Playbill for Much Ado About Nothing

Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Art | | 919.962.7529

Table of Contents

Letter from Vivienne

Support PlayMakers

About the Author

Program Notes

Who We Are

Title Page

Actor Bios

Creative Team Bios

General Information

PlayMakers Staff

Friends of PlayMakers

Corporate and Foundation Partners

Desktop Computer Version of playbill available here

Letter from Viv. Vivienne Benesch, Producing Artistic Director

Welcome PlayMakers!

Thank you for joining us for one of the liveliest and most deeply felt stories in Shakespeare’s entire body of work. With its focus on love, community, and family, Much Ado About Nothing makes for a very special offering during this season of thanks and gathering.

I wanted to offer a production to this community that celebrates the very meaning of company, and I’m so proud of the work of all the artists involved in the show. I’m also excited to welcome back several wonderful guest artists to PlayMakers, including director Lavina Jadhwani who was last here as a directing fellow in 2012. Since then, Lavina has gone on to have a significant directing and playwriting career in her home city of Chicago and throughout the country. Lavina brings such a powerful, positive energy to her process, and I think that resonates in every part of this shimmering production. Her love of and belief in the power of Shakespeare’s work to hold in it the diversity, complexity, and curiosity of our current moment makes her work vital and present tense in a thrilling way.

If you and yours are looking for a little something special for the holidays this season, I’d also like to invite you to another special event. For two performances only, on December 16 and 17, we will present Dickens’ beloved A Christmas Carol featuring longtime company member Ray Dooley in a tour-de-force one man rendition. If you’ve never seen him in this—it’s a must; if you have, I know you’ll want to come back again!

Lastly, I want to thank all of you for continuing to support the work of PlayMakers Repertory Company. It is not lost on me that there are so many choices for how one spends their time in this community. The fact that you are here means the world to me and all of us at the theatre. I wish all of you peace, health and creativity today and throughout the holiday season.

With warmth,


University Florist

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Welcome, welcome, welcome!

We are so happy to have you in this space with us. What a fantastic Fall of theatre we’ve had, it finally feels like things are getting back to a ‘new’ normal.  Whole areas of our lives went to ground during the pandemic, and like many, I have found that as we emerge and grow, we all hope that this has provided fetile soil for inspiration, allowing germination for seeds waiting under the surface for the right conditions to bloom into their full potential. What better way to explore a new normal than to inhabit a physical space together with living people who expertly give voice to both deeply intimate feelings and expansive philosophical questions.

This season brings us both the classical and the new together, a blend of wonderfully fresh perspective on established pieces of art and adaptations of great stories retold for the stage and fertile for this moment. I personally cannot wait to see what our own UNC alum, Bekah Brunstetter (and writer for NBC’s ‘This Is Us’,) has conjured up in The Game from the seeds of the oldest Greek comedy, Lysistrata.

When we participate in this theatre, we are joining together in reseeding the past and growing from tradition rather than giving up on it entirely. PlayMakers’ roots run strong in the history of our great University and this state, as it strives to tell contemporary stories of community and foster the idea that expression through art allows us to mature, grow and reach for the stars.

I believe that there are some things only the arts can provide, and I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity PlayMakers affords us to witness the arts doing what only the arts can do.  We hope you will continue to join us on our journey and support all that we do, both on stage and around the community. Share us on social media, bring your friends, donate – we appreciate your support.


Jackie Tanner, Chair

PlayMakers Advisory Council

Jackie Tanner, Chair

Betsy Blackwell, Patrick Brennan, Deborah Gerhardt, Susan Gross, Amy Guskiewicz, C. Hawkins, Zach Howell, Lillian Jenks, Duncan Lascelles, Stuart Lascelles, Robert Long, emeritus, Graig Meyer, Julie Morris, Paula Noell, Jodi Patalano, Diane Robertson, Wyndham Robertson, Jennifer Werner, Mike Wiley

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About the Author

William Shakespeare’s origins are obscure but the little evidence that we have suggests that he was christened in Stratford-on-Avon, April 26, 1564. Tradition holds that Shakespeare was born on April 23rd. The eldest of six children, Shakespeare came from the merchant class. His father was a tradesman who was elected Bailiff, or Mayor, of Stratford in 1568, his mother from a small landowning family.

His father’s position afforded the young Shakespeare the possibility of a formal education in the town school. By 1582, Shakespeare had married Anne Hathaway, and by 1585 fathered three children. Shakespeare’s family having fallen upon hard times, he was forced to seek employment outside of Stratford.

While it is quite possible that Shakespeare saw medieval pageants and traveling players as a boy in Stratford, only in the years after he left his hometown did he immerse himself in the theatre, becoming both an actor and a playwright. By 1592 he was established in London, and by 1594 had joined the prominent company the Chamberlain’s Men (which in 1603 changed its name to the King’s Men), linked in most people’s minds to the Globe Theatre built on the banks of the Thames in 1599. Shakespeare was a joint owner of the Globe and as such shared in its profits and losses.

One of his great strengths as a writer came from his ability to gain both popular and critical praise. He wrote his plays considering every aspect of them through the eyes of an actor, a playwright, a businessman, a tradesman’s son, and possibly an ex-soldier, evaluating their success or failure utilizing all the facets of his professional life as well. By 1611 Shakespeare had become prosperous enough to retire to Stratford. He died in 1616 on the date of his birth, April 23. He was buried in the same Stratford church where he had been christened.

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Program Notes

By Adam Versényi, Dramaturg

Written between 1598 and 1599 Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing draws upon sources as diverse as Castiglione’s The Courtier, Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, and Marlowe’s Hero and Leander for inspiration and marks a turning point in Shakespeare’s work.  While previous plays such as Love’s Labour’s Lost, A Midsummer’s Night Dream, and Romeo and Juliet, all end with a harmonious result—achieved or promised—even if it comes out of tragic action, Much Ado About Nothing presents the beginnings of a greater questioning spirit in Shakespeare’s plays and prefigures elements of several plays to come. 

The courting-by-proxy and marriage to an assumed substitute in Much Ado becomes the bed-trick in both All’s Well That Ends Well and Measure for Measure.  Don John and Borachio in Much Ado form a composite prototype for Iago in Othello, and Hero’s “death” and resurrection in Much Ado anticipates the rebirth and reuniting in The Winter’s Tale.  This transition to works considered “problem plays” or ones with greater complexity and irresolution reflects Shakespeare’s own cultural, political, and historical context and, in terms of Much Ado, is connected to place of gender and marriage in Early Modern England.

Barbara Gammage, Countess of Leicester, and her children by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger

Shakespeare lived and worked at a time when his country, although patriarchal in its social structures, was ruled by a powerful woman.  Women were not allowed to study or work professionally, had no property rights after marriage (unless specifically stipulated), and wife-beating was generally accepted as a good way to deal with domestic issues.  At the same time aristocratic women controlled large properties and managed finances in a manner akin to contemporary CEOs today.  Women in lower classes worked in trades that might be considered “traditionally male” today such as plumbing and blacksmithing, or as armorers, pewterers, and farriers.  As many as 48% of all apprentices were women.  Households were where much of the economic production of the nation occurred.  Housewives managed extensive businesses and workshops employing large numbers of live-in workers and apprentices.  Housewifery itself was considered a trade for which girls apprenticed.  The notion of the woman as enclosed in the home, subservient to her husband’s total economic power was not the norm.  The average woman in Renaissance England was professionally active and vital to the economic health of her family.

Women were also important to the theatre. Queen Elizabeth patronized Shakespeare’s company and regularly commissioned plays. A considerable portion of anonymous writing in the Renaissance is now believed to have been done by women.  The theatre industry itself employed women in many areas, and women comprised a large portion of the audience.  While Shakespeare’s world was one in transition with a growing divide between the public and private sphere, resulting in diminishing economic and political influence for women and their gradual domestication, in his daily life he would have experienced a great deal of female agency politically in England, economically in the family home, and professionally in the theatre.

The Renaissance was when the idea of the nuclear family was born and the beginnings of patriarchal authority with women subject to fathers and husbands, and marriage seen as a means of acquiring money and power.  In Shakespeare’s plays the father-daughter relationship is most prominent when it comes to marriage and the potential conflict between lovers’ desires and obedience to parental control.  It is a period of conflicting attitudes towards women, their sexuality, and their place in society.  Shakespeare’s plays, including Much Ado About Nothing, reflect a constant interplay between expressing emotions and asserting control. Early modern notions of gender and sexuality were not our own.  Distinctions between men and women, like those that separated aristocrats and commoners, were not based on the rather marginal discourse of the new biological science but rooted in older discourses of theology and history that embraced gender duality and twinship.  Up until the age of seven all children wore skirts, and medical records referred to any child as “it”. 

While the monarchy and marriage were considered the two most sacred poles of civic life in Elizabethan England, the central paradox of that patriarchal society was that it was ruled by an unwed, female monarch.  Official state propaganda painted Elizabeth as “the Virgin Queen”, when she was anything but, and depicted her skillfully steering the ship of state when her court was one of endless intrigue, political infighting, and knives in the back as she fended off her counselors’ persistent attempts to foist suitors for her hand upon her.  Shakespeare’s plays, with their constant emphasis on the difference between appearance and reality reflect all of these tensions in early modern power relations between genders and social ranks. 

PlayMakers sets this production of Much Ado About Nothing in 1945 Appalachia, a period, like that of Shakespeare’s day, when all aspects of society were in transition. In addition to the physical devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, World War II also exploded societal norms and structures.  Although the United States Armed Forces were officially segregated until 1948, World War II laid the foundation for post-war integration of the military with more than 1.2 million African Americans serving in uniform throughout Europe, the Pacific, and at home, and the exploits of the African American Tuskegee Airmen significantly contributing to the successes of the Allied forces efforts during the war.  At home over twenty-two thousand African Americans were employed in vocational training related to different industries learning skills such as radio engineering, tool engineering, welding, electronics, boat building, nursing, sheet metal work, photography, internal combustion engines, production management, and nutrition. 

Mass conscription of men into the Armed Forces meant that the number of women working outside the home jumped by 57% during the war.  Between 1940 and 1944 the number of working women in the U.S. went from 12 to 20 million.  Official government propaganda depicting “Rosie the Riveter” led to employers deeming the proportion of jobs “acceptable” for women to jump from 29 to 85%.  Working mothers banded together to raise their families, pooling resources, and living together to share chores such as cooking, cleaning, and washing, as well as working different shifts to be able to care for their children.  African American women were especially affected by these changes, with African American, White, Latiné, and Asian women working side by side.  Popular culture images of celebrities like Josephine Baker and Marlene Dietrich in top hat and tails challenged conventional gender roles as well.  While peace brought increasing pressure upon women to return to the domestic sphere and upon African Americans to return to a segregated and subservient status, all of these wartime experiences laid the foundation for the Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Movement of later years.  The late 1940s in the U.S., like Shakespeare’s society at the time he wrote Much Ado, was one culturally, politically, and economically in flux. 

Much Ado About Nothing is a romantic romp, Leonato’s house party gone wrong, which creates a whole series of complications for its characters.  Peopled by men and women across its social classes who wrestle with the consequences of their actions, Much Ado comedically investigates the nature of honor, of honesty, of what it means to seem rather than be.  Come join the party! 

Dramaturgy Fellow Series

A Hero’s Journey

By Lexi Silva, Dramaturg Associate

While Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing has earned a reputation as a rollicking romantic comedy, its darker underpinnings categorize it as a problem play. To reference Production Dramaturg Adam Versényi, a problem play are those works in Shakespeare’s canon that exhibit “greater complexity and irresolution.” I recommend reading Adam’s note which recounts a rich history of Much Ado and outlines the cultural zeitgeists of the Elizabethan era and postwar America in the mid 1940’s, where PlayMakers’ production is set – you can read here!

So, what’s the problem in this play? Leonato’s celebratory masque, Don Pedro’s match-making shenanigans, Beatrice and Benedick’s verbal sparring, and a double wedding are undercut by the public shaming of Hero in Act IV, scene i and her subsequent marriage to Claudio, her accuser. This problem raises a core dramaturgical question: how can PlayMakers stage a production of Much Ado that emphasizes Hero’s agency? Additionally, how can Hero’s agency shine through multiple frameworks across time? Staging a production that negotiates Elizabethan social constructs with post-WWII America and contemporary sensibilities about identity all while honoring Shakespeare’s text is no small feat. After a rigorous week of tablework under the visionary leadership of director Lavina Jadhwani, the company remains curious about how much the play can hold as we move into staging.

Although the process is in its early stages, I think that Hero’s journey in PRC’s production begins with a conversation about honor in Much Ado. During Claudio’s public humiliation of Hero on their wedding day in Act IV. scene i, he says:

She’s but the sign and semblance of her honor.

Behold how like a maid she blushes here!

O, what authority and show of truth

Can cunning sin cover itself withal! (Shakespeare 4.1. 33-36)

In a play where deception and manipulation play major roles in propelling the dramatic action, Claudio’s perception of Hero’s honor (or lack thereof) is almost entirely based on information from secondary sources. When Claudio’s worst fears are corroborated when he bears witness to the classic Shakespearean bed-trick meant to frame Hero, he does not give her the benefit of the doubt. This leaves me wondering: are we to believe that Claudio is really so gullible? Or, can we interpret his lack of faith in Hero to be a product of a greater system of oppression? Personally, my money’s on the second one. Contemporary audiences might interpret this injustice as a double standard enforced by the patriarchy. The circumstances of Hero’s alleged guilt, however, reflects Shakespeare’s own observations about Elizabethan society. In early modern England, the patriarchy still ruled despite having a female monarch on the throne. In that society, honor formed an integral part of the lives of men and women. The establishment and defense of honor in this era was in accordance with the gender binary. The standards and codes of honor for women rely on their chastity, while men’s honor is determined by dueling, or other displays of courage. All this considered, Claudio’s sudden betrayal of Hero takes root in his greater embarrassment at being cuckolded in front of his superiors. Honor’s function in Much Ado is a crucial point of reference for how a person, or a character, defines themselves and is defined by others. In many ways, these gendered expectations remain prevalent, speaking to the enduring and timeless nature of Shakespeare’s texts (and, unfortunately, the persistence of the patriarchy). Much Ado’s happily ever after, however, leaves many feeling dissatisfied. Why should Hero accept Claudio’s hand after all the suffering she endured because of him? Well, mainly, because Shakespeare says so. The same question of agency appears at the end of The Winter’s Tale when Hermione takes Leontes’ hand, or in Measure for Measure when Isabella takes the Duke’s. These unions are naturally complicated in a contemporary context wherein it appears that these women are too readily reconciled to the men who humiliated and exiled them a few acts prior. The justification for Hero and Claudio’s union for this cast and creative team, however, is still being worked out for the artists portraying them. This cast features a broad diversity of artists whose voices and instruments color Lavina’s cut of Much Ado with new contexts that we are discovering in real time. This process presents an exciting opportunity to examine how Shakespeare’s plays are made to prosper in the present day.

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Much Ado About Nothing

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Lavina Jadhwani

Scenic Designer
Dahlia Al-Habieli

Costume Designer
Jan Chambers

Lighting Designer
Sarah Hughey

Composer and Music Director
Peter Vitale

Tracy Bersley

Associate Sound Designer
Alex Thompson

Adam Versényi

Vocal Coach
Gwendolyn Schwinke

Stage Manager
Aspen Blake Jackson

Assistant Stage Manager
Sarah Smiley

Casting Director
McCorkle Casting, Ltd. 

November 15 – December 3, 2023

The video or audio recording of this performance by any means is strictly prohibited.

The Professional Theatre of the Department of Dramatic Art
Kathryn Hunter-Williams, Chair
Vivienne Benesch, Producing Artistic Director
Produced in association with the College of Arts and Sciences
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Cast Bios

Seacole: Reez Bailey
Margaret: Hayley Cartee*
Dogberry: Jeffrey Blair Cornell*
Friar: Matthew Donahue
Balthasar: Elizabeth Dye
Don John: Heinley Gaspard*
Don Pedro: Rasool Jahan*
Benedick: Tia James*
Conrad: Jadah Johnson
Claudio: Jamar Jones*
Oatcake: Nate John Mark
Antonia: Gwendolyn Schwinke*
Ursula: Saleemah Sharpe*
Beatrice: Aneesh Sheth*
Hero: Sanjana Taskar*
Musician: Thomas Nash Tetterton
Borachio: Adam Valentine*
Verges: Mengwe Wapimewah
Leonato: Lisa Wolpe*

Stage Managers: Aspen Blake Jackson* Sarah Smiley*

*Appears courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association,
the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

Place: Messina, North Carolina

Time: Post World War II

Much Ado About Nothing is performed with a 15-minute intermission

Reez Bailey


PlayMakers: Company member in their first year of UNC’s Professional Actor Training Program with the Department of
Dramatic Art. Stupid F**king Bird (PlayMakers/DDA Ground

University: Ordinary Days (InterMission Theatre);
Peter and the Starcatcher, God of Carnage (University Theatre).

Film: Rapid Eye Movement (2022).

Education: BS from the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Hayley Cartee


PlayMakers: Hamlet, Emma, The Skin of Our Teeth. Company
member in their third year of UNC’s Professional Actor Training
Program. The Tempest (PlayMakers Mobile). Den of Thieves,
A Doll’s House, Part 2
(PlayMakers/DDA Ground Floor). A
Durham native, Hayley almost made her PlayMakers debut when her mother went into labor in the Paul Green Theatre in the mid-90s.

New York: All’s Well that Ends Well, The Tempest.

University: Titus Andronicus, Othello, Julius Caesar,
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

Education: NYU-Tisch School of the Arts; Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Jeffrey Blair Cornell


PlayMakers: Jeff has been acting with PlayMakers since the
1995-96 season. Recently: Eddie in The Legend of Georgia
McBride, Polonius/Gravedigger in Hamlet, Mr. Weston/Mr.
Woodhouse in Emma, Frank Butley in Native Gardens, Brutus
in Julius Caesar, Father in Ragtime, Uncle Peck in How I Learned to Drive, Sipos in She Loves Me, and Darren (the Woodchuck) in Bewilderness.
Some favorites: Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady, Caliban in The Tempest, Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility, Roy Cohn in Angels in America, and Herr Schultz in Cabaret.

New York: Two by Two, Down to Earth, Serious Business.

Regional: Guthrie Theater, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Pittsburgh Public Theater, Paper Mill Playhouse, Geva Theatre Center, among others.

Education/Other: Carbonell Award nominations for Best Actor – Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me and Falsettoland (Caldwell Theatre – FL). Studied at HB Studios in New York with Uta Hagen, Austin Pendleton, and Elizabeth Wilson and received his MFA from the PATP/UNC-Chapel Hill. Serves as Teaching Professor/Associate Chair in UNC’s Department of Dramatic Art.

Matthew Donahue


PlayMakers: Company member in their first year of UNC’s
Professional Actor Training Program with the Department of
Dramatic Art. Stupid F**king Bird (PlayMakers/DDA Ground

Regional: The Fox; Peter and the Starcatcher (The
Commonweal Theatre Co.); Gypsy, Oklahoma! (The Prizery).

University: The Three Musketeers, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Hands on a Hardbody, et al. (ECU/Loessin Playhouse).

Education: BFA Acting, East Carolina University.


Elizabeth Dye


PlayMakers: Company member in their first year of UNC’s
Professional Actor Training Program with the Department of
Dramatic Art. Stupid F**king Bird (PlayMakers/DDA Ground

University: Cabaret, Animal Farm, Three Sisters, Violet,
Henry IV Part One
(University of Evansville).

Education: BFA Theatre Performance at the University of Evansville.


Heinley Gaspard

Don John

PlayMakers: Company member in their third year of UNC’s
Professional Actor Training Program. Hamlet, Blues for an
Alabama Sky, How I Learned What I Learned, The Skin of Our
Teeth. The Tempest
(PlayMakers Mobile). The Mountaintop, Den
of Thieves, A Doll’s House, Part 2, The Brother’s Size
(PlayMakers/DDA Ground Floor).

Regional: House of the Negro Insane (Contemporary American Theatre Festival 2022).

Selected New York: Macbeth (Hudson Theatre Works); A
Midsummer Night’s Dream (Villagers); Edward II (Teatro Latea); Ariadne’s Revenge: A Killer App (TADA!); Glass ( JACK).

Off-Broadway: The Bellagio Fountain has been known to make me cry (HERE).

Off-Off Broadway: Macbeth, Antigone (124 Bank Street); Split Second (IATI).

Selected Film/TV: Omniboat, a Fast Boat Fantasia (Sundance Film Festival); Coney Island Queen (Cannes Film Festival); Steps (Amazon) / “Wutang: An American Saga” (Hulu); “For
(ABC); “The Sinner” (USA).

Education/Other: Mason Gross School of the Arts, The William Esper Studio, Upright Citizens Brigade (member). B.S. Biology/Molecular Cellular Physiology. @DaGreatGaspy

Rasool Jahan

Don Pedro

PlayMakers: Laertes/Player Queen in Hamlet, Mrs. Weston
in Emma, Shelly in Dot, Esther in Intimate Apparel, Jory in
Disgraced, MiMi Real in The Parchman Hour
. She was also
the Assistant Director for Count at PRC2.

Regional: Other favorite theatrical roles include Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (WriteAct Rep); Vivian Bearing, Ph.D. in Wit ( Justice Theatre Project).

Film/TV: Hallmarks’ A Nashville Christmas Carol, “The Resident,” “House of Cards,” “Cold Mountain,” and “I Know What You Did Last Summer” with Jennifer Love Hewitt. She can also be seen on Hulu’s limited-series, “Class of 09’” with Brian Tyree Henry and Kate Mara.

Education/Other: Rasool is a proud graduate of North Carolina’s oldest HBCU. Rasool lives in Durham, serves on the Social Justice Board, Hidden Voices and dedicates her performance to her father, Abdur-Raheem Rasool.

Tia James


PlayMakers: Company member for four seasons. Actor:
Clyde’s, Hamlet, Blues for an Alabama Sky, A Wrinkle in Time,
Julius Caesar, Native Son.
Vocal coaching includes Misery,
They Do Not Know Harlem, The Legend of Georgia McBride,
Stick Fly, Ragtime, How I Learned to Drive, Life of Galileo, Bewilderness, She Loves Me, Skeleton Crew, Sherwood, Jump, Your Healing is Killing Me.
Director: How I Learned What I Learned, As You Like It, Macbeth (PlayMakers Mobile), and Constellations (PlayMakers Ground Floor).

Broadway: The Merchant of Venice.

Off-Broadway / New York: The Winter’s Tale, The Merchant of Venice (Shakespeare in the Park).

Regional: Much Ado About Nothing (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company); Richard III (Allentown Shakespeare); Loving and Loving (Stella Adler Studios); Much Ado About Nothing (Two River Theatre); Civilization [All You Can Eat] (Woolly Mammoth Theater).

Television: “Nurse Jackie,” “Treme.”

Coaching / Directing: UNC-Chapel Hill, NYU Graduate Acting, NYU
Dance, Atlantic Acting School, Montclair University.

Education/Awards: MFA NYU Tisch Graduate Acting Program, BFA Virginia Commonwealth University; Miller Voice Method Teacher Certification. Recipient of the 2014 NYU Graduate Acting Diversity Mentorship Scholarship, 2003 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship winner for Best Actor; 2019 Michael Chekhov/Zelda Fichandler Scholarship.

Jadah Johnson


PlayMakers: Company member in their first year of UNC’s
Professional Actor Training Program with the Department of
Dramatic Art. Stupid F**king Bird (PlayMakers/DDA Ground

Regional: Too Heavy For Your Pocket (New Horizon

University: Bad Ass Signal (Point Park University); The Motherf*cker
with the Hat, Ruined
(Florida School of the Arts).

Film: Detention (Student film); S.Q.U.A.D (Student film)

Education: B.A Theatre Arts Performance and Practices at Point Park University.


Jamar Jones


PlayMakers: Company member in their third year of UNC’s
Professional Actor Training Program. The Legend of Georgia
McBride, Hamlet, Emma, Blues for an Alabama Sky, A Wrinkle
in Time, Stick Fly (u/s perf.), The Skin of Our Teeth. The Tempest

(PlayMakers Mobile). Den of Thieves, The Brothers Size (PlayMakers/UNC Ground Floor). Assistant Director: How I Learned What I Learned.

Regional: The Prom (Theatre Raleigh); Black Like Me (Chautauqua Theater Company); Everybody (Cadence/Virginia Rep); Fires in the Mirror, Passing Strange (Firehouse Theatre); Fences, Akeelah and the Bee (Virginia Repertory Theatre); Red Velvet (Quill Theatre); An Octoroon, Topdog/Underdog (TheatreLab); Free Man of Color (The Heritage Ensemble Theatre Company); and Choir Boy (Richmond Triangle Players/THETC).

Education/Awards: The College of William and Mary, B.A. Sociology and Theatre. 2022 RTCC Award, Best Lead Performance- Play for Fires in the Mirror, 2020 RTCC Award, Ernie McClintock Best Ensemble Acting for Passing Strange, 2019 Richmond Theatre Critics Circle Award, Best Actor in a Leading Role – Play for An Octoroon.

Nate John Mark


PlayMakers: Company member in their first year of UNC’s
Professional Actor Training Program with the Department of
Dramatic Art. Stupid F**king Bird (PlayMakers/DDA Ground

Regional: Party People (Actors Theatre of Louisville);
Nollywood Dreams ( Open Book Theatre); Head Over Heels (Ringwald Theatre); Taming of the Shrew (Idaho Shakespeare Festival); Othello (The Acting Company/NY); 12th Night (Shakespeare in Detroit).


Gwendolyn Schwinke


PlayMakers: Company member in her fifth season. Voice/
Dialect Coach: Clyde’s, Emma, Native Gardens, Blues for an
Alabama Sky, Yoga Play, Dairyland, Native Son, Julius Caesar,
As You Like It, The Skin of Our Teeth, A Wrinkle in Time
. Actor:
The Skin of Our Teeth, As You Like It.

International: Voice/Text/Dialect/ Somatic Coach: Macbeth, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, Roman Daggers, The Winter’s Tale (Prague Shakespeare Company); Company season training (Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble).

New York & Regional: As Voice & Text Coach: Seven seasons with Shakespeare & Company. Oxford Shakespeare Festival, Frank Theatre, Cheap Theatre, Atlantic Stage. Actor: Carlyle Brown & Company, Oxford Shakespeare Festival, Frank Theatre, Red Eye Collaboration, Minnesota Shakespeare Project, Atlantic Stage,
Old Creamery Theatre, Illinois Shakespeare Festival. Playwright: Plays developed and/or produced by Seattle Repertory Company, Cherry Lane Theatre, The Playwrights’ Center, Red Eye Collaboration, Judith Shakespeare Company, Jungle Theatre.

Teaching: David G. Frey Fellow/Assistant Professor of Voice & Speech at UNC-Chapel Hill, Faculty Member at Shakespeare & Company and Prague Shakespeare Company, Designated
Linklater Voice Teacher and Teacher Trainer, Guild-certified Feldenkrais Teacher. Voice & Speech Trainers Association Board of Directors.


Saleemah Sharpe


PlayMakers: Company member in their third year of UNC’s
Professional Actor Training Program. Clyde’s, The Legend
of Georgia McBride, Hamlet, Blues for an Alabama Sky, The
Skin of Our Teeth. The Tempest
(PlayMakers Mobile). The
Mountaintop, Den of Thieves, A Doll’s House, Part 2, Gloria
(PlayMakers/UNC Ground Floor).

New York: King Lear (NY Classical).

Regional: Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea (Rhinoleap Production NC).

University: As You Like It (Stella Adler Studio of Acting); King Lear, Soon Again Not Yet, Sopita (Royal Social Distance Company); Sins of the Father (Eden Theater Company); Significant Other (The Theatre Project); The Block (Lakai Dance Theatre); Ubu Roi, Straight Outta Kansas, Antigone (Montclair State University).

Film: To The Moon (Atlantic Pictures, Short Film), The Girl With the Eyes (Independent film), Remission Accomplished (Student film).

TV: “iCarly” (Nickelodeon), “The Electric Company” (PBS Kids).

Education: Montclair State University B.A. Theatre Studies & a double minor in Myth Studies & Business.

Aneesh Sheth


PlayMakers: Debut.

Broadway: Bombay Dreams, First National Tour.

Off-Broadway/New York: Southern Comfort, Twelfth Night, & Masculinity Max (The Public Theater); Normativity (NYMF).

Regional: Around the World in 80 Days (Village Theatre); Samsara (Bay Area Playwrights Festival).

Film: Red, White & Royal Blue (Prime Video), First One In (Prime Video), A Kid Like Jake (IFC).

Television: “The Walking Dead” (AMC); “Marvel’s Jessica Jones “(Disney+); “High Maintenance” (HBO); “The Other Two” (HBO); “Difficult People” (HULU); “New Amsterdam” (NBC); “Outsourced” (NBC).

Education/Awards: 2020 Recipient of the HRC Visibility Award. BFA Musical Theatre from NYU/Tisch.


Sanjana Taskar


PlayMakers: Company member in their third year of UNC’s
Professional Actor Training Program. Hamlet, Emma, A Wrinkle
in Time, The Skin of Our Teeth, Much Ado About Nothing. Circle
Back, Den of Thieves, Gloria
(PlayMakers Ground Floor).

Regional: You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, Othello, RENT (Scranton Shakespeare Festival); White Pearl (Studio Theatre); Little Women (Virginia Theatre Festival); Three Women Walk Into Bar (Charm City Theatre Festival).

Education/Other: B.F.A. Acting, B.A. Sociology; University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Assistant Faculty member for Theatrical Intimacy Education (TIE).

Thomas Nash Tetterton


PlayMakers: Hamlet.

Regional: Silent Sky, The Life of Galileo (Burning Coal Theatre); Richard III (Sweet Tea Shakespeare); A Christmas Carol, Love’s Labor’s Lost (Annapolis Shakespeare Company); Romeo & Juliet, Cymbeline (Virginia Shakespeare Festival); Inherit the Wind (Compass Rose Theater); MacBheatha (Capital Fringe

Film: Have A Nice Life (2021); The Game Master (2019); The Invisible One (2018); Are You Here with Owen Wilson (2013).

Education: BFA in Acting from Shenandoah Conservatory. @tetteroni

Adam Valentine


PlayMakers: Company member in their third year of UNC’s
Professional Actor Training Program. Misery, Clyde’s, The
Legend of Georgia McBride, Hamlet, Emma, A Wrinkle in
Time, The Skin of our Teeth. The Tempest
(PlayMakers Mobile).
Den Of Thieves, Gloria (PlayMakers/UNC Ground Floor).

Regional: Small Mouth Sounds (Cadence Theatre); The Tempest, The Heir Apparent (Richmond Shakespeare); The Curious Incident… (Virginia Rep); Hand To God, LEVEL 4, Heathers: The Musical (TheatreLAB); Maple & Vine, Stupid Kid (Firehouse Theatre).

Education/Awards: Virginia Commonwealth University, B.A. 2021 RTCC Ernie McClintock Best Ensemble Acting for
Small Mouth Sounds.

Mengwe Wapimewah


PlayMakers: Company member in their first year of UNC’s
Professional Actor Training Program with the Department of
Dramatic Art. Stupid F**king Bird (PlayMakers/DDA Ground

University: Recycling Theater (Stella Adler Studio of Acting); The Quiet Zone (Stella Adler Studio of Acting).

Film: NCWC (Pace University); Sisyphus (Pace University); Vices ( JG Filmworks); Out of Luck (RK Productions).

Education: BFA Acting for Film, Television, Voiceovers, and
Commercials at Pace School of Performing Arts.

Lisa Wolpe


PlayMakers: Julius Caesar.

International: The Taming of the Shrew, Richard II, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Prague Shakespeare Company); Solo tour of Shakespeare and the Alchemy of Gender (U.K., Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Canada, USA).

Regional: Indiana Repertory Theater, Oregon Shakespeare
Festival, Utah Shakespeare Festival, Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Berkeley Repertory Company, California Shakespeare Festival, Colorado Shakespeare, Sedona Shakespeare, Shakespeare & Company, Prague Shakespeare Company, Bremen Shakespeare, and Verona Shakespeare Fringe Festival. Directing: Prague Shakespeare Company, California Shakespeare Festival, Colorado
Shakespeare, Shakespeare & Co., Great River Shakespeare, Sedona Shakespeare, Producing Artistic Director 1993-2016 (Los Angeles Women’s Shakespeare Company).

Awards: The L.A. Drama Critic’s Award for Sustained Excellence; Sidney Berger Award for Excellence from the Shakespeare Theater Association; NBC News’ “Local Hero”; Playwrights Arena Award for Sustained Excellence; the Key to Harlem; two Congressional
Certificates of Merit; Whittier College’s Distinguished Artist Award;
University of Colorado “First Scholar” and “Roe Green Visiting Artist”

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Creative Team Bios

Lavina Jadhwani


PlayMakers: Noises Off.

Directing credits: Guthrie Theater, Mixed Blood, Oregon Shakes, Asolo Rep, the Neo-Futurists, the Gift, Teatro Vista, Rasaka
Theatre Company, and more. Playwriting credits include the Guthrie, the Goodman, the Gift, East West Players, Cincinnati Shakes, and Indianapolis Shakes. Lavina serves on the boards of the National New Play Network and the Chicago Inclusion Project.

Education: BFA/MA Carnegie Mellon School of Drama; MFA: The Theatre School at DePaul University.

Dahlia Al-Habieli

Scenic Designer

PlayMakers: Debut.

Recent and upcoming credits include designs for: Dallas Theatre Center, The Rep of St Louis, Gulfshore Playhouse, Virginia Stage
Company, Trinity Rep, Muhlenberg College, and Harvard College. She has held faculty appointments at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama, Wake Forest University and Albright College. While at Albright, Dahlia won the KCACTF Region II Award for Distinguished Scenic Design in 2020 for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. Learn more about her work as an artist and educator at

Jan Chambers

Costume Designer

PlayMakers: Company member for 17 seasons and professor in the Department of Dramatic Art at UNC-Chapel Hill. Productions include They Do Not Know Harlem, Yoga Play, As You Like It, Skin of Our Teeth, Julius Caesar, Dairyland, How I Learned to Drive, Skeleton Crew, Leaving Eden, A Christmas Carol, The Cake, The May Queen, Sweeney Todd, 4000 Miles, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,
The Making of a King: Henry IV & V, A Raisin in the Sun, Red, Metamorphoses, The Tempest, Angels in America and Nicholas Nickleby
, among others.

Regional: Hamlet, Cyrano de Bergerac, Sunday in the Park with George, Pericles (Guthrie Theatre); Asylum (Only Child Aerial Theatre at Circus Now International Contemporary Circus Exposure); Pericles, Hamlet (Folger Theatre); Pericles, Henry V (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); North: A Love Letter, The Reckoning, It
Had Wings, The Narrowing, Out of the Blue
(Archipelago Theatre/ Cine). Member of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology and of United Scenic Artists, Local 829.

Sarah Hughey

Lighting Designer

PlayMakers: Debut.

Regional: Twelfth Night, Peter and the Starcatcher (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Ms. Holmes and Ms. Watson Apt. 2B, Crossing Mnisose, Sense and Sensibility, Major Barbara, A Christmas Memory (Portland Center Stage); House of Joy (St. Louis Rep); The Cake (Asolo Rep); As You Like It (Guthrie Theater); A Doll’s House, Vietgone, Hamlet, others (Writers Theatre); Landladies, Christmas at Pemberley, The Gospel According to…, others (Northlight Theatre); Last Stop on Market Street, The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors
(Oregon Children’s Theatre); Straight White Men (Steppenwolf ); Mr. and Mrs. Pennyworth (Lookingglass Theatre); Moby Dick (Blair Thomas & Company); Oblivion (City Theatre); The Who and the What, Samsara (Victory Gardens), many others.

Education: MFA, Northwestern University; BA, Missouri State

Peter Vitale

Composer and Music Director

PlayMakers: Hamlet.

Regional: Guthrie Theater, Public Theater Mobile Unit, Delaware Shakespeare Festival, California Shakespeare Theater. Twin Cities: Jungle Theater, Theater Latte Da, Park Square Theater, Ordway Theater, Frank Theater, Minnesota Jewish Theater, Minnesota Opera, Minnesota Orchestra.

Television/Web: “Liberty Falls, 54321” (Theme song, Web series produced by The Moving Company); “Back at the Start” (Theme song, streaming podcast by Matthew Freeman).

Education: Duke University, University of North Carolina
Greensboro, University of North Wales, UK.

Other: Resident Music Director and Composer for Ten Thousand Things Theater in Minneapolis where he has contributed to over fifty productions. Since 1993, Ten Thousand Things Theater has brought lively, professional theater to people with little access to the wealth
of the arts and is recognized nationally for its work in expanding the reach of quality theater beyond the boundaries of traditional stages.


Tracy Bersley


PlayMakers: Movement coach and resident choreographer in her eighth season.

Off-Broadway / New York: As director/choreographer— Lincoln Center, The Public Theater, BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), The Lortel Theatre, Primary Stages, and many award-winning Off-Broadway companies, such as The Civilians and Red Bull Theatre.

Regional: As director/choreographer—Carolina Performing Arts, McCarter Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival.

Education / Other: Served as professor or guest artist at Yale School of Drama, Princeton University, New York University, Purchase College, Columbia University/Barnard College, and The Juilliard School. Tracy received her MFA in Directing from Syracuse University and is currently co-head of the Professional Actor Training Program in the Department of Dramatic Art at UNC-Chapel Hill, a member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, and a Drama League Fellow.

Alex Thompson

Associate Sound Designer

PlayMakers: The Drowsy Chaperone (SYC Music Director 2023). She Loves Me, My Fair Lady, Sweeney Todd, Into The Woods (Associate Music Director). Ragtime (Keyboard 2).

Off-Broadway/New York: All Hallows Eve (Off-B’Way, Connelly Theatre).

Regional: Selected Credits: Kinky Boots (Norwegian Creative); Perfectly Imperfect (Marigny Opera House, New Orleans LA); A
Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, The Color Purple, West Side Story, Godspell, The Wiz, Working, Hairspray
(Hope Repertory Theatre); The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Connecticut Repertory Theatre); Assassins (Pallas Theatre Collective, Washington D.C.).

Education/Awards/Other: 2022 Wilde Award winner for The Color Purple (Hope Repertory Theatre). 1st Runner-up for BroadwayWorld’s 2022 Regional Award for Best Music Direction & Orchestra Performance, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (Hope Repertory Theatre). Former accompanist for UNC’s Music and Theatre departments. Co-producer, mixer/engineer and arranger/pianist, Growing Up (the debut EP from Broadway’s Mia Pinero, PlayMakers alum). @Alex Thompson

Gwendolyn Schwinke

Vocal Coach

See Actor Bio.

Adam Versényi


PlayMakers: Resident Dramaturg 1988–present. Recently: Hamlet, The Skin of Our Teeth, Julius Caesar, Native Son, Life of Galileo, Skeleton Crew, Tartuffe. 7 Stages; NEA Playwrighting Fellows Program; Theatre Previews at Duke; Critics Panel, IV Hispanic Theatre Festival (Teatro Avante); Florida Studio Theatre; Yale Repertory Theatre; La MaMa E.T.C.; Festival Latino (New York
Shakespeare Festival).

Directing: The Nutcracker (PlayMakers); The Agony of Ecstasy; El Día Que Me Quieras; The Black American Dream; Hughie; The Indians Were Angry; Bitter Blood; The Lesson; No Exit. Publications: Ramón Griffero: Your Desires in Fragments and Other Plays.; The Theater of Sabina Berman: The 26 Agony of Ecstasy and Other Plays; El Teatro en América Latina; Theatre in Latin America: Religion, Politics, and Culture from Cortes to the 1980s.

Other: Fulbright Senior Lecturer, Colombia, South America. Member, Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas. Faculty: UNC-Chapel Hill; Deep Springs College; Escuela de Bellas Artes, Universidad de Caldas, Manizales, Colombia; Escuela Nacional de Arte Dramático, Bogotá, Colombia.

Education: DFA, Yale School of Drama

Aspen Blake Jackson

Stage Manager

PlayMakers: They Do Not Know Harlem, Native Gardens. The Drowsy Chaperone, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Summer Youth Conservatory).

Aspen graduated in May of 2019 with a BA in Vocal Performance and Dramatic Arts from UNC-Chapel Hill. During her undergraduate career, she was a stage manager for shows such as Cendrillon, Dido and Aeneas, and The Pillowman. After graduating, Aspen completed an internship with the Walt Disney World Company and she worked as a production assistant for PlayMakers Repertory Company during their 19/20 and 21/22 seasons.

Sarah Smiley

Assistant Stage Manager

Sarah returns for the 2023/24 season, her 12th since 2005. She has worked with theatres, theme parks, and road houses in eight states and the U.K., including Tampa Playmakers, freeFall Theatre Company, Virginia Stage Company, Busch Gardens Tampa, the Alliance Theatre Company, 7 Stages, Gulfshore Playhouse, Shadowland Theatre, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff, Wales, and the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds. She is a member of Actors’ Equity Association, and has been active in USITT and the Stage Managers’ Association. She received her M.F.A. from the University of Iowa.

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In Memoriam

Milly S. Barranger

1937 – 2023

An author, educator and producer, longterm leader and collaborator Milly Barranger died on August 21st in New York with her daughter Heather and wife, Liz Woodman, by her side. Milly was the Alumni Distinguished Professor Emerita of Dramatic Art from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she served concurrently as Chairwoman of the Department of Dramatic Art and Producing Director of PlayMakers Repertory Company during her storied tenure from 1982-1999.

Milly was a titan and a pioneer. The impact of what she made happen here at PlayMakers Repertory Company – and the unique relationship she cultivated between a professional theatre and the Department of Dramatic Art – cannot be overstated. She was a force and neither PlayMakers nor the Department of Dramatic Art would be what they are today without her vision, bravery and determination.

A Note from Producing Artistic Director Vivienne Beneschand Chair of the Department of Dramatic Art Kathryn Hunter-Williams.

PlayMakers Leadership

Vivienne Benesch

Producing Artistic Director

Vivienne is in her eighth full season as a company member and Producing Artistic Director at PlayMakers, where she has helmed productions of Hamlet, The Skin of Our Teeth, The Storyteller, Dairyland, Life of Galileo, Leaving Eden, The May Queen, Three Sisters, Love Alone, RED and In The Next Room. In her eight seasons with the theatre, she is particularly proud to have produced 12 world-premieres and launched PlayMakers Mobile, a touring production aimed at reaching under served audiences around the Triangle.

For 12 seasons, she served as Artistic Director of the renowned Chautauqua Theater Company and Conservatory, presiding over the company’s transformation into one of the best summer theatres and most competitive summer training programs in the country. Vivienne directed both the world premiere of Noah Haidle’s Birthday Candles for Detroit Public Theatre and, in 2022, its Broadway production starring Debra Messing. She has also directed for the Folger Shakespeare Theatre (Helen Hayes nomination for best direction 2019), The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Trinity Repertory Company, NY Stage & Film, and Red Bull Theatre, among others. As an actress, Vivienne has worked on and off-Broadway, in film and television, at many of the country’s most celebrated theatres, and received an Obie Award for her performance in Lee Blessing’s Going to St. Ives. Vivienne is a graduate of Brown University and NYU’s Graduate Acting Program.

As an educator, she has directed for and served on the faculty of some of the nation’s foremost actor training programs, including The Juilliard School, UNC-Chapel Hill’s Professional Actor Training Program, Brown/Trinity Rep MFA Program, and at her alma mater, NYU’s Graduate Acting Program. She is the 2017 recipient of the Zelda Fichandler Award given by the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation.

Maura Murphy

General Manager

Maura is here for her eighth full season, returning after a 23-year hiatus. In that time, she honed her administrative skills at Duke, NCSU and of course, Carolina. She was production stage manager for PlayMakers from 1993-1996 and general manager from 1996-1999. Education: EdD and MS in Higher Education Administration, NCSU; BA in Drama, Muhlenberg College. 

Jeffrey Meanza

Associate Artistic Director

An actor, director and educator, Jeffrey Meanza has spent the last 15 years working at two of the country’s most celebrated regional theatres overseeing the artistic, educational and community engagement efforts of the organizations. As a member of PlayMakers’ resident acting company, he has appeared in Hamlet, Angels in America, Into the Woods, Lisa Kron’s Well, Amadeus, Assassins, and The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby among others, and directed The Cake and The Legend of Georgia McBride.

From 2015 to 2021, he served as the Guthrie Theater’s associate artistic director, overseeing the theater’s education and community engagement initiatives, the literary team, casting, and the theater’s professional training programs, as well as helping to guide the work on the Guthrie’s three stages. During his tenure, Meanza managed the expansion of educational programming to serve over 35,000 students annually, including the creation of an artist residency program that put full-time teaching artists in high school classrooms throughout the state of Minnesota. In addition, under his leadership, the Guthrie piloted a new Fellowship program that offers paid training opportunities for emerging leaders to experience work at one of the nation’s leading regional theaters. In 2021, Meanza returned to PlayMakers Repertory Company as Associate Artistic Director, charged with overseeing the artistic, educational and engagement operations of the theater.

He holds an M.F.A in Acting from the Professional Actor Training Program at UNC-Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Theater and Performance Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. 

Michael Rolleri

Production Manager

Michael is in his 37th season with PlayMakers Repertory Company. He has been Technical Director, Project Manager, Exhibition Technician, and Lighting Designer for industrial shows in the Southeast region, as well as lead carpenter for films, the U.S. Olympic Festival, and scenic studios. He has also been a rigger in the Southeast region and has served on the executive board and as President of IATSE Local 417.  Michael is a 30 year Gold Pin member of IATSE.  An active member of United States Institute For Theatre Technology (USITT), he is a three-time winner at USITT’s Tech Expo. He is a full Professor/Head of the Technical Production Program at UNC-Chapel Hill and was an instructor at High Point University and Tufts University.

Education: MFA in Design and Technical Production, UNC-Greensboro.

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Who We Are

PlayMakers is…

“One of America’s Best Regional Theatres”

(American Theatre Magazine), PlayMakers Repertory Company is North Carolina’s premier professional theatre company, proudly in residence on the dynamic campus of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. The professional company was founded in 1976, growing out of a storied 100-year tradition of playmaking at Carolina. 

At the very heart of the PlayMakers experience is one of the nation’s last remaining resident theatre companies, made up of accomplished performers, directors, designers, artisans, and technicians, and supported by exceptional graduate students in UNC’s Department of Dramatic Art. Our company works side by side with guest artists from all over the world and our alumni include Pulitzer Prize, Tony®, Emmy®, and Grammy Award® winners. 

Creating Tomorrow’s Classics, Today

Producing Artistic Director Vivienne Benesch is continuing PlayMakers’ tradition of producing vibrantly reimagined classics, large-scale musical theatre, and significant contemporary work, but is also broadening the company’s reach to become a home for new play development and a true hub of social and civic discourse in the region. Her first seven seasons have already given life to twelve important new American plays.  

A Hub of Engagement

PlayMakers seeks to provoke thought, stimulate discussion, and push the boundaries of the theatrical form in everything we do. Whether through our intimate @PLAY series, our mainstage offerings or our virtual line-up, we look for opportunities for direct, dynamic engagement between audiences, artists, and thinkers. We also offer a  host of unique engagement opportunities designed to enrich our audience’s experience of the live arts.    

Theatre for the People

PlayMakers Mobile is an initiative that seeks to contribute positively to the civic and social life of our region by taking world-class theatre out of our building and into the community. We create a streamlined production of a play and take it to schools, transitional housing facilities, and long-term treatment facilities around the Greater Triangle area. And best of all, it’s all free of charge. 

Passing the Torch

PlayMakers’ award-winning Summer Youth Conservatory is the only professionally supported training program of its kind in the region. The Theatre Quest program provides camps to area middle school and high school students, while the Theatre Intensive and TheatreTech programs allow Triangle high schoolers to apprentice directly with professional directors, choreographers, musical directors, and technicians, culminating in a professional quality production on the PlayMakers mainstage for the whole community to enjoy.  

Eliminating Barriers

With a commitment to eliminating barriers for attendance, PlayMakers offers All Access performances for our patrons living with disabilities. We also offer accessible $20 tickets for all performances and ticket prices are reduced to just $10 for UNC students. For more information, please contact

Our Mission

PlayMakers Repertory Company is North Carolina’s premier professional theatre company, proudly in residence on the dynamic campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Our mission is to produce relevant, courageous work that tells stories from and for a multiplicity of perspectives. We believe that theatre can have a transformational impact on individuals and entire communities, and we are committed to the journey of becoming an anti-racist organization whose work is accessible to all. Inextricably linked to UNC’s Department of Dramatic Art, PlayMakers is devoted to nurturing and training future generations of artists and audiences.

Our Vision




Antiracism Accountability Statement

At the heart of PlayMakers Repertory Company’s mission is the belief that theatre has the power to transform individuals and entire communities. There is no more aspirational or urgent a use of that power than working to dismantle the systems of oppression, white supremacy, and racism that pervade American life and consume the American Theatre. PlayMakers continues to assess and evaluate our own practices in order to embed equitable, antiracist policies into strategic planning, our mission, and our operations.

PlayMakers Repertory Company, and those of us who work here, commit to the following:

  • To work intentionally to create an antiracist culture in our company.
  • To continually educate ourselves on the ways in which we can combat racism locally and nationally as we move to create an inclusive, diverse, and equitable sense of belonging for every one of our constituents.
  • To demonstrate our values through action in our policies, practices, and procedures.

Land Acknowledgment

We acknowledge that the Center for Dramatic Art is located on the unceded lands of one or more of Abiayala’s (the Americas’) original sovereign nations, the name(s) of which have not yet been affirmed. The unjust acquisition of these Indigenous lands came about through a history of racism, violence, dispossession, displacement, and erasure of cultures by settlers as part of the larger, land-centered project of settler colonialism.

As we look to the future, may. webuild upon the memories and goodwill of all who walked and labored here before us with truth, integrity, and honor. Learn more: UNC American Indian Center

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*glass half full advertisement*

Keith dasilva, private wealth financial advisor and 2023 forbes best-in-state wealth advisors are proud to support playmakers repertory company
The Knott Private Wealth Management Group at Wells Fargo Advisors

PlayMakers’ 2023/24 Season is Made Possible in Part by Grants from

Foundation Support

National Endowment for the Arts, North Carolina Arts Council, The
Shubert Foundation, Fidelity Foundation, Orange County Arts Commission, The Educational Foundation of America

Additional Funding for Guest Artists is Provided by

Robert Boyer and Margaret Boyer Fund, Louise Lamont Fund, Emeriti
Professors Charles and Shirley Weiss Fund

Producing Council

Residence Inn Chapel Hill, Larry’s Coffee

Corporate Council

Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe, Knott Private Wealth Management Group at Wells Fargo Advisors


Linda’s Bar and Grill, Glasshalfull, Infinium Spirits

PlayMakers Repertory Company is a program of the Department of Dramatic Art, The College of Arts and Sciences, and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources, recognizes PlayMakers as a professional theatre organization and provides grant assistance to this organization from funds appropriated by the North Carolina General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts. PlayMakers is a beneficiary of the Elizabeth Price Kenan Endowment and the Lillian Hughes Prince Endowment.

PlayMakers Repertory Company is a Member of Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for the American theatre.

This Theatre operates under an agreement between the League Of Resident Theatres (LORT) and Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

The scenic, costume, lighting and sound designers in LORT Theatres are represented by United Scenic Artists, Local USA-829 of the IATSE.

The Director and Choreographer are members of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, a national theatrical labor union.

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PlayMakers Staff


Vivienne Benesch, Producing Artistic Director


Jeff Aguiar, Director of Engagement
Tracy Bersley, Movement Coach/Choreographer
Chelsea James, Producing Assistant
Tia James, Vocal Coach
Gregory Kable, Dramaturg
Jacqueline E. Lawton, Dramaturg
Jeffrey Meanza, Associate Artistic Director
Mark Perry, Dramaturg
Gwendolyn Schwinke, Vocal Coach
Sarah Tackett, Administrative Operations Associate
Adam Versényi, Dramaturg


Matara Hitchcock, Company Manager
Kate Jones, General Manager
Lisa Geeslin, Accountant
Maura Murphy, Director of Operations
Undergraduate Assistants: Erica Bass, Alexis R. Steele-Kubuanu, Dani Elliott, Ella Hawn, Sage Howard, Sarajane Carty, Nathaniel Kareis


Kymberly Burkhead-Dalton, Director of Development
Kyle Kostenko, Assistant Director of Annual Giving
Lenore Fields, Events and Gala Coordinator

Marketing & Audience Services

Hannah LaMarlowe, Marketing & Communications Specialist
Thomas Porter, Box Office Manager
Rosalie Preston, Associate Director of Marketing
Lauren Van Hemert, Marking Consultant
Kori Yelverton, Audience Services Associate
Jenna Zottoli, Audience Services Associate
Lucy Albani-Rangel, Michelle Seucan, Marketing Work Studies

Ava Lytle, Cora Willis, Student House Managers
Ayriana Agard, Swetha Anand, Albert Carlson, Lynlee Collins,
Kali Dao, Tygia Drewhowell, Evan Jeppson, Gali Jones-Valdez,
Lindsey Kanipe, Micah Kennel, Lex Lankford, Alicia Norman,
Leah Page, Morgan Perry, Asher Pierce, Sophie Taylor, Maggie
Thornton, Izzy Twiss, Ava Wells, Ava West, August Williams,
Nicholas Williams, Box Office and Front of House Work Studies

Department of Dramatic Art

Kathryn Hunter-Williams, Chair and Associate Professor


Milly Barranger, Professor Emerita
Vivienne Benesch, Professor of the Practice
Tracy Bersley, Associate Professor
Pamela Bond, Assistant Professor
Jan Chambers, Professor
McKay Coble, Professor
Jeffrey Blair Cornell, Associate Chair, Teaching Professor
Ray Dooley, Professor Emeritus
Samuel Ray Gates, Assistant Professor
Julia Gibson, Associate Professor
David Hammond, Professor Emeritus
Letitia James, Assistant Professor
Gregory Kable, Teaching Professor
Jacqueline E. Lawton, Associate Professor
Matthew Mallard, Teaching Assistant Professor
Adam Maxfield, Teaching Professor
Triffin Morris, Professor of the Practice
David Navalinsky, Professor
Bobbi Owen, Distinguished Professor Emerita
Laura Pates, Teaching Assistant Professor
Kathy Perkins, Professor Emerita
Mark Perry, Teaching Associate Professor
Rachel E. Pollock, Teaching Assistant Professor
Michael Rolleri, Professor
Gwendolyn Schwinke, Assistant Professor
Lexi Silva, Dramaturgy Fellow
Aubrey Snowden, Teaching Assistant Professor
Craig Turner, Professor Emeritus
Adam Versényi, Professor
Tao Wang, Assistant Professor


Lucas Branch, KTC Technical Director
Victoria Danielik, Program Assistant
Lisa Geeslin, Accounting Technician
Taylor McDaniel, Student Services Manager
Karen Rolleri, Business Coordinator
Jamie Strickland, University Manager


Michael Rolleri, Production Manager


Amy Evans, Costume Shop Manager
Marissa Lupkas, Wardrobe Supervisor
Matthew Mallard, Assistant Costume Director
Triffin Morris, Costume Director
Rachel Pollock, Costume Craftsperson
Costume Production Graduate Students:
Matty Blatt, Jocelyn Chatman, Jillian Gregory, Emma Hoylst, Jessica Land, Zachery Morrison, Sally Rath
Undergraduate Assistants: Madeline Gibson, Arcadia Hiton
Bao-Nhi Vu, Costume Lab Assistant
Katherine Craig, Costume Department Assistant
Natasha Harm, Wardrobe Assistant
Georgia Wood, Costume Stock Assistant
Clara “Hock” Hockenberry, Costume Clerical Assistant
Amanda Tenzlinger, Costar Vintage Archivist


Benjamin Bosch, Electrics Supervisor
Nick Rodgers, Production Swing for Lighting & Sound

Xiuping Xiong, Lighting Assistant
Alex Mitropoulos, Work Study


Lauren Reinhartsen, Properties Supervisor
Emma Madison, Props Artisan
Rebecca Xhajanka, Props Artisan

Marissa Romano, Props Undergraduate Assistant
Lydia McRoy, Cami Crocker, Evan Wilker, Work Studies

Stage Management

Aspen Jackson, Stage Manager
Sarah Smiley, Stage Manager
Zoe Lord, Production Assistant


David Bost, Sound Supervisor
Andrew Fleming, Sound Undergraduate Assistant

Nubia Orellana, Jace Rea, Work Studies


Brandon “Bruce” Hearrell, Production Carpenter
Adam Maxfield, Technical Director
Laura Pates, Technical Director

Corrinne LaVergne, Scenic Artist
Diane Zimmerman, Scenic Charge Artist
Technical Production Graduate Students:
Rachel Van Namen, Joel Ernst, Benjamin Fink, Roark

Kaitlin Mcguire, Kee Meh, Chyna Wiles, Veta “Koa” Torres,
Scenic Painting Work Studies
Beatrice Sangangbayan, Connor Gould, Heather Robinson,
Jake Docherty, Yessenia Estrada-Zerhoudi, Carpentry Work

PlayMakers’ Resident Acting Company

Jeffrey Blair Cornell
Samuel Ray Gates
Julia Gibson
Kathryn Hunter-Williams
Tia James
Gwendolyn Schwinke

Professional Actor Training Program:

Reez Bailey, Hayley Cartee, Matthew Donahue, Elizabeth Dye, Heinley Gaspard, Jadah Johnson, Jamar Jones, Nate John Mark, Saleemah Sharpe, Sanjana Taskar, Adam Valentine, Megwe Wapimewah

For this Production of “Much Ado About Nothing”

Avery Wadehra, Assistant Director
Jonas Harrison, Assistant Scenic Designer
Jeff A.R. Jones, Fight and Violence Choreographer
Lexi Silva, Dramaturgy Fellow and Associate Dramaturg
Laura Pates, Production Technical Director
Brandon “Bruce” Hearrell, Shop Lead
Angella Fraser, Wigs

Amy Evans, Matthew Mallard, Assistant to the Costume Designer
Matty Blatt, Jocelyn Chatman, Emma Holyst, Zach
Morrison, Sally Rath, Drapers
Jessica Land, First Hand
Jillian Gregory, Assistant Crafts Artisan

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PlayMakers Repertory Company is a nonprofit theatre. We rely on the generosity of our community to continue delivering the Broadway-quality theatre you love. If you believe in the transformative power of theatre as much as we do, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to help theatre thrive.

You can help support and sustain all our work, both on stage and off, by making a tax-deductible gift which enables us to:

  • Bring innovative, entertaining, and relevant theatre to the Triangle
  • Serve students across the state through our award-winning educational programs
  • Engage with our audiences through artist and community conversations
  • Remain flexible, safe, and better prepared for the future

Every gift, big or small, makes a huge difference!

Ways to Give



Phone or Email

Kymberly Burkhead-Dalton, Director of Development


Send your check to:
Kymberly Burkhead-Dalton
PlayMakers Repertory Company Development Department
Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Art
CB 3235
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3235

PlayMakers is grateful to the members of the Friends of PlayMakers for their generous support. For more information about how to join this dynamic group of supporters, call the Director of Development Kymberly Burkhead-Dalton at 919.962.4846 or visit us at


Friends of PlayMakers

Director’s Circle ($10,000+)

Susan Arrington
Betsy Blackwell and John Watson Jr. *
Munroe and Becky Cobey
David G. Frey ~
Joanne and Peter Garrett
Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund
The Farley Fisher Gift Fund
Deborah Gerhardt
Joan Gillings ~
The Charles Goren and Hazen Family
Foundation, Trustees Tom and Lisa Hazen
The Estate of Linda K. Griffin
Susan and Dustin Gross*
Amy and Kevin Guskiewicz*
Garrett Hall and Zachary Howell*
T. Chandler and Monie Hardwick
Brian Hargrove and David Hyde Pierce
Mrs. Frank H. Kenan ~
Thomas S. Kenan III *
Paula Noell and Palmer Page*
Wyndham Robertson *
Coleman and Carol Ross
Schwab Charitable
Shubert Foundation
Ken Smith
T. Rowe Price Charitable
Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program
Alan H. Weinhouse

Angel ($5,000–9,999)

Patrick Brennan and Lillian Jenks*
Linda and Cliff Butler*
Jan and Stephen Capps
Thomas and Holly Carr
Keith DaSilva of the Knott Private Wealth
Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors*
The Educational Foundation of America
Mr. and Mrs. Matt Hapgood
Sumeetha and Tanner Hock
Kim Kwok
Prentice Foundation
John Powell*
Raymond James Charitable Endowment
Rivers Agency, LLC*
David and Jenny Routh
Jackie Tanner*
Jennifer Werner-Cannizzaro and Thomas
Ford and Allison Worthy
Jim and Bonnie Yankaskas

Investor ($2,500–4,999)

Richard and Deirdre Arnold ^
Andrew and Katherine Asaro ^
Vivienne Benesch
Charities Aid Foundation of America
Evan and Erin Gwyn
Susan E. Hartley
Carol Hazard and Winston Liao
Stacy and Chris Hovey
Susan J. Kelly
Knack Technologies
Duncan and Stuart Lascelles
Nick and Amy Penwarden
Suzanne and Charles Plambeck
Samyr Qureshi
Dr. and Mrs. Edward Smithwick
Roger and Marlene Werner
Louise and Derek Winstanly
Katie Woodbury

Page to Stage ($1,500–2,499)

David and Judy Adamson
Steve Benezra ^
Dr. Stephen Shaw Birdsall
Ed and Eleanor Burke ^
Cindy and Thomas Cook
Dr. Steven Dalton and Mrs. Kymberly
John and Diane Formy-Duval
The Rich and Tracy Harris Fund of Triangle
Community Foundation
Carol Hazard and Winston Liao
David J. Howell
Hugon Karwowski and Joanna Karwowska ^
Dr. Moyra Kileff and Mr. Brian Kileff
Dr. Catherine Kuhn and Glenn Tortorici
Paul and Linda Naylor
Bettina Patterson
RR Donnelley
Carole L. Shelby
Dr. William L. Stewart
The Rev. Wendy R. and W. Riley Waugh
Michael Weil and Peggy Link-Weil
Jenny and Julian Wiles

Partner ($1,000–1,499)

Anonymous (4)
Michael and Marie Andreasen
Jeremy Arkin and Marian Fragola
Dane Barnes
Anna and Amir Barzin
Dr. Stanley Warren Black, III
Peggy Britt
Liz Carroll Interiors
Joan Clendenin
Bill Cobb and Gail Perry
Dr. Carrie Donley and W.P. Gale ^
Cauveh Erami
Dr. and Mrs. John P. Evans
Rachelle Feldman and Paul Raczynski
Julia and William Grumbles
Jim and Debra Lampley
Lauren G. Leve and Jonathan Fleener
Jack Knight and Margaret Brown
Katie Kosma
Shirley and Tom Kunkel
Douglas MacLean and Susan Wolf
Elaine Mangrum and Michael Freedberg
Marconi Hoban Tell Fund
John and Alice May
Holly and Ross McKinney
David E. Price
Jean and Joseph Ritok
David B. Sontag
Karen Sisson and Andrew Levine
Scott Taylor
Triangle Community Foundation
Dr. Jesse L. White
Paul and Sally Wright
David and Heather Yeowell

Backer ($500–999)

Anonymous (3)
Elisabeth Allore, in memory of John Allore
Pete and Hannah Andrews
Dr. Thomas C. Apostle and Sharon E. Lawrence-Apostle
Deborah Barrett and Charles Kurzman
Adam C. Beck ^
John W. Becton and Nancy B. Tannenbaum
Shula and Stephen Bernard
Patricia Beyle
Ann and John Campbell
Philip and Linda Carl
Sam and Michelle Crittenden
Anne and Alexander Dusek
Bob and Connie Eby
Randi Emerman
Thorsten A. Fjellstedt
Mrs. Linda Whitham Folda and Dr. Jaroslav
Thayer Folda, III
Alison Friedman
James P. Gogan ^
Dr. and Mrs. Robert S. Greenwood
Elizabeth Grey
Janet and D. Scott Guthmiller
Toby and Cheryl Harrell
C. Hawkins ^
Mr. and Mrs. David L. Henson
Don and Kay Hobart
Michael Maness and Lois Knauff
Anand and Sandhya Lagoo
K.A. and Carol Lawrence
Nelda and Douglas Lay
Dr. and Mrs. Morton D. Malkin
Ed and Connie McCraw
Amy McEntee
Laurie E. McNeil and Patrick W. Wallace
Jeanne and Herbert Miller
Dr. James C. and Dr. Susan D. Moeser
Betsy and Jefferson Newton
Linda W. Norris
Pat and Mary Norris Oglesby
Lois P. Oliver
David and Mary Ollila
Sarah Owens
Ariana Pancaldo and Michael Salemi
Louis and Jodi Patalano
Mark and Eugenea Pollock
Jodi and Glenn Preminger
Elizabeth Raft
Vikram and Susan Rao
Lucy and Sidney Smith
Dr. William W. Smith and Brenda W. Kirby
Tim and Judy Taft

T. Rowe Price Program for Charitable Giving
U. S. Charitable Gift Trust
Wegmans Chapel Hill

^ Sustainers Club Member
* PlayMakers Special Event Supporter
~ Deceased

This list is current as of October 26, 2023. If your name is listed incorrectly or not at all, please contact the PlayMakers Development Office at 919.962.4846. We will ensure you are recognized for your
thoughtful support

Jump to: Letter from Viv | Support PlayMakers | Program Notes | Who We Are | Title Page | About the Author | Actor Bios | Creative Team Bios | General Information | PlayMakers Staff | Friends of PlayMakers | Corporate and Foundation Partners

*Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe advertisement*