theatre + film FACULTY

Steve J. Earle, Department Chair

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Sean Blue, Director Technical Theatre

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Steve J. Earle, is a Producing Director for the Workshop Theatre Group and Chair of the Theatre Department at The Governor’s School for the Arts.   Acting  credits include the Virginia Stage Company, Theatre IV, Swift Creek Mill Playhouse, Richmond Triangle Players, and numerous other theatres. Television credits include F.B.I. Files, Interpol, and commercial work. Directing credits include Workshop Theatre Group, Theatre IV, Richmond Triangle Players, Generic Theatre, Suffolk Center for the Arts and  universities. He holds an M.F.A. from Virginia Commonwealth University and a B.F.A. from the University of North Carolina Charlotte. He has also studied at the Gaiety School for  Acting in Dublin, Ireland and in various classes in New York. Before coming to G.S.A., Mr. Earle taught at Longwood University, The Governor’s School for Visual and Performing Arts  at the University of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University and the School for the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community as well as other places. He currently teaches  The Theatre Experience and Theatre History at Old Dominion University. At G.S.A. Steve teaches Acting, The Meisner Technique, Lessac Vocal Technique, History of Film, Dramatic  Literature and Criticism, Directing, Phonetics and Stage Dialects. Steve is a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. 

Sean Blue is the director of the Design/Tech program at GSA and in addition is a freelance scenic technician and entertainment rigging specialist. He is also an alumni of the GSA Theater department circa 2002. After earning his BFA in scenic technology at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Sean worked for theater companies throughout the country including: The Everyman Theater in Baltimore, MD, The Stevens Center in Winston Salem, NC, The Adirondack Theater Fest in Glens Falls, NY, and Virginia Stage Company in Norfolk, VA. In addition to the design and construction of theatrical elements, he has a focus in theatrical automation and performer flying. While working for The Chicago Flyhouse in Chicago, Sean designed the user interface for a personnel flying rig that is used to aid in the rehabilitation of those suffering from spinal injuries. It is currently the only system of its kind. At GSA Sean teaches stage crafts, carpentry, rigging, magic, and more. He is also the technical director for all Theatre performances.


Ricardo Melendez

Producing Director for Actors’ Workshop of Virginia, Mr. Melendez is a 2009 recipient of the ‘Best Male Actor” award at the Dublin Theater Festival for his interpretation of Nijinsky in the Workshop Theatre Group production of Nijinsky’s Last Dance, previously performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, in Spain and many regional theaters across America. Some of his regional credits include, Trinculo at The Virginia Arts Festival production of The Tempest, Captain Slank at The Virginia Stage Company production of Peter and The Starcather, Hamlet in Hamlet at Theatre 22(NYC), Rodolfo in A View from the Bridge, at the Gershwin Theater, NY, Peter in Legacy of Light at the Barksdale Theatre in Richmond, Wilde in Gross Indecency by Moises Kaufman. Recent directing works: Paper Cranes, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Romeo and Juliet, Blood Wedding, Servant of Two Masters, and The Laramie Project. As a playwright his one man show, Call Me Boricua! received a premiere at The Workshop Theatre Group and at The Phoenix Theatre in Indianapolis. His work Cloaked was produced at the Dublin Theatre Festival 2011 in Ireland, receiving nominations for Best play, Best actor, and Best costume design. Some film credits include Bordertown (2009), and A Gift Devine (2010). Mr. Melendez is the Associate Artistic Director at Todd Rosenlieb Dance Center, and Artistic Director of Virginia Ballet Theater. Ricardo currently teaches at The Governor's School for the Arts both in the Theater and Dance Departments as well as Old Dominion University. Mr. Melendez holds a BA degree in Dance Pedagogy from Butler University and a MFA degree in Theater from Brooklyn College, New York. At GSA he teaches Acting, Scene Study, Theatre History, Dramatic Literature, Pilates, Speaking Classical Text, Acting Shakespeare, and Vocal Production.


Matt Friedman

Matt Friedman teaches filmmaking at The Governor's School for the Arts in Norfolk, Virginia. He wrote the local independent feature comedy "Moving," was a Sloan Foundation fellow for science-themed screenplays at the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, and assistant directed the 2012 Superbowl commercial "Man's Best Friend." He is also active in local performing arts, having acted in and directed several plays, mostly at the Generic Theater, where he was a founding member of the Artistic Team and created a series of promotional comedy shorts. He has also kept himself busy over the years as a volunteer EMT and a graphic & web designer at Frame25 Productions. 

Ron Newman

Ron Newman is a theatre educator, director, actor, playwright, performing artist, and instructor. He is currently an instructor with the Theatre, Film and Musical Theatre Department with The Governor’s School for the Arts. During his 30 year residency in Hampton Roads he served as the Director of Fine Arts and Director of Theatre at Norfolk Academy, and as Director of Education and Community Engagement with the Virginia Stage Company. His academic and professional credits also include teaching and directing at Cecil College, The Milburn Stone Covered Bridge Theatre, and the Arlington Players. As a playwright he has adapted over 30 classic children’s literary works for the stage and was the founding producer/ director of Young People’s Theater for both Norfolk Academy and The Milburn Stone Covered Bridge Theatre. As Director of Education with VSC his programs reached out to a broad spectrum of underserved youth and adults in our community. As an MA Graduate in Theatre at American University, Mr. Newman staged works for young audiences at The White House, The National Theatre, and the Kennedy Center. His regional performance credits include featured and supporting roles with Virginia Musical Theatre, Virginia Stage Company, Tidewater Dinner Theatre, Marlo Thomas’ East Coast Tour of ‘Free To Be... You And Me,’ Bainbridge Theatre Company, and the Applancian Theatre Ensemble. Notable regional roles include Uncle Max in ​The Sound of Music​, Maurice in ​Beauty and the Beast​, Marcellus in ​The Music Man,​ Algernon in ​The Importance of Being Earnest,​ and MC in ​Pippin​. With over 40 years in theatre education and performing arts, Mr. Newman has made it his life’s mission to create and foster innovative theatre and media arts education opportunities for and by young people and adults of all ages.

Terry Jernigan

Terry Jernigan, was born in Portsmouth, Virginia. During high school TJ enrolled in drama to get to know a beautiful redhead girl and quickly fell in love. He has been acting ever since. TJ studied theatre at Shenandoah Conservatory and Old Dominion University. TJ enjoys stage as much as film with a much higher passion for improv. He has worked with Washington Improv Theatre Sports and Slap Happy, he is a founding member of Comedy Bowl and Who's Turn is it Anyway, and is the founder of The Boris Badinage Improvisational Troupe. He is currently working with Virginia Beach's comedy improv troupe The Improvisionaries. He is also working on Badges of Honor, The Warriors Lament. A play about a Vietnam Veteran who visits the families of the men who fell under his command. This play will tour. TJ teaches Performance Improv at GSA. 

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shannon lionetti

Shannon Lionetti is the Project Coordinator at Analogue Lab + Studio and teaches filmmaking at GSA.

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renata shepard

Renata Sheppard is a choreographer, director, performer and scholar. She has been recognized and awarded internationally for her innovative, hybrid art creations and choreography. Born in Italy and raised in the United States, she has lived and worked in the US, Europe, and Asia. As a Fulbright Scholar, Henry Luce Scholar, Kate Neal Kinley Fellow, and US Embassy Artist Research grantee, she continued her innovative engagement of dance across discipline: presenting an evening-length interactive performance with Italy’s Allied Sciences Arts Lab at the Teatro a Corte Festival, designing hand-made, illuminated sculptures which are featured in Norfolk’s The Main Hotel. She is also the founder and artistic director of the award-winning Experimental Film Virginia. A researcher who investigates interdisciplinary and innovative methods of art-making, engagement and digital technologies, her artistic work includes a diverse range of media from dance to installation to film and photography, social media and interactive design. She completed her Certified Movement Analyst (CMA) at the Laban Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies in New York on a full scholarship. A Hampton Roads Business Insider Top 40 Under 40 honoree, she designs and runs programs that integrate art with tourism and economic development bringing dance to the center of her mutli-disciplinary projects. Her choreographic process is experimental and inspired by her foundation in ballet with continued training in release work, theatre, Laban Movement Analysis and styles she has picked up in her extensive travels throughout Europe and Asia. She has most recently performed at the Musrara International Festival in Jerusalem, Israel and has presented her work internationally in Italy, France, Spain, Germany, United Kingdom, Tunisia, India, Taiwan, Korea, Australia, Canada, and throughout the US. She currently lives in Cape Charles, Virginia and continues guest teaching, choreographing, designing paper installation artworks and running Experimental Film Virginia.

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Jasmine kiah

Jasmine Kiah is a Virginian native, born and raised in the city of Portsmouth. She is a graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre & Drama.  During her undergrad, she created and produced The Humane Experiment, which won a studio art award and in house grant to produce her work. She is also an alumni of the First Wave program, a full tuition scholarship focused on activism, arts, and education. Jasmine has shared and performed on stages with the likes of Issa Rae, creator of the HBO series Insecure, world renowned poet Nikki Giovanni and Danez Smith. As an activist, actress, interdisciplinary & performance artist, Kiah centers her work in the exploration of the oppressed response to socio-political and institutional powers that deny the essence of humanity. As an Alumni of GSA Theatre & Film Department, she is excited to join the Theatre & Drama department this fall, in hopes to revolutionize the gifts and talents of aspiring young artists. 

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gabriel d. lawrence

Guest Artist Gabriel Lawrence is teaching editing for our film students.  He is an actor and assistant director known for Shades of Blue, Ice Cream, Turnipseed.  Acting credits include TV series: 48 blocks, What would you do?, Prodigal Son, The Deuce, Madam Secretary, The Good Fight, among others. 

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Genevieve Flati 

Geneviève Flati has puppeteered with The Jim Henson Company since 2015, and is a recurring cast member in Brian Henson's Puppet Up Uncensored! at the Jim Henson Company's Charlie Chaplin Soundstage in Hollywood, and at the Charles M. Schulz Theater for Knott’s Scary Farm. She puppeteered for the new Jim Henson TV show, Earth to Ned, now on Disney+.  “G” performed at Disneyland for 7 years as a puppeteer for Disney Junior Live on Stage and an improv stage performer in Tommorowland. She has puppeteered in many commercials, documentaries, and sketches. Geneviève is the writer and director of Les Miz and Friends: A Puppet Parody! which had 2 successful runs on the Comedy Central Stage in Hollywood in 2017 and 2019.

"G" performed in two international tours with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus as clown and sketch writer, and worked as a PR representative for the company until 2017.  She works extensively as a live actor in several Virtual Reality games featured on the Oculus including The Under Presents, The Tempest, and Dr. Crumb's Training School for Disobedient Pets. She regularly does voice over for video games and commercials. 

Geneviève is the founder and director of (Wo)men Rule Broadway, a nonprofit production company, which just made its international debut in London at the Vault Theater Festival 2020. She works as a pediatric hospital performer through Healthy Humor Nonprofit, and is the Producer/Head Writer for Healthy Humor's sketch comedy team. 

She has studied and performed improv with the Upright Citizens Brigade, Second City Hollywood, iO West, Nerdist, and Groundlings. She has been a house team member of Improv Shmimprov for 10 years and is a house team member for Fancy Hobo musical improv.  “G” teaches improv, puppeteering, and acting at McCoyRigby Arts Conservatory.

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Van Hughes

Guest Artist VAN HUGHES is an actor, musician, and composer. Broadway: Deaf West's Spring Awakening, American Idiot, 9 to 5, and Hairspray. Off-Broadway: Whisper House (The Civilians), Son of a Gun. (Beckett), Saved (Playwrights Horizons). Regional: Almost Famous (Old Globe), When We're Gone (Lyric Theatre), A Little More Alive (KC Rep, Barrington), Rocky Horror Picture Show (Bucks County).  Film: Sex And The City: The Movie I & II, Rachel Getting Married. TV: “Royal Pains,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “One Life To Live.”  As a composer, Van scored the films Sequence Break and Space Clown and co-authored the musical Burn All Night (ART). B.A. in Theatre from Fordham University.  Van is a GSA alum from the Musical Theatre Department.