2015 Master Classes


Thursday, August 6th from 9 a.m.-12 p.m.


This class demonstrates how the same story can be told monologically, dialogically, poetically, and visually. Different thinking modalities are accessed to examine how the mind recalls, interprets, and expresses lived experiences. Each participant will share a personal story with the group and retell it through four different narrative symbol systems. The class targets classroom teachers, directors, actors, and playwrights.

Johnny Saldaña is Professor Emeritus from Arizona State University and the author of eight books in qualitative research methods--most recently, Thinking Qualitatively: Methods of Mind (Sage Publications, 2015), a textbook on epistemologies and how the mind can think in over sixty different ways to analyze social life. He is a four-time recipient of AATE Research Awards, and his methods book, Ethnotheatre: Research from Page to Stage (Left Coast Press, 2011) received the American Educational Research Association's Qualitative Research Outstanding Book Award in 2012.


Friday, August 7th from 12:30-3 p.m.


Join First Stage Artistic Director Jeff Frank, actor/movement specialist Matt Daniels and Choreographer Edwin Olvera as they work with participants to craft illuminating and effective storytelling moments with minimal, evocative props that invite the audience to actively engage their imaginations. Work will focus on the upcoming world premiere script of The Snow by Finegan Kruckemeyer Commissioned by First Stage, Oregon Children's Theatre and Magik Theatre.

The Snow: When an epic snowfall seemingly imprisons the residents of the tiny village of Kishka, young Theodore Sutton proposes the villagers build a catapult to fling him and some of the village’s bravest and strongest out over the snow in search of a solution.The catapult is hastily assembled, and Theodore and the heroes are launched over the snow and into the grandest of adventures.Whimsical and humorous, dark and mysterious, heartfelt and sincere, this world premiere play weaves a fantastical Grimmsian tale for the entire family.

Jeff has been First Stage’s artistic director since February 2003. Previously he had served as education director/associate artistic director. Jeff is a native Wisconsinite who earned a B.F.A. in theater from UW–Whitewater and went on to the University of Utah, earning an M.F.A. in child drama. Over the past 17 seasons Jeff has directed over 50 First Stage productions. Among his favorites are: CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, PETER PAN AND WENDY, U: BUG: ME, THE NEVERENDING STORY, A MIDNIGHT CRY, PERSEUS BAYOU, and NANCY DREW AND HER BIGGEST CASE EVER.

Matt Daniels is an actor, director, and teaching artist based in Milwaukee. He is a frequent collaborator at First Stage, where he appeared in SHREK, A MIDNIGHT CRY, A WRINKLE IN TIME, RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REINDEER (2012), AESOP'S FABLES, FIVE LITTLE MONKEYS, GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS, and NANCY DREW AND HER BIGGEST CASE EVER; directed RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER (2014), TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA, AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE, CYMBELINE, ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD and THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD; and teaches for the Theater Academy. He is the Associate Director and primary movement teacher for First Stage's Young Company, and directed movement for RUDOLPH and NANCY DREW. In addition to First Stage, Matt has numerous acting credits with Milwaukee Chamber Theater, In Tandem Theater, and Milwaukee Shakespeare, and has also performed with Forward Theater, Kentucky Rep., Lake Geneva Theater Co., several regional Shakespeare Festivals, and on many independent stages in New York. His directing work has been seen locally at MCT’s New Play Development series, Sunset Playhouse, and goats & monkeys. Matt is a graduate of the Juilliard Drama Division.


Saturday, August 8th from 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.


How can you make connections between your theatre programs and best practices research regarding working with young people with autism or other sensory processing needs? The First Stage Next Steps program for students on the autism spectrum will offer step by step guidance from the research, to development, to the classroom examining resources, safety, relationships, staff training, and more. Together we will lay out a clear path to making sure theatre programs are accessible so that every student can take his or her next steps as an artist and a person.
This workshop will consist of a hands-on consideration of implementing best practices into programing, a time to observe the First Stage Next Steps students and teachers in the classroom setting, and a question and answer session with the teaching staff to break down the methods of working with students on the spectrum.

Jennifer Adams, Academy Director, oversees the life skills through stage skills based actor training Academy at First Stage. Jennifer is committed to empowering young people through performing, playwriting, and artistic leadership. Jennifer has served as a director, choreographer, and teaching artist in a variety of theaters, high schools, and community service organizations across the south including the Springer Opera House, Rose of Athens Theater, Arts Works, Lexington Children’s Theater, and Orlando Repertory Theater. Jennifer also directed and taught for Dramatic English, an English speaking Theater and Education company, in Hong Kong. Jennifer holds an MFA in Theatre for Young Audiences from the University of Central Florida and a B.S.Ed. in Theater Education from Columbus State University of Columbus, Georgia. Jennifer piloted and manages the First Stage Next Steps program which was the recipient of the Milwaukee Business Journal’s 2013 Eureka Award for innovation in arts based programming.

Mary Stone is a special education, early childhood teacher, parent advocate, and a parent of a child with a disability. She has taught in the Graduate Special Education Programs at Alverno College and UW-Milwaukee. Mary has a Master Degree in Special Education with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education. She is a trained Parent Leader and Special Education Advocate who has worked with families across Wisconsin in helping them to advocate for their children with special needs. Mary has presented trainings to parent groups, Milwaukee Public School teachers, First Stage, UWM Children Center daycare employees, child care providers, parent groups, college students, and community partners on topics which include teaching children with disabilities, effective teaching strategies in working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other developmental disabilities, parent advocacy, parenting a child with a special need, and working collaboratively with community partners across the State of Wisconsin to increase Disability Awareness.


Sunday, August 9th from 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.


Storytelling is an ancient art form, much older than the theatre. Scholar Ruth Sawyer asserts that the first written records of storytelling date to the builders of the pyramids, sometime around 4000 B.C. The Lascaux cave paintings in southwestern France offer evidence that storytelling may be much older, dating to 15,000 B.C. Given its antiquity, is it any wonder that storytelling is being heralded by current brain researchers as part of our DNA -- that we are hard-wired for narrative? The 21st century has seen a remarkable renaissance of this ancient art form – from fields as diverse as medicine, law, business, education, and the arts. Storytellers Don Doyle and Rives Collins have over eight decades of tale-telling experiences between them. This supportive, participatory workshop will explore the telling of stories, blending theory and practice. In a complex world that grows increasingly high-tech, the high-touch experience of storytelling becomes significant both as an art form and as an asset in our daily lives and work. Visualization, imagination, empathy, connection, humor, surprise, breath, heart – this workshop will leave us with a richer understanding of this fundamentally human ability, the art of the storyteller, that author Daniel Pink asserts is one of the most essential aptitudes for the 21st century.

Northwestern University faculty member Rives Collins earned his MFA in Child Drama from Arizona State University; he is proud to have studied storytelling under the guidance of master teller Don Doyle. In 2014, he was presented with the Galbut Outstanding Faculty Award from the School of Communication. Currently a Fellow in the Searle Center for Teaching Excellence, he was the recipient of the Charles Deering McCormick Professorship for Excellence in Teaching. In addition, he was presented with the Creative Drama Award from the American Alliance for Theatre and Education. He is the department's specialist in Theatre and Drama for Youth, teaching courses in Theatre for Young Audiences, Creative Drama, and Storytelling.

A lover of stories since he could talk, he is featured regularly as a professional storyteller and keynote speaker at festivals, schools, libraries, businesses, and museums, proclaiming that, "Storytelling is at the heart of everything I do.” He is the co-author with Pamela Cooper of The Power of Story: Teaching Through Storytelling. His audio recordings have received the Parent's Choice Award, the iParenting Media Award, and the Spoken Word Award from the NAPPA. He is a proud member of the National Storytelling Network.

A long time Illinois Theatre Association member, he is also a Trustee of the Children’s Theatre Foundation of America, and an active member of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education. As a past president of AATE, he works with an international community of artists, educators, and scholars to champion the cause of drama and theatre in the lives of young people.

Don Doyle has been telling stories to children and adults for over fifty years as an integral component of his work in drama in education as a Professor of Theatre at Arizona State University. As a professional storyteller,he is nationally recognized in this field and has appeared as a featured teller and workshop leader at storytelling festivals, educational institutions, private corporations, and school districts in this country and abroad. He also is an accomplished actor and director of theatre and opera.

Several prestigious honors have been bestowed upon Dr. Doyle during his teaching and since his retirement form the University. He received the Medallion of Merit Award from The National Society of Arts and Letters for a lifetime contribution to the state of Arizona in the field of theatre; The Campton Bell Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Alliance for Theatre in Education; and after serving three years on the board of directors of the now National Storytelling Network, he was honored to receive The Lifetime Achievement Award from that organization.

Don is very honored to be sharing this event with a former grad student who helped to make his teaching in theatre and storytelling all that was dreamed of and could have been.