Mr. Rayher has been the Director of the Theatre Program at the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts since 1990. Prior to taking his position at SOTA, he was involved in the theatre arts for 35 years as a director, actor, designer, and teacher. Before returning to his Bay Area roots in 1990, he was artistic director at theatres in Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., and for summer stock in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He also taught at colleges and high schools in Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, and Idaho.
Mr. Rayher has directed almost 100 classic, contemporary, and musical productions and has acted in more than 40 plays and musicals. He has written and directed productions for the Smithsonian Institution, Castle Arts Center in Washington, D.C., Dudley Riggs’ ETC Theatre and Theatre in the Round in Minneapolis, and the Burbank Theatre Guild in Los Angeles.
He holds B.A. and M.A. Degrees in Theatre and has California Teaching Credential in English/Drama from San Francisco State University. He did studies in directing and classics at the University of Minnesota while pursuing his Doctorate.
In 2001 Mr. Rayher won the prestigious Treadwell Scholarship from the English- Speaking Union of the United States (ESU, San Francisco Branch) and attended the three week summer Teaching Shakespeare Through Performance Institute at the Shakespeare Globe Centre in London.
In 2012 he was awarded the U.S. Presidential Scholars’ Teacher Recognition Award at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. and in 2013 received a Certificate of Honor from the Mayor of San Francisco Ed Lee, for his 22 years of leadership of the SOTA Theatre Department and for championing the Theatre Department’s participation in the E-S U National Shakespeare Competition.
Mr. Rayher is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, and the California Educational Theatre Association from whom he received a 2012 California Youth In Theatre Honorarium.
His students have been accepted to countless prestigious theatre schools at home and abroad, including RADA, LAMDA, AADA, AMDA, the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theatre Program, NYU Tisch, Cornish College of Arts, UCLA, SUNY/ Purchase, DePaul University, Carnegie-Mellon, Yale School of Drama, PCPA, and Fordham University.
He is known among his students for his many and various odd collections, including PEZ candy dispensers, wind-up walking toys, Pop-up books, and Shakespeare memorabilia and kitsch.
An Asawa SOTA alumnus (Technical Theatre, 1995), Ron has a wide range of professional experience, having worked with ABC/Disney, BBC Worldwide, the San Francisco Opera, American Conservatory Theatre, the Mendocino Music Festival, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, among others. His credits include: (Television) "Dancing With The Stars", "GCB". (Theatre) "Company", "Gypsy", "Steel Magnolias", "Damn Yankees", "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum", "My Fair Lady", "She Loves Me", "The Skin Of Our Teeth", "The Colored Museum", "Ma' Rainey's Black Bottom", "The Boys from Syracuse", "Bizet's Carmen", Gian Carlo Menotti’s "L'Amour à trois", and the West Coast Premiers of Michael John LaChiusa's "The Wild Party", Heather McDonald's "The Rivers and Ravines", and Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds" with Bay Area Children's Theatre. Founder of Ron Sebastian Designs, his couture line has been featured in OUT Magazine.
In 2015 he received a double nomination for Best Costume Design of a Musical from the BroadwayWorld.com Awards, where he was also featured for his work directing SOTA’s 2016 Spring Musical, CABARET.
A tireless advocate for youth, Ron has been involved with various local and national organizations and city governments for more than 20 years, working to create and implement programs and systems inclusive of the wants and needs of young people. He has worked with the San Francisco Youth Commission, San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, former Mayor Willie L. Brown, LYRIC, Community Network For Youth Development, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Friends of the School of the Arts Foundation, and the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship. He was the founding President of the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts High School Alumni Association, and has been recognized by the California State Assembly and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
Acting / Alexander Technique
Terry Bamberger is a SF Bay Area theatre educator, acting coach and actor. She trained young actors at Ruth Asawa SF School of the Arts for 5 years as an Artist-In-Residence, then took on a full-time training program working with 6th through 12th grade performers at Oakland School for the Arts where she has been for the past 6 years. She is thrilled to be rejoining SOTA’s Theatre Department.
Her recent theatre credits include Three Tall Women at Custom Made Theatre Company (2014 Bay Area Theatre Critiques Circle Nominee for best performance), the West Coast Premiere of Year of the Rooster at Impact Theatre, Jeremy Bloom’s Peter/Wendy also at Custom Made Theatre Company, and the premiere of Singulariteen at the SF Fringe Festival, as well as The Winter’s Tale, Romeo & Juliet, and The Tempest at SF Shakespeare Festival. She trained at American Conservatory Theatre, and has studied with members of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Film/tv credits include Coffee & Language and General Hospital.
Bamberger is honored to be a recipient of the 2013 Theatre Bay Area Titan Award.
Shakespeare, Voice, Chamber Theatre
Elizabeth has performed with numerous Bay Area theaters including California Shakespeare Theater, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Magic Theatre, Word for Word, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, San Jose Stage and TheatreWorks and the Aurora Theatre Company. Her favorite roles include Rose in Fences, the Bawd in Pericles, Effie in Dreamgirls, Mistress Ford in Merry Wives of Windsor, and Agnes in Agnes of God. She was last seen in the Aurora Theatre Company production of Trouble in Mind, which won 6 Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards. Elizabeth has been featured in Theatre Bay Area Magazine as someone to "Keep an Eye On".
As an artist, Elizabeth has been a part of the SOTA Theatre Dept since 2005. Her teaching career has led her to work with students from of all ages from Kindergarten to adult actors and she has trained teachers in alternative ways to access literature through theater. Elizabeth has spent the last 17 years teaching acting, voice and Shakespeare performance across the Bay Area for companies such as California Shakespeare Theatre, Berkeley Rep and Brava! For Women in the Arts. She is also currently the Education Director for the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre.
Movement / Dance
A teacher and choreographer for more than fifteen years, Elizabeth was encouraged to create choreography for yearly performances for the Youth Ballet Theater of Austin, while receiving an extensive Royal Academy of Dance training. She began studies at Ballet Arts Academy at age seventeen in Spokane, Washington. She and her twin sister, Melissa, created several dance pieces for Ballet Theater of Spokane for which they received the 1st Place Award, Choreography Division in the Allied Arts Festival.
Elizabeth attended Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle as a Dance Major and was also employed as a camp counselor and mentor for students attending the Pacific Northwest Ballet summer program.
She attended the Alonzo King LINES Ballet summer program in San Francisco in 2003 and the LINES Ballet Year Round Training Program in 2004 and toured the United States and Canada for four months as a dancer and co-choreographer with Carpetbag Brigade, a physical theater group. Elizabeth has created three new works for the ODC PILOT program is one of the creators and co-choreographers of The Fossettes, a group inspired by Bob Fosse. Elizabeth joined the Theatre Department in 2013 and has been teaching at the ODC Rhythm & Motion School for three years and has created choreography for both the ODC School and the ODC Dance Jam.
Playwriting / Play Analysis
Aren is a playwright, director, and actor. In 2010, he received an MFA in playwriting from Columbia University. His short plays have been produced both here and abroad, in the Bay Area, New York City, Chicago, and London. Aren's work has been published twice in Smith & Kraus's Anthology of Ten-Minute Plays. He has directed his own work in San Francisco and New York with the theater company, Slacker Theater and as an actor, he has appeared in several productions in the past year in the Bay Area, most recently Off-Broadway West's production of Yasmina Reza's Life x 3.
Brady is a performer, playwright and theatre arts educator. She is a four-time Emerging Playwright Award winner and a playwright-in-residence at PlayGround where she has had several full-length commissions and countless short plays staged. She was a founding member of the Vaudeville trio The Kloons (with fellow SOTA A-I-R David Magison) with whom she performed throughout the Bay Area, across the United States and Canada. She has performed in The David and Brady show with her husband David Gallagher (as well as several SOTA Theatre alums.) She is a graduate of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College and has performed as a clown, juggler, mime, actor, and improviser. Brady has been a SOTA Artist-in-Residence since 2007. She serves as co-owner and CEO of the WELL, the pioneering online community founded in 1985.
Circus Arts & Clowning
A former clown with Ringling Brothers Circus, Make-a-Circus and The Kloons, David has performed across the United States, Canada, Hawaii, Japan, and the Philippines and still makes his living as a clown. He has been seen on commercials for the Yellow Pages, Nissan, Toyota, BMW and in the movie Milk. He studied theatre at ACT Summer Training Congress, holds a BA in Theatre from Emerson College and a Bachelor of Fun Arts from Ringling Brothers Clown College. Every year he mounts an original clown show for children at the Un-Scripted Theatre. He also has explored his own life in his one man show Through the Eyes of a Clown, an Apology to My Wife, My Mother and My Children. He was profiled in the July 2015 issue of New York Magazine.
An Oakland, California native, Michelle began her training in ballet and modern dance with the Parks and Recreation department. After graduating from Skyline High School of Performing Arts, she returned to Parks and Recreation, where she served as a specialist in dance and visual arts for thirteen years.
While pursuing a major in Dance and Performing Arts Michelle had the opportunity to train with Katherine Dunham and several masters of the original Dunham Dance Company. Her passion for dance and performance have taken her to the Alvin Ailey School of Dance and independent studies with Jean Leon Destine and Richard Gonzales in New York City. Ms. Martin traveled through Nigeria, Cuba, and Haiti to study dance and music through religious ceremony.
Michelle has conducted classes in Dunham technique and traditional Haitian dance, at several San Francisco Bay Area institutions including Lines Contemporary Ballet, CitiCenter Dance Theater, Rhythm and Motion, Alice Arts Center, Mills College, and is currently at Dance Mission and ODC Dance Commons. Ms. Martin has been an Artist-in-Residence with the San Francisco Unified School District since 1989.
Having done extensive study, workshops, master classes, performances and choreography, she has worked with Bantaba and Diamano Coura West African dance companies, toured Nigeria with Wajumbe Cultural Ensemble, worked with Obakoso, Jose Francisco Barroso’s Cuban Dance Ensemble and was the Assistant Artistic Director, choreographer, principal dancer and singer for the nationally acclaimed Group Petit la Croix, Haitian Dance company with Blanche Brown.
Ms. Martin is founder and Artistic director of Michelle Martin & Konpayi, a group of artists who range from high school students to professionals in the community who are committed to the preservation of Traditional Haitian dance and music.
Singing for the Actor
Michael was the musical director for the 2014 Theatre Department production of Hair and Stage Director and Choreographer for the 2015 school-wide musical The Music Man. He works regularly as a performer, musical director, stage director, and choreographer. Originally from Vincennes, Indiana, he is on faculty at the Community Music Center, and is the Director of the Musical Theatre Ensemble at the San Francisco Concervatory of Music. He received a Bay Area Critics Circle nomination for Best Musical Director for Boxcar Theater's Rent Boy Ave., for which he also composed the score.
Recent stage directing credits include La Boheme (SFCM), Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds (Bay Area Children’s Theatre), and The Full Monty (American Conservatory Theater - MFA Program). His production of Wilde Boys (New Conservatory Theater) in which he also performed is a Bay Area Critics Circle Award winner for Best Musical Production.
Equally at home in opera and musical theatre, his roles include the title role of Handel's Orlando, Spirit/ First Witch (Dido & Aeneas, Handel Opera Project), Jake (Porgy & Bess), and Amenhotep (Akhnaten). He has sung the ‘Roasting Swan’ in Carmina Burana and has been a soloist with the Early Music groups Ansámbl Luython and the Vinaccesi Ensemble.
He holds degrees from Columbia University (BA in Music and History/Sociology) and San Francisco Conservatory of Music (MM in Vocal Performance). Other affiliations have included San Francisco Opera Chorus, San Francisco Symphony, Jarvis Conservatory, Livermore Valley Opera, and Guggenheim Entertainment.