Drama Guest Artists
Luis Alfaro, Visiting Presidential Scholar
Luis Alfaro began work with the Inner City Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where he became involved with gang intervention through theater and African dance. This led him to work with gay and lesbian high schoolers, with gang teens, and with HIV-positive artists. His vast variety of published work, which includes poetry, plays, short fiction, film, scripts for one-man shows, and journalism, has long been considered on the cutting-edge of both the creative arts and advocacy for the gay community and at-risk youth. An activist and community-based artist, he is the recipient of a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellowship, popularly known as a "genius grant". Luis is an Associate Producer at the Mark Taper Forum, and Director of New Play Development and co-director of the Latino Theatre Initiative. He has been an artist in residence at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the 2007 AETNA American Voices Fellow at Hartford Stage, and University of California Regents Chair Fellow. His plays and performances include Electricidad (Teatro Vision-San Jose, Mark Taper Forum-Los Angeles, Goodman Theater-Chicago, Borderlands Theatre-Tucson [cover of American Theatre]), Downtown (Institute of Contemporary Art-London, XTeresa Performance Space-Mexico City, Hirshorn Musuem-Washington D.C.), No Holds Barrio (Goodman Theatre-Chicago, Hartford Stage-Connecticut, Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Body Of Faith (Cornerstone Theater Company-Los Angeles [PEN Center Drama award]), Straight As A Line (Primary Stages-NY, Edinburgh Festival-Scotland, Goodman Theatre-Chicago, National Theatre of Romania [2 year run]) Bitter Homes And Gardens (Latino Chicago, Playwrights Arena-Los Angeles) Ladybird (La Jolla Playhouse) Black Butterfly (Smithsonian Museum, The Kennedy Center-Washington D.C., Mark Taper Forum-Los Angeles) Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner (Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Taper Too-Los Angeles, Teatro Vista-Chicago, Syncronicity Theater-Philadelphia, Hartford Stage) and Hero (Playwrights Arena-Los Angeles, Teatro Vision-San Jose). Luis is the only artist to have won two awards in the same year from The Kennedy Center's Fund for New American Plays. He is also the recipient of awards from, among others, the National Endowment of the Arts, Theatre Communications Group and PEN USA. He is the winner of a local Los Angeles Emmy Award. He is an associate artist with Playwrights Arena and Cornerstone Theatre Company and has served as a panelist for both the National Endowment of the Arts and Sundance Theatre Lab. He teaches extensively throughout the US and has directed the performance troupe, Butchlalis, in their first full length play, The Barber of East L.A. in Los Angeles, San Jose, San Diego, and Nigerian-American playwright, Julie Oni's nat&EM. Luis is a member of the Writers Guild of America and New Dramatists.
Ben Hammer, Guest Artist
Ben Hammer made his Broadway debut with the legendary Alfred Lunt and Lynne Fontanne in The Great Sebastians. Principle appearances in Broadway productions include Richard III with Denzel Washington, More Stately Mansions, The Three Sisters, Broadway Bound, The Royal Hunt of the Sun, The Tenth Man directed by Tyrone Guthrie, The Deputy, The Crucible, In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer, Mother Courage directed by Jerome Robbins and starring Anne Bancroft, The Diary of Anne Frank, and Golda. He appeared in Henry IV Part I, Murderous Angels, and Scenes from An Execution at the Mark Taper Forum, and in national tours of Come Back, Little Sheba and The Diary of Anne Frank. Film appearances include The Last New Yorker, Sleepers, Subterfuge, Survival Quest, Mannequin, and Jagged Edge; principle TV appearances include the soap operas Days of Our Lives, The Young and the Restless, One Life to Live, and recent principle appearances out of numerous TV credits include Law and Order, and Ed. Ben is a member of Actor's Equity Association (AEA), Screen Actor's Guild (SAG), and the American Federation of TV and Radio Artists (AFTRA).
Gus Kaikkonen, Visiting Presidential Scholar
Gus Kaikkonen made his Broadway acting debut in the original cast of Equus. Other New York acting credits include Tommy Tune's American premiere production of Cloud 9, The Country Girl with Hal Holbrook and two plays at the NY Shakespeare Festival. On television he has had continuing roles on ABC's All My Children and One Life To Live. He has performed at the Long Wharf, Folger, Goodman, Asolo, GeVa, Arden, American Heartland, Aspen and BoarsHead Theatres, and the Coconut Grove Playhouse, where he was nominated for a Carbonell Award. He received Vermont's 2000 Bessie Award for Best Actor for his performance as Richard III at the Lost Nation Theatre. His New York directing credits include Heartbreak House at the Pearl; Macbeth, Candida, and Richard III at Riverside Shakespeare; the New York premieres of The Voysey Inheritance and The Charity That Began At Home at the Mint Theater, Under the Bed at HB Playwrights, and Golden Boy at the Juilliard School. In the regions he has directed at the Asolo, Geva, Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival, BoarsHead Theatre, Cohoes Music Hall, the Folger, the Springer Opera House, and Glassboro Summer Theatre. For a season he was the resident assistant director for the Washington Opera at the John F. Kennedy Center. Since 1996 he has been the Artistic Director of the Peterborough Players, an award-winning CORST stock theatre in Peterborough, New Hampshire. In his nine seasons at Peterborough he has staged 35 plays and won the New Hampshire Theatre Awards for Best Director for productions of You Can't Take It With You (2004) and The Cherry Orchard. (2005). His production of Twelfth Night at the Asolo won the 2002 Sarasota Magazine and Handy Awards as Best Production of the Season. As a playwright, Gus' plays have been produced at Playwrights Horizons, the Production Company, the Theatre Off Park, the West Bank Café, and the Juilliard School in New York; at the New End Theatre and the Theatre Museum, Covent Garden in London; and at regional theatres across the US. Awards include a New York State Council on the Arts CAPS Playwriting grant, a Michigan Arts Council Award, the Lecomte du Nouys Playwriting Award, and a MacDowell Fellowship. He is a current member of the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop. The American Theatre Critics Association selected his play, Time Steps, produced at the BoarsHead Theatre, as one of the ten best plays to open outside of New York. His musical Cindy Reilly won Michigan's Thespie Award for Best New Play. His musical People Like Us, written with Todd Almond, won the 2002 New Hampshire Theatre Award for best new play. He was chosen the 1995 James Thurber Playwriting Fellow by the Ohio State University and the 2002 Murphy Foundation Visiting Fellow at Hendrix College. He is a member of Actor's Equity Association (AEA), Screen Actor's Guild (SAG), and the American Federation of TV and Radio Artists (AFTRA), The Writers Guild of America, The Dramatists Guild and The Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers (SSDC).
John Leone, Guest Director
John Leone holds a B.F.A. in Theatre Arts, Performance Sequence, from Hofstra University. He is a graduate of the certificate program of the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City where he studied under the legendary acting teacher Sanford Meisner. He returned to the Neighborhood Playhouse to complete their Teacher Training Program and is a certified instructor of the Meisner Technique. He is a member of the Actor's Studio and a company member of Ensemble Studio Theater. Mr. Leone has played starring roles both on Broadway and in National Tours including Marius in Les Misérables, and covered several lead roles in Jersey Boys. Off-Broadway and in regional theater Mr. Leone has played everything from Shakespeare to Sam Shepard at such theaters as the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center, the Papermill Playhouse, Berkshire Theater Festival, Los Angeles Theater Center and Boston's Shakespeare in the Park. His film and television credits include Law and Order, As the World Turns, and a recurring role on the Showtime series Soul Food. John is a member of Actor's Equity Association (AEA), Screen Actor's Guild (SAG), and the American Federation of TV and Radio Artists (AFTRA).
Jason O'Connell, Guest Artist
Jason O'Connell's New York Credits include his one-man show, I Know Why the Aliens Don't Land. He has appeared in Claymont, The Sweater, and Sally Smells with Emerging Artists Theatre, All My Sons, at Arkansas Rep, and played Oberon opposite Kristin Linklater in A Midsummer Night's Dream at BAM. Other principle Shakespeare credits include Measure for Measure and Twelfth Night at Nebraska Shakespeare Festival and the title roles in both Richard III, and Hamlet at Texas Shakespeare Festival. He has also appeared as Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls at North Carolina Theatre. Jason is a writer/illustrator and stand-up comedian often appears at Caroline's Comedy Club on Broadway and other clubs around NYC.
Jen Price, Guest Designer
Jen Price holds a BA in Performing Arts from Oakland University and an MFA in Scenic Design from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. Currently working professionally as a design assistant to the prominent scenic designers Edward Pierce and Eugene Lee at Edward Pierce Design in New York City, she has worked on theatrical designs for international productions of Fiddler on the Roof and Wicked, Soundstage: Los Angeles in LA, Broadway productions of the Tony-nominated The Pirate Queen and the new musical Imagine This and the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to New York including mass at Yankee Stadium. As an independent designer she has worked at Inside Broadway in New York City and regional theaters such as MetroStage, Cohoes Music Hall, and The Papermill Theatre. Ms. Price is a current member of United Scenic Artists.
Brett Smock, Guest Director/Choreographer
Director/Choreographer Brett Smock returns to Hofstra University after directing and choreographing Smile (2003) and choreographing Strike Up the Band (2004). National highlights include: Treasure Island, A New Musical (World Premiere: Book, Direction, Choreography), Miss Saigon (Merry Go Round Playhouse), They Shoot Horses, Don't They (New Adaptation, Volkov/Moscow Art Theatre, Russia), Dames At Sea, Pippin, Sondheim's Putting It Together (New Adaptation-Emelin Theatre, NY), Becoming George (World Premiere-Metro Stage, DC), The Last Five Years (Gorilla Theatre, FL), Sean Huze's The Sand Storm (Metro Stage-East Coast Premiere), Hair (Royall Tyler Theatre, VT) Streets of America (Music by Michael Rupert; World Premiere-Kennedy Center, DC), Chicago (Theatre By The Sea, RI), Kiss Me Kate, Pirates of Penzance, On the Town (Inside Broadway, NYC), Sex & Sensibility, Closer Than Ever, Sideshow (Gorilla Theatre-Florida premieres), The Pajama Game (Musical TheatreWorks, NYC), Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris (Tavern Stage, DC), 10 productions of 42nd Street, seven Chorus Lines, five Footlooses, five Evitas and four Cabarets. Brett served as an Associate Choreographer and Dance Captain for the Los Angeles Revivals of Singin' in the Rain and 42nd Street. He is a resident Director/Choreographer at Theatre By The Sea, Papermill Theatre and The Merry Go Round Playhouse, where he has staged over 25 shows. In addition to directing and choreographing a new long-running show for Cunard's QEII in London and South Africa, Brett also mounted the First European Tour of Guys & Dolls. For special events, he has staged numerous industrials across the country with John Lithgow, Linda Eder, Barbara Mandrell, Dionne Warwick, two Miss Americas and President Clinton. In 2001, Brett was selected as a participant in the Director's Lab at Lincoln Center. Brett lives in New York and Los Angeles and is a member of Actor's Equity Association, The Dramatists Guild and The Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers (SSDC).
Robert Stattel, Guest Artist
Robert Stattel is a recipient of the prestigious Mirror Fund Award for Achievement in the theatre. He played Edgar in Lee J. Cobb's King Lear in Central Park and the title role at the City Stage Company for which he received a Drama Desk nomination and a Villager award. His Broadway appearances include Philadelphia Here I Come, Black Comedy, Zoya's Apartment, Sherlock Holmes, A Patriot For Me, Voices, The Incomparable Max, The Master Builder, Danton's Death, and Country Wife. He performed principle roles in Danton's Death, The Country Wife, and King Lear at Lincoln Center Repertory, appeared at the City Stage Company in the title roles in King Lear, Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonnus, Woyzeck, Dr. Faustus, Henry IV, and leading roles in The Cherry Orchard, Gillesde Rais, Don Juan, The Cavern; The Fuhrer Bunker and Great Days at American Place Theater; The Seagull and The Learned Ladies at the Roundabout Theater. He has appeared Off-Broadway in over forty productions at such theaters as the Martinique Theatre, the Public Theatre, Circle in the Square, Playwrights Horizons, the Phoenix, Theatre de Lys, Quaigh, and Circle Repertory; regional theatre companies he has worked for include the American Shakespeare Festival, Stratford (four seasons), Arena Stage, Syracuse Stage Company, PAF Playhouse, Indiana Repertory, Milwaukee Repertory, and the McCarter Theater. In New York, he appeared in eight productions at the New York Shakespeare Festival. Principle Film/TV appearances include: You Are There, Kojak, Love of Life, The Late Great Me, Great Performances King Lear, The Fifty Years' Revolution, The Adams Chronicles, Julie Taymor's The Tempest. He has been featured on every major New York soap opera. Robert is a member of Actor's Equity Association (AEA), Screen Actor's Guild (SAG), and the American Federation of TV and Radio Artists (AFTRA).
Jason Tucker, Guest Musical Director
Jason Tucker has been directing music for theater for over 15 years. In that time he's conducted the scores of virtually every major American and British composer and lyricist in over 200 productions for high schools, universities, community theaters, dinner theaters, regional theaters, stock theaters, and national tours. He's worked with Eartha Kitt, Ann Reinking, Terrence Mann, and Gwen Verdon among others. As a composer, orchestrator, and arranger, he's worked on two original musicals, a feature documentary, and various web projects as well as countless industrial entertainments in the US, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Great Britain, Italy, and Spain.
David Zyla, Guest Designer
As a theatrical costume designer David Zyla's list of credits includes the Tony-award winning Broadway revival and national tour of Big River. His costumes for the production were described in Variety as "a visual feast" and "gorgeous" by Entertainment Design. Anita Gates, New York Times theatre critic, describes his costume designs for Clue: The Musical in her review of the production as "fabulous." In addition to New York theatre credits he has designed for such major regional theatres as Pittsburgh Public Theater, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Ford's Theater in Washington, DC, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, the Los Angeles Shakespeare Festival, California Musical Theater and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, among others. Mr. Zyla is currently employed as a costume designer by the ABC Television Network and has recently received his third Emmy nomination for the ABC daytime Drama All My Children. His work has been featured in TV Guide, Inside TV, and Soap Opera Weekly. Other TV credits include General Hospital, Port Charles, and the PBS miniseries They Came for Good. His film credits include Nice Guys Sleep Alone and Crawlspace.