Faculty & Staff

Full-time Faculty

Nefertiti Burton

Department Chair, Professor, Director of Graduate Studies

Nefertiti Burton is professor and chair of the Department of Theatre Arts. She holds an MFA in Directing from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a Research Certificate from the Community Fellows Program of Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she studied Media/Arts and Film Production. Before becoming chair of the department Burton served as Associate Dean for International, Diversity, and Engagement Programs. For several years she was co-director of UofL’s African American Theatre Program, and during that time spearheaded the creation of the country’s first and only Graduate Certificate in African American Theatre. Burton’s teaching, directing, writing, and storytelling focus on the experiences of people of the African Diaspora. She has taught performance workshops in Senegal, Brazil, Colombia and South Africa and has performed and directed in regional theatre and off-Broadway as well as in international venues including: Adelaide, Australia; Beijing China; and Grahamstown, South Africa. Burton has led study abroad tours with students, faculty and staff to South Africa, Senegal, China, and Cuba. Five of Burton’s children’s plays inspired by Yoruba traditional beliefs have been produced in schools and theatre companies in various parts of the U.S. She has consulted for numerous arts agencies including the National Endowment for the Arts, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the New England Foundation for the Arts, the North Carolina Arts Council and the Kentucky Center for the Arts. Burton’s academic and creative contributions have been acknowledged with the University of Louisville’s Presidential Exemplary Multicultural Teaching Award, a Fulbright International Educator’s Award, an American Scene Award from the Association of Film, Radio, and Television Artists (AFTRA), an Audelco Award, and a Distinguished Director award from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. 

Phone: 502-852-8444


J. Ariadne Calvano, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Acting and Movement

Dr. Calvano explores movement-based performance in the classroom, as a Director and Intimacy Choreographer within the department, and in their Intimacy Direction and professional performance work. They earned their PhD and MA in Theatre from the University of Colorado Boulder; and additionally, hold a BA in Fine & Performing Arts from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and a BA in History from the University of Maryland.  They recently served as Intimacy Director on Dracula with Actors Theatre of Louisville and had the honor of being chosen as a member of the Hadley Creatives 2020-Generation 3 with Louisville Community Foundation and Creative Capital out of NYC. Their artistic and pedagogical work begins with the physical embodiment of expression and identity from a place of active research. Areas of performance and research that most interest them include empowering female-identifying voices and perspectives, intimacy in performance, approaches to artist-centered wellness, and challenging social norms and decolonizing period movement. Ari is a yogini who also loves to knit, dance, and develop their clown and circus work.  Their passion is working with dedicated and imaginative creators to make art that challenges norms and expectations. More about their current artistic endeavors and publications can be found at arimoves.com 


Phone: 502-852-8447

Sidney Edwards

Assistant Professor, Head of the African American Theatre Program

Sidney Edwards is an educator, actress, singer, dancer and improv artist. Sidney earned a BFA in musical theater from William Peace University in her home state of North Carolina. From there, Sidney went on to receive an MFA in performance and a graduate certificate in African American theatre from the University of Louisville in Louisville, KY. After matriculation, Sidney spent time in Northeast Ohio working as a performer, director's assistant and dramaturg.

One of her proudest accomplishments is being awarded a Distinguished Actor award from the Kennedy Center's American College Theater Festival for her performance as Ida B. Wells in Miss Ida B. Wells. Sidney was also honored to perform at the 2017 National Black Theatre Festival in Kritsten Greenidge's Baltimore. Some of her favorite roles include Amneris in Karamu House's 2019 production of Aida, Sally Bowles in Cabaret (NC), and Squeak in The Color Purple (NC).

Sidney is passionate about arts education and has served as a teaching artist for Kentucky Shakespeare, Cleveland Play House, Baldwin Wallace University (Adjunct Professor), and the legendary Karamu House Theater (the oldest producing Black theatre in the country) in Cleveland, Ohio.


Phone: 502-852-8526

Robert Barry Fleming

Associate Professor of Acting

Robert is the Executive Artistic Director of Actors Theatre of Louisville. Formerly the Associate Artistic Director at Cleveland Play House and the Director of Artistic Programming at Arena Stage he has a wealth of directing, performing, teaching/coaching, administrative and artistic leadership experience, He was an Associate Producer for the Off-Broadway premiere of THE TWO CHARACTER PLAY by Tennessee Williams, starring Amanda Plummer, a former Associate Professor and Chair of the University of San Diego Theatre Arts and Performance Studies Department, and has performed leading roles on and off-Broadway, on national tour, regionally, on television and film.

Phone: 502-852-8443

Kevin Gawley

Kevin Gawley

Associate Professor, Resident Scenic, Lighting and Projection Designer

Kevin D. Gawley is the scenic, lighting and projection designer for University theatre productions and selected special events. He teaches students both theory and practical application in scenic, lighting, and projection design and technology. Students have the opportunity to fully engage in the design process for five University shows per year. Their experience includes working from design concept to construction, light hang and focus, texture and paint, and technical rehearsals. Students work alongside other designers, directors and technical director, to fully implement the production on stage. In addition, Kevin maintains an ambitious design career, staying relevant in the field and garnering national recognition. Most recently, Kevin’s professional work at Lifeline Theatre in Chicago was awarded the 2017 Non-Equity Jeff Award for A Wrinkle in Time for Lighting Design. His guest design of Rabbit Hole at Taylor University earned him the 2017 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival National Award in Lighting Design. In addition, Kevin’s lighting design for Champaign Urbana Ballet’s Nutcracker was showcased on the cover of the 2017 Rosebrand Catalog. Over the span of his career, recognized critical acclaim includes seven additional Non-Equity Jeff Award nominations and two additional Jeff Awards for The Island of Doctor Moreau and Jane Eyre, and the After Dark Award for Strong Poison. His film credits include theatrical lighting design for Were the World Mine. Previous theatrical design and assistant design collaborations include Magik Theatre, The Goodman, Court, American Girl Productions, Lexington Children’s Theatre, Lifeline, Bailiwick, Organic, Porchlight, OperaModa, Blindfaith, Theatre on the Lake, Metropolis, Revels Chicago, Midwest Jewish, North Carolina Shakespeare Festival, and Taylor University. For 8 years, he spent summers in residence as the lighting designer for eight productions and eight different directors at the National High School Institute at Northwestern University. Kevin works to engage the local community whenever possible to broaden the UofL theatre program exposure. Kevin’s national presence, both onstage designs and as an active member of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology provides technical and design students opportunities in their field. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Louisville, Kevin was Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire in Scenic and Lighting Design.

Phone: 502-852-8444

Zhanna Goldentul

Zhanna Goldentul

Associate Professor (Term), Resident Costume and Makeup Designer

Zhanna Goldentul is the Costume Designer for the University of Louisville Theatre Arts department. She is a member of the United Scenic Artists' Union 829 Local CD. Goldentul teaches students in Costume and Makeup Design, Sewing, Costume Construction, and Pattern Making. Zhanna’s students assist her on Main Stage productions to learn wide range of design skills. She takes a great pride of her recent graduates who work in professional fields, Academy Award winning films and TV shows. Others run World tours for singers and performing artists, and establish their own fashion companies. Before moving from Russia to the U.S., Zhanna Goldentul received her training in Costume Design from the Moscow Theatrical Arts College. After graduation she has worked in Russian Theaters, such as the Old Drama Theatre, Bolshoy Theater, the Moscow Contemporary Theatre, New Jewish Musical Group, and various Ballet Companies. Zhanna has earned her Master’s Degree at UofL, and has designed costumes in Louisville at Stage One Family Theater, and The JCC Center Stage Theater. Her recent design credits for UofL Theater Arts include: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Cage Rhythm,Metamorphoses, How I Learned to Drive, Once on This Island, King Lear, and many more. Goldentul also co-wrote play adaptation of The Master and Margarita.

Costume Design, Sketching and Rendering, Pattern Making, Sewing, Costume Construction, and Stage Makeup.


Phone: 502-852-8579

Rachel Carter

Rachel Carter

Assistant Professor of Acting and Voice

Rachel explores the bridge between voice and movement pedagogy at UofL Theatre Arts where she teaches voice, speech, Alexander Technique, IPA, dialects, and text work. She also acts as dialect and voice coach on University productions. She earned her MFA in Theatre Pedagogy: Voice and Speech from the Virginia Commonwealth University, and has a teacher certification in the Alexander Technique from The American Society of the Alexander Technique (AmSAT). Rachel continues to coach individuals in dialects, character voices, and communication, and has had the opportunity to dialect coach multiple shows with Theatre [502] and Pandora Productions here in Louisville. Prior to joining the faculty at UofL, Rachel was in Chicago where she had the opportunity to work with a variety of schools and theaters, including Roosevelt University, School for Theatre Creators, ChiArts, and Chicago Shakespeare Theater. She is a current member of both VASTA and AmSAT.

Phone: 502-852-8446
Email: rachel.hillmer@louisville.edu

Johnny Jones

Assistant Professor



Sidney Monroe

Sidney Monroe

Assistant Professor, Director of the Repertory Company

Sidney Monroe (he/they series) is a community-based theatre artist whose work is situated at the intersections of race, gender and class.  Through creative strategies, Sidney facilitates art-making and conversations with communities to spark dialogue, raise visibility and celebrate marginalized bodies. Sidney holds a BA in International Relations from Hendrix College and a MFA in Drama and Theatre for Youth & Communities from The University of Texas at Austin.

Sidney's most recent work includes nonprofit management of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Queer (LGBTQ) youth programs (ages 14-29) in Boston, MA at The Theater Offensive. Artistically, Sidney is interested in exploring queer theory and performance methodologies as a means to building more inclusive communities within (and outside) the theatre. Sidney carries an extensive background in working with school communities. Not only has he worked a secondary theatre teacher, he also leads professional development opportunities for educators to include drama-based pedagogy into their classrooms.

Phone: (502) 852 8443

Geoffrey Nelson

Geoffrey Nelson


Geoffrey Nelson holds an M.A. in Theatre from the Ohio State University and completed all of the work for a Ph.D. except the dissertation. He also did graduate work at Indiana University. Nelson was the founder, and for twenty-six years, the Artistic Director of CATCO, a professional theatre in Columbus, Ohio, where he produced 200+ plays. He has directed nearly 100 professional productions, including The Importance of Being Earnest, The Little Foxes, The Grapes of Wrath, The Homecoming, The Exonerated, True West, Glengarry Glen Ross, Blackbird, and A Tuna Christmas. Geoff is a professional actor and longtime member of Actors Equity Association, most recently appearing in Our Town and Superior Donuts with AthensWest Theatre in Lexington. He has taught and/or served as a guest director/actor at Denison, Ohio State, Otterbein, Ohio Northern and Wittenberg Universities.

Email: geoffrey.nelson@louisville.edu

Janna Segal

Janna Segal

Assistant Professor of Theatre History, Dramatic Literature, and Dramaturgy

Dr. Janna Segal teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in: theatre history, literature, and theory; Shakespeare and Shakespearean adaptation; American feminist theatre; and dramaturgy. She received her Ph.D. in Drama and Theatre from the UC Irvine/UC San Diego joint doctoral program, her MA in Theatre from California State University, Northridge, and her BA in Theater Arts from UC Santa Cruz. Prior to joining the UofL faculty, Dr. Segal was an Assistant Professor in the Theatre Department and in the MLitt/MFA Shakespeare and Performance program at Mary Baldwin College, and an IHUM Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University. She has also taught theatre history, literature and theory, Shakespeare, Chicanx theatre and film, and acting at UC Irvine, UC Riverside, and California State University, Northridge. Her dissertation, Shakespearean-Becomings: Transversal Explorations of Amorous Desire on the Shakespearean Stage, is an analysis of the transversal representation of amorous desire in Shakespeare’s theatre and its historical impact on Western cultures through critical and dramatic reconceptualizations. She has published single and co-authored works on Shakespeare’s As You Like It, Henry VMacbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello, and Romeo and Juliet; Dekker and Middleton’s The Roaring Girl; Fo and Rame’s Elisabetta; and Chekhov’s Three Sisters. Her scholarly work has appeared in such journals as SDC Journal, JEMCS, Shakespeare, and Early Modern Literary Studies, as well as in numerous anthologies, including the forthcoming Playing Shakespeare’s Villains (Peter Lang, 2019), Performances at Court in Shakespeare’s Era (Cambridge UP, 2019), and How to Teach a Play (Bloomsbury, 2020). Dr. Segal is also a freelance dramaturg whose past production work includes Shakespeare, Shakespearean adaptation, contemporary theatre, and new plays in development. She is the Resident Dramaturg of the Comparative Drama Conference (CDC), for which she dramaturgs two to three new plays a year, and a dramaturg for the Association for Theatre in Higher Education’s (ATHE) annual New Play Development Workshop. At UofL, she has dramaturged Baltimore, Eurydice, The Master and Margarita, and The Taming of the Shrew, which she co-adapted with Dr. Ari Calvano. She will be dramaturging the Department’s Fall 2019 production of Fires in the Mirror. She has also worked locally as a dramaturg for Commonwealth Theatre Center. Dr. Segal is a member of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA), a Co-Conference Planner for Playwrights and Creative Teams (PACT) at ATHE, and she serves on the Board of the Comparative Drama Conference.

Phone: 502-852-8445

Email: janna.segal@louisville.edu

Russell Vandenbroucke

Russell Vandenbroucke

Professor, Theatre Arts department
Founding Director, Peace, Justice & Conflict Transformation Program

Vandenbroucke earned his Doctor of Fine Arts from the Yale School of Drama and has worked as a director, dramaturg, playwright, and producer at regional theatres across the country including the Yale Repertory Theatre, Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Virginia Stage Company, and Chicago’s Northlight Theatre, which he served as artistic director for eleven seasons.

His plays include: Soldiers Circle, which dramatizes the lives of young American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan; Eleanor: In Her Own Words, adapted from the writings of Eleanor Roosevelt, recipient of an Emmy Award and broadcast on “American Playhouse” series of PBS; Atomic Bombers, which commemorated the 50th anniversary of Hiroshima, also on public radio; and School Play, inspired by the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. The Board of Education decision ending school desegregation, performed in Moscow and Perm, Russia, after touring Louisville. In addition to numerous articles, interviews, and op-ed pieces, he has published three books: Truths the Hand Can Touch: The Theatre of Athol Fugard (Theatre Communications Group), The Theatre Quotation Book: A Treasury of Insights and Insults (Limelight Editions), and Contemporary Australian Plays (Methuen), an anthology of plays. He teaches courses in script analysis, applied theatre, the enjoyment of theatre, and playwriting. He is Founding Director of the university’s Peace, Justice & Conflict Transformation Program.

Internationally, Vandenbroucke: was a Fulbright Scholar in Australia; a Rotary Foundation World Peace Fellow in Thailand where he adapted and directed An Evening with Global Peacemakers; covered Italy’s Spoleto Festival and the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa, for American Theatre magazine; delivered talks and presentations in Finland, Romania, and (then) East Germany for the State Department; traveled to Israel and Palestine through the Palestine American Research Center); and gave a series of talks on engaged art, American culture, and critical thinking in Vietnam and Japan, where he also made pilgrimages to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

He has directed dozens of plays at professional theatres around the country and at UofL, and he is a retired member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.

Phone: 502-852-8448


Jerome Wills

Assistant Professor Term, Technology and Design

Jerome is delighted to join the creative faculty, staff and students at the University of Louisville. He comes to UofL with 20 years of experience designing for live theatrical events in the disciplines of scenic, sound, lighting, projections and underscoring with over 250 credits across these fields. Jerome specializes in the Theatre for Young Audiences having been Resident Designer and Technical Director for The Children’s Theatre of Maine and Lexington Children’s Theatre as well as designing scenery for StageOne Family Theatre’s productions of The Glorious Adventures of Robin HoodPetite RougeAnd Then They Came For Me, and Harold and the Purple Crayon. His recent UofL credits include Scenic, Sound and Properties Design for Rep Co’s production of Zomo the Rabbit, Scenic and Sound Design for the African-American Theatre Program’s production of Detroit 67’  and Sound Design for King Hedley II.



headshot of Miranda Cisneros

Miranda Cisneros

Technical Production Manager, Shop Supervisor

Miranda Cisneros (she/her/hers) is a graduate from the University of Louisville.  She earned her Bachelor's of Science in Theatre Arts in 2017. Since graduating, she has continued to work professionally at places like Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia, PA, The Rev Theatre Company (formerly Merry-Go-Round Playhouse) in Auburn, NY, and Riverside Theatre in Vero Beach, FL. She is passionate about creating environments where people can learn, grow, and contribute their talents and skills to a collaborative and diverse team of professional theatre artists. 


Jessica Key

Program Coordinator, Sr.

Jessica Key is a native of Danville, KY and currently resides in Frankfort, KY. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Communications with a minor in Music from Campbellsville University. She also earned her Master’s in Facility and Event Management from Western Kentucky University. Jessica has a passion for event coordinating, community outreach projects, volunteering and music.

Phone: 502-852-5922

Blair Boyd Potter

Program Coordinator, Box Office Manager

Blair Boyd is a Louisville native and a Graduate of the Theatre Arts Department at the University of Louisville. She received her Bachelor's of Science in Theatre Arts in 2013. Since then she has enjoyed working with Sylvan Learning and The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts. She has also worked with local companies such as Pandora Productions and Bottoms Up! Productions. She loves to combine her passion for theatre with her love of education and the educational environment.

Phone: 502-852-7682
Email: u

Melissa Kenney Shepherd

Melissa Kenney Shepherd

Costume Shop Manager, Part-Time Faculty

Melissa Kenney Shepherd is a graduate of UofL's Theatre Arts Department. She received an MFA in Performance in 2001. Currently, Melissa is the Costume Shop Manager, part- time Faculty, and serves as the costume designer for the traveling Repertory Company. She also is one of the directors for the Rep Company, where they work with existing scripts or devise their own work to travel into local elementary schools all year. The rewards of working as the Costume Shop Manager give Melissa the opportunity to guide and work with a crew of undergraduate students daily. They create all the costumes for all Main Stage and Rep Company productions and learn in an environment outside the confines of a normal classroom setting. When not at UofL, Shepherd works as a performer for local theater groups; Stage One Children’s Theater and Center Stage at the JCC. Shepherd's professional costume design credits include work for the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Melodrama Musical Theatre, Center Stage, Prather Entertainment, and Argosy Entertainment. Production credits in costume design include: Oliver!, Parade, Sweeney Todd, Once on this Island, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Steel Magnolias, Wonderland!,A Doll’s House, Other Desert Cities, and Smokey Joe’s Café.

Phone: 502-852-8441

Part-Time Faculty

Melony Caulder

Melony Caulder

Melony Caulder teaches online Enjoyment of Theatre classes. She received her B.A. in Speech and Theatre with a minor in Telecommunications from Fayetteville State University in May 2007, an M.F.A in Performance and Acting with a Certificate in African American Theatre from the University of Louisville in May 2010, and an M.Ed. in Adult and Continuing Education from Strayer University in June 2014. Melony has taught courses on a part-time basis in previous years at U of L and also at Kentucky State University.


Carol Stewart


Carol has been teaching courses in theatre and the humanities for the past ten years, including classes in Acting, Voice, Radio Drama, Theatre History, Performance Theory, Script Analysis, Creativity in the Arts, Shakespeare, and Prison Theatre. An award-winning audiobook narrator with twenty years experience in the studio, Carol has recorded over 300 titles for the Talking Book Program of the National Library Service (a division of the Library of Congress) as well as full-length and abridged texts for commercial audiobook publishers. Carol earned her BFA at the Goodman School of Drama and an MA at the University of Louisville; she is currently a doctoral candidate in Interdisciplinary Humanities at UofL. She has trained with New York’s SITI Company. Her areas of research and artistic practice are focused on the training and creative experience of the actor; SITI Company training and productions; devised theatre; Shakespeare in translation; and Shakespeare with non-traditional artists, including the incarcerated and the aging. She is one of the conference organizers for Stage the Future, an international conference on science fiction and theatre, and is co-producer of Parallax, a new science fiction theatre festival in Louisville. She is co-artistic director of Here There Be Monsters & Co.

Emeritus Faculty

Rinda Frye holds a Ph.D. in theatre from University of Oregon and is a member of VASTA (the Voice and Speech Trainers Association) and an associate editor for IDEA, the International Dialects of English Archive.

Bert Harris was the founding Chair of the Department of Theatre Arts and Speech at the University of Louisville. He founded the UofL Repertory Company in 1976, and served as its Artistic Director for thirty years.  

Michael F. Hottois was the Production Designer for the UofL Theatre Department and has designed for most of the theatres in the area.  He was a scenic artist in the films Boris and Natasha and Closetland, and Soul of the Game for HBO.  He is a member of the United Scenic Artists Union, Local 829. 

Lundeana Thomas

Dr. Lundeana M. Thomas, a University of Louisville Faculty Emeritus, and Full Professor earned her Ph. D. and Master’s from the University of Michigan and is the author of Barbara Ann Teer and the National Black Theatre: Transformational Forces in Harlem. Dr. Thomas became a Co-Director of the African American Theatre Program in 1996 and became Director in 2003. Major Accomplishments include: 1) recruiting many African American students; 2) securing minimum enrollments in all AATP classes; 3) securing a local, national, and international reputation for the program (Major trip to China in 2007); 4) securing finances for the program, including a Ford Foundation Grant in 2004; 5) securing high profile Practitioners and Academicians of theatre for students including Broadway Director, Kenny Leon; Carson-Adler Agent, Shirley Faison; Broadway Directors, Paul Carter Harrison and Clinton Turner Davis; Broadway Scenic Designer, Felix Cochren; and 6) created many standing courses and oversaw the Archives of the AATP. Additionally, Dr. Thomas was a founder and President of the Black Theatre Network a well as founder mof the

Thomas has also presented papers in Ghana, Australia, China and Spain, and performed at the Grahamstown Festival in South Africa with U of L students. She has directed over 75 productions including a 13thC. Chinese play adapted to a Hip Hop Play that has been presented at the National Black Theatre Festival and Singapore. Since retirement Dr. Thomas has directed Mason-Dixon and Harriet Tubman Visits a Therapist by Carolyn Gage for the The Victorian Players of Youngstown, Ohio; The Ballad of Emmett Till at New Heritage Theatre in Pittsburgh, Flyin’ West at the North Georgia State University and wrote and directed a Dinner Mystery Theatre for the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority in Youngstown.

James Tompkins