JESSE MERZ, Artistic Director (Artistic Director, Meisner Acting Instructor)
Jesse is currently the head of the BFA in Acting Program and Assistant Professor of Acting at Wayne State University / Hilberry Repertory Theatre in Detroit, Michigan. He has also taught acting at University of California, Davis and Western Oregon University and has taught workshops or presented papers at American College Theatre Festival, Oregon and Washington Thespian Conferences, International School of St. Martin and the University of Jordan in Amman, Jordan, among others.
He has directed over 60 theatre and video productions, including directing Tony-Winner Daisy Eagan in Suburban Dreams in NYC. He has produced over 200 theatre and film productions and has written half a dozen plays.
As an actor, Jesse has performed off-Broadway, off-off-Broadway, in regional theatre, summer stock, feature films, student films, on the radio and in 120 cities in 34 states nationwide. He is a member of the Actors Equity Association (AEA), the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), the Dramatists Guild (DG), the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) and the Voice and Speech Teachers Association (VASTA). He was recently elected to the Central Regional Board of Actors' Equity Association and was appointed to the national committee on Guest Artist and U/RTA contracts. He was the Producing Artistic Director of Longview Stageworks, a small professional Equity theatre company, from 2000 - 2003. He was the Drama Director and Theatre Teacher at David Douglas High School from 2003 - 2006. He has been the Artistic Director of the Columbia Gorge School of Theatre and the Columbia Gorge Repertory Theatre since 1996.
He holds a BFA in Acting from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts where he spent two years at the Atlantic Theater Company Acting School (where he studied with Oscar nominees David Mamet and William H. Macy) and two years at the Meisner Extension. He received his Master of Arts in Teaching (Drama Endorsement) from George Fox University in April, 2005. He received his Master of Fine Arts in Dramatic Arts - Acting from University of California, Davis in 2008.
Additionally, he has worked or studied with: Emmy-winner and Oscar nominee Felicity Huffman ("Desperate Housewives"), Tony-nominee Constantine Maroulis ("Rock of Ages", "American Idol"), Charlie O'Connell ("The Bachelor", Dude Where's My Car), Alec Baldwin, Tony Randall, Lauri Peters (Tony Nominee The Sound of Music), River Phoenix, Keanu Reeves, Martha Plimpton, Gus Van Sant, Sarah Pia Anderson, Josh Hartnett, Mindy Cooper, Rinde Eckert (Pulitzer nominee) and many more.
Jesse is happily married to Laurel and is the proud papa of daughters Alana Fay (6), Josephine Alice (4), and Charlotte Janice (1)! firstname.lastname@example.org