Monday, October 10, 2016

On the Verge: Meet the Design Team

Karen Altree Piemme (Director) is an accomplished director, actor, dramaturg, workshop facilitator and acting instructor, specializing in social justice theatre and community access to the arts. Ms. Piemme is the Director of the Red Ladder Theatre Company, a nationally-acclaimed, award-winning company, which empowers marginalized populations in our community by helping them develop positive life-skills through the art form of theatre. Ms. Piemme spent 21 years with San Jose Repertory Theatre, where she was the Director of Outreach and Resident Dramaturg.  As a theatre professional, Ms. Piemme has directed productions for both youth and adults, taught classes and conducted workshops locally, nationally and internationally for nearly thirty years. Ms. Piemme also serves as the Associate Director for 2nd Stages at Dragon Productions Theatre Company, and the Artistic Associate for Playwrights Foundation where she produces the annual Bay Area Playwrights Festival. She teaches in the Department of Television, Radio, Film and Theatre at San Jose State University, and serves on the Theatre Services Committee (the advisory council) for Theatre Bay Area. Ms. Piemme is the recipient of the 2011 Champion of Arts Education Award, awarded by the Mayor/City of San Jose and the San Jose Arts Commission, and in 2012 she was named one of the 35 Faces of Theatre Bay Area. Ms. Piemme is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association.

Chrissie Schwanhausser (Stage Manager) Chrissie is delighted to make her stage management debut at Dragon Productions. She has worked as a theatre professional in the Bay Area for the past two years with California Theatre Center where she has served as a youth educator, backstage manager, and more recently Tour Coordinator for their 2015-2016 school series productions. Previous stage management credits include Crossroads at Cal Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo and Antigone at California Theatre Center’s Advanced/Intermediate Conservatory. She’d like to thank the audience for supporting live theatre.

Maria Costello (Assistant Stage Manager) is delighted to be returning to Dragon Theatre, this time to help backstage! She was recently in Dragon Theatre's 2016 season opener, U. S. Drag. Other credits include Beyond Therapy (Shelton Theater). She is a film actors program graduate from Shelton Studios in San Francisco. Maria is also experienced at doing stage work in French. She has performed at Théâtre du Vide-Poche in Lausanne, Switzerland, where she studied French at the University. 

Jesse Ploog (Scenic Designer & Properties) A year into being a professional theatre artist, Jesse has been able to add quite a bit to her list of accomplishments. After graduating from the University of Arizona in 2015 with a degree in Theatre Production/Scenic Design, she moved out to the Bay and immediately began working with Dragon again after interning with them the summer before. Since moving, Jesse has been able to Stage Manage/ASM, Set Design, and be a props master for many shows with Dragon - and in April of 2016 she had the opportunity to join the amazing team here at Dragon as the Associate Production Manager of 2nd Stages. In her time here she has also had many amazing opportunities at various other South Bay theatres to Stage Manage and work as a Scenic Artist. Jesse is so happy to be able to be a part of the Bay Area theatre community and to be so involved with this wonderful theatre!

Charles McKeithan (Master Carpenter) has been working in Bay Area theater for over ten years now as an actor and a carpenter and is happy to be back with the Dragon for another round of fun. His past works include Voice of the Prarie at the Dragon, Walls of Jericho at the Pear, Collosus at SF Playhouse, and countless productions with Ron Gaspernetti under the guise of Thrust Scenic Design.

William Campbell (Lighting Designer)

Natalie Barshow (Costume Designer) is excited to make her Dragon Productions debut. Recent costume designs include On Clover Road (SF Playhouse), The Tempest (Silicon Valley Shakespeare), Dead Man Walking (San Jose State University), Fuddy Meers (SPOTLITE Stage Co.), and several short films. Her assistant designer credits include Much Ado About Nothing (Cal Shakes), Anne Boleyn (Marin Theatre Company), and The Tempest (Cal Shakes). Natalie is currently the Wardrobe Coordinator for ODC/Dance and the Wardrobe Lead for Cal Shakes. Upcoming projects include The Jungle Book (Marin Theatre Company), Two Sisters and a Piano (Contra Costa College), and various ODC/Dance productions. She is a graduate from San Jose State University, holds her B.A. in Theatre Arts, and is currently a freelance costume designer, assistant, and wardrobe person for theatre and film around the bay area. More information available at

Brittany Mellerson (Sound Designer) is a recent graduate of Point Park University’s conservatory program with a BFA in theatrical lighting and sound design. Some of her recent credits include lighting design for Absolutely Fabulous (Royal British Theatre Company) and The Birthday Club (San Francisco Fringe). Others include Playhouse Jr’s Huck Finn, The Alchemists’ Lab (Sound Design), and Dark of the Moon (Assistant Lighting Design), Chess, Yo! Vikings (Audio Mixer), and Do Me! Date Me! Dumb Me! (Lighting Design) at the Rex Theatre. She’s extremely grateful to be working with such an incredible team of creative minds and helping hands

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