MEET OUR STAFF
At AWI our instructors and staff have all completed a comprehensive two year Meisner Technique program. Together, from classes to showcases to registration, they work to ensure your unforgettable experience with us is enriching and fun.
Be sure to read all about our newest instructor, Craig MacDonald, and his ground breaking class.
Eliza VanCort: Founder, Co-Director, Instructor
Eliza has been acting since she was 11 and directing and teaching for over 15 years. Recent acting credits include: AWITC’s Rabbit Hole (Izzy), The Melodramatics Bare (Claire), Nice Girls Films Poker Face (Janet), No Fare (Jennie). Recent directing credits include: AWITC’s My Name is Rachel Corrie, Hatshepsut the Female Pharaoh and Love, Loss and What I Wore and the upcoming film Montgomery Street by Empire Films. Eliza's students have found great success and perform all over the world. When not working at AWI, Eliza enjoying coaching and running seminars on public speaking, communication and media skills with her presentation firm: VanCort Consulting.
Katie Spallone: Co-Director, Instructor
In addition to being a graduate of AWI, Katie has been a Meisner technique instructor since 2005 and was appointed Co-Director of AWI in 2012. Katie has worked with just about every theater group in town in one capacity or another; her favorite role to date was Becca in the AWITC production of Rabbit Hole in 2010. She was recently onstage at the Kitchen Theater in March 2016 in the Homecoming Player's production of Sarah Ruhl's In The Next Room (or The Vibrator Play). She has also done voice over work and appeared in several short films. Until recently, Katie was the owner of evolution 102 and avanti boutique, two clothing stores in downtown Ithaca.
David Kossack: Instructor
A long time Ithacan, David graduated from Ithaca College’s Park School of Communications with a degree in Cinema Production. As an editor and videographer at PhotoSynthesis Productions he has worked on numerous film and video projects, including editing the award-winning documentary, They Call it Myanmar: Lifting the Curtain. David recently completed an educational project for the FDA on meta-cognition and is currently working on a new documentary focusing on Cambodia. After studying under and apprenticing with Eliza, David has been an instructor at AWI since 2008 and has directed several stage productions for the Workshop’s theater company.
Craig MacDonald: Adjunct Instructor
Craig has been a professional actor, director and teacher for nearly 40 years and has directed or performed in over a hundred and fifty productions on dozens of stages locally (The Hangar, The Kitchen, Syracuse Stage, GeVa, The Cider Mill) Off Broadway, (The Promenade, P. S. 122, Festival Theater) in Regional Theaters and on regional tours, as well as working on camera for both regional and network television and film. He was trained in the Meisner technique of actor training at the Conservatory at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, and has a BFA in Acting and Directing from Ithaca College. He has taught acting and run “The Language of Playwright” workshops at Ithaca College, Cornell University, Syracuse University, Binghamton University, Tufts University, The University of Arkansas, Ohio University and the Actors Workshop of Ithaca.
Eric Hambury: Teaching Assistant
Eric Hambury received his BA in Theatre from Hobart and William Smith in 2013. Since graduating he returned to his hometown of Ithaca and has become a valued actor in the local theater community. While playing Romeo in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Eric spoke with several AWI students and subsequently decided to continue his acting training at AWI. Since joining AWI, Eric has transitioned from being exclusively a stage actor to becoming a film actor as well. He recently wrapped a role in award winning filmmaker, and AWI grad, Daniel Masciari's soon to be released film Crawling to Paradise. Some previous favorite acting roles include Harlequin in HWS’ production of The Game of Love and Chance, Bagot in Ithaca Shakespeare Company’s Richard II, and Rascal in the IC Senior Thesis film Rascal’s Grove.
Leo Taylor: Production Manager and Teaching Assistant
Leo Taylor is a musician, theatre/film actor, teacher, project manager, trans-activist, writer, and entomologist. Leo has been the AWI Production Manager since graduating from the program in 2014. He also periodically serves as stage manager for other local theatre groups, most recently working with the Homecoming Players and Theatre Incognita. In addition to teaching biology of sex at Ithaca College, Leo enjoys making music and spending time with his pitboxer, Roxy, and four cats.
AJ Sage: Teaching Assistant
AJ is an actor, playwright, stage manager and director who's been active in both the Actor's Workshop and the Ithaca theatre community since 2012. A graduate of AWI in 2015, he is thankful for the skills with which the program has imbued him - focus, listening, the search for truth in any circumstance - and he is eager to pass those on to others. AJ is a 4-year member of the Ithaca Shakespeare Company. Favorite roles at ISC have included Thomas Mowbray (Richard II) and Jack Cade (Henry VI). He also stage managed their memorable all-female production of Julius Caesar. As a writer, his one act play No was met with acclaim at the inaugural Ithaca Fringe Festival in 2014. Elsewhere, AJ is the lead barista and assistant manager at the Carriage House Cafe. He enjoys baseball, absurdity and cheese.
Ariel Arbisser: Teaching Assistant
Ariel Arbisser's diverse lineup of current projects includes local soul outfit The Jeff Love Band, a cappella supergroup The Funx, experimental funk duo Frisky Business, and powerhouse female recording ensemble Lady Jaye. Ariel got her start in a cappella with the Cornell Chordials, with whom she first garnered international acclaim as a vocalist, and co-produced two of their award-winning albums. After Cornell, Ariel graduated from the Actor's Workshop and went on to perform in the AWITC's productions of Poona The F***dog and Museum. From her Meisner roots, Ariel developed the teaching module Sing It Like You Mean It, which she continues to teach at vocal festivals and schools nationwide. She serves as Program Manager of Marketing for the Contemporary A Cappella Society and is on the Board of Trustees for The Melodramatics Theatre Company, Inc. based at Cornell University.
Alek Osinksi: Studio Manager
Alek has been involved in theater and music performance since high school. However, he began his adult life serving our country in the United States Army. After being honorably discharged, Alek worked his way through school and became a physical therapist. In 2010 he found the Actors Workshop Ithaca and his passion for the arts was reawakened. Since his first semester, he has been a part of every workshop production, acting in "Poona the Fuckdog", "Mitzi's Abortion", and "Museum", assistant stage managing "Rabbit Hole", and stage managing "4 Dogs and a Bone" and "Hapshetsut". Most recently appeared in Theatre Incognita's "Our Town" and "Hamlet", and, appeared in The Ithaca Fringe Festival's "4 Easy Pieces". Alek has been in several films, including "The Observatory" and "No Fare", produced by award winning film maker Daniel Masciari.
To keep up with the day to day adventures of the AWI community, please visit our facebook page.
To keep up with the day to day adventures of the AWI community, please visit our Facebook page or visit our What's Happening page.