The Conservatory’s instructors are all working actors, directors and playwrights who are actively engaged in the DC-area acting community. It is a requirement for our faculty members to be working regularly onstage or in film or video in order to continue to serve as a Conservatory instructor.
Ray Ficca – President, Senior Faculty Member. Ray is a graduate of both Georgetown University and the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts, and was a founding member of the Conservatory’s Actors Repertory Theater company. Ray has been acting professionally for more than 20 years, appearing in more than 150 productions on regional stages nationwide, including: Wayside Theatre, Totem Pole Playhouse, Olney Theatre, Charter Theater, Theatre on the Hill, Metro Stage, Imagination Stage, Keegan Theatre and the Hanna Theatre. He is the artistic director of Totem Pole Playhouse, a professional theater located in the Caledonia State Park in Pennsylvania. He is a proud member of Actor's Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage mangers; and served as co-chair of its Washington, DC, Equity Liaison Committee for seven years. Ray has served as chair of the Theater Departments at Calvert Hall College and Iona Preparatory School. 1991 Graduate of the Conservatory.
Nan Kyle Ficca – Vice President, CFO, Senior Faculty Member. Nan has worked in the theater business for more than 20 years in all areas of management and technical theater, and continues to work as a producer (SAG/AFTRA) and casting director – with occasional forays into stage management, lighting design and props. Her resume includes producing dramas, comedies, musical theater and theater for young audiences. At the Conservatory, she teaches the business of acting and the art of self producing. She established the Artist's Project at the Conservatory, which gives free performance space and production mentoring to alumni with a creative vision. Nan has produced shows in the Capital Fringe Festival every year since its inception, as well as in the 48-Hour Film Project and other independent theater and film projects. She has served as a delegate to the League of Washington Theatres and a board member of the Actors' Center. During her tenure at the Actors’ Center, Nan produced the first Actors Expo; transitioned the Lottery Audition to a twice yearly event and added a piano accompanist for singers; and oversaw the transition to the new website. She shares her life and work with her husband of 18 years, Ray Ficca, who in addition to being president of the Conservatory is a full-time actor and artistic director at Totem Pole Playhouse, one of the oldest summer stock theaters in the country.
Doug Wilder – Director of Education, Senior Faculty Member. Doug Wilder is the education director of the Conservatory and he is also a graduate of the three-year Conservatory program. Doug has acted in more than 60 plays in the Washington area, as well as in 27 states on the National Tour of Tom Sawyer. Doug has directed shows at Imagination Stage, Actors Repertory Theater, Charter Theater and Wayside Theater, as well as many different scenes and acts for local cabarets. Doug is also active in the independent film/industrial world, where he has appeared in more than 30 projects and directed over 20 short films. As a part of the 2011 Conservatory team, Doug was a co-winner of “Best Acting” award in the 48-Hour Go Green Film Festival. As a writer, Doug was a co-winner in the 2012 Bethesda Play in a Day Festival. In 2013, Doug directed Disco Jesus and the Apostles of Funk which was named 'Best of Fringe' by broadwayworld.com, and won the Director's Award. In 2014, Doug won best writing, best acting, and best film in the Washington DC 48 Hour film festival, and best musical for You, or Whatever I Can Get, which he co-wrote and co-starred in for the Capital Fringe Festival. He has been a member of three local improvisation groups. Doug is passionate about the individual actor's search to find his or her creative soul, and pushes students to become the best artists they can. 2005 Graduate of the Conservatory.
Hope Lambert – Education Director Emeritus, Senior Faculty Member. Hope is an actress and teaching artist in the Washington DC Metro Area. Her stage credits include: MonkeyBoy by Keith Bridges, Chris Stezin and Richard Washer at Charter Theater; Building a Boat by Helen Hayes Award-nominated playwright Peter Coy at Charter; The Early Miracle by Lew Holton at Charter; Fallen from Proust by Helen Hayes award-winning playwright Norman Allen at Signature Theatre; MacBeth at the Folger Shakespeare Library; The Road to Mecca at Olney Theatre; Little Women at the Kennedy Center; Translations at Keegan Theatre; and Twelfth Night, Pericles and Taming of the Shrew at Washington Shakespeare Company, where she is a former company member. In New York, she appeared at Cherry Lane Theatre (Cherry Lane Alternatives), the Bank Street Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Source and Stage Door Acting Ensemble. A proud member of both Actors Equity Association and the Screen Actors Guild, Hope has appeared in several government industrial films, as well as independent features and NYU student films. She completed a feature film called Sleeping and Waking that has toured international film festivals. As a founding company member of Educational Theatre Company, she has been teaching theatre arts classes to youth and adults for more than 10 years. 1991 Graduate of the Conservatory.
George Grant – Senior Faculty Member. George has been a professional actor in radio, film and theater for more than 30 years. He has been seen onstage at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC, in The Tempest, Othello (with Patrick Stewart), Peer Gynt and The Merry Wives of Windsor; as well as at Washington Shakespeare Company, Catalyst Theatre, Goodman Theatre in Chicago and Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, among many other theaters. His directorial work has been seen at Charter Theater in the renowned Am I Black Enough Yet; he has also directed for Gordon Productions, Actors Repertory Theater, the Kennedy Center's Page to Stage Festival and Washington Shakespeare Company. George received his Bachelor of Arts in Theater from Lawrence University and Master of Fine Arts from the Academy for Classical Acting.
Randy Baker – Faculty Member. Randy Baker is a playwright, director and the co-artistic director of Rorschach Theatre, which he founded with Jenny McConnell Frederick in the summer of 1999. Plays he has written include Forgotten Kingdoms, The Burning Road, The First Disobedience, The Gate and Dream Sailors. His plays have been produced at Rorschach Theatre, Source Theatre, Forum Theatre (re)acts, Extreme Exchange, Three Leaches Theatre (Colorado), George Washington University and the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts. He has had readings and workshops with the National New Play Network, Inkwell Theatre, Theater J, the Arts Club of Washington, Wordsmyth Theater, Primary Stages, American University, Theater Alliance and Rorschach Theatre. As a director, for Rorschach Theatre he has directed The Minotaur, After the Quake, 1001, Rhinoceros, JB, Behold!, Fair Ladies at a Game of Poem Cards and Monster. He has also directed for Source Theatre, Inkwell Theatre, Young Playwrights Theatre, the Conservatory’s Actors Repertory Theatre, Wayward Theatre and Cherry Red Productions. Randy is a member of the Dramatists Guild and received his MFA from Goddard College. In addition to teaching at the Conservatory, he is also adjunct faculty at American University and an instructor at the Writer’s Center.
Mario Baldessari – Faculty Member. Mario Baldessari is a playwright, actor and acting instructor who has been appearing onstage in the DC area for more than 20 years. He has served as an artistic associate with Charter Theater and the original Washington Improvisational Theater (WIT); as well as the playwright in residence for First Draft at Charter Theater. Recent acting credits include The Every Fringe Show You Want To See in One Fringe Show Fringe Show (Capital Fringe Festival); Three Bears and Jack and the Bean-Stalk (1st Stage) ; and Fat Gay Jew and Sacred Cows (Charter Theater) – all of which he authored or coauthored. Four of his plays have debuted at the Kennedy Center Page To Stage Festival: A Community Theater Christmas, How To Catch a Leprechaun, Best Men and Jack and the Bean-Stalk. The Conservatory has commissioned two plays from him for its Actors Repertory Theatre. Mario teaches classes in acting, improvisation and playwriting for the Actors’ Center, the Writer’s Center, Imagination Stage and Educational Theater Company; as has been a corporate trainer in creativity for PR firms such as Porter Novelli, GYMR and Devine + Powers. He was a founding member of the comedy troupe Dropping the Cow.
Matt Basset – Faculty Member. Since relocating to the DC area from his native Tennessee in 2010, Matt has appeared locally with Ford’s Theatre, Bay Theatre, Hub Theatre, Washington Stage Guild and the Kennedy Center’s Theatre for Young Audiences on Tour. He has directed productions for Arts on the Horizon (in collaboration with his wife, fellow faculty member Tia Shearer), Compass Rose Studio Theater, People’s Branch Theatre and Tennessee Tech University, as well as staged readings for Hub Theatre. He has also assistant directed for Hub Theatre and Roundhouse Theatre. Regional performance credits include the Clarence Brown Theatre, Nashville Shakespeare Festival, Lexington Children’s Theatre, Virginia Shakespeare Festival, People’s Branch Theatre and Tennessee Stage Company. Regional directing credits include a dream once lost (a world premiere collaboration with Tia) at the 2007 Philly Fringe; and Matt and Ben, a Tennessee premiere with People’s Branch Theatre. Matt is a proud member of Actors Equity Association and a company member with the Hub Theatre in Fairfax. In addition to teaching at the Conservatory, Matt is an adjunct professor at Montgomery College and a teaching artist with Imagination Stage and Compass Rose Studio Theater. He lives in Takoma Park, MD.
Karl Bittner – Faculty Member. Karl Bittner has performed locally with 1st Stage Theater (The Mousetrap), Keegan Theatre (Man of La Mancha), American Century Theatre (Life With Father, Stalag 17), Charter Theater (Princess Peanut’s Rainy Day), the Inkwell (The F Word) and the Capital Fringe Festival (Late Bloomers & Glory Days). Other credits include the premiere of 13 Beers and a Powerbar (Duke), Twelfth Night (Malvolio/Antonio), The Real Inspector Hound (Simon), Buried Child (Vince), Antigone (Haemon), Ghosts (Oswald), Julius Caesar (Brutus), The Imaginary Autopsee (Arlecchino), How To Succeed in Business without Really Trying (Finch), Fiddler on the Roof (Fyedka) and Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Danceny). On camera work includes the independent film, Aduri; the feature film, A Little Bit of Lipstick; the short film, Tracks; and Two Days Back, the winner of Best Horror/Sci-Fi Feature at the 2012 BareBones International Film Festival. Karl’s television work includes the MSNBC documentaries, Witness to Waco and Will You Kill For Me? - Charles Manson and His Followers, as well as The Hunt for Lincoln’s Assassin on the National Geographic Channel. He is a graduate of Susquehanna University (BS), Southern Connecticut State University (MS), and is a registered yoga teacher (RYT-200) with Yoga Alliance. 2007 Graduate of the Conservatory.
Evan Casey – Faculty Member. A professional actor and teaching artist based in the DC area, Evan has worked locally at the Kennedy Center, Ford’s Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Signature Theatre, Round House Theatre, Olney Theatre Center, Rep Stage and Studio Theatre 2ndstage, among others. Regionally, he has performed at Everyman Theatre, North Carolina Theatre and the New London Barn Playhouse, as well as Off Broadway in New York. He has performed across the country and recorded multiple albums as a member of the Capitol Steps, a political satire group that has been a DC institution for 30 years. Other work includes a variety of commercials, voiceover recordings, films, TV and web series. Evan graduated Magna Cum Laude from Catholic University with a BM in Musical Theatre and received additional study at the London Dramatic Academy. He has taught acting for the Shakespeare in the Schools Program, Howard Community College, Signature Theatre, Round House Theatre, Adventure Theatre and Imagination Stage, as well as provided private coaching for professional, student and amateur actors. Evan is a proud member of the Actors Equity Association.
Rex Daugherty – Faculty Member. Rex is an actor and director in the Greater Washington Area. Local acting credits include Shakespeare Theatre Company: Hamlet, Love's Labor's Lost; Kennedy Center: Unleashed!; Folger Shakespeare Library: The Taming of the Shrew; Totem Pole Playhouse: It Could Be Any One of Us, Suite Surrender, Honus & Me, Moon Over the Brewery, Almost, Maine; Warner Theater: Eartha Kitt's 80th Birthday Tour; Wayside Theatre: Othello, Black Coffee, The Buddy Holly Story; Solas Nua: Johnny Meister and The Stitch, Disco Pigs (Helen Hayes Award nomination); Forum Theatre: The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Helen Hayes Award nomination). He costarred Off Broadway in the NYC premiere production of Disco Pigs and has also appeared locally with Rorschach Theatre, Imagination Stage, Charter Theater, Washington Shakespeare Company and Constellation Theatre. Directing credits include 1st Stage: Suite Surrender, The Prince and the Troubadour; Edinburgh Fringe Festival: Yours Isabel; Actors Repertory Theatre: The Perfect Ending; The Electric Chair Gallery: The Beauty Queen of Leenane; Solas Nua Reading series: Monged, Caught Red Handed; Constellation Theatre Staged Reading: Comedy of Venice. He has assistant directed Forum Theatre's Angels in America and Wayside Theatre's Stones In His Pockets. Rex studied the Michael Chekhov technique at the Moving Dock Theatre Company in Chicago and is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University, where he received his BA in Theatre. Rex is a proud member of the Actors Equity Association.
Ricardo Frederick Evans – Faculty Member. Ricardo joined the faculty in Spring 2010. After graduating from the Conservatory’s advanced acting program, he served as an acting apprentice at the Actors Theatre of Louisville. Theatre credits include: Totem Pole Playhouse (45 Seconds from Broadway, The Complete History of America Abridged); Studio Theatre (In the Red and Brown Water); Imagination Stage (Mulan, Ferdinand the Bull, The Borrowers); Theatre on The Hill (Peter Pan, Rumplestiltskin); Shakespeare Theatre (The Oedipus Plays); African-American Collective Theatre Company (Best Man for the Job, Auld Lang Syne, Heartbeats); and the Capital Fringe Festival (Skywriter, GS14, Nights at St. Januarius, Madwoman in the Attic). Ricardo was a 2012 Helen Hayes Awards nominee for Outstanding Supporting Actor, Resident Musical, for his work in Imagination Stage’s production of Doctor Dolittle. Since 2008, Ricardo has been a teaching artist with the Folger Shakespeare Library's educational outreach program (Bill's Buddies). He is a proud member of the Actors Equity Association and has numerous industrial and short film credits, including Treasure Hunt by Celeste Ward; The Delivery by Anthony Brenneman; and tHERAPY by Kelley Slagle – for which he won an Honorable Mention for Best Actor in the 48-Hour Film Project. 1998 Graduate of the Conservatory.
David Elias – Faculty Member. David is an actor, stage manager and voiceover specialist. Stage appearances include Inspector Hound (The Real Inspector Hound), Greg (Sylvia), Schotter (King of the Jews), Matt Friedman (Talley's Folly), Don Quixote (Man of La Mancha), Ira Stone (Laughter on the 23rd Floor), Uncle Gabe (Sleeping Arrangements), Polpoch (Marat/Sade), Friar Peter (Measure for Measure), and Frederik Egerman (A Little Night Music) at venues that include Olney Theatre, Bay Theatre, Metrostage, Theater J, Wayside Theatre, Signature Theatre, the Other Opera Company and many others. David was production stage manager for the world premieres of 24, 7, 365, Can’t Scare Me and Two-Bit Taj Mahal for Theatre of the 1st Amendment. He production stage managed Belle of Amherst at Bay Theatre and several shows at Wayside Theatre. His voice can be heard on books and magazines for the Library of Congress and in the commercial sector; and his voices and accents are embedded in many industrial-training films. David acts in ethics training for Continuing Legal Education courses, government agencies, and the private sector, combining his former career as a lawyer with his current career. He is a private voice coach, and a member of Actors’ Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA. He has been teaching at the Conservatory since 2003.
Martin Galbavy – Faculty Member. Martin Milan Galbavy is a graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia where he received his BFA in dance. He was part of the Rennie Harris Pure Movement Company, the first hip-hop dance company in the world. He later became a company member of CHOSEN Dance. As a member of Illstyle and Peace Productions, he has performed locally, nationally and internationally. Martin continues to dance and act, as well as host events and web series throughout the area. 2010 Graduate of the Conservatory.
Michael Harris – Faculty Member. Michael is the artistic and executive director of the Baltimore Improv Group (BIG). He performs with the BIG and another improv troupe called Evan the Loyal, and has been an invited performer at improv festivals in Chicago, NYC, Austin, Philadelphia and elsewhere. Michael has performed locally at Studio Theater, In the Red & Brown Water (O Li Roon & Man from State); Doorway Arts Ensemble, Endgame (Clov); Signature Theater, Dirty Blonde (Charlie & others); as well as in the title role of Lean and Hungry Theater's production of Hamlet. He has written and performed in several shows with the Stoop Storytelling Series (live performances at Center Stage in Baltimore, rebroadcast on NPR). His regional theatre credits include The Miracle Worker, Twelfth Night, I Hate Hamlet, Moon Over Buffalo, The Rose Tattoo, The Water Engine, amongst others. Michael began performing as a member of Haverford College’s Lighted Fools. His wife is named Heidi. 2008 Graduate of the Conservatory.
Christopher Herring – Faculty Member. Christopher is from Jackson, Mississippi, and a 2006 graduate of Mississippi State University with a minor in Theatre. He moved to Virginia and interned at Wayside Theatre under Warner Crocker before training at the Conservatory. Since completing the Conservatory, Christopher has performed with: Washington Shakespeare Company Avant Bard, the American Century Theatre, Imagination Stage, Pinky Swear Productions, Avalanche Theatre Company, Infinite Jest and Theatre Alliance. Local credits include: The Green Bird (The Green Bird), Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (Alfred), Mary Stuart (Count Bellievre), Crave (A), Secret Obscenities (Karl Marx) and On the Waterfront (Charley). Film credits include: Late-Night Partying (John) with Abracadabra Productions, How Mulch is Made (Keysus) and Denny (Agent Winters) with Conservatory Productions, both winners of “Best in DC” for the 48-Hour Film Festival. Christopher is an associate company member with Pinky Swear Productions, voiceover artist, character actor with Carbone Entertainment, musician, and member of the improv group, The Planeteers. 2008 Graduate of the Conservatory.
Vaughn Irving – Faculty Member. Vaughn Irving has been a member of the Conservatory’s faculty since 2010. Originally from Santa Fe, Vaughn holds a BFA in Music Theatre from Illinois Wesleyan University. Before settling in the DC area, Vaughn spent several years travelling the country performing at regional theaters. He has appeared onstage in more than 30 plays and musicals in seven different states. Somewhat new to the DC area, his local credits include: The Temperamentals at Rep Stage; Disney’s Mulan and Wind in the Willows at Imagination Stage: Rock Bottom: A Rock Opus with Landless Theatre Co. (for which he received a DC Theatre Scene Audience Choice Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical); and Superhero Celebrity Rehab: the Musical (Winner of the 2012 Capital Fringe Festival Audience Choice Award for Best Musical). Vaughn's regional theater credits include Wayside Theatre, Totem Pole Playhouse, Cumberland Theatre, Drury Lane in Illinois, the Old Creamery Theatre Company in Iowa, Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse in Illinois and Post Playhouse in Nebraska. Vaughn is a proud member of the Actors' Equity Association.
James Meerdter – Faculty Member. James has served as the Conservatory’s director of film and media since 2010, spearheading the development of a hands-on curriculum for advanced acting students that enables them to develop proficiency in all aspects of film work, including writing and directing their own short films. James has produced and directed commercials and short films for the Baltimore Orioles, Allen Iverson, Barry Louis-Polisar, AAA Mid-Atlantic, as well as several music videos for local artists. He has won local television awards for his short films, as well as “Best of DC” honors for four years running for his submissions to the 48-Hour Film Project, including 2013 Best Cinematography, and 2014 Best Directing, Best Writing, Best Sound design, and Best Film.
Sasha Olinick – Faculty Member. Sasha Olinick is a DC-based actor and teaching artist. His local credits include: Arena Stage, the Kennedy Center, Round House Theatre, Studio Theatre, Theater J, Rep Stage, MetroStage, Maryland Shakespeare Festival, Imagination Stage, WSC Avant Bard, Forum Theatre and Spooky Action Theatre. Regional credits include: American Shakespeare Center, Trinity Rep, Vermont Stage and the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse. For his appearance as Mozart in Amadeus at Round House Theatre, he was recognized with the 2011 DC Theatre Scene Audience Choice Award for Favorite Resident Play; and for his role as Mr. Toad in Wind In the Willows at Imagination Stage, he received the 2011 DC Theatre Scene Audience Choice Award for Favorite Actor in a Family Production. Sasha has a BA in American Civilization from Brown University and an MFA in acting from the Trinity Rep Conservatory. He has taught acting to students of all ages through his work with the Educational Theatre Company and as an adjunct faculty member at Montgomery College, were he has also directed a production of The Tempest, and assistant directed productions of Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Sasha has been a faculty member at the Conservatory since 2009.
Tia Shearer Bassett – Faculty Member. Tia Shearer Bassett is a professional actress and produced playwright who landed in the DC area in Summer 2010. Since then, she has performed with Imagination Stage, Constellation Theatre, Lean and Hungry Theatre (performing Shakespeare plays on the radio), Arts on the Horizon (performing nonverbal theater for ages 5 and under) and the Kennedy Center (in two national tours of Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical). Other credits include Tennessee Rep, Nashville Shakespeare Festival, Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, Nashville Children's Theatre and New York's East River Theater Company. She is a graduate of NYU's Gallatin School for Individualized Studies and has practiced theater with the likes of Austin Pendleton and SITI Company's Jeffrey Fracé. Tia is especially drawn to visually artful theater (a medium where theater, art and poetry meet) and theater for young audiences.
Accreditation Means Quality
The Conservatory complies with all applicable rules and regulations issued by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, and the US Department of Education. The Commission regularly reviews our curriculum, our faculty and our graduates’ success to assure the Conservatory accomplishes what it claims to do: train actors to work professionally. Learn more here: Training.