faculty/

staff

Full time Faculty
Chair
Michael Gend (gendmd@piercecollege.edu)

is a theatre artist that has collaborated on over 200 productions in the greater Los Angeles area during the past two decades.  He designed the lighting for Annapurna at the Acorn Theatre Off-Broadway, NYC.  He also made his Minneapolis regional debut with his design for A Steady Rain at The Guthrie Theatre.  He won the Suzie Award for Outstanding Lighting Design for his design of A Steady Rain at the Alliance Theater in Atlanta, GA.  In Los Angeles he most recently designed lighting for The False Servant, Anna Christie (Stage Raw Nomination, Lighting), A Steady Rain,and Passion Play(Stage Raw Nomination, Lighting) at the Odyssey Theatre, the opera The Cloth Peddler at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and the critically acclaimed L.A. production of We Are Proud to Present… at the Matrix Theater (L.A. Weekly 2014 Winner: Best Production).  He also designed the lighting for Henry IV Part One and Wedding Band (Stage Raw Winner, Best Revival) at Antaeus Classical Ensemble.  Other credits: T.O. Civic Arts Plaza: Jekyll & Hyde. REDCAT:  Sucktion. Pasadena Playhouse:  Mother On Fire. 

Michael holds an MFA from CalArts and is a very proud member of the Theatre Arts faculty at Pierce College where he teaches classes in introduction to theatre, technical stage production, lighting design, scenic design, stagecraft, stage management, and computer aided drafting for theatre.  He currently serves as the Department Chairperson of the Performing Arts Department (Dance, Music, and Theatre Arts) and is the 1st Vice President of Academic Policy for the Pierce Academic Senate.

is full time faculty at LAPC Theatre, teaching Acting, Directing and History and directing multiple productions including Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Tartuffe, Hairspray, Arabian Nights, In the Heights and Top Girls which was a 2019 finalist at Kennedy Center's American College Theatre Festival.   She received her MFA from Columbia University and her BA from Smith College.  

She is a founder of Epic Theater Ensemble in New York City, a multi-award winning

company. Vaaz has also performed, devised, produced, taught and/or directed with Yale Repertory Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, Manhattan Theatre Club, the Public, La Mama ETC, the Mark Taper Forum, Theatre at Boston Court, East West

Players, Cornerstone Theatre Company, Mayfield Senior School, Los Angeles

High School of the Arts, California Institute of the Arts and USC. As a director, shows include The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, Caucasian Chalk Circle, The Arabian Nights, Our Town, The Women, The Syringa Tree, Fiddler on the Roof, Twelve Angry Women, and West Side Story.

As an actor, plays include The House of Bernarda Alba, Homebody/ Kabul, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, Hedda Gabler and guest starring spots on Without a Trace, Law and Order: SVU, Eve, 24, and The Education of Max Bickford. She directed Shane Sakhrani’s A Widow of No Importance at East West Players and devised an original piece for Cal Arts based on the women of the Hindu Epics, called Devi: The Untold Story. Her original show Dirty Talk, has performed at colleges across the nation.

Acting/Directing

Shaheen Vaaz-Chamarbagwala (vaazchs@piercecollege.edu)

Adjunct Faculty

Anthony Cantrell (cantreae@piercecollege.edu)

has directed for both the educational  and professional stage for over 20 years. He made his LAPC directing debut IN 2017 with Stupid Fucking Bird. Some favorite productions Include: It’s Showtime, Folks (a Fosse tribute), The Crucible, The Diary of Anne Frank, and 9 to 5: The Musical.

Anthony has also been an actor at Pierce and some highlights include: All My Sons, Looking Glass, Beyond Therapyand most recently as Sherlock in Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure.

Anthony is currently the Director of Arts Education at CSUN’s Valley Performing

Arts Center and on the Theatre faculty here at LA Pierce College. 

Anthony received his Bachelor’s degree from UCLA and his Ph.D. in Theatre

from the University of Michigan.

Anna is an actor, educator and director. Since 2010 Anna has taught multiple

subjects in the theatre departments of CSULB, Santa Ana College, Golden West College, and Pierce College. 

Anna trained extensively at Oxford University (BADA), University of San Francisco (BA in Performing Arts and Social Justice), Anne Bogart’s SITI Company (Suzuki/Viewpoints), The John Ruskin School of Acting (Meisner) and Teacher Development Program at The Actors Center in NYC, she holds an MFA in Acting/Directing from California State University Long Beach.

TV/film appearances include Pillbox (Billy Corgan feature film), Day out of Days by

Zoe Cassavetes, short film Strangers, feature films Shadows of the Dead and 

Coldplay, American Body Shop (Comedy Central), Las Vegas (NBC), Bill Nye the

Science Guy (Jean) and multiple commercials. San Francisco theatre credits

include Angels in America, Blue Room, and Blind Spot. Cal Rep theatre credits include Blackbird, Quills, Hyacinth Macaw, Festen, Brittannicus, Out of Thin Air, 

Saint Plays, Kentucky Cycle, And the War Came and Pool of Bethesda. Other

LA credits: Through the Lyres Strings at Ruskin Group Theatre, Tartuffe and A

Chorusline at Norris Theatre, Little Shop of Horrors Curtains Up! Theatre. 

Directing credits: created/directed the CSULB University Players production 

#ethnocentricCRAP and co-directed devised play In or Out. Directed for the 24

Hour Plays in collaboration with Cornerstone Theatre Company.  Bad Jews at

Pierce College, Bad Jews at the Whitefire Theatre. In 2018 Ms. Steers founded Steers Studio: a camera acting laboratory. 

Ms. Steers has developed and directed summer conservatory programs at Mount Holyoke College, Long Beach Playhouse and Shakespeare Santa Barbara. Her philanthropic work -inspired by theatre for social change - led her to an orphanage in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Anna's Educational Performance In Community classes work in collaboration with such Long Beach communities as Kaiser Permanente, the VA Hospital, Boys and Girls Club, Women to Women Shelter, Flossie Lewis, Long Beach LGBTQ Center and Arts and Services for the Disabled. Ms. Steers received a grant from Cal State's Center for Community Engagement to create the first authenticated Service-Learning course implemented in Theatre Arts curriculum.  Anna Steers is a founding member of The National Alliance of Acting Teachers.

 

Esdras Toussaint (toussae@piercecollege.edu)

is a Haitian born, American actor, director, producer, and teacher. He earned his MFA in Theatre from Columbia University. Esdras has contributed his talents to several outreach programs, including Classic Stage Company’s Young Company in New York, Theater Masters in Colorado, and Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum in California.

His theatrical career extends from the experimental and the avant-garde 

to Shakespeare and the classics.  For LAPC Theatre he most recently directed

Twelfth Night and Clybourne Park.

Esdras serves as a resident Artistic Associate at the prestigious Los Angeles

Drama Club (the country’s youngest Shakespeare ensemble) where he is

coming off of directing Timon of Athens. His other directing credits include: 

Antony and Cleopatra, Comedy of Errors, The Rules of Comedy by Peter Bloedel, 

This Is a Test by Stephen Gregg, and the internationally renowned play

Outspoken by Blaire Baron Larsen. Esdras is pleased to be joining Pierce College as a Theatre Arts Adjunct Instructor.

a native of Tennessee, received her BFA in Theatre from the University of Memphis and was awarded a full scholarship to Cornell University where she earned an MFA in Acting.

She began her professional career as a member of the Arena Stage in

Washington, D.C., and has worked in theatre, television and film for over 20 years.

She enjoys teaching Acting, Dramatic Literature and Theatre History. The 

Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, a national organization

promoting excellence in college theatre, has hosted five of her productions

at regional festivals, acknowledged her achievements as an Outstanding Female

Director, and presented her with the Kennedy Center Excellence in Theatre

Education Award.

 
was born in Nottingham, England and trained to be an actor at The University of Lancaster and with the Royal Shakespeare Company before going on to an acting career in London and Paris before moving to the USA. She has been on the theatre faculty at Pierce College since 2001. She directed How the Other Half Loves in 2012 and Independence in 2015.
Costumes/ Hair/ Make-Up
Eileen Gizienski (giziener@piercecollege.edu)

is an independent costume designer and wardrobe stylist, and is had been the LAPC Resident Costume Designer since 2012. A native of Los Angeles, Eileen holds a BA and MFA from UCLA, studying Costume and Theatrical Design. She has designed the costumes for LAPC Theatre’s productions of Cabaret, Hairspray, In the Heights, Tartuffe, Vanya, Sonia, Masha and Spike, How The Other Half Loves, Art, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Rosencratz & Guildenstern Are Dead, The Fantasticks, It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, Twelfth Night, among many more. 

 

Eileen has worked in theatre, (national tours and regional theatre, including a stint at Nebraska Repertory Theatre where she designed the costumes for productions such as Kiss Me Kate and Take Me Along), television, motion pictures, award shows, and live performances. Having worked in theatre, opera and dance as a dress and costume maker, her experience has been instrumental in her ability to meet the unique demands of costumes designed for the stage. Having worked with many celebrities, her resume spans from variety shows designed by Tony award-winner Bob Mackie to network award shows, commercials for film, television and national advertising campaigns, such as the Target Missoni ads. 

 

After many years as a professional free-lance costumer, she is now based at LAPC Theatre, where she is Professor of Costume Design, Fashion History, Makeup and Design for Theatre. She mentors student designers, and imparts to them that costume design is part of the collaborative process of theatre and not simply decoration or embellishment, but a means for the communication of ideas, which takes the story, characters, and historical facts, and translates them through an emotional expression that culminates on stage in the final production. 

 

In addition to teaching, designing and mentoring at LAPC Theatre, she maintains an active free-lance design career. She was nominated for a Daytime Emmy award and is a member of IATSE Local 705.

Scenic/ Lighting/ Sound
has taught in Los Angeles Pierce College Theatre Arts Department since 

1989 -- and served as the department’s Chair for 13 years, until his retirement in 2011.

He continues to teach as an Adjunct Professor of Theatre at LAPC Theatre. 

Gene has directed scores of plays and musicals for LAPC Theatre, and has also served as technical director as well as scenic and lighting designer for dozens more.

Frederica Nascimento (nascimf@piercecollege.edu)

Works in theatre, opera, dance, and film. Collaborates with several theatre companies and is a Resident Artist at A Noise Within (Argonautika, Othello, Henry V, The Maids, Arcadia, All My Sons, Julius Caesar, The Threepenny Opera, are some of her recent plays). Directors include José Álvaro Morais, Manoel de Oliveira, Wim Wenders, Pina Bausch, Robert Wilson, Rogério de Carvalho, João Canijo, Ruben Polendo, Chris Fields, Simon Levy, Laurie Woolery, Johannes Wieland, Larry Biederman, Jonathan Fox, Shishir Kurup, Steven Robman, Stephanie Shroyer, Geoff Elliott, Julia Rodriguez-Elliott, and Shirley Jo Finney among others. Frederica is a Usual Suspect at New York Theatre Workshop and collaborates with Evidence Room/Bart DeLorenzo. EDUCATION: Awarded the Tisch School of the Arts Scholarship, received her MFA in Theatre and Film Design from Tisch School of The Arts/NYU with the J.S. Seidman Graduating Award for Excellence in Design. Graduated from Lisbon Theatre and Film School and from the Faculty of Architecture/Technical University of Lisbon. She is an architect and a proud scholar with Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Luso-American Foundation, member of the Portuguese Architects Association, and United Scenic Artists USA 829, IATSE. Frederica is adjunct faculty at Pierce College (Scenic Design, Stagecraft, Production, Introduction to Theatre Design, Introduction to the Theatre) and a guest designer (Scenic and Costume Design) at CSUN. Nominated for an NAACP Scenic Design Award and a 2018 LA STAGE Alliance Ovation Award in Scenic Design (Large Theater) for Henry V - ANW. www.fredericanascimento.com 

IG: @fredericanascimentodesign

Casey's Lighting Design experience ranges from designing the lighting for the world premiere of “Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches”, to designing many musicals and concerts at the Hollywood Bowl, to designing the lighting for a NATO Ministers of Defense meeting.
She served for 6 years as a lighting designer for Walt Disney Imagineering

designing theme park attractions in CA, FL, Paris and Tokyo, and an additional 5

years at Walt Disney Imagineering Research and Development working with lighting designers from all aspects of the Disney Corporation. 
Casey currently teaches theatre at Los Angeles Pierce College, East Los Angeles

College, and tech Management at the Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas. 
Casey is the Western Region Exam Committee Chair for United Scenic Artists Local

829. She is also a member of the United States Intstitute of Theatre Technology

and the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America. And she serves on the

board of directors for the Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company.

Casey Cowan Gale (galekc@elac.edu)
History

Frank Catalano (catalafj@piercecollege.edu)

is an adjunct faculty member at LAPC teaches stage and film

acting courses. He is also a faculty member of the School of Dramatic Arts of the University of Southern California and the Department of Theatre at California State University, Northridge. Professionally, he has served as an executive and producer at Lorimar Studios, Beverly Hills Playhouse, Southern California Center for the Arts and Warner Bros. He has written and performed in animated, liveaction television series and feature films including, The Adventures of Dynamo Duck for Fox Television, Digimon Digital Monsters, Super Pig, Bit the Cupid, Bee Bop Cowboy, the land mark Sci-Fi series Robotech, Flint the Time Detective, Vampire Princess Miyu, Honey Bee Hutch and ABC television series including LA Law, NYPD Blue and Ugly Betty. He is also the author of numerous books on Theatre Arts, writing and film including: Art of the Monologue, Short Monologues for Auditions, Short Scenes for Auditions, Book to Screen and Short Monologues for Acting Classes (2020).

 
Michael Sande (sandemw@piercecollege.edu)
Staff

has been working in both professional and academic theatre for over 30 years. He holds BA degrees in History and Communications from the University of Washington. Michael began his theatrical career in 1986 at ACT Theatre in Seattle as Public Relations Director, and several years later as Communications Director. Between those gigs, he served as Director of Marketing and Public Relations at the two-time Tony Award-winning Goodspeed Musicals in Connecticut and in the same capacity at the historic Pasadena Playhouse.

Michael has worked on over a dozen world premiere productions, including Scent of the Roses (starring the legendary Julie Harris), Power Plays (written by and starring Alan Arkin and Elaine May) and the musical Sisterella (produced by Michael Jackson for the Pasadena Playhouse). While at ACT Theatre, he was honored to work with George Furth and Stephen Sondheim on the revised version of their musical, Merrily We Roll Along. Michael has been serving as Managing Director at LAPC Theatre since 2003.

 

FOR TICKETS CALL 818-719-6488 OR GO TO brownpapertickets.org

has been working behind the scenes at Pierce College since 1981. 

 In that time, he has trained and assisted students in the construction of

scenery for over 200 productions.  He has been the primary set carpenter

at Pierce since 1999. John has also served as a set designer or lighting

designer on numerous Pierce College productions. Some of his favorites have been The Taming of the Shrew(sets, 1988), Miss Julie(sets, 1998), The Elephant Man(lighting, 2006), Intimate Apparel (set and lighting, 2007), Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead(set and lighting, 2013), Independence(set, 2014), The Royal Family(set, 2015), Fences(set, 2016), and Top Girls(lighting, 2018).

Some of John’s other interests include homebrewing beer, model making,

and embedded electronics.

Kathryn Juday
Edward Salas
DJ Medina (medinadj@piercecollege.edu)

Born and raised in Southern California, DJ Medina, has been making noise since he was old enough to “throw things off the table just to hear them hit the floor.” As a percussionist, he has learned how important every little sound can be. DJ was a 2016 BroadwayWorld - Best Sound Designer nominee for his work on Good People at the Hudson Guild Theatre. Other productions include Waiting for Godot, Vanya, Sonia, Masha, & Spike, Love/Sick, Top Girls, Brilliant Traces, and In The Heights. He has also worked at Knotts Berry Farm as well as Universal Studios and the Hollywood Bowl. DJ joined Pierce College Staff Spring 2018.

At Los Angeles Pierce College our facilities include a newly renovated 350-seat Main Stage theatre and a flexible black box space, plus classrooms, set shop, and costume and make-up labs.
Explore the menu above or come visit us at Performing Arts Building, 6201 Winnetka Ave., Woodland Hills 91371

Department Chair

Michael Gend

Acting/ Directing

Shaheen Vaaz-Chamarbagwala

Anthony Cantrell

Anna Steers, Esdras Toussaint

Valorie Grear, Anita Adcock

Costume Design

Eileen Gizienski

Scenic Design

Gene Putnam, Frederica Nascimento

Lighting Design

Casey Cowan Gale

History/ Introduction

Nico Guilak, Frank Catalano

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