Youth Conference Bios & Session Information

Tracy Alexander

Tracy Alexander (Co-Commentator) is the Production Manager for Midland Community Theatre in Midland, Texas. She is the President of the Texas Nonprofit Theatres Board of Governors, the President of the Association of Volunteer Professionals in the Permian Basin, a 2003 graduate of Leadership Midland, and a Summer Mummer. Tracy has a BA in Theatre Arts from California State University, Sacramento. Over her 30 year professional career she was the Props Designer for TheatreWorks in Palo Alto, CA, worked for the Sacramento Theatre Company as a Properties Manager, the Mason Gross School of the Arts as a Production Secretary, Garbeau’s Dinner Theatre as an Assistant Stage Manager and Props Designer, and Music Circus as a Makeup Artist. Tracy took the AACT Adjudication workshop and adjudicated the Quad I Festival this past January. Five Easy Steps to a Better Portfolio - Create a Portfolio that showcases not only your recent work but You. Materials will be provided to follow step-by-step instructions on building pages that highlight all of your interests - from backstage to onstage. Co-presented with Alathea Blischke, the Archivist for MCT and a scrapbooker. Alathea has elevated Ms. Alexanders Portfolio following five simple steps. Special Addition - Saturday rotations: Susan Mele is the Artistic/Managing Director for the City of Deer Park’s Art Park Players. She has performed in over 200 productions and musical revues for the players as well as several professional venues throughout the state of Texas. In the joint session, Susan will help actors discover techniques to improve their audition presentation with Introductions, Interview Guidelines and a step-by-step process for creating an effective Acting Resumé. 

Co-presented with Alathea Blischke, the Archivist for MCT and a scrapbooker. Alathea has elevated Ms. Alexanders Portfolio following five simple steps. 

Special Addition - Saturday rotations: Susan Mele is the Artistic/Managing Director for the City of Deer Park’s Art Park Players. She has performed in over 200 productions and musical revues for the players as well as several professional venues throughout the state of Texas. In the joint session, Susan will help actors discover techniques to improve their audition presentation with Introductions, Interview Guidelines and a step-by-step process for creating an effective Acting Resumé. 

Dennis Yslas

Dennis Yslas (Co-Commentator) is a professional actor who has been in the business for over 40 years. He is a member of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional actors’ and stage managers. He judges for Dallas Summer Musicals High School Music Theatre Awards and has adjudicated at the Youth, High School and Community theatre levels. He is the alternate Adjudicator for the National AACTFest in Rochester, Minnesota this summer. Dennis will assume the duties of Executive Director of Texas Nonprofit Theatres on July 1, 2017.

Larry Adams

Larry Adams is the board president of Brazos Valley TROUPE. He also serves as volunteer staff at BVT, coaching the youth improv team known as the Oxymorons. He’s been involved with BVT since 2002. In addition to his work with the improv team, he’s acted and directed/co-directed several shows. In his life outside the theatre, Larry works at the Emergency Operations Training Center of the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX). He works in training programs for emergency management, and sports and special events.Quick Characters -  In this improvisational acting workshop, discuss ideas and techniques for quickly developing a new character. Think about accents, personalisty quirks, habits, etc. What can you do to make your character stand out from the crowd, leave an impression on the audience???

Evan Bendiksen

Evan Bendiksen has been involved with Brazos Valley TROUPE since the Fall of 2009. He has enjoyed every minute of acting and singing and teaching that he has participated in there. In high school, he was in the Warped Improv Troupe for two semesters which gave him more improvisation experience. He is going to be a Junior at the University of Texas at Dallas and is pursuing a double major in Computer Science and Computer Engineering. After graduating in May of 2019, he plans to do student teaching and then become a high school teacher of either Calculus or Physics.  Fun with Improv! - This workshop will involve discussing the basic elements of improvisation and will practice these basic elements through a select few improvisation games. Improvisation is a great skill to have as an actor, and it can also be a lot of fun!

Bobby Britton

Bobby Britton holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from SFA. Bobby has experience in writing, directing, acting, devising, improv, vocal performance, music direction, and piano. In the fall, Bobby will begin working on his Master’s in Theatre Education at Emerson College in Boston. Making It Your Own - Through the methods of Anna Deavere Smith, this workshop will focus on learning more about the humans around us and how to respectfully tell their stories. With a focus on truth, specificity, and creativity we will take turns developing original work.

Brianna Buth

Brianna Buth has been involved in theatre since 2000. She started coming to TNT with Brazos Valley Troupe in 2007 and in the last decade attended as a performer (once), a techie (twice), and a teacher (thrice).  She has been in multiple productions all over Texas and is currently on the Performance Company of the Texas Renaissance Festival and Sherwood Forest Festival. Shaking Up Shakespeare - We will explore some of the Shakesperean conventions: when to use them, when to lose them, and when to shake them up. 

Charlotte Dameron

Charlotte Dameron has directed youth productions, camps, and workshops for many years and enjoys bringing theatre alive for young actors and audiences. Charlotte grew up in a theatre community and is currently the Youth Education Director at The Backdoor Theatre of Wichita Falls, Texas. Her latest directing credits include Bring it On the Musical and Seussical. Theatre History: an Interactive Tour - A hands-on History of Theatre. Students will learn the key elements of Theatre from the beginning of time to modern day. The workshop will culminate in a fun performance opportunity.

Frances Seidensticker Dodds

Frances Seidensticker Dodds, with a box of dress-up clothes from her mother and an endless supply of cardboard boxes from her father’s retail store, started with make-believe (also known as theatrical improvisation) early in life. Years later at the age of 8, she wrote her first full-length script, organized the neighborhood kids, and put on a show…with costumes, sets, and ticket sales! Many years later at UT-Austin, she discovered that drama could be a college major and perhaps even become a paying job, which it did! Frances has worked at Casa Mañana Playhouse in Fort Worth, at the Zachary Scott Theatre in Austin, at the Warehouse Living Arts Center in Corsicana, and has been a high school and junior high school teacher. When You’re Hot, You’re Hot - Warm-ups for the Brain and Body - Warm-up games and activities for breaking the ice, stimulating creativity, building ensemble, encouraging group dynamics, exploring physical movement, and having fun! 

Bridget Gates

Bridget Gates is the full time Artistic Director of the EmilyAnn Theatre & Gardens, teaching and directing Shakespeare for all  ages of actors and students. This last year she taught the children’s Shakespeare workshops for the Texas A&M First Folio event. She is the coordinator of the Shakespeare High School Monologue Competition for the ESU, Austin branch. Bridget is a professional actress and director, as well, in Central Texas.  Her greatest loves and joys in life are her husband, Kevin, and 4 year old daughter,  Rosalind. Shakespeare is FUN - This workshop is designed to prove that Shakespeare is not intimidating, and is in fact, FUN!  Students will learn about Shakespeare’s life, times, works, and play structure in an interactive and engaging way.  

Ashley Shaunte Gipson

Ashley Shaunte Gipson is an actress born and raised in Houston, Texas. She fell in love with acting at the age of 3 and at 4 knew that she wanted to be in the industry. She began honing her craft with the knowledge that it will take hard work and dedication her freshman year in high school. She is currently attending Texas State University for Performance and Production. Monologue - This workshop is to go in depth with the execution of performing a monologue by breaking it down, beat by beat, character archetype, and more.

VonFrederick Gipson

VonFrederick Gipson is an actor, director, writer and youtuber. He has performed in AWJ productions, The Murder Mystery Co. and worked stage crew for AD players. He is dedicated to bettering himself as a performer and helping other to grow in their art. Scene work - Keep the energy up and react to your scene partners in the moment!

C. David Hill

C. David Hill graduated from the University of North Texas and is Executive director of the Henderson County Performing Arts Center in Athens. He is a former member and director of the Corsicana Children’s Company. In 2016, he received the Spotlight Award from TNT for his theatre work in Corsicana.  He currently lives in Dallas where he loves to read, travel, eat Indian food and chocolate.  He also has a lot of pets with Shakespearean names. Silly Willy: A look at the life, words, and bedazzled ideas of William Shakespeare - Why is the Bard still amazing in 2017? Fun facts, games, themes and insults. Was his thinking ahead of its time?  Also discover the power of women during the Elizabethan era.

Kyle Januszewski

Kyle Januszewski a proud graduate of Sam Houston State University where he earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Dance and Theatre. He has been involved in theatre since he was nine years old. Kyle’s favorite part of theatre is working with movement and physicality to create interesting characters, pictures, and movement sequences on the stage. He has worked professionally and in community theatre and is working on developing his own High School Summer Theatre Camp. He is currently the Theatre Director at Athens High School in Athens, Texas. Movement Matters - An exploration of physical acting and theatrical movement techniques and activities that can help the actor give a new dimension to their character and performances. We will explore yoga, Viewpoints, Laban, the work of Frantic Assembly, and a variety of other techniques in this whole body workshop. Come dressed to move!

josh jordan

josh jordan is a graduate of HSPVA in Houston with a BFA in costume design from the College of Santa Fe in New Mexico and an AA in fashion design from FIDM in San Francisco. He has worked with Clear Lake High School’s senior musical program for 8 years & has been the artistic director for the Red Door Theatre Co. for the past 9 years. A Concise Theatre History for Dummies - Starting with the Greeks & moving our way to the 21st century, we’ll uncover the major pathway & journey that the art form has taken over the centuries.  How did musicals come into being????  Come find out!

Gregory Magyar

Gregory Magyar has been a working actor and director since receiving his degree in theatre from the College of Santa Fe, directing a number of productions in the Santa Fe and Seattle areas before becoming the Executive Artistic Director at Katy Visual & Performing Arts Center. Some of his favorites include Driving Miss Daisy, The Glass Menagerie, Bell Book and Candle, Ten Little Indians, and Gigi.  As an actor, audiences have seen him on stage in many productions including KVPAC’s recent productions of  The Importance of Being Earnest and this year’s AACTFest entry, Answers. Movement for the Actor - The Physical Timeline - An introduction to the process of aging for your role by manipulating the physical timeline. Add a new dimension to your characterizations by controlling your center of gravity to play any age!

Sarah Opersteny

Sarah Opersteny is a theatre teacher and assistant director at the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center where we just finished The Lion King JR. She is also an actor with the Murder Mystery Company and has taught workshops in Viewpointing and Clowning. I Just Can’t Wait To Be On Broadway - Students will briefly learn about musical theatre, and the impact it has had on theatre history, and will have a discussion about “embracing the cheese” of musical theatre. Following the discussion, students will quickly learn simple and short choreography to The Lion King’s I Just Can’t Wait to be King as a closing activity.

Nick Pinelli

Nick Pinelli is a Houston Based Actor/Director/Playwright who has been involved in theater from a young age. Nick has worked with several companies across the country throughout his career including The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Madcap Puppets, and, one of his personal favorites, Texas Nonprofit Theatres! Currently, Nick is the Director for the Houston Troupe of the Murder Mystery Company. An Actor Prepares... Or Not: How to Nail an Audition! - Do you get nervous before an audition? Don’t worry, everyone does! In this workshop, we will look at different techniques we can use to prepare for a big audition of any kind and at any level. 

Hannah Smith

Hannah Smith is a junior at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee where she majors in Commercial Voice with an emphasis in Composition and Arranging. Hannah, originally from College Station, Texas, has performed with Brazos Valley TROUPE since 2009, including three years attending the TNT Youth Conference. At Belmont, Hannah is actively involved in the commercial music program, performing with both Session, a women’s a cappella group, and with the Belmont Chorale. She is also the founder and music director of Prismatics, Belmont’s newest co-ed, competitive a cappella group. Finding Your Voice - Develop healthy vocal warm-up techniques and compare vocal styles across multiple genres as well as the differences between commercial, classical, and musical theatre vocal styles.

Mary Kate Walker

Mary Kate Walker has been a member of Brazos Valley TROUPE for the last 6 years, and a member of their Oxymorons improv team for all those. She was also on Bryan High School’s competition winning improv team, Improvaganda. Before graduating she served as Team co-captain of the Oxymorons and for the last two years she’s had the opportunity to serve as an assistant coach. She grew up going to TNT and is excited to return again to teach another workshop! Nitwit, Blubber, Oddment, Tweak - Learn how to think on your feet. Whether it be solely for entertainment or to save a scripted show, improv is one of  the most useful skills to have in theatre and in life! For example, coming up with a workshop title at the last minute.

Adult Workshops

Andee Kinzy

Andee Kinzy is the Founding Director of both ImprovEd Shakespeare and Girl Improved, projects that educate and empower youth in the creative arts and fall under the umbrella of ImprovEd Arts. Before moving back to Austin, home of her alma mater, University of Texas (BA Drama), she was the president of the nonprofit women’s film organization, CineWomen NY, which was absorbed into NY Women in Film and Television. Since 2011 she has written, produced and directed more than 15 original ImprovEd Shakespeare adaptations for the organization in addition to creating videos that document and market the process of working with kids. Theatre & Improv Game Arsenal - A Meet Up for Directors seeking to learn from others or add to their collection. Bring 3-5 of your favorite theatre and/or improv games for students. Be prepared to teach your game(s) to the group!

William Rae

William Rae, while attending the University of California at Berkeley, hosted a weekly radio show (“Showtime with Sunny Rae”) on KALX-FM which exclusively featured showtunes. After studying dramatic arts and acting as an undergraduate, he eventually decided on a career in child and adolescent psychology. Dr. Rae obtained his doctorate in Counseling Psychology from the University of Texas. He was a practicing pediatric psychologist for over 20 years, but is now a Professor in the School Psychology program at Texas A&M University.  He has been involved in community theatre, has written several musicals and a screenplay, and is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America. Monster Café, The Musical: Creative Process - Creating a comical, high energy musical relevant to adolescent struggles (e.g., coping with emotions, relationships, self-esteem, bullying, depression) is the challenge of this pediatric psychologist turned playwright. The creative challenges of writing this Broadway-style musical are described while being true to compelling dramatic exposition and authentic teen psychological behavior.

The 2017 TNT Youth Conference is made possible through the support of

The City of Baytown

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