An Artistic Associate of the Michigan Shakespeare Festival and A Crew Of Patches Theatre Company, David Blixt has designed violence for Steppenwolf, The Goodman, Writer’s Theatre, the Shakespeare Theatre of Washington D.C., First Folio Shakespeare, Artistic Home, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Rivendell, and Lifeline, among many others. Twice nominated for Joseph Jefferson Awards for Fight Direction, David is the resident Stage Combat Instructor at the Chicago High School For The Arts. The author of a dozen novels, David lives in Evanston and describes himself as “Actor, author, father, husband—in reverse order.”
An emerging Chicago based countertenor and composer, Kyle Anthony Cortés classes include fall elective “Acting the Song/Music Theory”, where students learn how to respond to music they analyze as an acting tool for the stage, and “Music Theory Fundamentals”, a course focusing students towards proficiency in music literacy. Upon request, he makes appearances as a supporting guest instructor for our “Vocal Performance Foundations 1” and “Treble Choir” students in the vocal department.
Mr. Cortés’ most recent artistic endeavors include having his original opera “Droplet” workshopped and produced this winter, 2021, by the Vizin Virtual Ensemble — an international ensemble of emerging professional and pre-professional singers. Known primarily to the stage for his comedic charm, Cortés has sung in roles such as the Witch in Hänsel und Gretel, Don Basilio in Le nozze di Figaro, and Mayor Upfold in Britten’s Albert Herring. And so, it was with much anticipation that the dark and twisted role of Emperor Lucio Silla, of Handel’s Silla, marked his official summer 2021 debut as a budding countertenor, transitioning him from leggiero tenor to countertenor repertoire. Cortés completed his masters degree with honors in vocal performance at DePaul School of Music studying under Dr. Viktoria Vizin. He relocated to Chicago after having graduated cum laude with two Bachelor of Music degrees from the University of Florida in vocal performance and composition, respectively. His other formal training includes a summer of private research in composition and combination-tones in the live-coding environment MAX/MSP at the Mozarteum Conservatory in Salzburg, Austria under their director of electro-acoustic composition, Dr. Achim Bornhöft, along with six-months of study with Dr. Jourdan L. Howell’s Palm Beach Opera Apprentice Studio. His interest in classical voice and composition led him to join the artistic team at Vizin-Production and Starr-Editing, Media Group as their composer-in-residence and young artist for the 2020-21 season, focusing on digital media productions of art song and opera. Cortés’ instrict beliefs drive his passion as an educator. Beliefs stating that we are products, not only of our present circumstance, but of our past; that we stand on the shoulders of giants, our family and community, who have worked arduously to lift us up and present us with our present opportunity. An opportunity to enjoy studying the music and art that we all love. An opportunity for which we will not “throw away our shot” (Lin Manuel Miranda, Hamilton).
Christian Helem is a multi-hyphenate theatre artist whose belief is that if it doesn’t scare him a little it isn’t worth doing. The imaginative, musical and complex calls to him. As a playwright he has written: “tofu chitlin’ burrito supreme” (Stage Left Theater), apostles (UIC), and he is currently working on his new play “chronic”. His directing credits include: “The Little Things” (Pegasus Theater) “The Project(s)” (Stage Left Theater), “Marcus; or the Secret of the Sweet” (Pride Arts), 21 Chump Street: The Musical (Counter Collective), a queer version of The Glass Menagerie, and assistant directing for “Middle Passage” and “A View From the Bridge”. His acting credits include: Mr Franklin in Passing Strange, Matthias of Galilee in Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Doaker in August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson. He is the Competition Director of the Chicago August Wilson Monologue Competition, Associate Board Chair at Jackalope Theater, and a 500 hour registered Yoga Teacher.
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.
Willow James is a Chicagoland-based artist and educator dedicated to new works, Black stories and theatre as activism. He received his BA in Theatre from Connecticut College (with a focus in acting and directing) and has served as a teaching artist at Pegasus and Definition Theatre. His work has been seen and heard regionally at theatres such as Congo Square, Alleyway, and Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts. He is Resident Sound Designer at Artemisia Theatre and is proudly represented by Dream Team Talent Agency. Willow-james.org
Taylor Mallory is an artist and entrepreneur who has worked professionally in the fields of music, film, education, and the business of the arts. He has an education in the arts, media, and management from Columbia College in Chicago.
As a musician, he’s been featured in the Wall Street Journal, JET, and Windy City Live! and was nominated for Best Male Vocalist at the Chicago Music Awards. His acting highlights include national print, radio, and commercial ads for Corona, Newport, McDonalds, Rocket Mortgage, Lenovo, and many more. 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 —embrace all of your different “selves!”
In addition, Taylor is a proud SAG-AFTRA member and a vocal mentor for the Mentors Artists Chicago foundation. He currently teaches a music business and ethics course entitled “Professional Development for Vocalists,” a songwriting course entitled “All Styles Sing and Songwriting,” a music production course, and is the sophomore advisor at the Chicago High School of Arts. Lastly, he is also the music consultant for Bluewater Water Kings Band and owns his own online music education business called Dancing in My Room—a virtual learning experience that meshes vocal training, music business, and music technology with social and emotional learning. His artistic statement is simple: “My passion is 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 holds a bachelor’s degree in Dance and a minor in Business Management, her teaching license to teach Dance K-12 in public schools and is currently pursuing a master’s in Counseling Psychology. Nicole has been a dedicated dance educator in CPS, domestically, and internationally for over 16 years. She is the Artistic Director of Chicago Dance Institute, on faculty at Chicago High School for the Arts, Harold Washington College, Joffrey Academy, and Dance Director of All City Performing Arts. Her choreography for ChiArt’s mainstage musical was nominated for Best Choreography through National High School Musical Theatre Awards. In partnership with WorldWide Orphans, Nicole has led and directed international programming in Haiti teaching local children and training local teachers in pedagogy. Nicole has trained with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Joffrey Ballet, and Ballet Legere. She has performed with the International Ballet Ensemble and companies including BONEdanse, Zephyr Dance, David Dorfman, Dropshift Dance and has worked with choreographers such as Peter Carpenter, Reggie Wilson, Jan Bartosek, Tammy Thomas, Sean France, among others. She has performed for audiences across the U.S, Scotland, Italy, France, and Germany. She continues to perform professionally and is earning credentials to pursue her dream of integrating arts education, mental health, and community intervention.
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 PlayMakers Lab (f/k/a 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 is a past director of the Chicago Improv Festival’s Summer Theatre Camp. He has worked as a performer at theatres including Marriott, Drury Lane, Apple Tree, Northlight, Theatre at the Center, Illinois Theatre Center, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Noble Fool, and Ravinia.
As keyboardist, Shawn has worked with Common, Ice Cube, Little Brother, Bobby Brown, Dwele, Johnny Gill, Jon B., Bilal, Estelle, Julie Dexter, Rene Neufville, Rakim, Eric Roberson, and Maggie Brown just to name a few.
Arrangement/Composition for Theatre includes Red Summer (with Shepsu Aakhu and Andy White, premiering Sept. 2022), Middle Passage (Lifeline Theatre Spring 2022), Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery (Pegasus Theatre Fall 2017), Lawd the CVS is Burning…a Gospel Musical Stage Play (MPACT 2015) and Warm on the Cooling Board (MPAACT 2014).
Sound Design credits include N (GLP Productions 2019), Single Black Female and Lady Day at Emmerson’s Bar and Grill (Congo Square Theatre 2018-2019). Commercial credits include Jet Magazine, Mississippi Rick’s Restaurant, Huffy Bicycles, Arby’s and Sprint.
Shawn Wallace’s teaching experience includes current work at Storycatchers Theatre, Lyric Opera’s Empower Youth Program, and past work as the Technical Theatre Program Lead at Mayo Elementary School.
Lauren Wells-Mann is an actor, director, dancer, choreographer and arts educator. As a proud company member with MPAACT, she has had the pleasure of directing the following productions: Pulled Punches (BTAA and Black Excellence Award Nominee for Best Direction) Mother of the Dark Water (Jeff Nominee for Best Ensemble, Black Excellence Nominee for Best Production and Best Direction), By Association by Shepsu Aakhu (Black Excellence Nominee for Best Production) and various podcast plays. Assistant Director credits include: Upstate by Aaron Todd Douglass, directed by Carla Stillwell and Crowns by Regina Taylor, directed by Chuck Smith. Mrs. Wells-Mann holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Theater/Acting (Columbia College Chicago) and a Masters in Secondary Education (Univ. of Phoenix). She began her professional acting career with Eta Creative Arts foundation. It was here that Lauren had the pleasure of working with esteemed directors such as Ilesa Duncan, Kemati Porter, Runako Jahi and Cheryl Lynn Bruce. She has also performed with companies such as Lookingglass, Black Ensemble, MPAACT, Harlem Theater Company, Healthworks Theater Company, and Victory Gardens to name a few. Mrs. Wells-Mann has been coaching competitive acting and speech events for the Illinois High School Association for 20 years. Under her direction, students have won numerous state and national championships in various acting and public speaking activities. Lauren Wells-Mann believes in the power of the arts and the importance of BIPOC artists having autonomy over their own narratives. It is a mission to which she is deeply committed.
Josh is a Chicago native and graduated from ChiArts as an Acting major as part of the school’s second-ever class to graduate. He then went on to receive his bachelor’s degree in Organismal Biology and Ecology from Colorado College (’18). He is a Chicago Youth Shakespeare alumnus, teaching artist, and currently serves on its board of directors; he is also a company member of Visión Latino Theater Company, striving to tell the stories of his people and give them a space to do so. Josh has been teaching at ChiArts for the last 5 years, first as a science teacher, then an acting teacher, and now both! While Josh has performed around Chicago (his favorite city!), lately his efforts have taken him to LA and Detroit for various educational performances. He is represented by DeSanti Talent Agency.