Chris Karczmar Many years ago Chris Karczmar left Reed College and ran off to New York City to become an actor and study with Stella Adler. He deeply appreciates and employs lessons learned from a number of revered teachers, and from 20 years of teaching theater and 30 years as a professional actor. However, he never lost his affection for Portland, and is delighted to be here again and to be teaching at PAC. Since returning, Chris created and led a Character Exploration workshop at Portland Center Stage while performing in Our Town, coached & directed families of the incarcerated for a powerful presentation of their prison system experiences called With You on the Journey, recently performed in Portland Shakespeare Project’s Proscenium Live Festival and guest starred on The Librarians.
Previously, Chris taught technique for 7 years at York University in Toronto, where he earned his MFA and Diploma in the Teaching of Acting. He also has instructed for Shakespeare in Action in Toronto, at AAMDA in New York City, for the New York Summer School of the Arts, the New York State Education Department, and coaches privately. While deeply influenced by Adler, Chris counts among other mentors; Ed-Kaye Martin (Wisdom Bridge, Chicago), Jack Wetherall and David Latham (Stratford Festival), Barbara Gaines (Chicago Shakespeare), and David Smuckler and Mark Wilson (York University).
Since student-actors come from a variety of backgrounds and have differing challenges, Chris believes in a non-dogmatic teaching approach. He looks to create artistic and personal breakthroughs by drawing from his experience as a professional actor and as a teacher of the Shurtleff technique, Adler, and Meisner, among others.
As a performer, Chris has worked Off & Off-Off Broadway, and, in addition to PCS, at a number of highly respected regional theaters in Chicago, L.A., and Stratford, Ontario. He is a recipient of Joseph Jefferson, L.A. Weekly, and N.Y. Metro North awards. He has been featured in nine TV series, most recently as a Guest Star on The Librarians and The Border in Canada. He is a long standing member of Actor’s Equity, Canadian Actor’s Equity, and SAG-AFTRA.
Debbie Lamedman Debbie is a playwright, director, and author/editor of eight acting books published by Smith & Kraus, Inc. Debbie’s produced plays include phat girls, Triangle Logic, Eating in the Dark, Snowflakes, and You Belong to Me. Debbie is the co-bookwriter for the musical How the Nurse Feels, which had staged readings at both the ASCAP/Disney workshop in Los Angeles, and New World Stages in New York City. Debbie’s short play Mind Control was produced as part of the 35th Annual Samuel French Off-Broadway Short Play Festival in New York City. Debbie is an adjunct acting instructor at Pacific University, as well as a writing coach for students and professionals. She is a frequent guest teaching artist and has taught master classes and monologue workshops around the country. Debbie received her MFA in theatre from Brandeis University and is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and Actors’ Equity Association. More information about Debbie can be found at debbielamedman.com
Elizabeth Rothan Elizabeth has dedicated her life to the performing arts as actor, playwright, director, producer and teacher. She has worked with playwrights Mark Medoff in The Gulf War Chronicle, Meline Marnich in Quake and Mac Wellman in Two September. Regional credits include: Mrs. Warren's Profession,Retreat from Moscow, Dixie Swim Club,Be Aggressive, and the role of Simone de Beauvoir in Transatlantic Liaison at the Harold Clurman Theater in NYC. Elizabeth has taught diverse acting disciplines at Eugene O'Neill's National Theater Institute, University of Portland, Linfield College, and is currently teaching at Portland Actors Conservatory. Upcoming directing credits include Midsummer Night's Dream at PAC (December, 2015) and Andre Stolowitz's Successful Strategies (June, 2016) at Theater 33. (read more)
HESTER SCHELL [MFA, Univ. of Utah; BA, PSU] Hester Schell, MFA bring decades of experience to PAC. She studied Meisner with Suzanne Shepard at the Trinity Repertory Conservatory in Providence, Rhode Island. Hester is an award winning stage director, scriptwriter, author and master acting teacher. She recently completed work on the short film, Sandwiched, about racism and the criminal justice system, starring Portland Actors Conservatory graduate, Emery John Frazier ('12). Her script-writing focuses on roles for women with social good and environmental themes. Directing credits include Portland's Fertile Ground festival 2017 with Holly Johnson's SISTERS IN THE SNOW starring Vonessa Martin (Artist Repertory Theatre); SINGULARITEEN by Patrick Brennan winning the San Francisco Fringe Festival; SAME TIME NEXT YEAR by Bernard Slade for Bencia Old Town Theatre, winning Best Director, Best Show and Best Actor and Actress ARTY Awards. Portland directing credits include Noel Coward's BLITHE SPIRIT for Milagro (as ARTPAZ), Heart Theatre Company's BUTTERFLIES ARE FREE by Leonard Gershe. She is a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts (NYC), Portland State University (Theatre, BA) and the University of Utah (Directing, MFA). She's taught at numerous colleges and universities and is the author of CASTING REVEALED: A Guide for Film Directors, Routledge Press, 2016, 2nd edition. Both University of Maryland and the University of North Carolina have adopted this critically acclaimed book in their film acting and directing courses.
Karen Kalensky Karen recently relocated to Portland, Oregon and is thrilled to be able to share her knowledge of the casting process with the students at PAC. She started casting in NYC for commercials, television, films and theatre. She began as a talent agent but with her acting background quickly became aware that she had a good eye for talent (She was right as she quickly developed a reputation for helping to discover actors new to the city). In NYC she worked with directors Scott Ellis (5 time TONY nominee) and the Tony Winning Susan Stroman, to name a few. Upon relocating to Los Angeles she became the Head of Casting at The Los Angeles Theatre Center, a 4 theatre complex in the heart of LA. She moved on to work in television. One of her favorite casting jobs was Tales from the Crypt where she cast Tony award winning Yul Vasquez (Mother**ker with the Hat) in his first acting role working with Oscar winning director William Friedkin.
Karen has also served as Artistic Director at Interplayers Ensemble Theatre in Spokane, Washington where she directed and acted. Locally she received an Ovation Nomination for direction of The Traveling Lady at The Company of Angels. She has worked in NYC. Chicago and LA as an actress. Favorite roles, Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate, Frankie in Frankie and Johnnie in The Clair de Lune, Glorie in Grace and Glorie and Herschler in Cannibals. TV credits: Weeds, Saturday Night Live, Tales from the Crypt and the pilot Hello Again.
A native Chicagoan she received her BFA from The Goodman School of Drama and is an alumnus of The Second City Theatre, studied abroad in Oxford, England, and received her MFA at Cal State Long Beach. She has taught acting at Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Long Beach and Saddleback College.