Cape Fear Regional Theatre), CROWNS (Texas Southern University-Guest Artist), Neighbors (Matrix Theatre), Fences, Take Me Out (Human Race Theatre), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis), Ragtime (Penn State-Guest Artist), and The Exonerated, among others. Recent Film/TV credits: TILL, Bel-Air (Peacock) The Great Lillian Hall (HBO, opposite Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates), Clean Slate (Amazon, opposite Laverne Cox and George Wallace), Sacrifice (Season 2), Terror Lake Drive, Genius: Aretha Franklin (DISNEY), The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, Games People Play (BET), The Ms. Pat Show (BET), Creepshow (AMC), American Soul (BET), Mile 22, Cobra Kai, (Netflix), The Haunting of Hill House (NETFLIX), Behind the Movement, Underground, Black Lightning (The CW), Being Mary Jane, Nashville, (ABC) Greenleaf, A Baby for Christmas, Swamp Murders, Containment, Your Worst Nightmare, Saints and Sinners, The Have and Have Nots, Goosebumps, Vampire Diaries, Alvin and The Chipmunks: The Road Chip.

Play Lab Coordinator Ryan BuenRyan Buen is an Anchorage-based actor, director, playwright, and producer. He holds a BA in Theatre from the University of Alaska Anchorage and a Master’s in Acting from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire in England. Over the past 20 years, Ryan has worked with numerous theatre companies throughout Alaska, including Blue Chair Productions (of which he is the co-founder), TBA Theatre, Three Wise Moose, Cyrano’s, UAA Theatre, Anchorage Opera, ACT, TossPot Productions, Out North, and PWSC. Recent productions include the role of William Tell in Greg Romero and Mike Vernusky’s Radio Ghosts (TBA Theatre) and the Narrator in Duncan Macmillan’s one man show Every Brilliant Thing (Blue Chair Productions) which was awarded Best Play and Best Performance by Broadway World Anchorage 2023. In August, he will be traveling to Edmonton to perform the role of Peter Pumpkin Eater in Mother Goose on the Loose at the Edmonton Fringe with TBA Theatre. He has been a reader in the Play Lab for over 20 years, performed in numerous evening performances, and has had three plays read in the Lab. Ryan is committed to continuing to give the best experience possible to all playwrights, actors, and panelists who give us the privilege of presenting and workshopping their art.

Featured Artist Joanna Castle MillerJoanna Castle Miller is a NY-based playwright, performer, and satirist. Recent work includes the plays CONVERSA (2024 Jewish Plays Project Special Finalist), INFERNA, EKPHRASIS (We the Women), SH@MED (Jewish Plays Project finalist, Kilroy’s List), around and around and around the static sun (McNerney Prize Finalist), The Storehouse (Perisphere)and Fox News the Musical! (But What If We Did?). Her short plays include Mighty Woman With a TorchThe World’s Next Tooth Fairy Is Marci PetersonThe Being Heard Academy, and Parasite. Film/TV: Keep This Far Apart (We the Women), Sorta My Thing (Funny or Die), Ash (Generative Films), and Red, White, and Dad. Producing work includes Live from Lincoln Center: Sweeney Todd (winner, Creative Arts Emmy), Where You Go (Generative Films), and Medea’s Got Some Issues (in partnership with the Embassy of Spain)Joanna was a recent New York Stage and Film Nexus Fellow and is currently under commission by We the Women Collective. Her satire and monologues have been featured in McSweeney’s, Time, The Hill, Applause, and more, and her sketches have been developed and featured by Funny or Die, WhoHaha, and Comedy Cake. She She is the co-founder of Hire Survivors Broadway, which works to end abuse, assault, and retaliation against survivors of sexual violence in the arts. As the founder and executive producer of Wait Don’t Leave Productions, she focuses on projects related to historical memory. Born and raised in Memphis, she is a proud member of SAG-AFTRA and the Dramatists Guild and enjoys good bourbon, bad words, and quality time. http://joannacastlemiller.com

Featured Artist Ben CorbettBen Corbett returns for his eighth year at Valdez Theatre Conference. He is an Assistant Professor of Voice and Acting at the University of Arkansas. He is also a Designated Linklater Voice Teacher and a Certified Colaianni Speech Instructor. Ben previously taught voice and acting at the William Inge Center for the Arts/Independence Community College as an Associate Professor of Theatre, and at Oklahoma City University as an Associate Professor of Voice and Acting. He also served a voice residency at the University of Kansas. His professional vocal coaching credits include Ronin Theatre Company, TheatreSquared, City Rep, the William Inge Theatre Festival, the Last Frontier Theatre Conference, the Hollywood Fringe Festival, Nashville Shakespeare Festival, Barter Theatre, Burning Coal Theatre Company, Bare Theatre, Shakespeare Dallas, and Shakespeare Santa Cruz. He is a Senior Editor for the International Dialects of English Archive, and the creator of the Arkansas Accent Project. He will be shooting a documentary based on the Arkansas Accent Project this summer.

Featured Artist Tom DegnanTom Degnan is excited to be a part of this year’s Conference and is thrilled to be a part of Inferna Film: Handsome Harry, To Whom it May Concern. TV: Limitless, Magic City, The Following, CSI: Vegas, Person of Interest, White Collar, Madame Secretary, Blue Bloods, NCIS, Bones. Theatre: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Brick), Much Ado About Nothing (Don John) Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Pride and Prejudice (Bingley) Cleveland Playhouse, Anna Christie (Matt Burke), You Can’t Take it With You (Boris) Monomoy Theatre. Education: BA in Finance – Notre Dame ’05, MFA –Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Playhouse ‘08. Tom would like to thank his wonderful wife Erin Cummings and his fantastic agents at BRS/Gage.

Featured Artist Peter EllensteinPeter Ellenstein is an award-winning director whose focus is always to bring out the play the playwright has written, rather than to impose a “vision” on it. His focus over the last decade has primarily been the development of new work. Peter is Producing Artistic Director of the New Los Angeles Repertory Company. New LARep launched its Plays for Peace program with its first production Eisenhower: This Piece of Ground by Richard Hellesen, starring John Rubinstein. He comes from a theatrical family and has spent 35 years in professional theatre, film and television as an Artistic Director, Producing Director, producer, director, consultant, actor, and teacher. Peter directed many plays and musicals, receiving award nominations and awards. As Artistic Director of the William Inge Center for the Arts, Peter focused primarily on playwright development, aiding the development of over fifty full-length plays and hundreds of short plays. In the last twenty years, Peter directed the original plays and musicals by Theresa Rebeck, Kristoffer Diaz, Richard Hellesen, Michael Lew, Jenny Bicks, Marcia Cebulska, Michael Silversher, Joe Iconis and David Kershenbaum, and many others. He served as Interim Artistic Director of the Gretna Theatre in Pennsylvania and of the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre at the University of Miami, creating several innovative programs that blend professional and academic theatre and many guest artists to the campus. He served thirteen years as Artistic Director of the William Inge Center for the Arts at Independence Community College in rural Kansas, and seven years as Producing Director of the Los Angeles Repertory Company. At the Inge Center, he produced thirteen William Inge Theatre Festivals, hosted several-hundred professional guest. Peter studied professionally with Stella Adler, David Craig, Paul Sills, Robert Ellenstein, Robert Easton, Janet Eilber, Mary Carver and many others. Peter was pleased to serve twice on the Barack Obama campaign and on Joe Biden’s Campaign National Arts Policy Committees.

Featured Artist Laura GardnerLaura Gardner appeared on Broadway in Smile, Off Broadway in The Cocktail Hour, Other People’s Money, and Welded, directed by Jose’ Quintero. She toured nationally in Showboat, Doonesbury, Oliver, and My Fair Lady. Her extensive regional credits include the Arena Stage (DC), Huntington Theatre (Boston), Cleveland Playhouse, McCarter Theatre, and the NC Shakespeare Festival in roles that ranged from Lady Macbeth to Miss Hannigan. Los Angeles credits include six plays for the Pasadena Playhouse, Will Geer Botanicum, Westwood Playhouse, Tiffany Theatre, Fountain Theatre, Deaf West, and the Celtic Arts Centre. She is a member of the Road Theatre and Rogue Machine. Some of her TV and film credits include Guest Star appearances on Chicago Med, Law and Order: SVU,  Seal Team, Animal Kingdom, Outcast, The Romanoffs, and Criminal Minds. She was a lead in Marriage Material, a short film Oscar finalist in 2019. Laura kept busy during the pandemic doing three Zoom benefits for the Actors Fund: Two performances of Marilyn, Mom, and Me by Luke Yankee, playing his mother, Oscar- and Tony-winner Eileen Heckart, which she recently performed at the International City Theatre in Long Beach, Lia Romeo’s Sitting and Talking, with Frank Collison and directed by Dawson Moore, and a radio version of Janice Goldberg’s Rose Colored Glass. Laura was on the faculty of the Howard Fine Acting Studio in Hollywood for over 19 years and then at the satellite school in Australia. She has taught actors with disability in Los Angeles and Berkeley. Ms. Gardner has taught in NYC at HB Studio, Stella Adler Institute, and the American Academy of Art. She teaches workshops all over the country as well as in Great Britain. www.lauragardner.org

Featured Artist Matthew GreenbergMatthew Greenberg is a Tenure-Track Assistant Professor specializing in musical theatre, voice, speech, and acting. He has previously held teaching appointments at West Virginia University, The Ohio State University, and the Tennessee Governor’s School of the Arts at Middle Tennessee State University. He has appeared alongside Tony, Emmy, and Oscar Award-winners in film, tv, commercials, plays, operas, and musicals. An avid researcher, he has presented paper and workshop conference presentations as part of VASTA, ATHE, MATC, SETC, and Fitzmaurice Voicework’s Freedom and Focus. As a producer, he has featured films in Sundance, and serves as a co-producer with WYOpen Stages, which focuses on uplifting marginalized identities in the performing arts. He has held leadership positions within VASTA, ATHE, SETC, and sits on the board of two non-profit theatre companies: Stages on the Sound, in New York City and Relative Theatrics, in Laramie, Wyoming.

Featured Artist Joe HuppertJoe Huppert designs sound, video and technology for live performances and attractions. He designs content (imagery, sounds), delivery systems (projection, speakers, DSP), and leads teams to execute large scale projects. He also plays a bit of piano and compose music. He was educated by the clubs, storefronts and improv comedy theaters of Chicago, the Theatre School at DePaul University, the Yale School of Drama and all of my collaborators over many, many shows. A long relationship with UCSD and La Jolla Playhouse offered the chance to work with experimental technology and brilliant new minds at UCSD, along with industry leading technology and aesthetics for Broadway bound shows premiered at LJP such as Peter and the Starcatchers, Come From Away, Memphis and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Joe also designed shows around the San Diego area and played piano at Finest City Improv and for a many improvised musicals. Joe recently, designed sound and video for Eisenhower: This Piece of Ground in Los Angeles, Off-Broadway and on tour, in addition to designing for live theaters, he worked on attractions and museums for clients like Disney, Universal Studios, San Diego Museum of Man, Museum of Tolerance, the National Museum of the U.S. Army and the amazing Sphere.

Featured Artist Leslie IshiiLeslie Ishii (Perseverance Theatre, AD) debuted in Northwest Asian American Theater’s Breaking The Silence to raise legal defense funds for WWII US Concentration Camp Resister, Gordon Hirabayashi’s Supreme Court Case. This ignited Leslie’s passion for justice, directing, working cross-racially and cross-culturally deep in community. She developed anti-racism/liberation actor/director training based in decolonizing/liberation theory and practix. Directing/Acting/Dramaturgy: Co-Pro Penumbra Theatre & Theatre Mu; East West Players, Native Voices, El Teatro Campesino; Oregon Shakespeare Festival; FAIR, APII 2×2 New Work Lab, Founder/Producer; South Coast Repertory Theatre, and other regional theatres; Broadway, TV and Film. Service: CAATA: Board President, National BIPOC/BITOC Coalition/Commons, Founder; artEquity: National Faculty; Tsuru For Solidarity; National New Play Network: Board Member; National Theatre Conference; Professional Non-Profit Theater Coalition: Co-Lead, Coalition/Website Subcommittee. Awards: Teachers Making A Difference; Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival Integrity Award; US Artist Fellow 2023; SDC 2016,2017 National Standout Recognition for championing equity/inclusion.

Featured Artist Arthur M JollyArthur M. Jolly (he/him) is thrilled to be back in Valdez for a twelfth time – and his sixth time as a respondent. As a playwright, Jolly has penned over 75 produced plays, drawing from his typical playwright background of starting in the NY film industry as a stunt performer, snake wrangler, and special effects artist, then becoming a helicopter pilot, training pilots for the US Army in Alabama, and later flying tourists from Las Vegas into the Grand Canyon. Given such a predictable trajectory, his decision to quit flying and move to Los Angeles to write is all too familiar. As a screenwriter, Jolly was recognized by the Academy with a Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting. Produced screenplays include Where We Disappear on Amazon Prime, based on his play A Gulag Mouse; and the short films Still Waters, Childish Things, and Eight Ball. Valdez productions include A Very Modern Marriage (2017) and A Gulag Mouse (2013); previous Play Lab readings include The Lady Demands Satisfaction (2018), Straw, Sticks, Bricks (2015), Mission: Colusa (2014), A Very Modern Marriage (2013), and Trash (2012). Jolly is a proud member of The Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights and the Dramatists Guild. Repped by Brant Rose Agency. More at www.arthurjolly.com

Featured Artist Ali KellerAli Keller is an award & grant winning producer and writer. ​Select theatrical production credits include: INFERNA (The Tank) LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR AND GRILL (Broadway), and LIVE FROM LINCOLN CENTER productions of SWEENEY TODD, ROB FISCHER CELEBRATES KANDER & EBB, and ONE SINGULAR SENSATION: CELEBRATING MARVIN HAMLISH. She was previously the Digital Content Producer for Paula Rizzo (ListProducer.com, PaulaRizzo.com) and showrunner of Paula Rizzo’s live-streaming show Inside Scoop. Select film production credits include: BEST WORST THING THAT EVER COULD HAVE HAPPENED (Netflix, New York Film Festival), BRENDA AND BILLY (AND THE POTHOS PLANT) (Tribeca), TO HAVE & TO HOLD (City Artist Corps Grant, Montauk Film Festival). Select recent writing credits: (UN)CONDITIONAL (Soho Playhouse Lighthouse Series), BLOOD/SWEAT/TEARS (The Tank Limefest, HARP Theatricals), CHRISTEN THE PLACE (commission Alt eller Ingeting, Norwegian Tour), BABY LAMB (Screenwriting Fellowship Sidewalk Narrative Lab), SIX WEEKS NOTICE (Ucross Residency).

Featured Artist Rob Lecrone

Rob Lecrone, attending his fifteenth Conference, celebrates his ninth year as a coach in the Monologue Workshop and as a host and co-producer of the nightly Valdez Theatre Fringe. Since 2012, he’s moved from Anchorage to LA to Albuquerque and, in November, to Denver. He teaches a weekly online Scene Study & Acting Exploration and recently joined the improv faculty at Denver’s Rise Comedy. Rob has trained at Howard Fine Acting Studio in Hollywood; Cal State LA (MFA in Acting); HB Studios in New York (Hagen Teacher’s Lab), Upright Citizens Brigade (improv), and at other institutions. Besides his MFA in Acting, he has a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska. He performs improv with Future Ghost in Denver, Left on Read in Albuquerque, and Squirrely Bird online (and once in New York). Rob co-produced and acted in the world premiere of Conference playwright Nicholas Walker Herbert’s Bloodless (2020) and the Conference mainstage performance of Julia Lederer’s With Love and a Major Organ (2017). He’s also proud of his work as lead producer for the U.S. version of international digital theatre production, The Art of Facing Fear (2020), partnering with Brazil’s Os Satyros, Sweden’s Darling Desperados, and LA’s Company of Angels. The Art of Facing Fear won Best Production in India’s Good The@tre Festival, the Worldwide Award for Collaborative Work of the Year in the Young-Howze Theatre Awards, and received seven nominations in the 2020 Broadway World LA Awards. Last year, he wrote his own lines for a small part in a feature film called The Unexpecteds. Rob was once shot in the ankle during a carjacking attempt in New Jersey. Most importantly, he ate the bear that almost ate him and worked on the cleanup of the Valdez oil spill. www.roblecrone.com

Featured Artist Alma MartinezAn Artist – Scholar, Dr. Alma Martinez was inducted into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Actors Branch in 2013 and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Actors Branch, in 1998. Her acting career spans 5 decades of work in film, television, and theatre. She holds a PhD in Dramatic Criticism and Directing from Stanford University, an MFA in Acting from USC, and a BA in Theatre from Whittier College. She is a Fulbright Scholar and Dartmouth College Cesar Chavez Dissertation Fellow alum. A published author, her work looks at contemporary Latine and Latin American theatre and performance. Her forthcoming article is due Spring 2024: “Quinto Festival de Teatro Chicanos – Primer Encuentro Latinoamericano: Un Continente, Una Cultura Por Un Teatro Libre y Para la Liberación”, The Vision, the Plan, the EventRoutledge Companion to Latine Theatre and Performance, ed. Olga Sanchez-Saltveit and Noe Chavez, print-book, Routledge Press, Oxford, UK. Her recent film work includes roles in Answer to My Prayers; Family Dinner; El Portafolio; Officer Stanley; How the Gringo Stole Christmas; Clemency (winner, 2019 Sundance Grand Jury Award); Ms. Purple (2020 Sundance Grand Jury Award nominee). Favorite films roles include Zoot Suit, Born in East LA, Barbarosa, Under Fire, Cake and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. TV/streaming acting credits include recurring guest-star roles on Bosch: Legacy (Amazon); Gentefied (Netflix); Undone (Amazon); The Terror Infamy (AMC); the Peabody Award winning Season-1 of The Bridge (FX); Queen Sugar, Last Man On Earth, I Love Dick, MacGyver, Gray’s Anatomy, American Crime: People v OJ Simpson, Good Behavior, Twilight and the Peabody Award winning drama Corridos: Tales of Passion & Revolution. On stage, she has appeared on Broadway, Off Broadway, in regional theaters across the country and on Mexican and European stages. In June 2023, she was awarded Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play by the Connecticut Critics Circle for her performance in Luis Alfaro’s play Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles at Yale Repertory Theatre. A long-time artistic collaborator of Luis Valdez and El Teatro Campesino, she has been the lead actress in many of Valdez’s most significant work including Zoot Suit (stage and film), Corridos: Tales of Passion and Revolution (stage and TV), Mummified Deer and I Don’t Have to Show You Any Stinkin’ Badges. A perennial student, she has studied with master teachers Lee Strasberg, Luis Valdez, Jerzi Grotowski, Ariane Mnouchkine (Paris), Augusto Boal, Anna Deveare Smith, Patsy Rodenberg and Tom Leabhart. She attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (London) and the prestigious Centro Universitario de Teatro (C.U.T.) at the National University of Mexico where she studied with Hector Mendoza and Luis DeTavira.  Dr. Martinez is Emerita Faculty of the Theatre and Dance Department at the University of California Santa Cruz. Currently, she is an Associate Professor and teaches in the Theatre Department at the University of La Verne. She is a proud member of SAGAFTRA, AEA and SDC.

Conference Coordinator Dawson MooreDawson Moore just completed his twenty-first year as Coordinator of the Valdez Theatre Conference.  He recently moved to San Francisco, where he is renovating the family home and wondering what to do with twenty-thousand books. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America and the National Theatre Conference.

Featured Artist Gregory PulverGregory Pulver is the Theater Program Director and Professor of costume design, make up and choreography for the University of Portland (UP) Performing and Fine Arts Department and a Resident Artists at Artists Repertory Theatre in Portland, Oregon. At UP Gregory has developed the New Works/New Voices annual staged reading series featuring new plays dedicated to women and BIPOC playwrights. He is the creator of UP’s British Theater Experience where he and 10 students curate a production of 10-minute plays for annual performances and theater workshops in towns around Oxfordshire, England. Gregory is also a faculty member of the Dramatist Guild Institute of Dramatic Writing and teaches Storytelling Through Design each fall. Mr. Pulver holds an MFA in costume design and choreography from Humboldt State University, CA. He is the 1993 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival National Costume Design Winner for his work on Threepenny Opera. Among designing both sets and costumes for Bag and Baggage Theatre, and costumes for Broadway Rose Theatre and Corrib Irish Theatre, and designs for Artists Repertory Theatre which include The Hombres, Small Mouth Sounds, The Humans, Tribes, Broomstick, Cuba Libre, and Foxfinder. Gregory has also designed for several short films and TV spots in Washington including a dance for the camera film titled Egg Skin. Gregory is an accomplished director, singer, actor, and dog owner.

Featured Artist Kalli RandallKalli Randall is an Alaskan actor and director whose journey in theatre began as a casual engagement with her college community, ultimately blossoming into a lifelong passion, particularly after discovering her love for directing during her senior year at UAA. Following her graduation, Kalli relocated to Chicago, where she spent six years honing her craft. It was during this time that she founded Midnight Summit Ensemble, a theatre collective dedicated to both reviving classical works and showcasing new pieces from emerging playwrights. Kalli’s directing credits are a series of plays by Ashley Rose Wellman, including Shrines and You Are The Blood; Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit, Don Zolidis’ The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon; Joanna Castle Miller’s Around and Around and Around The Static Sun, Karen Zacarías’s Book Club, Gary Steven’s Uncle Ted, and Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Jesus Christ Superstar. This is Kalli’s 13th Conference and she could’t be more excited to be here with all you fine folks…and Potato Head!!

Featured Artist Steve RothmanStephen Rothman is a Tenured Full Professor in the Department of Theatre at California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA), having joined the faculty in 2001. He is best known by West Coast Theatre audiences for his work as founder and artistic leader of the revitalized Pasadena Playhouse. He also served as artistic director of the Sacramento Theatre Company. His directing career has taken him across the country and around the world, including a 2008 production of Harold Pinter’s Betrayal in Florence, Italy, for the Florence International Theatre Company. His American Resident/Regional Theatre credits include more than 100 plays in 16 different States for 40 different theatre companies. He is especially proud of his work on numerous world premieres including Sparky and the Fitz starring Academy Award winner Eli Wallach at the George Street Playhouse in New Jersey, Learn to Fall starring France’s award-winning clown/artist Buffo at The Attic Theatre in Detroit, Gilligan’s Island, the Musical for Chicago’s Organic Theatre and Father, Son, and Holy Coach for the Santa Monica Playhouse to name just a few. Included among his most current directorial work in 2024 is THE SCOTTISH PLAY aka MACBETH this past April at CSULA. Other recent activity are his two Pandemic World Premiere Zoom productions of Old Blood in 2022 and War of the Worlds in 2020. He directed Valdez Conference mainstay Nicholas Walker Herbert’s Bloodless in 2020 starring Rob Lecrone at CSULA, opening just days before the pandemic closed live theatre down for more than a year. Rothman has had the privilege to collaborate with Deaf West Theatre directing numerous American Sign Language (ASL) productions for the renowned company. His most recent directorial work for Deaf West was their production of American Buffalo that starred 2022 Academy Award winning actor Troy Kotsur (Coda) and 2021 Academy Award nominated actor Paul Raci (Sound of Metal). The play was named Critics Choice by the LA Times, LA Weekly, and Backstage. He has been collaborating with Deaf West Theatre since 1994 and his other American Sign Language (ASL) productions with the company include: Of Mice and MenOrphansWhat Are You… Deaf?, and Pinocchio. His theatre awards include winning Florida’s Carbonell Award for Best Director for God’s Man in Texas at Florida Stage as well as a Los Angeles Drama-Logue win for his direction of an American Sign Language production of Orphans for Deaf West Theatre. And most recently (November 2017) he won the 2016-2017 STAGE SCENE LA award for Outstanding Direction, Drama/Intimate Theatre for his work on Cat’s Paw at Actor’s Co-op. For American television, he spent two seasons directing episodes of The New WKRP in Cincinnati. At CSULA, he served as the two term Chair of the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance, and he received the 2012/2013 University Award as Outstanding Professor of the Year. In spring 201,5 he was granted a sabbatical award and both taught classes and created an original 8-episode sitcom at The Stockholm Academy of Dramatic Arts in Sweden. Mr. Rothman is a proud 40-year member of The Society of Director’s and Choreographers (SDC) where he served for 8 years on their Executive Board. He has been a member of the Director’s Guild of America (DGA) for 30 years. Additionally, Mr. Rothman is an invited member of the National Theatre Conference (NTC), a former 8-year Tony Award voter, a member of the Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers (ATPAM), a 23 year Trustee of the Pension and Health Fund for the Society of Stage Director’s and Choreographers and serves on the Advisory Board for the British Academic Journal Comedy Studies. His alumni awards include being named a university Grad Made Good at Florida State University as well as having the honor in November 2018 of being named to the Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame at Riverview High School in Sarasota, Florida. In January of 2023, Rothman was awarded a sabbatical from CSULA to work on a top-secret, not to be discussed autobiographical book that continues to be a mystery even to him as he wrote it. He is currently working on a final draft and remains hopeful it will be completed this summer. The sabbatical also allowed him to work closely with Conference Coordinator Dawson Moore on various aspects of last year’s 2023 conference including helping to develop the new Voiceover Workshop that featured voice over stars Rodger Bumpass (Squid Ward from SpongeBob SquarePants) and Debi Derryberry (Jimmy Neutron from The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius). He is very happy to be back at the Conference for the third year in a row and looks forward to seeing and participating in lots of exciting new work.

Featured Artist John RubinsteinJohn Rubinstein created the title role in the Broadway musical Pippin, directed by Bob Fosse, and won the Tony and Drama Desk Awards for his performance in Children of a Lesser God. Other Broadway appearances include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Ragtime, Hurlyburly, M. Butterfly, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial (Drama Desk nomination), Love Letters, Fools, Getting Away with Murder, and the Diane Paulus Pippin revival. Off-Broadway, he appeared in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead, Morning’s at Seven, and won the Lucille Lortel Award as Best Actor for Elmer Rice’s Counsellor-at-Law. He originated the leading roles in A. R. Gurney’s Love Letters and in Kander, Ebb, and McNally’s Kiss of the Spider Woman, and he played the Wizard in Wicked in Los Angeles for 18 months. Films include Killing Castro, Being the Ricardos, Hello I Must Be Going, 21 Grams, Red Dragon, The Boys from Brazil, Someone to Watch Over Me, Daniel, The Car, and Getting Straight. On television, he starred in two series, Family (Emmy nomination) and Crazy Like a Fox, and in over 300 episodes and miniseries. He is a director, a composer of film and television music (Jeremiah Johnson, The Candidate, Family, China Beach), a university professor (NYU, UCLA, USC), and has recorded over 170 audiobooks, most numerously Jonathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware novels. He is married to Bonnie Burgess, and their son Max is the youngest of his five children, joining Jessica, Michael, Peter, and Jacob.

Featured Artist Schatzie SchaefersSchatzie Schaefers first came to the VTC in its second year in 1994 as a UAA Theatre student and slept on the floor in the gym. Playwright, director, actor, and producer. Vocalist for Alaska’s Agents of Karma and Karmic Reduction. Development Director for Anchorage Concert Association. Proud member of Blue Roses Theatre Company. Schatzie will direct Eric Coble’s dark comedy Bright Ideas for Anchorage Community Theatre in 2025. Schatzie is a single mother to Lionel Richie, Chandler Bing, and Knox. You will see Schatzie every night of the conference at Magpie’s on the Fly where she co-hosts the Valdez Fringe.

Featured Artist Will SteinbergerWill Steinberger is a Drama League Award nominated director and producer. He has directed and developed new plays at New York Theatre Workshop, New York Stage and Film, Clubbed Thumb, New Dramatists, Hartford Stage, the Drama League, Berkshire Theatre Group, Powerhouse Theater, VTC, the Wilma, and InterAct. He recently directed Andrea Stolowitz’s The Berlin Diaries at 59E59 featuring David Greenspan, produced in association with The New Group. Other recent productions include Han Van Sciver’s Happy Birthday, Han (JACK), Gina Femia’s meet you at the Galaxy Diner. (New Light/The Tank), Charles Gershman’s Oedipus (All For One f/ Eddie Cooper; Drama League nom), and Johnny G. Lloyd’s Or, an Astronaut Play (The Tank/InVersion Theatre) and birthday birthday birthday (Columbia University). Will has worked on the artistic staffs of Second Stage, Hartford Stage, The Wilma, and Passage Theatre Company. Member, LCT Lab. WSteinberger.com

Jayne Wenger is a director and dramaturg whose exclusive focus is the development of new works for the theater. Her work is interdisciplinary, encompassing opera, dance, solo performance, new music and site-specific collaboration. She is the past Artistic Director of the Bay Area Playwrights Foundation and Women’s Ensemble of New York. She was the original director and dramaturg for The Winter Bear Project, written by Anne Hanley, an on-going performing arts and social outreach initiative focused on teen suicide in rural Native Alaskan communities.  She has collaborated with many playwrights and performers from Alaska including Arlitia Jones, Schatzie Schaefers, Sandy Harper, among many other talented artists. She has been working for over 30 years with longtime collaborator Deke Weaver; her latest work with Deke was his new multimedia performance piece entitled Cetacean (WHALE), the fifth installment of his lifetime work, The Unreliable Bestiary (www.unreliablebestiary.org), which premiered at the University of Illinois in September 2023. Current and upcoming projects include a new solo work by Margery Krietman for 3Girls Theatre in SF entitled The Fall/Out. She is working on a new jazz opera entitled Leelah, an international collaboration by Renee Benson and Vincent Pongracz and The Trees, an eco-home-erotic musical by Larry Lariosa and Kristy Lin Billuni. Recent work includes Vivien Straus’s solo show about the Straus Family Dairy and her mother Ellen’s work to save the farms along the coast of West Marin from overdevelopment, the piece was performed in the family barn in Marin County; and Loving Janis, a solo work with music by Kyra Gordon focused on the lives of Janis Joplin and Janis Ian. A selection of other projects include: The Lariat, an opera about colonial Spaniards’ destruction of the California Esselen Native American world, by Lisa Scola Prosek; Michelle Carter’s Rose In America; Blues is a Woman by Pamela Rose; Men Think They Are Better Than Grass with the Deborah Slater Dance Theater; and Colette Uncensored by Lorri Holt and Zack Rogow. She wrote the libretto for Neuromancer, a new opera adapted from William Gibson’s novel. From 2018 to 2022 she was the Director of Creative Process for the Bay Area Playwrights Festival. She is an alumna of Djerassi Resident Artist Program; a frequent guest artist and advisory board member for The Valdez Theatre Conference; has taught at  ArtWorkshop International in Assisi, Italy; and is an annual guest artist at San Francisco State University teaching dramaturgy and new play direction. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild, Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas and the League of Professional Theater Women and a board member of Playwrights Foundation. She works privately with playwrights across the country.

Featured Artist Carrie YanagawaCarrie Yanagawa has been painting old plywood to look like rich mahogany to the delight of audiences around the world since the late 1900s. Described as a “theatrical Swiss Army knife,” Carrie is a director, set designer, and scenic artist whose work has been hailed as “marvelous” by Anchorage Daily News and “no less than perfect” by F Magazine. Whether working in a black box or on a grand opera, Carrie is passionate about honoring text and is uniquely skilled at creating high-quality, imaginative productions in a vibrant and practical fashion. Favorite directing credits for the VTC main stage include serving as the Ten-Minute Play Slam’s longest tenured director (2014-2019) and Kevin Armento’s Good Men Wanted (TossPot Productions). Notable scenic painting residencies include Anchorage Opera, Bermuda’s Earl Cameron Theatre, and London’s National Theatre. In search of new adventures, Carrie and her wife, Stacy, have recently relocated to Portland, Oregon. They belong to the trees now.