David Blixt is an author and actor. As an Artistic Associate at the Michigan Shakespeare Festival since 2000, he has played such roles as Macbeth, Petruchio, Benedick, Mark Antony, Mercutio, Pistol, Orsino, Oberon, and many more. He received a Wilde Award for Best Actor In A Comedy for his portrayal of Algernon in 2014’s THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST. As a Fight Director, he has choreographed all manner of violence, from comedic to horrific. Davis is also an author of historical fiction. His latest novel, WHAT GIRLS ARE GOOD FOR: A NOVEL OF NELLY BLY, was an Amazon bestseller for six months straight. His series of Star-Cross’d novels starting with THE MASTER OF VERONA (set at the birth of Renaissance Italy) is a critical and reader favorite. In life, David describes himself as an “actor, author, father, husband, in reverse order.”
Levizadik Buckins began his dance education at the Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven, Connecticut. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, under the direction of Ethan Stiefel. During his time at UNCSA, he worked with choreographers such as Brenda Daniels, Trish Casey, and Diego Schoch. He has also had the chance to work with well-known choreographers Maurya Kerr, Larry Keigwin, Scott Rink, and Trish Lent. He has performed professionally with the Winston-Salem Festival of Ballet under the direction of Gary Taylor in North Carolina, and River North Dance Chicago under the direction of Frank Chaves. While at River North Dance Chicago he worked with Adam Barruch, Kevin Iega Jeff, Ashley Roland, and Ivan Perez. Levizadik is currently in his second year as a dance instructor at the Chicago High School of the Arts.
Jason Ellis has played Broadway in Chicago productions including Million Dollar Quartet, Matilda, Beautiful, and School of Rock, as well as additional productions at Drury Lane, Marriott Theatre Lincolnshire, and the Paramount Theatre Aurora. Orchestral performances include Fulcrum Point New Music Project, the Memphis Symphony, and Oistrakh Symphony Chicago. His teaching experience includes the Jacobs School at Indiana University, Interlochen Center for the Arts/ The University of Michigan, Deerfield High School, Highland Park High School, and Harvard-Westlake Los Angeles. Jason has performed with jazz luminaries such as Bobby Watson, James Williams, Aaron Parks, Ira Sullivan, Melvin Rhyne, Derrick Gardner, and Fareed Haque: additional performances highlights include SNL legend Joe Piscopo, The Voice winner Josh Kaufman, the Atlanta Olympic Games, and the Kennedy Center. His primary teachers are Lawrence Hurst, Bruce Bransby, John Clayton, and Rufus Reid, as well as electric bass instructors Victor Wooten and Oteil Burbridge. Jason endorses Lakland basses, Acoustic Image amplifiers, and Genz Benz amplifiers; his upright basses are a 1939 Kay and a 1996 Rumano Solano.
Christian Helem is a playwright, director and actor from Chicago. He is an alum of the inaugural Theatre Acting class of ChiArts. He went to UIC and earned a BA in Theatre and Performance with concentrations in Playwriting and Acting. He has been seen in “Florissant and Canfield”, “The Piano Lesson”, and the musical “Passing Strange”.
Risha Hill is a 2003 graduate of the MFA Acting program at the California Institute of the Arts. Risha taught in and around Los Angeles for seven years and moved to Chicago in 2014. She currently is a theater teaching artist in several organizations in the city and is now in her second year of teaching at ChiArts.
Taylor Mallory is a professional singer, songwriter, actor, and Level Next Music recording artist. As a music artist, he’s been featured in the Wall Street Journal, JET, Windy City Live! and nominated for Best Male Vocalist for the Chicago Music Awards. His acting highlights include national print, radio, and commercial ads from Corona, Newport, McDonalds, Xfinity and many more. Recently, he made his film debut on NBC’s Chicago P.D. as Darius Brown. Above all, Mallory uses his artistry as an entertainer to uplift and encourage those who have experienced childhood trauma and sexual abuse; his message is simple “You are enough and your healing starts with you.” He is a member of the F.A.M.E. foundation and SAG-AFTRA. His Level Next Music team actively mentors and motivates youth in the inner cities, specifically the South, West, and South suburban areas of Chicago. He closes each class session with the following statement “My passion, will be my profession.”
Kathy Scambiatterra is Artistic Director and co-founder of The Artistic Home. Chicago acting credits include: Beaten, The American Plan, Sweet Bird of Youth, The Skin of Our Teeth, Look Homeward Angel, Juno and the Paycock, Natural Affection, Orpheus Descending (The Artistic Home); The Glass Menagerie, Nelson Algren Live, The Diary of Anne Frank (Steppenwolf); Broadway Bound (Drury Lane Oakbrook); A Flea in her Ear (Chicago Shakespeare); Romeo and Juliet (Goodman Theatre), among others. Regional credits: The Quick Change Room (Pacific Resident Theatre). TV/Film credits: Chicago PD, The Appointment, Draggage, Sin Collector, Into the Wake. She has received 4 leading role Jeff nominations for work in Sweet Bird of Youth, Natural Affection, Abundance, The School for Wives. As a director, she has helmed acclaimed, Jeff nominated and After Dark Award winning productions for The Artistic Home including: Waiting for Lefty, In the Boom Boom Room, Angel City, After the Fall, Street Scene, Peer Gynt, The Madwoman of Chaillot, The Petrified Forest, Modigliani, Days to Come, The Touch of the Poet, The Night of the Iguana. Other directing credits: The Copperhead (City Lit) Angel City, Welcome to the Moon and Other Plays (LA Dramalogue Award), A Christmas Carol (Pacific Resident Theater (LA). Ms. Scambiatterra is the director of the actor training program at The Artistic Home Studio. In addition, she has taught at The Steppenwolf School, Columbia College, Center Theater’s The Training Center, Chicago, IL; Carolyn Berry Studio, The Pacific Resident Theatre LA, CA; Director’s Symposium, US Army, Heidelberg, Germany; Screen Training Ireland, Dublin, Ireland; and currently at The Chicago High School for the Arts.
Nicole Scatchell is a Chicago native. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Dance from Columbia College Chicago, as well as her certification to teach Dance K-12 from University of Milwaukee, WI. As a young dancer Nicole trained at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Joffrey Ballet, and Ballet Legere. Nicole has trained under the direction of Anna Paskevska, Liz Burrit, Jefferson Baum, Eduardo Vilaro, Krenly Guzman, Kathleen Hermsdorf, Darrel Jones to name a few. She has performed with companies BONEdanse, Zephyr Dance, Get Down/Pick Up Company, David Dorfman, Dropshift Dance and has worked with choreographers such as Peter Carpenter, Reggie Wilson, Jan Bartosek, Tammy Thomas, Sean France, Jeff Hanncock, Jimmy Orrante, Emily Stein, among others. She performed for audiences in Chicago, Scotland, Italy, France, Germany, New York as well as across the U.S as a soloist with the International Ballet Ensemble. Nicole has been a dedicated dance educator in CPS, domestically, and internationally for 12+ years. She is the Artistic Director of Chicago Dance Institute, All City Dance Ensemble Director, and on faculty at Harold Washington College, and Joffrey Academy. She continues to work with countless non-profits across the U.S. teaching, training, and developing high-level dance programs for specific populations. She led and directed international programming in Haiti where she worked with local children and trained over 20 local volunteers in pedagogy, in partnership with Worldwide Orphans. Nicole also choreographs ChiArts’ Musical Theatre main stage productions. She continues be a guest artist with Chicago choreographers, teach yoga, and perform with her improv comedy group.
Rachel Slavick has been teaching acting for 24 years. Rachel is also faculty at The Theatre School of DePaul University and acts and directs in the Chicago theatre community. She is currently directing the second of The North Shore Trilogy, Pakalolo Sweet, having directed the first (Not One Batu) last summer and will direct all three next summer of 2020.
Jason Sperling works as an actor, singer, teacher, and director around Chicago, and has taught at ChiArts since 2011. He is an emeritus founding company member of Barrel of Monkeys, a children’s writing and theater program, and worked with them for over twenty years. Mr. Sperling created and taught the drama program at St. Juliana School, as well as directing there for seven years; he taught and directed with the CAST program in Oak Park for ten years; he was a poet/educator with the Chicago Park District/Chicago Humanities Festival’s Words@Play program; and he has also taught or music directed for Beverly Arts Center, Raven Theatre, and Prologue Theatre. Additionally, Mr. Sperling has taught, directed, and music directed with Elmhurst Children’s Theatre since 2009, and directed the student-authored sketch comedy show at Chicago Improv Festival’s Summer Theatre Camp in 2009. He has worked as a performer at theatres including Marriott, Drury Lane, Apple Tree, Northlight, Theatre at the Center, Noble Fool, and Ravinia.
Ms. Turner is a native of Chicago’s west side, and is entering her third year here at ChiArts. She received her BFA in Acting from the University of Illinois and her MA in Educational Theatre from New York University. Ms. Turner has toured and taught nationally. She has acted at Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Arkansas Shakespeare Festival, Great River Shakespeare Festival, Victory Gardens, Goodman, Steep Theatre, Congo Square, House Theatre, Griffin Theatre, and Haven Theatre. TV credits include: Chicago PD, Crisis, and short films “You Too” (which she featured alongside ChiArts students!) and “Black Womxn”. She is a member of the Screen Actors Guild.
Scott does, makes, teaches, and directs theatre in Chicago. He is an ensemble member with The Artistic Home, teaches for ChiArts and The Theatre School at DePaul University, and thoroughly enjoys leading acting intensives, playwriting and devising residencies, and theatre retreats for Red Barn Learning Center. (GoToRedBarn.com) Directing credits include shows with The Artistic Home, City Lit, Chimera, Citadel, beyond this point, Barter Theatre, The Shakespeare Theatre Company (Camp Shakespeare), Stage Left (Downstage Left), Northlight Theatre Academy, The Smithsonian Institution, American Theatre Company (Bridge), Impulse Theatre Company, the National High School Institute (Cherubs), ChiArts, and Reverie Theatre Company, of which he was a co-founder and co-Artistic Director. Acting credits include work with Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, The Shakespeare Theatre Company, Ford’s, Everyman, the Warehouse, the Barter, Northlight Theatre, The Artistic Home, Chicago Dramatists, Strawdog, Lifeline, Stage Left, Apple Tree, A Crew of Patches, Mary Arrchie, Festival Theatre of Oak Park, and Reverie. Film credits include Machine Gun Preacher and Prison Break. Scott has an MFA in Classical Acting from The Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Academy for Classical Acting at The George Washington University. www.ScottWesterman.org
Dereque Whiturs, a native of Dallas, Texas, began his career as a performing artist at the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Artists. Mr. Whiturs has been trained in ballet, modern, jazz, tap, and the Dunham techniques and he has trained with such artists as Alvin Ailey, Ulysses Dove, Donald McKayle, Donald Byrd, Talley Beatty, George Faison, Tina Yuan, Christine Lawson, Homer Bryant, and George Skibine, and Maria Tallchiief, Mr. Whiturs is an alumni of California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California. Mr. Whiturs was a principle dancer with the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble under the direction of Sylvia Waters, former principle dancer with the Alvin Ailev American Dance Theatre, and he went on to become a principle dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre under the direction of Alvin Ailey where he traveled the United States and Europe for 13 years.
After moving to Chicago, Mr. Whiturs became a principle dancer with Deeply Rooted Productions where he is also on the associate artistic team for the Deeplv Rooted summer intensive program and Deeply Rooted 2. He is also a member of the Malone Group Incorporated in Washington D.C. Mr. Whiturs has an extensive background in dance education he has taught in the United States and Europe in places such as The Chicago Multi Cultural Dance School in Chicago, Deeply Rooted summer intensive program in Chicago, Bertino’s School of Danceology In Chicago Illinois, Duke Ellington Performing Arts High School in Washington D.C., Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, The Black Academy of Arts and Letters in Dallas, and for The Renalto Greco School of Dance in Rome. Mr. Whiturs also founded his own company in Dallas with Mr. Carl Long, ”HappyNia Dance Theatre.” Because of his passion for building awareness in the African American community about HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, substance abuse, and self actualizing, he wishes to use HappyNia Dance Theatre Productions as a means to make a change in the community through the arts. Mr. Whiturs is currently on the dance faculty at The Chicago High School for the Arts (ChiArts).