OUR ARTISTIC STAFF
Robert Drake, Artistic Director
Robert Drake has been Artistic Director since 2008. He was previously the Academy’s Production Manager. He has directed several shows at the academy and performed & directed across the country. In addition to his Academy work, Robert teaches at Emory University, and is the Production Manager for Laughing Matters, Agatha’s a Taste of Mystery, and the Sound Designer for the Capitol City Opera. Robert is an award winning writer and speech writer, and has served on the board of the Atlanta Coalition of Performing Arts, and C4Atlanta.com.
Brenda Porter, Director of the Human Service Program
Brenda has over twenty years of experience teaching children and adults. She has worked with the Atlanta, New York, and Virginia School Systems and has taught workshops at Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University, Mercer College, and several professional theatres. Her expertise has been used in training teachers to use theatre in their classrooms to stimulate students’ minds and encourage involvement. Ms. Porter also has twenty-three years of experience in acting and directing.
Lynna Schmidt, Director of Children’s Theatre
Lynna Schmidt, is a professional actor & director. Lynna has extensive regional and national experience in all types of artistic endeavors. She has worked locally as a director at Academy Theatre and as an actor at Theatre Emory, Atlanta Shakespeare Company at the Tavern, Georgia Shakespeare Festival, Theatre In The Square, Springer Opera Company and has been a company member of Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Other work includes the Artistic Director for Grace Theatre and Producer/director/actor with the National Children’s Theatre Company, Artistic director and director of the Henry Arts Alliance Children’s Summer Camp Musical. Lynna received her BA in Theater and Broadcasting from the University of Minnesota and a Masters in Theater from the University of Alabama, based at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Some of her acting highlights include Macbeth; Romeo and Juliet; Menopause, The Musical; Hamlet, The Musical; Ah, Wilderness; 1940’s Radio Hour; A Midsummer Nights Dream; Crimes Of The Heart; A Chorus Line; Three Tall Women; Noises Off; Private Lives and A Christmas Carol. Her directing highlights include West Side Story; Once Upon A Mattress; Godspell; Love Letters; Midsummer Nights Dream; You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown; The Norman Conquests; Cheaper By The Dozen; You Can’t take It With You and Birds Of a Feather. She has taught acting classes, scene studies, audition classes, and drama workshops for all ages of young people and adults. In addition, she is an acting coach for young people/adults auditioning for advanced Theater programs and film and theater auditions.
Paige Steadman, Intern Coordinator
Paige Steadman has been in theater since the was -4 months old. She is a playwright, musician, and actor. Her work has appeared with Onion Man, The Marcus Jewish Community Center, Laughing Matters, and the Academy Theatre. Paige has taught at Dekalb High School, Dekalb School of the Arts, and Emory University’s Continuing Education Department.
Barbara Lebow, Playwriting and Human Service Program Consultant
Barbara was born in Brooklyn, NY, and has a degree in Early Childhood Education from Vassar College. She moved to Atlanta in 1962 and, soon after, joined the Academy Theatre’s developmental workshop as playwright in residence. Along with the Academy, theaters producing her work include Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Hartford Stage Company, Jean Cocteau Repertory Theatre, Philadelphia Theatre Company and the Berkshire Theatre Festival. Among her recently produced plays are The Left Hand Singing, Lurleen, The Empress of Eden, Little Joe Monaghan, A Shayna Maidel, Trains, and Tiny Tim Is Dead. A Shayna Maidel, Off-Broadway 1987-’89, continues receiving numerous regional and international productions. In addition to her own writing, Barbara creates plays with disenfranchised segments of the population– homeless and addicted individuals, youth at risk, and developmentally and physically disabled persons. Most recently, with two grants to the Academy Theatre West, she has been working with boys aged 13 – 15 who are incarcerated at Los Prietos Boys’ Camp in Santa Barbara, California. Barbara is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a TCG/Pew Theatre Artists Residency, an NEA/TCG Residency, an Atlanta Mayor’s Fellowship in the Arts, and a GA Governor’s Award in the Arts. She is currently playwright in residence at the Professional Artists Lab at UC Santa Barbara, where she and the Lab have just received an NEA grant through a partnership of the Playwrights’ Center (Minneapolis) New Plays on Campus program and the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. Her newest play, recently workshopped at the Playwrights’ Center, where she is a core member, is The Phenom.
OUR ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF
Lorenne Fey, Managing Director
Lorenne has worked at the Academy Theatre for the past 26 years — four years as the Theatre’s Educational Outreach Director and the past 22 years as the Theatre’s Managing Director. Previously she was the Assistant Artistic Director of the Lafayette Ballet Company where she was in charge of their Artists-in-Schools program. She danced professionally with the Atlanta Ballet and the Dallas Ballet. While dancing with the Atlanta Ballet, she was involved in their Artists-in-Schools Touring Program. She has a Business Management degree from Shorter College.
Fracena Byrd, Marketing Director
Fracena Byrd is an accomplished actress, educator, administrator, and marketing consultant. She has worked for twelve years with Kaiser Permanente Educational Theatre Program, teaching and performing in shows about grief, stress management, nutrition, and HIV/AIDS awareness. She was the office administrator and instructor for Kumon of Douglasville, and she is a board member and marketing consultant for Piccadilly Puppets.
Allison Ramsay, Box Office Manager
Alison Ramsay is a native of New York. Alison is thrilled to be a part of such a thriving theater community.
Danny Dolan, Concessions Manager
Danny Dolan is an Eagle Scout with over 14 years of experience developing and testing software for HealthLogic Systems and Bank of America. He has a BS in Computer Engineering from Georgia Tech and an MS in Applied Computer Science from Columbus State University. In the theater world, he has been a board member for Offshoot Productions, an actor, a technical director, and he is now a concessions manager.