Eli Simon

Eli Simon

Director, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Eli Simon is the Artistic Director of New Swan Shakespeare Festival.  A Chancellor’s Professor of Acting in the Department of Drama, this marks Eli’s 30th year at UC Irvine, where he has served as Head of Acting, and Chair of Drama. Eli is the author of three books:  The Art of Clowning, Masking Unmasked, and Power Speech.  He specializes in Shakespearean productions, clowning, musicals, and original masked performances.  Eli has directed over 100 productions at major Shakespearean festivals, regional theatres, and international theaters across the states and overseas.   Critically acclaimed productions include his original two-part clown saga – War of the Clowns and Clown Aliens – which is currently being produced by the National Theater of Romania in Cluj.  Eli’s original clown troupe, CLOWNZILLA, received rave reviews in California, Korea and Italy.  His original commedia productions have enjoyed successful tours to international festivals in England, Spain, Korea, and Italy.  For New Swan Shakespeare Festival, Eli has directed The Merchant of Venice, King Lear, Twelfth Night, Macbeth, As You Like It, The Tempest, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. 

Beth Lopes

Beth Lopes

Director, The Winter’s Tale

Beth Lopes is a founding company member and Associate Artistic Director of New Swan Shakespeare Festival.  She received a BFA in Drama from New York University and an MFA in Directing from UC Irvine.  Beth is particularly drawn to ensemble driven pieces with heightened text and a sense of the fantastical.  She is a highly collaborative director who believes in the connective power of theater and its ability to alter our individual and collective futures.  Beth is delighted to return to the Swan with The Taming of the Shrew after having directed previous Swan shows: The Comedy of Errors, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, The Taming of the Shrew, and The Winter’s Tale.  For more information visit www.bethlopes.com.


Kieran Barry          Snug, Mustardseed / Antigonus


Kieran is exuberantly elated to be making his debut with the New Swan family this summer! He just finished his second year in UCI’s Acting MFA program during which time you might have caught him in A Bright Room Called Day (Traum), King Lear (Edmund), She (Various), Chess (Walter), and Twelfth Night (Orsino). Before coming to UCI, Kieran studied Theater and Computer Science at Brown University, where he was a part of productions including AntigoNick (Haimon), Urinetown (Lockstock), Fuddy Meers (Millet), and Bobrauchenbergamerica (Phil). During the day, you might find Kieran building websites, exploring nature, or laughing (a little too) loudly.

Maya Smoot

Michael Calacino          Francis Flute, Peaseblossom / Clown           


Michael is very excited to be making his New Swan debut. He just graduated with his MFA in Acting from UC Irvine. In his time there he worked on projects like King Lear (Edgar), Our Class (Wladek), and Blue Orange (Bruce). Michael also worked with Movement professor Annie Loui and Counterbalance Theater on their devised version of The Iliad (Achilles/Apollo), and their recent staged adaptation of She by UCI professor Michelle Latiolias. These works focused on integrated movement work. A kind of work Michael hopes to continue to do throughout his career.

Meg Evans          Titania / Camillo


Meg Evans is grateful to be joining New Swan Shakespeare festival this summer! Meg holds a Bachelor of Arts from Brandeis University and an MPhil. in Theatre and Performance from Trinity College Dublin. Other credits include Cie Willi Dorner’s Bodies in Urban Spaces (Dublin, Ireland), The Lesson, A Chorus Line (Cassie), Cabaret (Sally Bowles). Meg is currently an MFA acting candidate at UC Irvine.

Anica Zigana Garcia-DeGraff          Hippolyta, First Fairy / Hermione          


Anica Garcia- DeGraff is from Kalamazoo MI, she received her BFA in musical theatre performance at Western Michigan University and is currently a MFA candidate at UCI! She is so excited to spend her second summer here at New Swan!

Kayla Kearney          Lysandra / Paulina


Kayla is thrilled to return to New Swan this summer for this exciting season. Recent credits include: LA Premier of S/he and Me (Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner’s Renberg Theatre) Counter-Balance Theatre Company: SHE, Longitude. New Swan Shakespeare Festival: The Tempest. UCI Drama: King Lear, Twelfth Night, Chess, A Bright Room Called Day. Kayla is an UCI M.F.A. Acting candidate (19’) and holds her B.A. in Theatre Arts from Cal State Long Beach (16’).

Crystal Kim

Crystal Kim          Hermia / Dion, Mopsa


Crystal is fired up to be making her New Swan debut this summer! She was born in the City of Brotherly Love (and Sisterly Affection) and received her BA in Theatre Arts and Performance Studies at Brown University. She recently finished her first year in UCI’s MFA Acting program. Some of her favorite roles have been Irina in Three Sisters, Antigone in AntigoNick, Mary South in The Road Weeps, The Well Runs Dry, Cassius in Julius Caesar and Mayor in Hype Hero. Outside of the theater, you might find her chowing down on some good food in great company.

Maya Smoot

Kinsey Lahn          Mamillus, Perdita / Changeling Child


Kinsey is thrilled to perform with New Swan for the first time this summer! She recently received a B.A. in Drama from U.C. Irvine with Honors in Acting. She plans to move to Seattle in the fall to pursue acting and playwriting.

Jalon Matthews

Jalon Matthews          Robin Starveling, Moth / Archidamus, Jailer 


Jalon Matthews is so grateful to make his New Swan debut this summer! He has recently been seen as Bobby Child in Crazy For You, Truffaldino in The Servant of Two Masters, Mr. Peachum in The Threepenny Opera, and Jack in Into the Woods. Jalon graduated from Pepperdine University where he received a BA in Theatre Arts and the John Raitt Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Performing Arts. He is currently a MFA acting candidate at UC Irvine. Thank you to my family, friends, and God for their love. Visit jalonmatthews.com for more information!

Roger Michelson

Roger Michelson          Egeus / Old Sheperd


Roger has spent the last 25 years in NYC. A regular on The David Letterman Show he appeared as “Bruce” of Bruce and Linda a total of 72 times on the fictitious Weekend Late Night Show. A member of the Circle Rep Lab and a veteran of Off Broadway; his time was filled with numerous commercials, regional theatre and child rearing. Shakespeare has always been his first love; A member of Patrick Stewart’s Shakespeare Company, he has had the privilege to have studied with: Robert Cohen, William Needles, Ben Kingsley, Brewster Mason, among many others. Returning to the Southland for his golden years he is excited about working at New Swan this summer. UCI MFA Acting 1984

Jesse Sharp

Jesse Sharp          Oberon / Leontes


Jesse is thrilled to return to UC Irvine! MFA – 2011. At UCI, He appeared in several productions including The Baker in Into the Woods, Abraham in Abraham & Issac in Jerusalem, Cymbeline in Cymbeline and many more! Professionally, Jesse has appeared in several national tours including The Addams Family (Gomez), Elf (Walter Hobbs), & Grease (Vince Fontaine). Regional: Pre-broadway tryout of Chasing Rainbows – Goodspeed, American premiere of Legendale – Human Race. Great Expectations, Macbeth & Merchant of Venice – Utah Shakespeare Festival. Chicago (Billy Flynn), All Shook Up (Jim Haller) – The Little Theatre on the Square. Macbeth, Peace in Our Time – Antaeus. Along with Beth Lopes, he is the co-creator of The Hamlet Project and co-artistic director of Loose Canon Collective. Love to Lexie & Chip. JesseSharp.net

Maya Smoot

Maya Smoot          Helena / Cleomenes


Maya Smoot is a first year MFA Acting candidate at UC Irvine. As a Bay Area native, Maya graduated from San Francisco State University with a BA in Theatre Arts and was chosen as the department honoree. There, she played Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, Maire in Brian Friel’s Translations, and Ava in Sofa Sin Casa. Other works include Measure for Measure, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Polly. She was most recently Magdelon in Moliere’s The Precious Damsels with Troupe Theater, and Olivia in Twelfth Night at the Metropolitan Club. Maya studied abroad at the British American Drama Academy, and had an apprenticeship with Sonoma Valley Shakespeare Company. Maya is proud to make her New Swan debut!

Sean Spann

Sean Spann          Theseus / Polixenes           


Sean Spann is an Actor and Teacher based in Los Angeles, and is excited to return to the New Swan Shakespeare Festival. Past New Swan productions include Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and King Lear. Los Angeles theatre credits include ‘Bad Apples’ with Circle X Theatre, ‘Road to Nirvana’ with The HCLab Theatre, and ‘Secret in the Wings’ with Coeurage Theatre. TV credits include: American Woman, Jane the Virgin, The Mentalist, The People vs. O.J. Simpson, Southland, and Shameless. He currently teaches Acting, Speech and Movement at Studio School, and is the Head of Voice and Speech at the Art of Acting Studio. He holds a B.F.A.-Acting, from the University of Evansville, and an M.F.A-Acting, from UC-Irvine.

Amy Tilson-Lumetta

Amy Tilson-Lumetta          Patsy Quince, Cobweb / Dorcas, Emilia                       


Amy Tilson-Lumetta is delighted to return to UCI for her New Swan debut! Not much has changed since earning her BFA in Musical Theatre; she continues to play roles originally written for men. However, this trend was broken playing the Yorkshire-born Martha in The Secret Garden (Chance Theatre), Gretchen in Boeing Boeing (SRT), and Young Woman in Machinal (UCI). Her post-Earth, dystopian musical, CREATED, premiered at the Robert Cohen Theatre last year, and Amy is currently in further research and development for it. An ardent writer-composer, she has yet to find a place on Earth as beautiful as the worlds created in our imagination. To glimpse her world, visit www.amytilsonlumetta.com.

Tristan Turner

Tristan Turner          Demetrius / Florizel, Mariner

Tristan Turner (Demetrius/Mariner/Florizel) is making his New Swan Shakespeare Festival debut this season! He has just finished his first year as a Graduate Acting student at UC Irvine and is honored to be a part of a great cast. Past credits include The Piano Lesson (Boy Willie), Clybourne Park (Kevin), Intimate Apparel (George), and The Altar Boyz (Juan). Instagram: @tristanturn

Greg Ungar

Greg Ungar          Nick Bottom


Greg is thrilled to be back at New Swan Shakespeare Festival. For the Festival, he was featured as  Prospero – Tempest, Baptista  – Taming, Polonius – Hamlet, Adam/Corin – As You Like It, Dogberry – Much Ado, Macduff – Macbeth, Friar Laurence – Romeo and Juliet, and Sir Andrew Aguecheek – 12th Night. Other roles include Owen – The Foreigner and Reed – Electric Baby, Vladimir  – Waiting for Godot, Serge – Art, John – Oleanna, Matt – Tally’s Folly, Gratiano – Merchant of Venice, Touchstone – As You Like It, and Cornwall – King Lear. Greg’s directing credits include Bad Jews, The Seagull, Not I, Rockaby, Circle Mirror Transformation, Proposal and Stinky Cheese Man. Greg has an MFA and PhD from the University of California, Irvine, and is an assistant professor of theatre at the University of Denver.

Thomas Varga

Thomas Varga          Robin Goodfellow (Puck) / Autolycus


Returning for his third season with Swan, Thomas Varga is an LA based actor and acting teacher. Previous seasons have included Caliban (Tempest), Hortensio (Taming of the Shrew), Oliver (As You Like It), and Bernardo (Hamlet). Other theatre work: Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Counter-Balance Theater, Summer Repertory Theatre, and Oregon Contemporary Theatre. Recent film credits include SMITH in the feature film, Triassic World, the leading Rusty Tin-Man in the music video for “Rusty Pipes” by Eels, and JASON in Rainbow Lights. He received his MFA in acting from the UC Irvine and teaches acting classes at the Actors Studio of Orange County, Cypress College, and private lessons. For more information, visit www.tsvarga.com and/or www.imdb.me/tsvarga