December 2011 Newsletter - Alumni Update

Sarah Andrews (2002)
After being awarded her MA from Pitt, Sarah earned a J.D. at Duquesne School of Law. She served as a judicial clerk to Chief Justice Cappy of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, spent 3 years as a Labor and Employment Attorney at an international law firm with an office in Pittsburgh and is currently clerking for Chief Judge Gary L. Lancaster (a federal trial judge). In personal news, Sarah and her husband have a young son, Xavier.

Thomas Aulino (2008)
Working as an actor in Chicago.

Jeffrey Awada (2006)
Assistant Professor (Movement), Webster University Conservatory of Theatre Arts

Justin Baker (2011)
Currently working as the Technical Director at the Society Hill Playhouse in Philadelphia, Justin can says that his experiences at Pitt got him in shape to handle the trials and tribulations of the world of theatre after college.

Laura McCarthy Blatt (1994)
Currently works as the Operations Manager in the Theatre Arts Department. She was married in October 2010.

Brian Byrnes (1997)
Currently an Associate Professor at the University of Houston School of Theatre & Dance.

Laura Frecon (1999)
Laura works as an Costume Designer in New York and Los Angeles. She works as the Assistant Costume Designer on AMC's Mad Men and is currently in New York filming Men in Black 3.

Deborah Chaya Gordon-Bland (2008)
Assistant Professor, University of South Dakota

Jennifer Hunter (1994)
Jennifer is currently the Drama Director of The Palms Drama Ensemble at Palms M.S., Gifted/High Ability Magnet School in the Los Angeles Unified School District, where she’s put together some amazing productions: The Egyptian CinderellaNARNIAJames and the Giant PeachThe Phantom TollboothRnJ: The Urban Remix (a Shakespearean hip-hop tour-de-force of Romeo and Juliet w/original raps by Ms. Hunter), and this year, they've created a middle school version of Alice's REVOLUTION in Wonderland based on Lewis Carroll's classic, that goes up in March 2011. Jennifer is an avid Shakespeare performer, and completed the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum’s Shakespeare Acting Intensive, as well as Ellen Geer's Master Class and a Julius Caesar intensive at A Noise Within theatre company.

Jennifer Juul (2004)
Assistant Professor, Radford University.

Richard Kemp (2005)
Associate Professor, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

LaShawn Keyser (2009)
LaShawn Keyser is in her third year with the Kitchen Theatre Company in Ithaca, NY. She stage manages about ten shows a year, supervises a production intern, and manages half of the Production Management responsibilities. Other professional credits includes work with the Bakerloo Theatre Project, Windhorse Arts, Prime Stage Theatre, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre, and the Hazlett Theatre.

Amanda Kircher (2011)
Currently, Amanda is working at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia, PA as the Stage Management/Production Management Apprentice.

Tavia LaFollett-Zabriskie (2002)
Tavia La Follette's politically-driven work has been the subject of articles in the EconomistRolling Stone Magazine and the New York Times. In the fall of 2010, she joined Carnegie Mellon University's Center for Arts in Society as the first Artist-in-Residence ( La Follette has entered her 2nd year in residence where she hopes to complete her doctoral work on The Firefly Tunnel Project (

Originally from New York City, Tavia is a director, designer, writer and performance artist. Her work has been seen at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland, Arts at St. Ann's (St. Ann's Warehouse), the Tenement Museum, the Williamsburg Historical Society, and the Cooler in NYC. In Pittsburgh, where she is currently based, she has exhibited/performed the Mattress Factory Museum, the Three Rivers Arts Festival, First Night, the Pittsburgh International Children's Festival, the Cultural Trust's Gallery Crawl and Gallerie Chiz.

Tavia earned her MFA in Performance-Pedagogy from the University of Pittsburgh and is completing her PhD in Leadership and Change through Culture and the Arts at Antioch University. She has taught, directed and designed at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, the Carnegie Museum, Colby College, Point Park University, Carnegie Mellon University, Earlham College, the University of Pittsburgh, Chatham University and the University of Virginia through the Semester at Sea program.

She is the Founder and Director of ArtUp (, a non-profit organization for artists and companies that are concerned with exploring the contextual inter-relationships of theater, visual arts, movement, media and sound.

Tavia's work has toured all over the United States, Europe, South America, Asia and the Middle East. Awards include the Artist Recognition Award (a $10,000 anonymous donation), The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Project Stream Award, the Heinz Creative Heights Award, William and Clarissa Stainer Arts Award, the Sprout Fund, the Heinz Small Arts, the Greater Pittsburgh Artist Opportunity Grant, and the Pittsburgh Foundation's A.W. Mellon Award.

La Follette has recently opened SITES OF PASSAGE at the Mattress Factory Museum ( The exhibition consists of installation and performance revolving around a yearlong art exchange between the U.S. and Egypt. This is the culminating work for her doctoral work, The Firefly Tunnel Project. The project takes place as the U.S. observes the 10th anniversary of 9/11, having executed its "architect", as Egypt fights for democracy while the U.S. questions its own, and as both countries begin elections for a new leader.

Gala Lok (2011)
Since graduating from Pitt, Gala has worked at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival and Allenberry Playhouse doing sound and electrics.

Sheila McKenna (2003)
Assistant Professor, Point Park University.

Doug Mertz (2002)
Doug is the new Director of the Foote Theatre School and Young Companies at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, Alberta. In addition, he taught Dialects to 4th year BFA students in the Drama Department at the University of Alberta and will be coaching the students in a campus production of Nicholas Nickleby. He will be appearing in August: Osage County at the Citadel in January.

Stefano Muneroni (2008)
Stefano is an Assistant Professor in Intercultural Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Alberta in Edmonton where he serves as Coordinator of the MA Drama Program.

Tiffany Owen (2006)
Tiff graduated from Pitt in 2006, and went on to do an SM internship at the Naples Dinner Theatre in Naples, FL for the 2006-2007 season. Following the company's final show, Tiff took a leap out west and landed in Tempe, AZ where she stage managed a national tour for local TYA company Childsplay. For the next couple seasons, she worked as ASM/PSM/ AEA SM for Southwest Shakespeare Company, and was Props Master/Designer for most of the shows in their 2009 - 2010 season. Tiff also works as a freelance theatre technician to help supplement her income, and has been working at ASU Gammage, a local roadhouse, and the Mesa Arts Center.Currently, Tiffany is the stage manager for Phoenix Theatre's TYA group Cookie Company.

Tom Pacio (2010)
Currently on the Acting Faculty and Conservatory Staff for TISCH at NYU.

Chad Rabinovitz (2002)
Chad is currently working as the Producing Artistic Director of Bloomington Playwrights Project, the only professional theatre in the state of Indiana focused solely on new plays. Among many new plays, they offer the Woodward/Newman Drama Award ($3,000 prize, full production), the only award named after Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward and sponsored by Joanne herself as well as Newman's Own Foundation, in search of the best new drama across the globe. In addition, they offer the Reva Shiner Comedy Award ($1,000 prize, full production) to the best comedy across the globe. Both contests are open to the public.

Adrian Rooney (2008)
Adrian Rooney is currently living the dream, working as the head of electrics and sound at Studio Theatre, one of Washington DC's premier theatres.

Elizabeth Salisch (2008)
Elizabeth is currently the Educational Touring Stage Manager at the George Street Playhouse where she stage manages three shows (PeacemakerNew Kid andIRL:In Real Life) as part of the outreach program that travels around New Jersey with a forth show coming in January: Austin The Unstoppable which is a new musical about wellness. Her Off-Broadway credits include: Vieux CarreTartuffeTwelfth NightNathan the Wise, and The Oedipus Cycle all at The Pearl Theatre Company. Off-off Broadway Elizabeth participated in the productions of Futura (NAATCO), A Streetcar Named Desire (Mississippi Mud Productions), The Cradle Will Rock (Theater Ten Ten) which was nominated for an innovative theatre award for best musical production in 2010, Slave Shack (Algonquin Productions) and Mr. Kolpert (Artist Collective NYC). Her regional credits include; American Mud (Straw Flower Productions), The Next Reunion, A Marriage Minuet (City Theater), Snow WhiteThe Emperor’s New Clothes and, Jack and The Bean Stalk (Storybook Musical Theatre).

Cory Tamler (2009)
Cory is a freelance playwright, theatremaker, and teaching artist. She has a passion for international collaboration and community engagement in the arts. Past productions include What You Wanted (The Neapolitans) and Eighty-Four (Collaboraction) in Chicago; The Yellow Wallpaper (Bakerloo) in Troy, NY; You Can't Get Lost in America (Yinzerspielen) and The Funeral (Pittsburgh New Works) in Pittsburgh; and You Can't Get Lost in America and Left-Right-Straight (Theater Panoptikum) in Augsburg, Germany. In 2010, she began working with Open Waters Theatre Arts in Maine as the playwright for Of Farms and Fables, a community-based theatre project that is bringing together farmers and farm workers with professional theatre artists to stage an original play about the future of farming in October 2011.

Cory is the recipient of a 2010/2011 Fulbright grant, and is funded by The MAP Fund as a lead artist for Of Farms and Fables. She is a proud member of international performance collectives Yinzerspielen and bluespotsproductions. When not working in the theatre or traveling, she enjoys agricultural work.

Holly Thuma (2003)
Holly is currently the Director of the University of Pittsburgh Theatre Arts MFA Program.