Conservatory Faculty Backup

Christopher Shaw

Program Director and Acting Teacher

Chris trained with disciples of Lee Strasberg and the Group Theatre in NYC as well as the legendary Nikos Psacharopoulos (Williamstown, Yale Drama) and Michael Kahn (Juilliard, Folger Shakespeare, Shakespeare Theatre Company, John Houseman’s Acting Company). He has worked as a professional actor on stage, film and television in NYC and Los Angeles, as well as some of the most respected regional theatres throughout the United States. He is a member of the acting companies at Pacific Resident Theatre and The Echo Theater Company. Chris has taught acting in New York, Pennsylvania and Los Angeles, including UCLA summer High School programs, Pennsylvania State University Systems Upward Bound Summer HS programs, and NYC and Los Angeles Public School Systems.

Melissa Weber Bales
PRT Conservatory Founding Co-Director

Melissa has been a member of Pacific Resident Theatre as an actor, teacher and producer for over 20 years.

She teaches theatre to high school students at Wildwood School, a progressive, independent school on the Westside of Los Angeles and is the mother of two fabulous teenagers.[clear]



Brad Greenquist

Brad began teaching as a teaching assistant to Mr. Michael Moriarty in New York in the 1980s. He has since taught at the David Kagen Film Acting School in North Hollywood, The Governors’ School in Norfolk, Virginia, at the Idaho Film and Television Workshop in Driggs, Idaho, the Classical Theatre Lab in West Hollywood, and at the PRT Conservatory in Venice, CA. He has also taught privately for many years. As an actor, Brad has been working for over thirty years in film, television and theatre. Brad has also directed many stage productions, and is an award-winning film director. He is an active member of PRT and a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Brad’s website:

Thea Mercouffer

Thea, a native of Romania, holds an MFA in acting from the University of Washington. As an actress, she’s worked nationally and internationally with such esteemed mentors as Andrei Serban, Tadashi Suzuki, Bart Sherr and Leonid Anissimov. Some of her favorite roles include Hamlet, at the University of Washington, Yelena in “Uncle Vanya” with the Art Theatre of Puget Sound, Budedeh in “End of the Rope” off-Broadway and in Romania, and the Weaver in Andrei Serban’s revival of “Trojan Women” at La MaMa in New York. Since moving to LA, she’s mostly worked in film. She’s a recipient of the Pegasus Award of Excellence for her directing work in “I just keep quiet” – a documentary about human trafficking. She now lives in Venice, where she owns a film production company, Magic Pebble Media (, and is finishing up a feature-length documentary, “Rock the Boat – A story about Los Angeles and the little river that could” (

Sarah Zinsser

Sarah is a founding member of PRT and works with the company in many capacities including acting, directing, costuming and teaching. She taught two acting class sessions in the PRT, Venice City Counsel, and Venice Library partnership. She is also a founding member of the 24th Street Theatre where she works in their acclaimed Arts Education Program, Enter Stage Right, and is a team teacher of ‘After Cool, a theatre program for neighborhood children. She was the director of a theatre camp for U.S. Performing Arts in 2005, and before that taught acting at The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Camp. According to Sarah, bringing the craft of acting to the next generation is a joy!

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