Theatre Faculty Bios

Beth Schachter, Department Chair

Associate Professor, Acting, Directing, and History & Theory
Ph.D., City University of New York; M.F.A., University of California,
San Diego; B.A., Harvard-Radcliffe University

Dr. Schachter has directed at New York Theatre Workshop, Second Stage, The Public Theatre, McCarter Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre, Adirondack Theatre Festival, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, and The Vineyard Theatre, among others. She has directed world premieres of plays by Suzan-Lori Parks, Doug Wright, Theresa Rebeck, and Mac Wellman. She also co-wrote and directed the musical Lures and Snares with Troy Dwyer. Dr. Schachter is fomerly the director of Muhlenberg’s Women’s Studies Program. Her areas of expertise include contemporary American avant-garde theatre, feminist theatre and theory, African-American drama, and Jewish ethnicity studies. Before coming to Muhlenberg, Dr. Schachter taught at Princeton University, Brooklyn College, City College, and UCSD. She recently directed the world premiere of Brighde Mullins's The Bourgeois Pig at Muhlenberg College, as well as two staged readings for The Blank Theatre (Los Angeles).

Charles Richter, Director of Theatre

Professor, Directing, Theatre History, and Theory
M.F.A., Southern Methodist University; B.S., Syracuse University; Certificate in Drama, University of Bristol, England
Member, Stage Directors & Choreographers Society

Mr. Richter was the founding chair of the Department of Theatre & Dance. He has taught at Muhlenberg for the past 32 years. His professional directing experience includes productions for the New York City Opera’s education department, Cincinnati’s Playhouse in the Park, New York’s Ensemble Studio Theatre, and Theatre Three in Dallas, Texas. Mr. Richter served as the artistic director of the Pennsylvania Stage Company (LORT) for four seasons. He has been the artistic director of the Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre Festival for the past 30 years. Mr. Richter has directed more than 60 productions for the Muhlenberg College Theatre, the most recent being the world premiere of the musical An American Tragedy, with music by Charles Strouse and a libretto by Mark St. Germain. He is a recipient of the NBC/Kennedy Center Gold Medallion for service to the American College Theatre Festival and the City of Allentown’s Arts Ovation Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts.

Curtis Dretsch, Director of Design & Technical Theatre

Professor, Scenic, Costume, and Lighting Design
M.F.A., Southern Methodist University; B.A., Montana State University

In addition to his more than 100 designs for Muhlenberg College Theatre and Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre over the past 31 years, Mr. Dretsch’s designs have been seen in New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Dallas, Edinburgh, and London. He has designed for the Dallas Shakespeare Festival, Terry Beck Dance Troupe, and Pennsylvania Stage Company, where he did scenery and/or lights 41 times over 12 years. During the 1990s he served Muhlenberg as Dean of the College for Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Tim Averill

Timothy Averill

Professor, Scenography
M.F.A., Yale School of Drama; A.B., Vassar College
United Scenic Artists; Local 829, SD, HW

Mr. Averill has been involved with Glimmerglass Opera, Yale Repertory Theatre, Powerhouse Theatre, Syracuse Stage, Syracuse Opera, Arena Theatre of Buffalo, Andy’s Summer Playhouse, Theatre of the First Amendment, and Mac-Haydn Theatre. He has been a faculty member at Colgate University, Syracuse University, and the University of Virginia. Mr. Averill has designed sets for many shows at Muhlenberg College including The Tempest, Polaroid Stories, the world premiere of An American Tragedy, Twelfth Night, Tartuffe, Into the Woods, Juliet and her Romeo, Pentecost, Dido and Aeneas, and Orpheus Descending.

Arnab Banerji

Dr. Arnab Banerji

ASIANetwork - Luce Foundation Teaching Fellow
Ph.D., University of Georgia; B.A. & M.A., Jadavpur University in Kolkata, India

Mr. Banerji specializes in contemporary Indian theatre and scenographic performance research. His doctoral dissertation, entitled "Setting the Stage: A Materialist Semiotic Analysis of contemporary Bengali theatre from Kolkata, India," is a study of selected performance examples from contemporary theatre companies in Kolkata using materialist semiotics performance analysis. Arnab has presented his research on postcolonial performance, ritual Asian performance, Indian cinema and Indian popular culture at various national and international conferences. He has taught theatre and English literature in both India and the United States, including a recent course entitled Appreciation of Theatre at the University of Georgia. Along with academics, Arnab has also been an active theatre practitioner having directed, designed lights, dramaturged and acted for professional, student-led, University Theatre and amateur productions in both India and the United States. At Muhlenberg, Arnab will be teaching Introduction to Asian Performance and courses in modern Indian theatre and film.

Holly Cate

Associate Professor, Acting
M.F.A., Brandeis University; B.A., Harvard University
Member, Screen Actors Guild, Actors’ Equity Association, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists

Ms. Cate is an award-winning actor who has appeared on Broadway in An Ideal Husband, directed by Sir Peter Hall, and regionally in Blithe Spirit (Portland Stage), An Ideal Husband (Pioneer), All My Sons (American Stage), and Arms and the Man (Asolo), in addition to numerous New York Theatre credits. Ms. Cate recently made her Philadelphia debut at the Walnut Street Theatre in Judith/Dresses/Joe, an evening of avant-garde masterworks presented by Parade Ground Unit, of which she is a founding member. She also played the deliciously evil Janice Maxwell on As the World Turns, has appeared in over 20 national television and radio commercials, and works as an audio book narrator. Ms. Cate is a Stanislavski-based acting technique teacher with an emphasis on the role of the body in the actor's process.

Michael G. Chin

Part-Time Lecturer, Acting and Stage Combat
B.A., Pace University

Mr. Chin is a professional actor who is part of the AEA, AFTRA, and SAG as well as a sanctioned master instructor and choreographer with the Society of American Fighting Directors. He serves as fight director in residence for both The White Horse and Pan Asian Rep in New York City. He has taught, choreographed, and consulted on Broadway as well as for The Mint, Murder To Go, Theatreworks USA, La MaMa ETC, The National Asian American Theatre Company, The Public, The Vineyard Theatre, Juilliard, New York University, Henry Street Settlement, The Drama League, The Classical Theatre of Harlem, and the New York Renaissance Faire.

Lara de Bruijn

Lara de Bruijn

Guest Artist Costume Designer
M.F.A., New York University: Tisch School of the Arts

Ms. de Bruijn is a Canadian costume designer based in New York City. She has designed costumes for more than 80 theatre and dance productions. Some credits include The Two-Character Play (New World Stages), Julian Po (Signature-Linney Theatre), Onegin (Juilliard Opera), A Little Night Music (Castleton Opera Festival), and Homestead Crossing and Finian's Rainbow (Berkshire Theatre Festival). In 2011, de Bruijn won the New Hampshire Theatre Award for Best Costume Design in Measure for Measure (Peterborough Players).

Troy Dwyer

Associate Professor, Acting and Voice & Speech
M.F.A., University of Wisconsin; B.A., Oglethorpe University

Mr. Dwyer is a writer/actor who has devised and performed in new experimental theatre at venues throughout the United States, including Theater Artaud (San Francisco), Velocity Dance Center (Seattle), The Painted Bride (Philadelphia), The Riant Theatre (NYC), Horizon Theatre Company (Atlanta), and many others. His original works for the stage include dance theatre epics such as World Headquarters and Caw (both with Charles O. Anderson), new musicals such as Lures and Snares (with Beth Schachter), and performance art such as Journey/Cave (with Tim Miller). Along with Holly Cate and Jim Peck, Mr. Dwyer is a founding member of the theatre company Parade Ground Unit. His scholarly writings on queerness, voice, and acting have appeared in leading academic journals such as Theatre Journal and The Voice & Speech Review.

Mark McKenna

Part-Time Lecturer, Acting
B.A., University of New Hampshire

Mr. McKenna is a graduate of the Lecoq International School of Theatre in Paris, majored in theatre at the University of New Hampshire, and trained in theatres in New York and Philadelphia. He was an ensemble member at Bethlehem's Touchstone Theatre from 1986 to 2008, and also served as artistic and producing director there, developing and acting in more than 40 original Touchstone productions and collaborations. In 1990 he was the recipient of a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Individual Artistic Development Grant to study the process of the actor-creator in Europe.

Matthew Moore

Visiting Assistant Professor, Theatre History & Theory
Ph.D., Stanford University; B.A., Muhlenberg College
Member, Stage Directors and Choreographers Society

Dr. Moore has directed at theatres in New York, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and San Francisco.  He is a founding member of The Proper Villains Theatre Co. For the last six years he has taught classes in directing, theatre history, and theory at Stanford University, where he received a joint doctorate in drama and the interdisciplinary humanities. As a practitioner, Dr. Moore is interested in new work development and group devising. His intellectual interests include theories of the postdramatic, directing pedagogy, and the intersections between performance and philosophy. He teaches courses in avant garde practice and theory, as well as other areas of theatre history and performance studies.

James Peck

James Peck

Professor, Directing, Performance Studies, and Theatre History
Ph.D., New York University; M.F.A., University of California, San Diego; B.A., Carleton College
Member, Stage Directors & Choreographers Society

Dr. Peck has directed well over fifty productions of plays, operas, and musicals at theatres throughout the United States. He has published numerous scholarly articles in academic journals and in books from major university presses. His current research focuses on the theory and practice of directing, trauma studies, and eighteenth-century British theatre history. He served as editor of Theatre Topics and book review editor of Theatre Journal. At Muhlenberg, he has received the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching, the Williams Award for Research by a Junior Faculty Member, and the First Year Advising Award. He chaired the Department of Theatre & Dance from 2006 to 2013. In addition to Muhlenberg, Dr. Peck has taught at the Yale School of Drama, the New York University Tisch School of the Arts, and the Playwrights Horizons Theater School.

Francine Roussel

Francine Roussel

Professor, Acting
M.A., University of Paris, La Sorbonne; Certificate of the École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq
Member, Screen Actors Guild, Actors’ Equity Association - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Actors' Equity Association

Ms. Roussel was among the founders of the Actors Studio in Paris. She has written and performed her own shows, and continues her acting career in France and America: Saturday Night Live, Sex and the City, Sydney Pollack’s film The Interpreter.  She created Kicking Mule Theatre Company to develop work for alumni and faculty.  Jean Genet’s The Maids that she directed, (and in which she performs the role of Madame), is the first show of the company. Before Muhlenberg, Ms. Roussel taught acting and directed at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and the Stella Adler Conservatory. She was movement director for Nicholas Hytner’s film, The Crucible, and mask coach on The Green Bird, directed by Julie Taymor, at The Victory Theatre. She also directed The Square, by Marguerite Duras at UBU Repertory Theatre in NYC.  She has directed over 10 shows at Muhlenberg.

Larry Singer

Larry Singer

Visiting Assistant Professor, Directing and Acting
B.F.A., Boston University; Member, Screen Actors Guild, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists

Mr. Singer established The Larry Singer Studios in 2006, where he teaches professional actors. He received a B.F.A. from Boston University in 1977 and made his Broadway debut in the comedy Gemini in 1980. He then worked Off-Broadway, landing the lead in Andora, by Max Frisch, as well as roles at Ensemble Studio Theatre and Circle Rep Lab. Mr. Singer’s acting career has included work in regional theatres, commercials, television, and film. In 1988 he began his work as a teacher and director. He has taught at New York University (founding board member of CAP 21), AADA, AMDA, and the prestigious Michael Howard Studios. In 2002 he joined the faculty of the Columbia University M.F.A. theatre program.