AJ Meijer is a graduate of the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television. He is excited and humbled to share his post-collegiate experience with those currently attending his alma mater. He has been teaching actors inside and out of the university setting for more than six years.
Meijer recently made his New York theatrical debut in the original cast of the smash hit Heathers: The Musical, after being a part of the Los Angeles workshop. On film, Meijer has shared the screen with Adam Brody and Leighton Meester in the romantic comedy Life Partners and with Vincent D’Onofrio and Anton Yelchin in the suspense thriller Broken Horses.
He co-founded the Los Angeles Theatre Ensemble and was seen in their productions of The War Cycle: Wounded, The War Cycle: Nation of Two, and The War Cycle: Gospel According to First Squad, for which he received an Ovation Award nomination. Regionally, he last appeared as Lennie in Of Mice and Men at TheatreWorks, Silicon Valley. He has performed at the Ahmanson Theatre and spent four seasons performing at the Getty, where he worked with the National Theatre of Greece in Swallow Song, and created the role of Bigbuxo in the hilarious original musical Tug of War. Meijer co-hosts the weekly, industry-focused podcast Inside Acting, affording him the opportunity to interview actors such as Neal McDonough, Kerry Bishé and Academy Award winner JK Simmons.
Meijer also boasts eight years of experience working for the most innovative company in the world, Apple Inc., in various capacities, including being tapped to voiceover several product videos featured on Apple.com. It was this experience, combined with the pragmatic knowledge gained from the podcast that inspired the Digital Actor Workshop. For the past six years, this workshop has been presented to the graduate and undergraduate students at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television as well as the University of Southern California.
Perry Daniel teaches movement and acting. She is also program coordinator and student supervisor for the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television’s Arts Bridge program, a national organization dedicated to providing arts education to elementary schools.
During the summer, Daniel teaches and directs for the Summer Acting and Performance Institute. Previous SAPI classes have included puppet design, mask technique, clowning, commedia dell’arte and improv comedy. Her primary focus is on creating original works through ensemble development and creative collaboration. She utilizes her background as a Pilates and Gyrotonic instructor to assist students in furthering their understanding of artistic exploration through physicality.
Daniel’s investment in performing arts, education and outreach is evident in her diverse array of experiences. As an instructor, she has developed and taught movement based acting courses in both New York and Los Angeles. She began her education outreach work in New York with The 52nd Street Project, a non-profit theater company committed to creative work with the youth in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. Her work with the Project led to a writing position with the production company Little Airplane for Nick Jr.’s The Wonder Pets. While in New York, Daniel trained with Under the Table Ensemble Theatre (founded by Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre alumni), participating in commedia and clown shows around the city. A supporter of Clowns Without Borders, she has toured with the South African chapter, providing humanitarian outreach and psychosocial relief through the art of playing. As an extension of her commitment to arts outreach and education, Daniel wrote and directed Tall Tales for the Geffen Playhouse. The debut was followed by a two-month tour of LAUSD elementary schools.
Daniel received her bachelor of fine arts degree in theater from the University of Colorado, Boulder and her master of fine arts degree in acting from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. Her improv and sketch comedy training is courtesy of UCB, The People’s Improv Theater and Denver’s Impulse Theater. Among numerous stage and camera credits, favorite past roles include Arlecchino in Il Sogno d’Arlecchino, Valentina from Goldoni’s The Housekeeper and Cyllene in the Getty Villa’s production of The Trackers. Daniel is also a member of the Los Angeles-based theater company Sacred Fools and an adjudicator for the Pantages Theater’s Jerry Herman Awards.
Though trained primarily as an actor, Associate Professor Thomas O’Connor performed for two important choreographers in his early career in the 1990s. The first, John Giffin, was a member of the Dance Theater of Wuppertal in Germany under the direction of Pina Bausch. During the same period, O’Connor trained with avant-garde choreographer and dancer Maureen Fleming, and performed in two of her group works: The Garden, commissioned by Change Performing Art with a 1996 premiere in Milan, Italy, and After Eros, a collaboration with composer Philip Glass and playwright David Henry Hwang, which premiered at the prestigious performance venue, The Kitchen, in New York City in 1998.
In 2002, O’Connor began training in Japan with the prominent Noh actor Ryoichi Kano and for the past seven years, he has been a performer with Theatre Nohgaku. Since 2008, O’Connor has served on the Steering Committee and from 2010-2013 served as the managing director of the company, which has gained increasing international recognition with performances in Paris, London, Oxford, Dublin, Tokyo, Kyoto, Beijing and Hong Kong. Founded in 2002, by Artistic Director Richard Emmert, Theatre Nohgaku is dedicated to developing an English voice for Noh, one of the world¹s oldest theater forms. In particular, the company seeks “a dialogue between two different Noh theatres: one traditional Japanese, the other contemporary and international.”
O’Connor is also associated with a translation project for the National Noh Theatre in Tokyo via the Japan Cultural Council. Between 2006 and 2013, he served as the lone native English-speaking member of a team of five, which provided approximately 270 Noh and Kyogen translations for simultaneous subtitling.
O’Connor has held a number of positions at colleges and universities including West Virginia University where he was recognized twice for outstanding teaching. He has also held adjunct and visiting appointments at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., Doshisha University AKP Center and Doshisha Women’s College of Liberal Arts (both in Kyoto, Japan), and has been a Research Fellow in Intercultural and Interdisciplinary Learning for the National Institute of Multimedia Education, an arm of the Japan Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture.
O’Connor has a B.F.A. in communications from Wayne State University, and an M.F.A. in theater performance and an M.A. in dance composition from Ohio State University.
J.Ed Araiza is the head of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television’s M.F.A. Acting Program. He has a long and varied history working on multicultural, cross-disciplinary projects as a writer, director and performer. Araiza holds a B.A. in theater from Texas A&I University in Kingsville, Texas and studied journalism at San Antonio College. Early in his career, Araiza was a member of El Teatro de La Esperanza Company and worked at both the Los Angeles Actors Theatre and the Los Angeles Theatre Center.
Araiza is a principal actor and original member of the SITI Company, founded by Tadashi Suzuki and Anne Bogart. SITI Company is one of the most important experimental theater ensembles in the world. He is a proponent of Suzuki and Viewpoints training and for more than 20 years has performed in productions in major national and international venues. These include the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.; the Olympic Arts Festival in Atlanta; the Brooklyn Academy of Music; Actors Theatre of Louisville; Los Angeles Theater Center; Minneapolis’ Walker Art Center; Harvard University’s American Repertory Theater; Scotland’s Edinburgh Festival; Germany’s Biennale Bonn festival; Japan’s Toga Festival; Ireland’s Dublin Theatre Festival; and Festival Le Standard Ideal, MC 93 Bobigny, in Paris.
As a playwright with seven original full-length plays produced, Araiza is a member of The Dramatist Guild, Austin Script Works and NoPE (No Passport Required). He has directed sections of 365 Days/365 Plays at the New York Public Theatre; Voluspa for the National Theatre of Iceland; Savitri, Dancing in the Forest of Death for the META Theatre Festival in Delhi (nominated for best production and best director) and MEDEAstories, his original adaptation of the Euripides, with an international cast for the SITI Studio Theatre in New York. He has also written One Fine Day and Miss Julia, a powerplay.
Araiza has been a guest teacher at many universities including The Julliard School, Yale School of Drama, SUNY Purchase, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, Columbia University, New York University, Stanford University, National Theater Institute, Harvard University, University of Chicago, Pomona College, Vassar College and the University of Denver. He was artist in residence/guest faculty for three semesters over three years at St. Edward’s University in Austin Texas; and artist-in-residence/Coastal Studies Chair at Bowdoin College in Maine. He was also guest lecturer in acting and performance at Ontario’s University of Windsor. Other international workshops he has led include those at the Singapore International Theatre Festival; South Korea’s Seoul Factory Theatre; the Norwegian Theatre Academy; the Icelandic Academy of the Arts; Festival Iberoamericano in Bogota, Columbia; and, most recently, a month-long residency at TEAK the Finnish Theatre Academy.
In Fall 2011, before joining UCLA TFT full time, Araiza served as a guest director in the Department of Theater working with second- and third-year M.F.A. students on a production of The Adding Machine by Elmer Rice.
Filmmaker Peter Shushtari teaches Acting for the Camera and Acting and Performance in Film, as well as the M.F.A. Film Acting Workshop in the Department of Theater.
His first feature-length film, Shakespeare…In and Out, was invited to lead off the Independent Feature Project West premier series and later received domestic and international distribution in more than 15 countries, including England, France and Germany. Shushtari has made several short films that have received numerous accolades, including the prestigious Nissan Focus Award and the Trimark Visionaries Award. He has optioned screenplays for Buckeye Productions and his work includes writing and directing 20 episodes of educational programs that have appeared on PBS affiliates throughout the U.S. He is the co-creator of the popular TV series Ingles Ya!, which features the critically acclaimed seriocomic novella The Engagement that has been broadcast in Mexico and regions of the U.S. Shushtari also has extensive commercial experience as a producer and director of promotional ads for companies such as Fiat, Ford, and Marcus & Millichap. In recent years, he was brought in by LAUSD as a multimedia educational materials developer to help launch four interactive educational programs, which have reached more than 300,000 students.
In addition to teaching at UCLA TFT, Shushtari is the co-founder of the Film Development Workshop Project Tambourine Kite. He is currently directing the pilot episode of the reality show Psychos in the Kitchen, and is working on two feature-length screenplays, Lake Huron and The Last Housewife, which are part of a trilogy that takes place in his home state of Michigan.
Shushtari earned a B.S. in TV/Film from San Diego State University and an M.F.A. in film directing from the UCLA School of Theater,
Film and Television
Thomas Orth is a director and movement specialist whose work merges gymnastics, ritual, and dance. He has created roles for the Guthrie and John Anson Ford theaters and directed original work for the L.A. Shakespeare Festival, Solari Theater, Southwest Ballet Company and UCLA. Productions include The Visit, West Side Story and the premiere of Fools.
Scott Conte received his MFA in Acting from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. In addition to teaching acting at UCLA, he also teaches at his own studio, “The Essence of Acting,” in Santa Monica.
Scott is a long-time member of Pacific Resident Theatre, one of LA‘s most respected theatre companies, where he trained as a teacher under Gar Campbell and Marilyn Fox (PRT’s Artistic Director) for 11 years. He has also taught acting at Rutgers University, where he studied the Meisner technique with William Esper and Maggie Flanagan. He has trained with Charles Marowitz, Loyd Williamson (movement), Leonard Petit (Chekhov), Pierre LeFevre (masks), Harold Scott (Shakespeare), and Master Yan Yuanhua (Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan), among others.
Scott Conte has appeared in numerous theatrical productions in both New York and Los Angeles, including the award-winning “Big Love” directed by Mel Shapiro, as well as “Birdbath,” “Rocket to the Moon,” “Anna Christie,” “Everyday Life,” “Lulu,” “Aven’u Boys,” “Golden Boy,” “Fata Morgana” and “Lions.”
Most recently, Scott earned rave reviews in The Odyssey Theatre Ensembles production of “The Irish Curse” and PRT’s production of Ingmar Bergman’s adaptation of “A Doll’s House.” Film credits include the feature films “Never Say Macbeth,” “Red Sky Morning,” “The Court” and the soon-to-be-released “Chavez Cage of Glory,” starring Danny Trejo and Steven Bauer.
Television appearances include “Seinfeld,” “NYPD Blue,” “Boston Legal,” “Monk,” “Criminal Minds,” “Joan of Arcadia” and “Anytime” with Bob Kushell.
Paul Wagar has worked as an actor with The Royal Shakespeare Company, The New Shakespeare Company and The Stratford Festival in Canada. He was artistic director for Actor’s Initiative and the Toronto Repertory Theater, where he directed works by Shakespeare, Woody Allen and Mamet, as well as productions for children. He spent 10 years as the producing director of the Philadelphia Area Repertory Theater and directed for the Shakespeare Theater in Washington, D.C. and the Pulse Theater Ensemble in New York.
Wager taught for 12 years at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and was the head of voice and speech there for eight years. He has coached actors for the Geffen Playhouse and the films Money Talks and Next Friday. He has appeared in the films The Last Bluff and Good Advice and in the Los Angeles theatrical production of A Clockwork Orange. He co-wrote and directed a comedy for the HBO Studio and in 2003 adapted and directed Shakespeare’s Merchant, based on The Merchant of Venice.
Wagar currently serves as the artistic director for the Ark Theatre Company.
Nicholas Gunn is a dancer and actor. Originated principal roles in more than 40 productions performed world-wide for the Paul Taylor Dance Company, guest artist in the original Nureyev and Friends at the Uris Theater in Manhattan and international venues including the Sadler Wells Theater in London. He studied acting with Milton Katsellas and appeared in popular television series such as Hart to Hart and Hill Street Blues. He has appeared in the Los Angeles Opera Company productions of The Barber of Seville and The Magic Flute among others and was featured prominently in Franco Zefirelli’s production of Pagliacci with Placido Domingo. He served as production supervisor for the Zephyr Theater in Los Angeles and has taught at the Dance Department of Pomona College.
Marilyn Fox has taught acting at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television since 2002. She has also been the artistic director of Pacific Resident Theatre since 1995. Under her watch, Pacific Resident Theatre has produced 62 main stage productions, which have garnered more than 150 awards for excellence including 25 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards, 20 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award Nominations, 36 Garland Awards and two Outstanding Season Awards from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle (LADCC).
Fox began her teaching career in 1983, when she established a theater program at Lincoln Jr. High School in Santa Monica, Calif. Her early training was under the Russian actor and dancer Benjamin Zemach (Moscow Art Theatre/Habima Theatre/Martha Graham Company) and Elizabeth Lynn (Chekhov Players).
During the 1970s, Fox was fortunate to participate in a series of workshops led by Jerzy Growtoski. She spent two years studying theater (1973-74) at Franconia College and was introduced to The Young Vic in London in 1976. In 1978, she returned to Los Angeles and studied with Tom Troupe and Don Eitner. In 1981, she began a 27-year relationship with actor/director Gar Campbell, her greatest teacher and artistic guide.
During the 1980s, Fox worked in regional theater in productions at South Coast Repertory, Seattle Repertory, Westwood Playhouse, and performed in 25 local Los Angeles productions. In 1988, she had the honor of being directed by Kazimierz Braun, the artistic director of the Polish Osterwa Theater, in Witkiewicz’ The Shoemakers. (L.A. Times, best performance.) Literary critic Jan Kott remarked that her performance “played in the true Witkacy style.”
She became a member of Pacific Resident Theatre in 1985 and then Artistic Director of the company in 1995. She most recently co-directed the multi-award nominated 2013 production of Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge (Huffington Post Best Plays of 2013, L.A. Times Critics Choice). She directed The Browning Version (Top Ten Plays in California 2009, Charles McNulty, L.A. Times; LADCC Award, best direction). As an actress at PRT, she played Lady Torrance in Tennessee Williams’ Orpheus Descending (LADCC Award, best performance,). Other roles include Bessie Berger in Clifford Odets’ Awake and Sing! at PRT and the Odyssey Theatre (LADCC Award, best performance). She played Bessie Berger again in Awake and Sing! at The Berkshire Theatre Festival, Pittsburgh Public Theatre and in a series of staged readings with Eli Wallach, Josh Brolin, Ed Asner and Alec Baldwin in New York at Primary Stages and the Daryl Roth Theatres. She played Esther Franz in Arthur Miller’s The Price (Robbie Award, performance) at Laguna Playhouse. Also at PRT: Molnar’s The Swan (LADCC nomination, best performance, Garland Award), Sarah in Chekhov’s Ivanov directed by Gar Campbell, Ludmilla in The Quick-Change Room (LADCC and Garland Awards, best performance).
As a director at PRT, Fox, with Gar Campbell, was nominated for best direction by the LADCC for both Golden Boy and The Playboy of the Western World. In 2008, she directed Fata Morgana (LADCC nomination, best revival) at PRT. She directed The Seagull at the Powerhouse Theater, The Glass Menagerie (with Tom Jane and Sherry North) at Laguna Playhouse, The Swan Play at the Odyssey Theatre and Giraudoux’s Ondine (LADCC Award, best direction) at PRT.
Fox, who has taught acting classes in Los Angeles for more than 25 years, is a three-time winner of the Los Angeles Drama Critic’s Circle Award for best performance by an actor. The LA Weekly recently honored her with their prestigious career achievement award.