Eli Simon

Eli Simon

Director, The Tempest

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 29th 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, and As You Like It.

Beth Lopes

Beth Lopes

Director, The Taming of the Shrew

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, and Hamlet.  For more information visit www.bethlopes.com.

THE FOLLOWING ACTORS ARE FEATURED IN OUR 2017 SEASON

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Greg Ungar

Prospero / Baptista

Greg is an Associate Artistic Director at New Swan Shakespeare Festival.  He is delighted and grateful to return to New Swan for his fourth summer season. For the Festival, Greg has played 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 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, The Proposal (Greg’s adaptation), Woyzeck, and The Stinky Cheese Man. Greg has done these and other things at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare Orange County, Hunger Artist Theatre, UC Irvine, Improv Olympic, Curious Theatre, and South Coast Repertory. Greg has an MFA and PhD from the University of California, Irvine, and is an assistant professor of theatre at the University of Denver.

 

Grace Morrison

Katherine / Antonia

Grace is a Los Angeles-based actor who is delighted and very grateful to return to the Swan for a third season. She was most recently seen at the Swan as Horatio in Hamlet and Phebe in As You Like It. Some of her past favorite roles include Gretchen in Boeing Boeing, Catherine in These Shining Lives, and Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire. Grace has a Bachelor’s degree in Theater from UC Santa Barbara, and received her MFA in Acting from UC Irvine in 2016. She would like to thank her Swan family, her real family, her Good Hummus cohort, and Joe.

 

Ryan Imhoff

Petruchio  / Trinculo 

Ryan is jazzed to return to the New Swan, having previously appeared in Much Ado About Nothing and Macbeth. Regional: Tom, The Glass Menagerie (Milwaukee Repertory Theater); Harry Percy, The Explorer’s Club (Windy City Playhouse); Rosencrantz, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (American Players Theatre); Lysander, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Chicago Shakespeare Theater – Tour); Jim Taylor, Lombardi (Human Race Theatre); Don John, Much Ado About Nothing; Gratiano, Merchant of Venice; Boo Radley, To Kill A Mockingbird (Utah Shakespeare Festival); Butterworth, Dracula (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park); Nick Rosetti, Shear Madness (Little Theatre on the Square); Dr. Sanderson, Harvey (New Theatre); Arthur, Remote Control (workshop, Zipper Theatre, NYC); Hamlet, The Hamlet Project (If/Then, LA); Joe, The Last Sunday in June (Know Theatre); Alex, Little Dog Laughed (Theatre Out). TV/Film: Chicago P.D., Wilt. Education: M.F.A., UC Irvine; B.F.A., WSU. Ryan is a proud union man. Love to his family and to Christine.

 

DeShawn Harold Mitchell

Lucentio / Sebastian

DeShawn appeared as Bassanio in The Merchant of Venice during New Swan’s 2012 inaugural season. He holds an MFA in Acting from UC Irvine and is looking forward to taking a break from NYC for the summer. Film work includes The Preppie Connection (2015), Standing Eight (2016) and Prism (2017). I’m very excited about coming back to New Swan to participate in this season’s productions. Thank you to all of my friends and family for all of your support. Please feel free to find me on IMDB. Enjoy the shows!

 

Rosie Brownlow

Tranio

Rosemary is delighted to return to the Swan for the first time since 2014! Previous roles include Viola in Twelfth Night and Quince in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Rosemary graduated from UC Irvine’s MFA Acting program in 2015, and regional credits since include Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, Margaret in Much Ado About Nothing (Great River Shakespeare Festival), Charlotte in Sense and Sensibility (PCPA), Belle/Mrs. Cratchit in A Columbia Christmas Carol (Sierra Rep), and Merchant Captain in Philoctetes (Getty Villa). If you drive out to beautiful Topanga this summer you can catch her as Helena in Theatricum Botanicum’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Rosemary would like to thank Beth and Eli for their brave commitment to gender parity.

 

Adrian Alita

Alonso

Adrian is a founding company member and currently serves as one of New Swan’s Associate Artistic Directors. New Swan performances include Antonio,The Merchant of Venice, Banquo, Macbeth, Don Pedro, Much Ado About Nothing, Claudius, Hamlet and Jaques, As You Like It. Adrian also has a long history of performing and teaching Eli Simon’s clowning technique, and has experience as a theme park stunt performer and puppeteer. Based in San Diego, Adrian has performed for Cygnet Theatre as Henry/Gabriel in When the Rain Stops Falling and Father in Shockheaded Peter. He holds an MFA in Acting from UC Irvine, and is an Associate Professor at San Diego State University.

 

Chynna Walker

Bianca / Stephana

Chynna is very excited to be making her New Swan debut after spending the past two years studying to receive her MFA at UC Irvine. A Texas Native, Chynna has been seen on the UCI stage in productions such as Woyzcek, Our Class, and Clown Aliens. She has also been a writer and performer with the recently formulated Neofuturist group of artists on campus, and in some independent work has played Rosaline and Costard in Love’s Labors Lost, and Kayleen in Gruesome Playground Injuries. In her undergraduate career at Baylor University Chynna performed in Into the Woods, One Third of a Nation, The Arabian Nights, Shipwrecked! An Entertainment, and The 39 Steps. She was also a member of the Guerrilla Improv Comedy Troupe and starred in various short films including Shotgun, Life After Yellow, and Stray.

 

Thomas Varga

Caliban / Hortensio

Thomas Varga is thrilled to be returning for his second season with the Swan. A recent graduate of the MFA acting program at UC Irvine, Thomas most recently reprised his role as John Harrison, the fastidious 18th century clock-maker in Counter-Balance Theater’s physical theatre adaptation of Longitude. Closing out his time at UCI, he played Menenius Agrippa in Coriolanus as well as serving as the movement and fight director for the show. Other recent credits include work with Santa Rosa Summer Rep Theatre, Oregon Contemporary Theatre, and Eugene Shakespeare in the Park. For more information visit www.tsvarga.com.

 

David Golbeck

Vincentio / Gonzalo

A UC Irvine Drama alum, David Carl Golbeck was most recently seen in Night Moths on the Wing at The OC-centric New Play Festival. Previously seen at Anaheim’s Chance Theater in The Big Meal and After The Revolution, he has appeared in Two Gentlemen of Verona, EQUUS, and Much Ado About Nothing at South Coast Repertory.

 

Grace Theobald

Grumio / Ariel

Grace Theobald is so excited to be joining the New Swan family! She is a second year MFA actor at UC Irvine and has already had some wonderful acting opportunities. Her first show was Coriolanus where she appeared as an ensemble member, and she also had the amazing opportunity to play Eurydice in a director’s project. Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, Grace moved to Evansville, Indiana to receive her BFA in acting. Roles she has played include: Toby in Sweeney Todd, Rose in Dancing in Lughnasa, and Rachel in Shadow Hour. Grace can’t wait to further her journey at UCI for the next 2 years.

 

Anita Abdinezhad

Biondello, Tailor / Miranda

Anita Abdinezhad is elated to be making her New Swan Shakespeare Festival debut! In June, she graduated from UC Irvine and received her BA and BS in Drama and Public Health Sciences (respectively), with a minor in Anthropology. Some of her favorite roles she’s played at UCI have been Olivia, 12th Night, Speed in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Hera in The Iliad, Patricia in Sight-Unseen, and Regina in Ghosts. She has also worked at regional theater companies including South Coast Repertory and OC-Centric New Play Festival.

 

Jacob Russell Ben-shmuel

Gremio / Ferdinand

Jacob is incredibly excited to be joining the New Swan team this summer! He graduated from UC Irvine this spring with a BFA in Music Theatre and Honors in Acting, and after this summer he plans to move to New York to kickstart his career. He is also an avid writer, whose original musical Brad Knows Nothing had its first reading in New York this past summer. Favorite roles include Usnavi in In The Heights, Leo Frank in Parade, Edgar/Batboy in Batboy: The Musical, and Nicky in Avenue Q.

 

Anica Garcia-DeGraff

Curtis, Merchant, Widow / Spirit

Anica is blessed and honored to be making her New Swan Festival debut! As a Michigan native she began her career appearing in Farmers Alley Theatre’s productions of Parade and Cabaret; then receiving her BFA in musical theatre performance from Western Michigan University. Previously she appeared in Machinal and Coriolanus at UC Irvine. Anica is currently an MFA acting candidate at UC Irvine.

 

Kayla Kearney

Kayla Kearney

Spirit

Kayla is an MFA acting student here at UC Irvine and is thrilled to join the New Swan Company this summer! She would like to thank Eli Simon and all of her professors for their invaluable guidance and support. Recently Kayla has played in Longitude (CounterBalance Theatre Company), Coriolanus (UCI Drama), RENT (CalRep) and S/he & Me (Renberg Theatre). Kayla holds her B.A. in Theatre Arts from Cal State Long Beach. She hopes you enjoy the show!