Other Bios

Jessika Malone

Artistic Associate, Actors Bridge Ensemble
Delegate, World Fringe Congress
Program Director, Sideshow Fringe Festival

Jessika’s professional acting credits include Actors Bridge Ensemble’s productions of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, A BRIGHT ROOM CALLED DAY, MARISOL, SIMPATICO, SAILOR’S SONG, and VINCENT IN BRIXTON (Named one of Broadway World Nashville’s Top Ten Plays of 2010). She has been named a “serious theatrical talent” by The Nashville Scene and her performances have been hailed as “absolute perfection” by Broadway World.

Her professional directing credits include the Nashville premieres of WONDER OF THE WORLD, THE BOOK OF LIZ, MY FIRST TIME, EURYDICE, THE FLU SEASON, IN THE NEXT ROOM (OR THE VIBRATOR PLAY), SHE KILLS MONSTERS, and BLACKBIRD, among others. Her direction of Actors Bridge Ensemble and Belmont University’s production of Sarah Ruhl’s EURYDICE was named the 2011 Best of Nashville by the Nashville Scene. The Tennessean called her 2012 production of THE HOUSE OF BERNARDA ALBA “thoroughly engrossing, an evening of gripping drama” and Broadway World called it “fascinating and mesmerizing” for its incorporation of shadow puppetry in a new interpretation of the modern classic. Her 2014 production of BLACKBIRD was lauded as “marvelous,” “keeps you riveted” with “mesmerizing performances you won’t soon forget” and “guaranteed to keep you talking long after the lights come up”

She has been named as one of First Night’s “Unsung Heroes of Nashville Theatre” and has received numerous recognitions of excellence for her work as a theatrical event producer, having spearheaded the collaboration of Nashville’s theatre community in a unified production of STANDING ON CEREMONY (in conjunction with Tectonic Theatre Project) to benefit The Human Rights Campaign and TN Equality Project, STAND (a true story of homelessness in Nashville) to benefit Room In The Inn, and A MEMORY, A MONOLOGUE, A RANT AND A PRAYER (featuring author Carol Gilligan) to benefit V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls.

Committed to theatrical performance as a catalyst for social change, Jessika is honored to continually assist with Act Like a GRRRL and to have co-produced Act Like a Big GRRRL with the TN Prison for Women with ALAG’s founder, Vali Forrister. Additionally, she has produced and directed successful tours of educational theatre outreach programming for young audiences, including her own original adaptation of Shel Silverstein’s poems and songs, INVITATION TO PLAY.

Jessika is also a co-founder and the managing director of the Sideshow @ Actors Bridge cross-training artists residency program for emerging theatre professionals. The Nashville Scene awarded Sideshow the “Best Youth Theatre Movement” for introducing “innovative” and “progressive new ideas to Music City’s theatrical culture.”

She served as an official delegate to the inaugural World Fringe Congress in Edinburgh in 2012 and works continually with the United States Association of Fringe Festivals (USAFF) to develop opportunities for collaboration with theatre communities in various cities and to raise the visibility of fringe art throughout the Southeast. She was a featured panelist at 2013’s Nash Up conference, speaking on Art & The Urban Environment from her experience and expertise in fringe art and community building.

She has executive produced numerous regional premieres including Sheila Callaghan’s CRUMBLE (LAY ME DOWN, JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE) and BOOM by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb with Sideshow @ Actors Bridge as well as co-produced and directed the Tennessee premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s IN THE NEXT ROOM (OR THE VIBRATOR PLAY) in collaboration with Artists Cooperative Theatre and SHE KILLS MONSTERS in association with the Nashville Children’s Theatre. Her work is consistently listed as a Nashville Scene “Critic’s Pick” and a Tennessean “Best Bet.”

She received her Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Drama with a Minor in Education from Belmont University, where she was named the 2007 Outstanding Graduating Senior in Theatre. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Theatre Direction from Illinois State University where she directed the regional premiere of Catherine Trieschmann’s CROOKED and worked extensively with the women of Logan Correctional Center both devising and directing a new play based on the true stories of their lives in collaboration with Act Like A Grrrl and directing an original adaptation of Shakespeare’s MUCH ADO ABOUT nothing in partnership with the Illinois Shakespeare Festival.

In addition to her studies, she is also an instructor in the ISU theatre program where she teaches directing and is a guest lecturer on fringe arts and theatre for social change. In the fall of 2014 she had the honor of being selected to conduct a colloquium event with Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, Lynn Nottage, on issues related to the representation of women in theatre and film. She looks forward to returning home to Nashville this summer to produce the 5th annual Sideshow Fringe Festival and assist with all Actors Bridge operations.

Of her work with Sideshow @ Actors Bridge, Evans Donnell of ArtsNash writes, “If folks like Malone, Massaro and their colleagues are this good now, just think how much richer their work will become with the passage of time.”

 

Mitch Massaro

Director of Design for Sideshow at Actors Bridge

Mitch Massaro is the Director of Design for Sideshow @ Actors Bridge. He is a co-founder and the Production Director for the Sideshow Fringe Festival and has previously served as the Technical Director and Master Electrician for The Nashville Children’s Theatre (named one of Time Magazine’s Top 5 Children’s Theatres) as well as the Technical Director and Facilities Manager for The Belmont University Department of Theatre and Dance. The Nashville Scene has called him “a behind-the-scenes theater artisan equally comfortable in front of the footlights” and Broadway World hails productions under his technical direction as “always outfitted with the best theatrical design around.”

A set, lighting, media, and sound designer, Mitch has worked locally with the Nashville Children’s Theatre, The Tennessee Repertory Theatre, The Nashville Shakespeare Festival, People’s Branch Theatre, and Amun Ra Theatre, among others. He currently serves as Technical Consultant for the Actors Bridge Ensemble (Nashville’s Best Theatre Company, Nashville Scene 2011 & Broadway World’s Best Nashville Theatre Company, 2010).

In addition to his technical theatre work, Mitch has acted professionally with the Actors Bridge Ensemble (VINCENT IN BRIXTON, THE FLU SEASON) and directed multiple productions including the regional premiere of Peter SInn Nachtrieb’s BOOM for the Sideshow Ensemble @ Actors Bridge.

He has enjoyed teaching classes in technical theatre at the Nashville Children’s Theatre as well as piano lessons for youth at the W.O. Smith Music School. He is proud to offer lightning design and technical support annually to Act Like A GRRRL, an autobiographical writing and performance program for teen girls.

Mitch has co-produced and overseen technical components of numerous theatrical events in the Nashville community related to social justice including A MEMORY, A MONOLOGUE, A RANT, AND A PRAYER (in conjunction with Vday, the global movement to end violence against women and girls), STANDING ON CEREMONY (in collaboration with Tectonic Theatre Project to benefit the TN Equality Project), and STAND (to benefit Room In The Inn and raise awareness of the issues facing Nashville’s homeless population).

His work is consistently listed as a Nashville Scene “Critic’s Pick” and a Tennessean “Best Bet.”

Of his work with Sideshow @ Actors Bridge, Evans Donnell of ArtsNash writes, “If folks like Malone, Massaro and their colleagues are this good now, just think how much richer their work will become with the passage of time.”

Mitch graduated Magna Cum Laude and received both a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Drama as well as a Bachelor of Music degree in 2007 from Belmont University (Honors Thesis: Technical Staging for Music Educators). He is currently pursuing his MFA in Technical Design and Production from the Yale School of Drama and looks forward to returning home to Nashville upon completion of his studies.

 

C.J. Tucker

Teaching Associate, Actors Bridge Ensemble
Member, Actors Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers

Cynthia (C.J.) Tucker is a classically trained actress with over 15 years of professional acting experience. She has worked extensively on the stage, in film and television. After working in New York and Los Angeles for 10 years, C.J moved to Nashville where she still performs.

While in New York, she studied the Meisner Technique with the legendary William Esper, Voice for the Stage with Robert Williams of Juilliard, Play Analysis at New York University and “the Method” at the Actor’s Creative Studio with Lee Strasberg protege, Ernie Martin.

C.J. is currently an instructor in the Department of Theatre and Dance at Belmont University where she teaches the Meisner Technique and frequently directs. In addition, she is a full time teacher in the Meisner training program at Actors Bridge.

 

René Millán

Teaching Associate, Actors Bridge Ensemble
Member, Actors Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers

René Millán is an actor in both stage and film as well as a talented musician and singer. He is an acting coach and teacher, currently based in Nashville, TN. He holds an MFA in Acting from University of Washington. He made his Broadway debut in THE WILD PARTY directed by George C. Wolfe. René spent the next nine years working and living as an actor in New York City, contributing to and acting in various theatre, film and television projects. René founded Millán Studio and began coaching and teaching actors in both group and individual settings in 1999.

Visit his website to learn more about Rene.

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