FACULTY and GUEST ARTISTS

The strength of any theatre program depends entirely upon the professionals with whom the students come in contact. Although our theatre program is young, our top priority is to bring in professors and guest artists who are proven in their fields. Each of them works hand-in-hand with our students, providing one-of-a-kind mentorship in a professional production scenario. The vast majority have graduated from the MFA program at CalArts or the acting program at Carnegie Mellon University, two of the top theatre training institutions in the country.

Abstract Architecture

ROBERT CUCUZZA

Associate Professor of Theatre Arts

    Robert Cucuzza is the Associate Professor of Theatre Arts at Los Angeles Mission College, where he has been a full-time professor since 2015. In Los Angeles, he has directed productions at REDCAT, South Coast Rep, CalArts, Son of Semele, and Los Angeles Pierce College. As a playwright, director and producer in New York City, he spent six years as an artist-in-residence at Richard Foreman’s Ontological Theater, where he mounted many original plays and was a co-founder of the Obie Award-winning Blueprint Series. He has been a member of the Obie Award-winning company Elevator Repair Service since 1997, with whom he most notably originated the role of Tom Buchanan in Gatz — a complete staging of the entire text of “The Great Gatsby.” He performed in the Gatz company over fifteen years, across the globe, Off Broadway at The Public Theatre and on the West End in London. As an acting and script analysis teacher, he has taught both BFA and MFA actors at CalArts, and at the legendary Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute. 

    Originally from Bradford, PA, Cucuzza is a 1990 graduate of Carnegie Mellon University where he received a BFA in Literary and Cultural Studies with a minor in Theatre. He holds a 2011 MFA in Directing from CalArts. He was the recipient of a 1990 Thomas J. Watson Fellowship for a one-year independent study of experimental theater in Europe and was a 2010-11 recipient of a Beutner Family Award for Excellence in the Arts at CalArts.

www.robertcucuzza.com

LA Mission Theatre production credits

Since 2015, Cucuzza has produced and directed all of the LA Mission Theatre productions, mentoring students in acting, directing, dramaturgy, script analysis, and playwriting.

BRIANA PATTILLO

Adjunct Professor

Bri Pattillo is an international theatre artist and maker, working primarily as a Lighting Designer for themed entertainment and performance. Bri designed Fatwa! The Musical, starring Lin-Manuel Miranda, for HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. Los Angeles work includes designs for many notable companies, as well as assisting award-winning lighting designers Anne Militello, James F. Ingalls, and Ken Booth, and for Center Theatre Group. Bri interned as an Assistant Lighting Designer on the National Tour of Hamilton in Los Angeles at the Pantages Theatre. Bri has designed concert lighting for Adam Pascal, Jefferson Starship, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Jo Dee Messina, Rosanne Cash, Robby Kreiger of “The Doors”, and Lee Rocker of “Stray Cats”. Bri is an Associate Lighting Designer for Six Flags Magic Mountain’s "Fright Fest" and "Holiday in the Park" events. 

www.brianapattillo.com

LA Mission Theatre production credits

Lighting designer and mentor, Dead Man's Cell Phone
Lighting designer and mentor, Chavez Ravine

Stone Texture

LENA SANDS

Adjunct Professor

Lena Sands is a costume designer for live performance, installation and film. Lena’s designs have been seen at venues including the Brooklyn Academy of Music; REDCAT, The Getty Villa, The Skirball Cultural Center, and The Kirk Douglas Theater in Los Angeles; Nairobi’s Alliance Française; and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival; as well as in warehouses, a horseback riding ring, and public parks. Lena’s work in film and television has been seen on Amazon Prime, LMVH’s online magazine nowness.com, the Lifetime Channel, Live with Regis and Kelly, REDCAT, The Nantucket Film Festival and LA Women’s International Film Festival. Her work was recently on display at the State Historical Museum in Moscow as part of the exhibition “Innovative Costume of the 21st Century: the next generation.” Lena received a BFA in Theater Design and Production from University of Michigan and her MFA in Design for Performance from California Institute of the Arts.

LA Mission Theatre production credits
Costume designer and mentor, Dead Man's Cell Phone

Modern Architecture

CRISTINA FRIAS

Adjunct Professor

Cristina Frías in an award-winning actor, educator and storyteller with an MFA in Acting from the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), a BA in Sociology form U.C. Berkeley and a certificate from LAMDA’s Summer Shakespeare Intensive (London). LA theatre work includes: Real Women Have Curves (Pasadena Playhouse), The Motherf*ucker With the Hat (South Coast Repe), Between Riverside and Crazy (Studio Theatre D.C.), Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare Center LA), Black Butterfly (Mark Taper Forum/Kennedy Center/Smithsonian, as well as performances with Culture Clash, San Francisco Mime Troupe, Campo Santo, Independent Shakespeare Co., LA Philharmonic@Walt Disney Concert Hall, Getty Villa, Boston Court, Watts Village Theatre, CASA 0101, Cornerstone Theatre and Playwright’s Arena. She has recently appeared on screen on Animal Kingdom (TNT), One Day at a Time (Netflix) and in the award-winning web series, The Couch. She is a founding member of the seminal San Francisco Latina Theatre Lab. Cristina is the recipient of several Artist-In-Residence Awards from the LA Department of Cultural Affairs, a nominee for the Beutner Award for Excellence in the Arts (CalArts) and a semi-finalist for CTG’s Sherwood Award 2018. She is a proud member of Hero Theatre Company, Latinx Theatre Alliance and the SAG-AFTRA-AEA actor unions.

www.cristinafrias.com

Water

SAM BREEN

Adjunct Professor

Sam Breen is a Swiss/American actor, writer and educator and ISC company member. He has performed at The La Jolla Playhouse, The American Repertory Theater, PACT Zolverein (Germany), The Edinburgh Fringe Festival. His Los Angeles credits include: Macbeth at Antaeus, The Three Musketeers at Theatricum Botanicum, Flesh Eating Tiger at Highways. His Independent Shakespeare Company credits include: Mark Antony in Julius Caesar, Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Good Angel in Faustus, and the title role in the upcoming filmed production of Macbeth. Sam holds an MFA in Acting from CalArts.

Tree Pattern

RABBIT AL FRIEDRICH

Adjunct Professor

Rabbit AL Friedrich (they/them) works collaboratively to create environments for performance, film, and civic engagement.  Rabbit’s work has been seen at Huntington Botanical Gardens, La Fábrica de Arte Cubano in Havana, Machine Project, Yale Union, Centro Cultural Español Miami, the Movement Center for Art & Social Justice in Kampala, Uganda, The Tijuana Cultural Center, also in warehouses, store fronts, escape rooms, parking lots, in an airport, a city hall, and the chapel of a decommissioned convalescent home. They have had the great pleasure to work in collaboration with the Center for Performance and Civic Practice, Theater Communications Group, Annapurna Interactive, The Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, USC, UCLA, Sojourn Theater, Kaiser Permanente, Los Angeles Performance Practice, and The LAB SF. They hold an MFA from California Institute of the Arts.

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LA Mission Theatre production credits
On all productions between 2017 and 2020, Friedrich served as production manager and mentored all student designers, technicians, and stage managers.

Intertwined

JON PATRICK WALKER

Guest Artist - Directing and acting

Jon made his professional stage debut at the age of eight, and has been a working actor for twenty-five years, appearing in film, television, and on-and off-Broadway.  Most recently, Jon played in King George in the national tour of Hamilton for sixteen months. In 2006, Jon portrayed Bruce Springsteen in the Broadway rock musical, High Fidelity. The following year, Jon appeared in a workshop staging of a new Pete Townshend rock opera, The Boy Who Heard Music. In 2010, Jon made his debut at Carnegie Hall, portraying one of his primary musical heroes, John Lennon, in Alarm Will Sound’s1969.  In the fall of 2015, Jon worked with another musical hero, David Byrne, in a workshop production of Mr. Byrne’s Saint Joan. He has appeared on and off-Broadway in Peter and the Starcatcher and Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein, among others. In the last five years, Jon has also been writing and recording music. Walker holds a BFA in Acting from Carnegie Mellon University.

www.jpwalkermusic.com

LA Mission Theatre production credits

Co-director and acting mentor, Peter and the Starcatcher

White Fabric

JAMES COWAN

Guest Artist - Acting

Cowan holds a BFA in Acting from CalArts.

LA Mission Theatre production credits
Actor and acting mentor, Peter and the Starcatcher

Marble Surface

HSUAN-KUANG HSIEH

Guest Artist - Projection Design

Hsuan-Kuang Hsieh is a multidisciplinary artist and video projection designer, born and raised in Taiwan. Drawing from a background in photography and theatrical performance, her practice highlights the audience’s experience by framing the act of viewing as an action. She integrates emerging media, performance, installation, experimental film, puppetry and hybrid forms of photo sculpture and text to create live, time-based experiences for her viewers. She has also been cooperating with both national and international performing artists, musicians, choreographers and filmmakers to create visual story for live performance. Hsuan-Kuang's work has been shown in both national and international venues, ranging from theaters and festivals to galleries and museums. 

 

www.hsuankuang.com

LA Mission Theatre production credits

Projection designer and mentor, Cabaret
Projection design mentor, Chavez Ravine

Abstract Architect

MARK LEWIS

Guest Artist - Acting

Bio to come

Lewis holds a BFA in Acting from Carnegie Mellon University.

LA Mission Theatre production credits

Actor and acting mentor, Peter and the Starcatcher

Stage Mist

STACY DAWSON STEARNS

Guest Artist - Choreography

Stacy Dawson Stearns is a Bessie Award-winning artist known for her work with Big Dance Theater, David Neumann, Hal Hartley, Ken Nintzel, and Blacklips Performance Cult. She has performed in 9 countries and in domestic venues including Jacob’s Pillow, American Dance Festival, Spoleto USA, Walker Art Center, The Whitney, The Ontological-Hysteric Theater, Classic Stage Company, HERE, City Center, Lincoln Center, Dance Theater Workshop (now NYLA), PS 122, MassMoCA, Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, The Performing Garage, Mother, and REDCAT. Beyond theater, Stacy has choreographed stage shows for pop icons Debbie Harry and Ann Magnuson.
 

LA Mission Theatre production credits
Choreographer and dance mentor, Cabaret

Gravel

DOROTHY HOOVER

Guest Artist - Scenic and Prop Design

Dorothy Hoover is a visual artist working in performance, theater, and object. Her short plays, which she wrote, directed, and designed, have been seen at Honor Fraser Gallery, Machine Project, and PAM Residencies. Sculptures and photography have been shown at William Leavitt's Studio, Half Gallery, and most recently, General Projects. As a scenic designer, her work has been presented at Boston Court, South Coast Rep, California Institute of the Arts, REDCAT, and LA Mission College. She holds an MFA in Scenic Design from CalArts.

 

www.dorothyhoover.com
 

LA Mission Theatre production credits

Scenic/prop designer and mentor, Peter and the Starcatcher
Scenic/prop designer and mentor, Cabaret
Scenic/prop designer and mentor, Dead Man's Cell Phone

Design Concrete

MARK KANIEFF

Guest Artist - Scenic Design

Mark Kanieff is a set designer and sculptor. His most recent productions include When Spring Comes to the Hills and Dales, The Government InspectorRiot/RebellionJudgment of FoolsTalking to Terrorists, and Intimate Apparel, and the dance pieces Ways of Forgetting and Earthly Dreams. He has also designed for a number of productions in Rome, Italy, where he worked for 20 years in the field of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. He earned his BFA in Sculpture from Carnegie-Mellon University and an MFA in Scenic Design from CalArts.

www.markkanieff.com

LA Mission Theatre production credits

Scenic/prop designer and mentor, Chavez Ravine

Droplets on the Window

STEPHANIE PETAGNO

Guest Artist - Costume Design

Petagno's recent collaborations as costume designer include Early Morning Opera’s The Institute of Memory at REDCAT; Circle Jerk, which was an official selection of REDCAT’s NOW Festival; The Fasting Girls, a new work explored in Bunraku puppetry at Automata, and the film, The Last Shift, which focuses on a group of young, female nurses during the 1979 revolution in Tehran. Stephanie has also recently had the pleasure of collaborating with the internationally recognized Moving Art Collective on Thirteen’s Spring and Metamorphosis as costume designer. Petagno’s work was also seen in the Ovation Award-winning experience, The Day Shall Declare It. By day, Stephanie designs and develops character costumes for themed and immersive worlds, which include collaborations with Dreamworks, Universal Studios, Fox, Disney, Focus Features, and the LA Clippers. She received her MFA in costume design from the California Institute of the Arts.

www.stephaniepetagno.com

LA Mission Theatre production credits

Scenic/prop designer and mentor, Chavez Ravine

Abstract Architecture

KATELYN BRAMER

Guest Artist - Lighting Design

Bio to come

Tin Wall

MAURA TAKESHITA

Guest Artist - Scenic Painting

www.mauratakeshita.net

LA Mission Theatre production credits

Scenic painter and mentor, Cabaret

Scenic painter and mentor, Chavez Ravine

White Crosses

DARIUS GANGEI

Guest Artist - Lighting Design

Darius Gangei began developing his craft with productions at Mill Valley Middle School. From age fifteen through eighteen he held a paid position working for Berkeley Unified School District as technical theater manager. Although his early design focus had an emphasis in theater, he has expanded his expertise into dance, themed entertainment as well as architectural design. Darius is currently the Technical Coordinator for Windward School in which he designs over 30 productions annually. When not working at Windward he is designing for various projects within his field. Darius graduated from California Institute of the Arts with a degree in lighting and sound design in 2015.
 

LA Mission Theatre production credits
Lighting designer and mentor, Peter and the Starcatcher