Fern Sloan, an actress for over 40 years, is co-founder and co-artistic director of The Actors’ Ensemble and has performed and taught the Michael Chekhov technique in the US, Canada and Europe. She was certified by Beatrice Straight to teach the work of Michael Chekhov and was on the faculty of the original Michael Chekhov Studio in New York City for the last three years of the studio’s existence. She was co-director and on the faculty of the Speech and Drama Program of Sunbridge College. Prior to founding The Actors’ Ensemble, Ms. Sloan played leading roles in numerous regional theaters in the US and Off-Broadway. Together with Jessica Cerullo, Ms. Sloan wrote the MICHA Workbook to assist those practically studying the Chekhov technique.
Ted Pugh is co-founder and co-artistic director of The Actors’ Ensemble and has appeared on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Regional theaters around the United States. After having trained at the Michael Chekhov Studio in New York City, Mr. Pugh was certified as a teacher by Beatrice Straight and Deirdre du Prey in 1983, and was on the faculty at the Studio for the last seven years of its existence. Mr. Pugh has also taught workshops throughout the U.S., Europe and Russia. A founding member of the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut under the direction of Jon Jory, he began his career at Arena Stage in Washington DC in 1962.
Ragnar Freidank co-founder and creative director of the Michael Chekhov School has been part of the acting faculty at Columbia University, Sarah Lawrence College, Brooklyn College, Marymount Manhattan and was invited by Michael Howard to work in his acting studio in NYC, where he subsequently taught a weekly professional class for several years. He was a featured teacher and the co-artistic director of MICHA’s “Master Classes in the Michael Chekhov Technique” DVD series and directed the award-winning film Beautiful Hills of Brooklyn starring Joanna Merlin, executive producer Bob Balaban. He received a scholarship from Villigst, Germany to study the Michael Chekhov Technique in New York City with Ted Pugh and Fern Sloan, with whom he has been collaborating in The Actors’ Ensemble for the past 20 years. Currently he is teaching in the Acting Program of The New School for Drama and his own ongoing scene-study class in NYC.
Joanna Merlin, a student of Michael Chekhov, is an actor, teacher, and former casting director. She is the President of MICHA and a faculty member at NYU’s Graduate Acting program at the Tisch School of the Arts. Ms. Merlin is the recipient of two Casting Society of America Artios Awards for casting Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor and Sondheim’s Into the Woods. As Harold Prince’s Casting Director, she cast the original Broadway productions of Sondheim’s Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures, Sweeney Todd, and Merrily We Roll Along, as well as Evita, Candide, A Doll’s Life, Play Memory, End of the World, and On the Twentieth Century. Films she has cast include Merchant/Ivory’s Mr. and Mrs. Bridge, as well as the American casting for their Jefferson in Paris and Surviving Picasso, Michael Cimino’s Year of the Dragon, and John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China. As an actor, Ms. Merlin’s Broadway credits include Becket opposite Laurence Olivier and Fiddler on the Roof, in which she created the role of Tzeitel, the eldest daughter. Her films include Sarah’s Key, The Wackness, Invasion, City of Angels, Class Action, Mystic Pizza, Fame, The Killing Fields, and The Ten Commandments. She appeared on “The Good Wife” and “Homeland” and has a recurring part in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as Judge Lena Petrovsky. Ms. Merlin is a co-founder of the Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts (formerly the Non-Traditional Casting Project), and was a member of the Tony Awards Nominating Committee. Her book, Auditioning: An Actor-Friendly Guide, was published by Vintage in May 2001 and is still in print.
Phelim McDermott is an actor and director and lives in London, UK. He is a founder member of Improbable Theatre (UK). He has won various awards such as an Olivier Award for Best Entertainment, TMA Awards for Best Touring Production and Best Director and a Critics Circle Best Designer Award. He was awarded a National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts fellowship and an Honorary Doctorate from the Middlesex University. He facilitates Devoted & Disgruntled (“D&D”), an Open Space working on issues in the contemporary theater. Phelim is also a father and a husband.
Bethany Caputo is an actress and a teacher in New York City who performs regionally across the country at such theaters as Arena Stage, The Goodman and Actors Theatre of Louisville. In 2015, she appeared with Alec Baldwin and Laurie Metcalf in Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons” at the John Drew theater in East Hampton, NY. Bethany studied at the Moscow Art Theatre where she was introduced to the Chekhov technique in 1997. She is now on faculty with MICHA, the Michael Chekhov Acting Studio in New York City and with Stony Brook University Graduate Department. She was a featured actor in the Master Classes DVD series produced by MICHA, the Michael Chekhov Association.
Craig Mathers is an actor who has been working on stage, film and television. He studied acting with Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse and is a graduate of Yale Drama School where he studied acting under Earle Gister. He has also trained at Shakespeare and Company in their month-long intensive and text workshops. In New York City, he has taught acting, both contemporary and classical, at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts and at NYU’s CAP 21. In California, he has taught at CalState’s SummerArts Program. Craig is a designated Linklater teacher and an associate professor of Performing Arts at Emerson College.
Camille Litalien trained at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance in New York and at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London, UK. She performed extensively throughout Europe and North America. As a director, Camille won numerous awards, including the Discovery Prize at Mimos International Mime Festival, and has had works commissioned by Les Ballets de Lorraine in Nancy, France; the Art Academy of Culture in Riga, Latvia; and ACT International Dance and Drama festival in Bilbao, and Seville Dance Bienale, Spain. She served as Head of Movement in the BA Collaborative and Devised Theatre at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London and was a Movement Professor at The Theatre School- Depaul University, Chicago. Her work is focused on embodiment through dance, hatha yoga, and Michael Chekhov Technique and she is currently developing a training method: The Living State of Dance. Watch her recent TedX talk on the subject here.
Jessica Cerullo is a performer, teacher, and the Managing Director of MICHA. She is an Assistant Professor of Theater at Whitman College. Her performance work has been supported by the Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Seattle’s Studio Current and Colorado’s Tin Shop Artist Residency. Her play, Miracle Tomato, premiered at the Solo Nova Festival at PS 122 in New York City. Ms. Cerullo is a former member of the Stanislavsky Theatre Studio (now operating as Synetic Theater), and collaborates regularly with The Actors’ Ensemble. She is an actor in MICHA’s Master Classes DVD series and teaches internationally. Her approach to the Chekhov work incorporates the principles of Developmental Movement and Body Mind Centering®. Together with Fern Sloan, Ms. Cerullo wrote the MICHA Workbook to assist those practically studying the Chekhov technique. She is the editor of the book Michael Chekhov: Critical Issues, Reflections, Dreams and the english translation of Chekhov’s original story A Tale About Lies and How Swiftly They Spread Across the Earth.
Séamus Maynard is an actor and musician and has worked with theater companies such as Improbable Theatre (UK), The Belgian National Theater, and The Actors’ Ensemble. Séamus holds a degree in acting from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, where he received the Sir John Gielgud Award for Excellence in Acting from the Sir John Gielgud Charitable Trust. He extensively studied speech, classical acting, and Shakespeare with his teacher and mentor Patsy Rodenburg. He has taught speech and drama workshops in the US, in Turkey, the UK and for MICHA at CalState’s SummerArts Program in Monterey, CA. He is also a songwriter & composer as well as founder of The Living Roots – a folk/rock group that blends slam poetry with folk/rock, classical and jazz influences.
John McManus is a theatre artist, originally from Australia, where he began his career studying Rudolf Steiner’s Speech Formation and Michael Chekhov’s Acting Technique. Later, he studied the voice and speech techniques of Patsy Rodenburg, Kristin Linklater, Catherine Fitzmaurice and Louis Colaianni as well as Eurythmy. He teaches at Point Park University in Pittsburgh (PA) and the Herbert Berghof Studios in New York City.
Mathias Magnason (Filmmaker) is as comfortable in a one-person crew as he is joining larger crews as director, director of photography, or editor. Among his clients are start ups, artists, and several Fortune 500 companies. Mathias is the winner of multiple awards including “Award of excellence” on Accolade Global Film Competition, “Excellence In Directing Shorts” on IFCCA in Los Angeleles, “Best Doc Editing” at Global Cinema Film festival of Boston and “Outstanding Contributor Award” on Demand Media in New York. His work has been aired on PBS in the U.S. and public television in France and Sweden, and various digital platforms around the world.
All our core-faculty are also teaching for MICHA, the Michael Chekhov Association.