Phillip Rayher
Director of the Theatre Program,
Acting, Directing, Fencing

Mr. Rayher has been the Director of the Theatre Program and master teacher at the public magnet high school, Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts since 1990.

Before this he had worked in the theatre for 35 years as a director, actor, designer, and teacher. Before returning to his native San Francisco Bay area in 1990, he was artistic director at theatres in Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., and summer stock in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He also taught at colleges and high schools in Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, and Idaho. He has directed more than 95 classic, contemporary, and musical productions and has acted in more than 40 plays and musicals. He has also written and directed productions for the Smithsonian Institution and the Castle Arts Center in Washington, D.C.; Dudley Riggs’ ETC Theatre, and The Theatre In The Round in Minneapolis; and the Burbank Theatre Guild in Los Angeles.

He holds B.A. and M.A. Degrees in theatre and a California Teaching Credential in English/Drama from San Francisco State University. He did studies in directing and classics at the University of Minnesota while pursuing his Doctorate.

In 2001 Mr. Rayher won the prestigious Treadwell scholarship from the English- Speaking Union of the United States (E-S U, San Francisco Branch) to attend the three week summer Teaching Shakespeare Through Performance Institute at the Shakespeare Globe Centre in London. In 2012 he was awarded the U.S. Presidential Scholars’ Teacher Recognition Award at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. Mr. Rayher was also given a Certificate of Honor from the Mayor of San Francisco Ed Lee,  in 2013 for his 22 years of Leadership as the Chair of the SOTA Theatre Department and for championing the Theatre Department’s participation in the E-S U National Shakespeare Competition.

He is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, and the California Educational Theatre Association (He was a 2012 California Youth In Theatre Honorarium Recipient).

His students have been accepted to countless prestigious theatre schools here and overseas, including RADA, LAMDA, AADA, AMDA, the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theatre Program, NYU Tisch, Cornish College of Arts, UCLA, SUNY/ Purchase, DePaul University, Carnegie-Mellon, Yale School of Drama, PCPA, and Fordham University.His students find of interest his many various odd collections, including PEZ candy dispensers, wind-up walking toys, Pop-up books, and Shakespeare memorabilia and kitsch. 

Ron S. McCan 
Assistant Director of the Theatre Program
Production Coordinator, Costume Supervisor
and Media Master

An Asawa SOTA Alumnus (Technical Theatre, 1995), Ron has had the pleasure of working with many companies including Disney/ABC Television, BBC Worldwide, The San Francisco Opera, American Conservatory Theatre, The Mendocino Music Festival, and The San Francisco Conservatory of Music.  His credits include: (Television) "Dancing With The Stars", "GCB". (Theatre) "NINE", "Bernarda Alba", "HAIR", "She Loves Me", "Company" "Gypsy", "Steel Magnolias", "Damn Yankees", "The Trojan Women", Bizet's "Carmen" with the Mendocino Music Festival, "The Madwoman of Chaillot", "My Fair Lady", "The Skin of Our Teeth", "The Colored Museum", "Ma' Rainey's Black Bottom", “Marat/Sade”, "The Boys from Syracuse", The West Coast Premier of both Michael John LaChiusa’s "The Wild Party", Heather McDonald's "The Rivers and Ravines", and Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds" with Bay Area Children's Theatre.

A tireless advocate for youth, Ron has been involved with various local and national organizations and city governments for more than 15 years, working to create and implement programs and systems inclusive of the wants and needs of young people. He has worked with The San Francisco Youth Commission, The San Francisco Board of Supervisors, San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, Former Mayor Gavin Newsom, LYRIC, Community Network For Youth Development, The Boys and Girls Club of America, The Friends of the School of the Arts Foundation, and The National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship. He was the founding President of the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts High School Alumni Association, and has been recognized by the California State Assembly and The San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

Brady Lea

ImprovisationBrady is a performer, playwright and theatre arts educator.  She is a four-time Emerging Playwright Award winner and a playwright-in-residence at PlayGround where she has had several full-length commissions and countless short plays staged. She was a founding member of the Vaudeville trio The Kloons (with fellow SOTA A-I-R David Magison) with whom she performed throughout the Bay Area, across the United States and Canada. She has performed in The David and Brady show with her husband David Gallagher (as well as several SOTA Theatre alums.)  She is a graduate of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College and has performed as a clown, juggler, mime, actor, and improviser.  Brady has been a SOTA Artist-in-Residence since 2007. She serves as co-owner and CEO of the WELL, the pioneering online community founded in 1985. 

Michelle Martin
Afro-Haitian Dance and Music

Michelle is from Oakland, California and began her training in ballet and modern dance with the Office of Parks and Recreation department.  She went to Skyline High School of Performing Arts, and became a specialist in dance and visual arts with the OPR department for thirteen years.

As she pursued a major in Dance/ Performing arts, she was given the opportunity to study with Ms. Katherine Dunham and several masters of the original Dunham dance company.  Her studies have taken her to the Alvin Ailey School of Dance, as well as, independent study with Jean Leon Destine and Richard Gonzales, in New York City.  Ms. Martin traveled throughout Nigeria, Cuba, and Haiti to study dance and music through religious ceremony.

While specializing in Dunham technique and traditional Haitian dance, she has conducted classes at several San Francisco/ Bay Area institutions including, Lines Contemporary Ballet, CitiCenter Dance Theater, Rhythm and Motion, Alice Arts Center, Mills College and currently at Dance Mission and ODC dance commons.  Ms. Martin has been an Artist-in-Residence with the S.F. Unified School District since 1989.

Having done extensive study, workshops, master classes, performances and choreography, she has worked with Bantaba and Diamano Coura West African dance companies, toured Nigeria with Wajumbe Cultural Ensemble, worked with Obakoso, Jose Francisco Barroso’s Cuban Dance Ensemble and was the Assistant Artistic Director, choreographer, principal dancer and singer for the nationally acclaimed Group Petit la Croix, Haitian Dance company with Blanche Brown.In 2010, the Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA) awarded her a grant in their master/ apprentice program for traditional Lukumi beading.  Presently, Ms. Martin is founder and Artistic director of Michelle Martin & Konpayi, a group of artists who range from high school students to professionals in the community who are committed to the preservation of Traditional Haitian dance and music. 

Elizabeth Castenada
Movement & Dance

Elizabeth joined the Theatre Department in 2013 and has been teaching and choreographing for over fifteen years.  She was encouraged to create choreography for yearly performances for the Youth Ballet Theater of Austin, while receiving an extensive Royal Academy of Dance training. She began studies at Ballet Arts Academy at age seventeen in Spokane, Washington.  She and her twin sister Melissa were asked to create several dance pieces for Ballet Theater of Spokane.  They later received the 1st place award of the choreography division in the Allied Arts Festival.  She attended Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle as a Dance Major.  The Pacific Northwest Ballet employed Elizabeth as a camp counselor and mentor for students attending their summer program.  She attended the Alonzo King LINES Ballet summer program in San Francisco in 2003 and the LINES Ballet Year Round Training Program in 2004.  She toured the United States and Canada for four months as a dancer and co-choreographer with Carpetbag Brigade, a physical theater group.  Elizabeth has created three new works for the ODC PILOT program.  Elizabeth's dance studio, TWINSPACE, in the Mission District has been open for the last three and a half years. She is one of the creators and co-choreographers of The Fossettes, a group inspired by Bob Fosse that has been performing in the Bay Area for over four years.  Elizabeth has been teaching at the ODC Rhythm & Motion School for three years and has created choreography for both the ODC School and the ODC Dance Jam.

Elizabeth Carter
Shakespeare, Voice and Chamber Theatre

Elizabeth has performed with numerous Bay Area theaters over the past 19 years including California Shakespeare Theater, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Magic Theatre, Word for Word, Aurora Theatre Co, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre and TheatreWorks amongst others.  A graduate of Mills College with a BA in Dramatic Arts, she has also studied in London with teachers from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. Her favorite roles include Rose in Fences, the Bawd in Pericles, Effie in Dreamgirls, Mistress Ford in Merry Wives of Winsor, and Agnes in Agnes of God.. She was last seen in Aurora Theatre Co’s Trouble in Mind,  which won 6 Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards. Elizabeth has been featured in Theatre Bay Area Magazine as someone to Keep An Eye On. 
As an artist, Elizabeth has been a part of the SOTA Theatre Dept since 2005. Her teaching career has led her to work with students from of all ages from Kindergarten to adults actors, and has trained teachers in alternative ways to access literature through theater. She has spent the last 17 years teaching acting, voice and Shakespeare performance across the Bay Area for companies such as California Shakespeare Theatre, Berkeley Rep and Brava! For Women in the Arts. She is currently also the Education Director for the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre.

Michael Mohammed
Singing for the Actor

Michael was Musical Director for the 2014 Theatre Department production of Hair and Stage Director and Choreographer for the 2015 School-wide musical The Music Man.  He works regularly as a performer, musical director, stage director, and choreographer. Originally from Vincennes, Indiana, he is on faculty at the Community Music Center and is the Director of the Musical Theatre Ensemble at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He received a Bay Area Critics Circle nomination for Best Musical Director for Boxcar Theater's Rent Boy Ave., for which he also composed the score. Recent stage directing credits include La Boheme (SFCM), Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds (Bay Area Children’s Theatre), and The Full Monty (American Conservatory Theater - MFA Program). His production of Wilde Boys (New Conservatory Theater) in which he also performed is a Bay Area Critics Circle Award winner for Best Musical Production. 

Equally at home in opera and musical theatre, his roles include the title role of Handel’s Orlando, Spirit/ First Witch (Dido & Aeneas), Jake (Porgy & Bess), Amenhotep (Akhnaten). He has sung the ‘Roasting Swan’ in Carmina Burana and has been a soloist with the Early Music groups Ansámbl Luython and the Vinaccesi Ensemble. He holds degrees from Columbia University (BA in Music and History/Sociology) and San Francisco Conservatory of Music (MM in Vocal Performance). Other affiliations have included San Francisco Opera Chorus, San Francisco Symphony, Jarvis Conservatory, Livermore Valley Opera, and Guggenheim Entertainment.

Aren Haun

Aren is a playwright, director, and actor.  In 2010, he received an MFA in playwriting from Columbia University.  His short plays have been produced in the Bay Area, New York City, Chicago, London, and elsewhere.  He has been twice published in Smith & Kraus's anthology of Ten-Minute Plays.  With the theater company, Slacker Theater, Aren has directed his own work in San Francisco and New York.  As an actor, he has appeared in several productions in the past year in the Bay Area, most recently Off-Broadway West's production of Yasmina Reza's Life x 3.

Terry Bamberger
Artist-in Residence
Alexander Technique

Terry Bamberger is a SF Bay Area theatre educator, acting coach and actor. She trained young actors at Ruth Asawa SF School of the Arts for 5 years as an Artist-In-Residence, then took on a full-time training program working with 6th through 12th grade performers at Oakland School for the Arts where she has been for the past 6 years. She is thrilled to be rejoining SOTA’s Theatre Department.

Her recent theatre credits include Three Tall Women at Custom Made Theatre Company (2014 Bay Area Theatre Critiques Circle Nominee for best performance), the West Coast Premiere of Year of the Rooster at Impact Theatre, Jeremy Bloom’s Peter/Wendy also at Custom Made Theatre Company, and the premiere of Singulariteen at the SF Fringe Festival, as well as The Winter’s Tale, Romeo & Juliet, and The Tempest at SF Shakespeare Festival. She trained at American Conservatory Theatre, and has studied with members of the Royal Shakespeare Company.  Film/tv credits include Coffee & Language and General Hospital.

Bamberger is honored to be a recipient of the 2013 Theatre Bay Area Titan Award.

Lluis Valls 
Artist-in-Residence (on sabbatical)
Asian Theatre Acting

Lluis is a San Francisco based actor, director and clown who has toured to Japan, China, Serbia, France, England and throughout the US.  Since 1993 he has worked extensively with Theatre of Yugen and founding director Yuriko Doi in many of the mainstage productions, most notably Erik Ehn's Crazy Horse; the modern Noh play, The Well of Ignorance (or Down the Dark Well) by Dr. Tomio Tada, and Yuriko Doi's Noh adaptation of Yeats' Purgatory, and Garcia Lorca in the Kabuki/Flamenco fusion Blood Wine, Blood Wedding. Luis also directed the 2012 Theatre Department production of "Momotaro, The Peach Child."
Since 2002 Lluis has worked collectively with the Theatre of Yugen ensemble to create the original experimental pieces The Clay Play, Norton, I, The Old Man and The Sea, Frankenstein, Don Q, The Cycle Plays, Candide and most recently performed as the Fool in Cordelia.  Lluis is also a founding member of Theatre Nohgaku, Anhinga Productions and Clowns on a Stick.  In his spare time he studies guitar, bass, and grows vegetables.

Jubilith Moore
Artist-in-Residence (on sabbatical)
Asian Theatre Acting

A graduate of Bard College, is the former Artistic Director of Theatre of Yugen and has been with the company, and a student of Yuriko Doi, since 1993. She has also studied Noh with Richard Emmert and Akira Matsui (Kita school). While under a Japan Foundation Fellowship in Tokyo, she had the honor of studying with Noh master Shiro Nomura (Kanze school), Kyogen master Yukio Ishida (Izumi school) and Kotsuzumi Noh drum with Mitsuo Kama (Ko school.)Between 2002 and 2006 she worked collectively with Libby Zilber and Lluis Valls to create the original experimental pieces: The Clay Play; Norton, I; Frankenstein and Don Q.  She adapted and directed The Old Man and The Sea (2005) based on Hemingway’s classic and with permission from his estate.  She directed composer Cordell Ho’s iPH, a 20 scene composition based on Iphigenia at Aulis by Euripides as part of Theatre of Yugen’s Noh Pressure Cooker.  In addition to directing several traditional Kyogen in English, Jubilith also adapted and staged a Kyogen-style theatrical production of Voltaire’s Candide, or Optimism to help commemorate Theatre of Yugen’s 30th anniversary.  Most recently she directed and performed the lead role in Erik Ehn’s Cordelia, which is part of Mr. Ehn’s Soulographie project to take place in New York in 2012.  Jubilith has taught Theatre of Yugen's Winter Training Session since 2003 in addition to several other seasonal training sessions and workshops.  She is also an Artist-in-Residence at San Francisco's School of the Arts high school (since 1998), and was a Lecturer at San Francisco State University where she offered an introduction to Nohgaku (Spring 2008). 

Constantin Sergeyevich Stanislavski
Russian: Константин Сергеевич Станиславский
17 January 1863 – 7 August 1938

Stanislavski was a Russian actor and theatre director.  Building on the directorially-unified aesthetic and ensemble playing of the Meiningen company and the naturalistic staging of Antoine and the independent theatre movement, Stanislavski organized his realistic techniques into a coherent and usable 'system.'  Thanks to its promotion and development by acting teachers who were former students and the many translations of his theoretical writings, Stanislavski’s ‘system’ acquired an unprecedented ability to cross cultural boundaries and developed an international reach, dominating debates about acting in the West. That many of the precepts of his system seem to be common sense and self-evident testifies to its success.

Stanislavski treated theatre-making as a serious endeavor, requiring dedication, discipline and integrity, and the work of the actor as an artistic undertaking. Throughout his life, he subjected his own acting to a process of rigorous artistic self-analysis and reflection. His system resulted from a persistent struggle to remove the blocks he encountered. His development of a theorized praxis —in which practice is used as a mode of inquiry and theory as a catalyst for creative development.

Stanislavski's work was as important to the development of socialist realism in the USSR as it was to that of psychological realism in the United States.  Many actors routinely identify his system with the American Method, although the latter's exclusively psychological techniques contrast sharply with Stanislavski's multi-variant, holistic and psychophysical approach, which explores character and action both from the 'inside out' and the 'outside in'.

Stanislavski wrote several works. Those available in English translation include An Actor's Work, An Actor's Work on a Role, and his autobiography My Life in Art.

Ruth Asawa San Francisco

School of the Arts Theatre Department

Past Artists of the SOTA Theatre Department

Director of the Theatre Program: Phillip Rayher, 1990-Present
Assistant Director of the Theatre Program: Ellen Koivisto 2002-2015
Director of the Theatre Program: Louis Campbell 1982-1990 

Past Artist-In-Residence (AIR): Revel Paul (Dance, Movement), Michelle Martin (Afro-Haitian Dance), Elizabeth Carter (Shakespeare, Voice), Shannon Preto (Dance, Movement), Brady Lea (Physical Theatre, Improvisation), Lluis Valls (Asian Theatre), Jubilith Moore (Asian Theatre). Ron S. McCan (Costume & Technical Coordinator, Middle School Tour Coordinator, Social Media Maven), Jim & Marilyn Letchworth (Commedia). Terry Bamburger (Acting), Amos Glick (Physical Theatre, Improvisation), Andrew Sarouhan (Improvisation), Ellen Brooks (Asian Theatre), Sarah Leventer (Movement, Dance), Victor Toman (Physical Theatre, Acrobatics), Sandy Fein (Afro-Haitian Drummer), Joan Mankin (Physical Theatre, Circus Skills), Dawn-Elin Fraser (Shakespeare, Voice, Special Projects), Bernard Wray (Afro-Haitian Drummer), Lee Kiszonas (Shakespeare), Jaron Hollander (Stage Combat), Bernard Wray (Afro-Haitian Drummer), Christopher Morrison (Stage Combat,), Aliza Shapiro (Laban Movement), Karl Gajdusek (Playwriting), Donna Cerio (Dance, Movement), Sakou Gibson (Afro-Haitian Drummer), Andrea Weber (Dance, Movement), Kent Nicholson (Playwriting, Directing), Chantel Lucier (Dance), Valerie O’Riordan (Mask Characterization), Jeff Raz (Physical Theatre, Commedia). Paoli Lacy (Physical Theatre), Roz Symon (Shakespeare), Kimberly Valmore (Dance, Movement), L. Peter Callender (Acting, Shakespeare), Madeleine Pabis (Acting), Kim Euell (Playwriting, 1 Week), Scott Rubsam (Playwriting), Phil Ragozzino (Meisner Acting Technique), Frank M. Johnson (Musical Theatre For The Actor), Aceituno (Capoeira), Kay Kleinerman (Voice), Valerie Dejose (Shakespeare), Terry Petty (Dance), Charla Cabot (Musical For The Actor, Acting, Movement, Shakespeare), Marc Bauman (Commedia, Mask), Leslie Mccauley (Acting, Voice. Shakespeare), Bonnie Akimoto (Shakespeare), Paul Mackley (Acting, Movement), David Grote (Guest Director), Jean Louis Mbemba (Congolese Music & Dance), Angelita Ralston (Movement), Jenny King-Turko (Make-Up), Lydia Woods (Oral Interp.), Michael Cawelti (Fight Director), Marcia Kimmel (Acting & Improvisation), Danny Duncan, Terrence Macclure, Amy Muellfeinblum, Elizabeth Shapiro. 

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SOTA Theatre Department

Teachers and Artists

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