guest artists

Guest Professionals

Master classes and lectures by visiting professionals build acting skills, insights into and familiarity with additional scripts, playwrights, and other literature, greater training in writing and other forms of expression, and particular help with specific performance choices for actors and ideas of directors when actively rehearsing a play. Invited professionals who have worked with the men of ODAG include:

Paul MoserPaul Moser, Professor of Theater at Oberlin College and Director of the Oberlin Summer Theatre Festival (OSTF), presented a master class in acting at Grafton, and brought actors from OSTF to present scenes from two summer productions. He has served as advisor and mentor for Phyllis Gorfain and contributed his adaptation of The Tempest, which she further abridged for ODAG's spring, 2014, production.


curtCurt Tofteland, Founding Artistic Director of the world-renowned Shakespeare Behind Bars program, traveled to Ohio from his base in Michigan to support the ODAG company with a master class in May, 2014. He returned to attend a performance of "And Yet We'll Speak" on May 14, 2016.


michelle BombeMichelle Bombe, Director of Theatre, Professor of Theatre, and Resident Costume Designer at Hope College, also works with Shakespeare Behind Bars. She participated in a master class for ODAG in May, 2014, and visited again in May, 2016, to see "And Yet We'll Speak."



terrenceTerrence Spivey is a freelance theatre director and acting coach from Cleveland.  For over 12 years he was the Artistic Director of the renowned Karamu House Performing Arts Center.  As a college student he participated in a workshop with the world-famous mime Marcel Marceau.  And on July 31, 2018, his program TheUltimateReach conducted a mime workshop for the actors of ODAG.  He said the men “were all completely engaged and shared how theatre transformed them and allowed them to be free in numerous ways. … Art seems to have provided an essence of humility in them all.”

levinIn early December, 2016, James Levin led a workshop for the men of ODAG, full of games and exercises to build improvisational skills, comfort with body, and collaborative energies. He is a socially innovative lawyer from Cleveland, and an arts and cultural impresario who founded Cleveland Public Theater in the Gordon Square area, Cleveland’s IngenuityFest, the Cleveland World Festival at the Cultural Gardens, and the FireFish Festival in Lorain. He also began the Y-Haven shows at the CPT, and is a strong supporter of devised theatre by non-professionals.

Lara KnoxLara Mielcarek, Equity actor, Shakespeare specialist, and drama instructor, has taught master classes on basic acting techniques for ODAG and has several times guest-directed scenes in both The Tempest and Othello. She is now leading her own Shakespeare program at the Northeast Pre-release Center, a women's prison in Cleveland. Her organization is called Artists Rehabilitation Coalition (ARC).

Caroline Jackson SmithCaroline Jackson Smith, Oberlin College Professor of Theater and Africana Studies, supported ODAG with two master classes focussing on theater spaces and African-American theatre, and on plays of August Wilson and Kwame Kwei-Armah. She also brought Oberlin student actor/musicians to present selections from the musical Dessa Rose for the General Population of the GRC.


justin emekaJustin Emeka, Professor of Theater and Africana Studies at Oberlin College taught a master class in acting, highlighting his ground-breaking work on classical drama performed with attention to cultural identity.




gillian johnsGillian Johns, Professor of English at Oberlin College, shared her expertise in two workshops focussing on the drama of August Wilson and African-American literature.



pat pricePatricia Price, Drama teacher, actor, director, producer, stage manager and drama therapist, regularly leads ODAG actors in improvisation exercises.




Bruce WeiglBruce Weigl, Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Poetry and Professor of Poetry at Lorain County Community College, offered two poetry workshops for ODAG members in 2013.




JeremyJeremy Alan Richards, award-winning actor, director, drama teacher, and playwright, visited an ODAG session in January, 2015. A graduate of the Cleveland School of the Arts, he represented his school and city as the National Shakespeare Competition Champion. For the men, Jeremy performed his monologue from Hamlet that won the championship.


HectorHector Aristizabal is a practitioner of the international "Theatre of the Oppressed;" see his web site. In February 2015 he led a workshop at GRC centered on dramatized story telling. Following exercises and games to liberate imagination, movement, and song, Hector told a Borneo folktale accompanying himself on an African djembe drum. On that model, Hector facilitated participants to bring their own stories to life through dialogue, movement, and music. He returned for a second visit in April 2016 to conduct a master class for the actors. During his four-day residency with ODAG in March 2017 the group improvised a play with scenes from prison life.


ryanRyan Zarecki is a certified fight director who serves as fight choreographer and member of the Ohio Shakespeare Festival. He teaches youth theatre and stage combat throughout the Akron/Cleveland area. At the end of March 2015 he conducted a workshop at Grafton, directing ODAG actors in convincing and safe fight scenes for Othello. In March 2017 Ryan visited twice to coach the men in fight scenes for Macbeth.


peotreelogoClimbing PoeTree.  Alixa Garcia and Naima Penniman are at the forefront of international social and environmental justice movements; see their web site.  In September of 2015 they performed and led a workshop with the ODAG actors at GRC.  They included story telling, dual-voice spoken word poetry, hip hop, and multimedia theatre that dissolves apathy with hope, exposes injustice, and helps heal our inner trauma.