BLAIRE BARON Artistic Director, Founder
A native Angeleno, Blaire began working professionally at age 20 as an actor in theatre, television and films. While studying at The New School/Playwrights Horizons in New York, Blaire was mentored by two legends: Geraldine Page and Estelle Parsons. She performed on Broadway with The Roundabout Theater, Ensemble Studio Theater and Playwrights Horizons, while appearing on The Guiding Light by day. In all, Blaire has appeared in over 50 films and television series.
In 2004, with two young children at home, Blaire was recruited by The Los Angeles Shakespeare Center to work with youth using Applied Theatre techniques and Shakespeare as empowerment tools.
Blaire worked with Fringe Benefits, a non-profit arts company, co-directing an original play at Wilson High School (East L.A.) about hate crimes against gay youth, based on stories from the students. It was performed for the community.
Realizing that bullying, racism, classism and sexism start at a very early age, Blaire created The Hero Program, for Larchmont Charter School’s “launch year” teaching K-3 about compassion and empathy. This prevention education program has been in 5 schools. In all her teaching work, Blaire incorporates Kundalini yoga and Applied Theatre (especially the work of Viola Spolin and Agosto Boal.)
Blaire founded the Los Angeles Drama Club in 2004 and has never stopped directing our country’s youngest Shakespeare Troupe. Directing credits include: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (twice), Macbeth (twice), Twelfth Night, Henry IV, Part 2, Timon of Athens (twice), Merchant of Venice, The Tempest, A Winter’s Tale, Cymbeline, Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, Richard III, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Love’s Labors Lost, and As You Like It.
In addition to the Shakespeare Youth Festival of Los Angeles, Blaire created LADC’s Acting for Social Justice workshop. With Julia Wyson, she created Queen Elinor’s School of Knighthood and Chivalry, which introduces the ancient art of chivalry to young people: including community service, such as feeding the homeless.
JULIA WALKER WYSON, Executive Director
Julia began acting in Chicago, where she performed with many of Chicago’s foremost theater companies, including Bailiwick Repertory, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Court Theater, Chicago Dramatists Workshop, Commons Theater and Pegasus Players. She has worked in regional theaters across the country, including Alabama Shakespeare Festival, New American Theater in Rockford, Illinois, New Stage Theater in Jackson, Mississippi, and First Stage Milwaukee. Shakespearean roles include Juliet in Romeo & Juliet, Rosalind in As You Like It, Cordelia in King Lear, Lady Percy in the Henry IVs, The Queen in Richard II and Hermia in Midsummer Night’s Dream.
She received her Theater degree from Northwestern University, and her MFA in Shakespeare from the Alabama Shakespeare Festival Professional Actor Training program, and has studied at the Actors’ Center in Chicago. A former dancer, she has performed with a variety of Chicago dance companies, and expanded her experience with Movement for the Stage at the Laban Institute in New York. She is particularly passionate about working with Shakespearean text, and helping her students understand the joys of iambic pentameter.
Julia has worked extensively performing for and with children. She has taught acting and movement workshops to children all over the country from inner-city Chicago, to rural communities in Alabama and Illinois, to Los Angeles, Pasadena and Glendale.
As a director and movement coach, she has created shows for Chicago Actors Ensemble, Bailiwick Repertory, and MoMing Dance and Arts Center in Chicago, and Zoo District and the Northwestern University Entertainment Alliance in Los Angeles.
Julia joined Blaire as Co-Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Drama Club in 2007. Since then, she has directed Pericles, Macbeth (twice), As You Like It (twice), Henry IV, Part i, Much Ado About Nothing, Comedy of Errors, A Winter’s Tale, Cymbeline, King John, Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, The Tempest, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, and Richard III.
With Blaire Larsen, she created Queen Elinor’s School of Knighthood and Chivalry, which introduces the ancient art of chivalry to young people. In addition to community service, Queen Elinor’s School exposes young people to a variety of new physical experiences, including archery, horseback riding, and combat for the stage.
Award winning Actress, Anniwaa Buachie is a Ghanaian- British actress . As a child, Anniwaa was scouted by ballet dancer Rhian Robins, who believed Anniwaa’s dance skills, were of an exceptionally high standard and encouraged Anniwaa’s parents to enroll her in to the Royal Academy of Dance. For 16 years Ballet and Contemporary dance was Anniwaa’s obsession, although a dancer of a high calibre she remained focused and adamant on becoming an actress. Anniwaa attended the prestigious British method based acting school – East 15 Acting School. Shortly after graduating from East 15, Anniwaa was awarded The Alan Bates Outstanding Newcomer award. Since winning this Award, she has continued to work on the British stage national TV, in British classics such as: Eastenders , Law & Order: UK and Holby City. She is now based in LA accessing the growing opportunities that America has for black actors.
WILL GRESSMAN, Artistic Associate
Will is an actor, teacher, director, composer, and yoga instructor. He received his MFA in Theater Acting from Columbia University where he worked directly with Kristin Linklater, Anne Bogart, Andrei Serban, and Olympia Dukakis. He has a Bachelors degree in Philosophy, Urban Studies, and Theater from the University of Michigan. While there he led several Arts Education programs in urban areas of Detroit. Shortly after his time at Michigan, he led the theater department at his Alma Mater, Christopher Columbus High School. Will was also a casting director for the Latin Department for Unique Casting Partners where he led many workshops for aspiring actors. He has taught acting to youth and adults throughout his career all over the country. He is currently teaching Literature Criticism for the theater department at the Los Angeles County High School of the Arts (LACSHA). As actor he has worked at the Guthrie, the Asolo Rep, Classic Stage Company, the Straz Center and the Sierra Madre Playhouse. He has performed and composed music off-Broadway, off-off-Broadway, and Regionally. He continues his education in acting by studying with Larry Moss, working with the Actor’s Studio, and performing in theater locally in Los Angeles. He is a working Actor in Film, TV and commercials but always comes back to his love for the theater.
ELIZA LAUREN DEAN, Artistic Associate
Eliza is a dance major at UCLA. She grew up in the theatre, the daughter of parents who are both actors and theatre directors. Eliza is a founding member of Les Enfants Magiques!, the childrens’ classical theatre ensemble at The Lost Studio, where she continues to teach and choreograph. Eliza starred in numerous productions at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza with the Southern California Children’s Theatre. She was a series regular in The Simple Life with Judith Light on CBS. Other stage credits include Michael Elias’ Catskill Sonata directed by Paul Mazursky at the Hayworth, Marie in Georg Buchner’s Woyzeck at LACHSA, Bridget in Harold Pinter’s Moonlight directed by John Pleshette at The Lost Studio, and Juliet in Romeo and Juliet at The Hillis Outdoor Theatre.
KILA PACKETT, Artistic Associate, Stage Combat
Kila Packett made his Off-Broadway debut in Sir Peter Hall’s production of As You Like It at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Favorite Shakespearean roles include Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew, Orsino in Twelfth Night, and Orlando in As You Like It all at Classic Stage Company. Kila is a founding member of The Plastic Theatre and co-author of, Unnatural Acts (Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Play). After relocating to Los Angeles in 2011, he made his Prime time television debut as Dave Lockhart on the new “Hawaii Five-O.” As a teaching artist, Kila has contributed his skills to the BELL Foundation, CSC Young Company, Columbia Business School’s Senior Executive Program, Columbia High School Institute, Los Angeles Drama Club, Young Storytellers Foundation, and the The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum. He holds his MFA in Theatre from Columbia University’s School of the Arts.
ESDRAS TOUSSAINT, Artistic Associate
ADAM MICHAEL ROSE, Artistic Associate, Voice and DialectsAdam is a New York-trained dialect-coach and actor with over 10 years of professional experience in stage, film, and television. Adam has a degree in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and he has studied accents and dialects in New York, London and Washington, DC. He’s taught dialect workshops at schools and theater companies in Los Angeles (Sierra Canyon School, Notre Dame Academy, Marlborough School, Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences), and throughout the rest of the country (Washington, DC, Buffalo, NY, Teaneck, NJ, New York City) Adam was also the production dialect coach for Wendy Graf’s new play Behind the Gates (Hatikvah Productions), Neil Simon’s Prisoner of 2nd Ave. (Wasatch Theatrical Ventures), and the short film The Maiden and the Princess (starring David Anders and Julian Sands).
ZEYNEP BILIK, Artistic Associate
A native of Istanbul, Zeynep began her theatrical training at STUDIO, a performance lab founded by renowned Turkish actress, playwright, and director Sahika Tekand.
After receiving a BA in English Language & Literature, she attended the Stella Adler Studio of Acting, where she completed the 2 Year Conservatory Program. Over the next five years, she participated in over a dozen NYC stage productions and continued training in numerous Shakespeare/Classical voice & speech workshops led by Yoshi Oida, Patsy Rodenburg, Kristen Linklater, Andrea Haring and Fights 4. Since 2008, she has had the privilege of being a part of the LADC team as Artistic Associate on Macbeth: Conscience & Consequence, As You Like it, Twelfth Night, Henry IV Parts i & ii, The Magic of Shakespeare, Meet the Characters!, and as assistant director on Timon of Athens and Merchant of Venice. She is also an avid student of Indian classical dance at the Shakti School of Bharata Natyam, here in Los Angeles.