Acorn Productions operates a training school for actors of all ages and levels of experience. Our model is that of a conservatory-style program in which actors progress through various levels of classes depending on their skills and interests.
Acorn strives to provide a quality, progressive experience for actors of all experience levels and ages. In a safe, inclusive environment we offer a wide variety of classes, ranging from one-time Master Classes to Semester-long classes to Weekend Intensives. With a skilled, compassionate faculty we continue to consistently bring Portland and its surrounding areas a positive, secure and pedagogically complete set of classes that will continue to push, engage, invite, and illuminate.
The Acorn Acting Academy believes that the strongest acting occurs when actors are living truthfully in the moment on stage. Our methodology is strongly based on the improvisational work of Viola Spolin and the voice work of Kristin Linklater, with influences from many other classic acting teachers including Stanislavski, Robert Lewis, and Keith Johnstone. We also use activities from Viewpoints and variations of the repetition work pioneered by Sanford Meisner. The cornerstone of our program is open scene work, in which actors bring their own choices and characterizations to short snippets of dialogue that are written in a neutral style.
Acorn offers extensive training for teen and adult actors wishing to learn how to work with Shakespeare’s language, as well as development for playwrights through classes and our annual Maine Playwrights Festival. Our goal is to provide actors with the tools they need to succeed in Greater Portland’s active theater community.
Karen Ball has been working in theatre as an actor, teacher, and director for over fifteen years. She has recently been awarded a Master of Fine Arts degree from The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire of Acting and Music in Birmingham, UK.
Sarah Barlow has been the Artistic Director of Naked Shakespeare since 2018, and a company member since 2014. She holds a degree in Vocal Performance/Theatre from Wheaton Conservatory, and has also studied and worked at Shakespeare & Co. in Lenox, MA and at the Sandra Feinstein Gamm Theatre Studio in Providence, RI. Sarah worked as an actor/director/playwright in Massachusetts for fifteen years prior to returning to Maine. In addition to Acorn, she has worked with Portland Players, Maine Playwrights Festival, Portland Shakespeare Company, and Sound & Fury among others. She is also a published photographer
Daniel is the Artistic Director of the Maine Playwrights Festival. He has developed and directed new plays for theaters including Penobscot Theatre Company, Mad Horse Theatre, Saco River Theatre, Boston Playwrights Theater, and Portland Stage Company, where he was previously Literary & Education Manager. Other Maine credits include the world premieres of One Blue Tarp at Penobscot Theatre and Legbala Is A River at Mayo Street Arts, as well as productions at Portland Stage, Penobscot Theatre, AIRE, Dramatic Rep, and Deertrees Theatre. He is also a member of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas.
Jared Culverhouse is the founder of Working Man’s Clothes Productions, a theater company which he started in 2005 in New York. Working Man’s Clothes Productions has produced works by playwrights including Romulus Linney, Bekah Brunstetter, Samuel Brett Williams, and Chisa Hutchinson. Working Man’s Clothes was instrumental in getting new plays seen and published.
As an actor Jared has been seen in multiple productions including To Nineveh (Best Ensemble NYIT Awards), Derby Day (Clurman/Theater Row), and New Country at the Cherry Lane Theater. Jared received his BFA in Acting from Texas State University and his MFA in Directing from UMass Amherst. As an educator Jared has worked at The New York Film Academy and the Conservatory for Dramatic Arts. This summer his devised piece 8X10, dealing with the effects of solitary confinement, was seen at the Cincinnati Fringe Festival.
Al has worked professionally as an actor and director in New York and Los Angeles for over 30 years. He is the former artistic director of New York’s Third Step Theatre Company where he developed dozens of new plays and musicals for the stage. He was a principal at WordzWorth Productions in Los Angeles, and currently serves as Artistic Director of Portland’s Snowlion Repertory Company.
Al has directed countless productions and workshops across the country, and has taught for dozens of years, including at Theatre of Arts in Los Angeles. His teaching is based on the work of two theater greats with whom he studied extensively – the legendary Stella Adler and Hollywood sensation Stephen Book, protégé of the renowned Viola Spolin. Al directs regularly in Maine. www.al-dandrea.com
Kym Dakin has credits that span from television and animation, to Broadway and national tours. Here in Maine, she was a member of Madhorse Theatre Co. for almost 10 years and on the original teaching staff at Acorn School and Portland Stage Co.. She has been an adjunct theatre professor at Bowdoin College and at USMCCE. Kym has recorded hundreds of voiceovers, well over three dozen audiobooks, and she won a national award (the Audie) for her narration of Runaway by Alice Munro. She was Assistant Creative Director at Portland Radio Group, and now does individual coaching for audio technique and presentation skills through her company Voice Into Learning, LLC. Kym currently enjoys being a member of the improvisational community storytelling company – Portland Playback Theatre.
Lindsey is the Artistic Director of 60 Grit Theatre trained in devised/physical theatre. She received her MFA in Theatre Directing from East 15 Acting School in London and has directed regionally and academically in London, South Korea, and United States. Lindsey served as the Artistic Director of Seoul Shakespeare Company in South Korea and has worked as a Teaching Artist for Acorn Productions, Wintergreen Arts Center, The University of Southern Maine Theatre Academy, and Seoul Shakespeare. Favourite directing credits include Bug by Tracy Letts, The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh, Blackbird by Adam Rapp, and The Closed Door; an original piece created by 60 Grit.
Liam Joynt has worked in multiple sides of both the film and theatre industries.
As an actor he has worked in mega-budget and no-budget films, daytime and primetime TV, Off-Broadway and Regional Theater with directors including Phillip Noyce (Salt, Patriot Games), Oscar Winner Jodie Foster, and Tony winner Mary Zimmerman.
He’s produced short and feature films as well as world premiere productions for playwrights including Pulitzer Prize nominee Lee Blessing, Samuel Brett Williams, and Lia Romeo.
Liam is currently a faculty member at the Graduate Acting Program of NYU Tisch School of the Arts, where he teaches voice, speech, directs and vocal coaches. He is a co-founder of the Miller Voice Method Studio and Master Trainer, as well as a certified teacher of the Knight-Thompson Speechwork. He has previously been on faculty at Farleigh Dickinson University and Maggie Flanigan Studio. He has taught in the BFA and BA programs at Rutgers University MSGA, where he received his MFA in acting.
Michael Levine is the founder and Producing Director of Acorn Productions, as well as the Artistic Director of the Naked Shakespeare series. He has been teaching acting classes at Acorn for almost 20 years as well as directing several dozen productions for Acorn. He has also taught acting and playwrighting at SMCC and the Stonecoast Writing Program and written several plays for Acorn, including The Dybbuks of Park Slope and The Legend of the Golem. He is a graduate of M.I.T., where he studied playwrighting with A.R. Gurney, as well as acting with Kristen Linklater, and Shakespeare and Company, and he is a certified secondary school English teacher.
Karmo Sanders is a perfomer, a published playwright, and teaches playwriting at USM. She studied playwrighting at Boston University under Nobel Prize Winner Derek Walcott. Her musical Radical Radio, opened Off-Off Broadway at the 91st Street Theatre in NYC. Her comedy, Humpin’ Glory Bay, was produced by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre. Well known in Maine as “The Mardens Lady,” she has also acted in Yankee Jungle, on the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet. Recent productions include the team of Sanders & Sanders opening their musical Gold Rush Girls at Cyrano’s Theatre in Anchorage, AK to a sold out six week run, and the wildly successful premiere of her comedy Homer Bound at Good Theater in Portland in 2018.
International variety artist Michael Trautman has been performing his one-man shows around the world since 1977. He has appeared in such prestigious venues as the New York International Festival of Clown Theater, Festival D’Ete in Quebec, the General Jackson Showboat at Opryland USA, the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal, and The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He was featured in 2018 on The Gong Show with Mike Myers, and appeared previously on WOW! The Most Awesome Acts On Earth, an ABC Television Special, The Statler Brothers Show on TNN, CCTV in Beijing, China, and Le Plus Grande Cabaret du Monde on France 2 TV. Michael was the star clown in the national tour of OOPS! The Big Apple Circus Stage Show directed by Tony Walton, and from 2006 until 2010 Michael had the pleasure of working on the Broadway bound production of Busker Alley starring Jim Dale. From 2016 until 2018, Michael was the Artistic Director of Circus Maine’s Youth Performance Troupe. www.MichaelTrautman.com
Tess Van Horn
Tess Van Horn is a Portland based teaching artist who works with students at Stages Youth Theater, Portland Stage’s Theater for Kids, and at Southern Maine Community College. She also works as a director and actor throughout Maine with such companies as Good Theater, Fenix Theater, Dramatic Repertory Company, Portland Stage, and Theater at Monmouth. She holds a degree in theater from Sarah Lawrence College.