Acting Conservatory Teachers

RACHAEL_ADLER_HEADSHOTRachael Adler is the founder and co-artistic director of Waterfront Playhouse & Conservatory. Her influence has been far-reaching, expanding into many aspects of the entertainment industry.

Upon receiving her degree in Film Theory and Criticism from Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT), Rachael went to New York to work with cinéma vérité filmmakers David and Albert Maysles. She began her professional acting training with Larry Moss, and went on to study at the  Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre with Sanford Meisner. Both Meisner and Moss would become enormous influences on Rachael’s acting, teaching, and directing styles.

Though Rachael enjoyed great commercial success as an actress and a model, it was through her work with these and other influential acting teachers in the U.S. that she discovered her gift for bringing forth deeply truthful, rich, and compelling work in her colleagues. As her colleagues began to consistently land the professional jobs they sought on- and off-Broadway, in films, and in television, Rachael’s coaching career began to clearly take form.

In 1999, Rachael was invited back to the Neighborhood Playhouse as one-of-three people chosen to participate in the Meisner Technique Teacher Training Program. For the past two decades, she has taught, directed, and/or produced at her own acting studios, American Conservatory Theatre (A.C.T.), colleges, and high schools.

In 2008, Rachael became Master Teacher at MeisnerEspana, the internationally and highly acclaimed acting school in Barcelona, Spain founded by Javier Galitó-Cava, a graduate of her Program. More than 350 students are currently enrolled at MeisnerEspana.

In 2012, Rachael opened the Waterfront Playhouse & Conservatory in Berkeley, California.

Tom-BentleyTom BentleyFisher directs, performs, and teaches in Europe, Canada, andthe United States. As an actor in New York and London, Tom studied with Sanford Meisner and Yat Malmgren, and performed in London’s West End. Tom divides his time between Barcelona, California and Canada. He is the artistic director of Tant per Tant, a theatre company dedicated to the translation, production and exchange of international plays. He recently completed the Catalan/Canadian Connection a three year exchange project involving the work six Canadian and Catalan playwrights. Read more about Tom at



Fontana Butterfield is an actor, Meisner teacher, director, producer, improviser, casting director and coach. After graduating from the San Francisco State University Theatre Department, she moved to Los Angeles and began training in the Meisner technique with Laura Henry. The Laura Henry Studio training program included Meisner, Linklater Voice, Alexander Technique movement, dialects and dance. After completing the 2 ½ year Meisner conservatory program, Fontana worked as an actor and casting director in Los Angeles and then in New York. In San Francisco Bay Area, Fontana completed her Meisner teaching training with Laura Henry, and teaches Meisner acting and Improv at Academy of Art University.

Fontana has taught acting for camera and audition technique at San Francisco Acting Academy. Improv at Leela, and acting for children at various schools throughout the Bay Area. She is currently a specialist with Speechless, an improv based consultant group teaching improv skills and public speaking to corporate clients. Fontana has been a company member of the critically acclaimed theater company Shotgun Players since 2005. With her improv trio, The Right Now, she currently performs improvised theater around the country. Recent theater acting credits include: Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Shotgun Players, Marin Shakespeare Company, Tides Theatre, Custom Made Theatre, Killing My Lobster, and many others throughout the Bay Area, Los Angeles and New York. Fontana appears in several independent films including Mr. Invincible with Alyson Stoner and Bill Engvall, Desi’s Looking for a New Girl and Her Best Move.

unnamedSusan Pfeffer is a certified Alexander Technique teacher and has taught at University of Nevada, Reno, New World School of the Arts, Florida International University, Anyang University and Dankook University, among other places. She has experience working in Miami, Seoul, Boulder, New York and San Francisco. She is an affiliate of Home Soil. Susan holds an MFA from Naropa University, a certification from the American Center for the Alexander Technique and a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College.



Actress and acting coach Jenna May CassJenna May Cass is a text, voice, and acting coach, specializing in Shakespeare.  She has trained extensively in Linklater Voice, which is the backbone for her text and acting work, both as a teacher, and a performer.  Jenna May has trained in voice with Dennis Krausnick, Natsuko Ohama, and Louis Colaianni, and in Shakespeare performance with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Theatricum Botanicum, and Shakespeare & Company, where she maintains an ongoing relationship training in their pedagogy.  She has performed as an actor in Shakespeare and new works in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Lenox, Massachusetts and the greater Seattle area.  Also a dramaturg, her academic writing has been published in the Journal of the Wooden O, following participation in several Wooden O Symposia.  Jenna May serves as a voice and text coach for full casts, and teaches privately in San Francisco.



Rebecca DuMaine is a Designated Linklater Voice Teacher and Speech Specialist.  She holds a BA in Drama from Duke University and an MFA in Acting from Rutgers, Mason Gross School of the Arts.  Ms. DuMaine spent many years acting in New York and regionally, onstage and on television.  She has taught voice and speech at NYU, Rutgers, SUNY Purchase, The Maggie Flanigan and Bill Esper Studios, the Linklater Center for Voice and Language and in the graduate acting programs at Columbia and The Actors Studio, where she designed the speech curriculum.

She currently teaches in the MFA Acting Program at the Academy of Art University, at Waterfront Playhouse and Conservatory and has a private practice.  Rebecca is an accomplished jazz vocalist, with four albums on the Summit Records label, and she performs in the Bay Area regularly.

acting conservatory teacher-javier galito cava

Javier Galitó-Cava. After studying with several acting teachers and coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, Javier studied the full Meisner Technique Program with Rachael Adler. One year after graduating from the program, Javier was apprenticed by Rachael (with blessings from the Neighborhood Playhouse) to teach the Meisner Technique. He opened his acting studio in Europe and met overwhelming success. Currently, Javier’s studio accepts 40 new students every year. Residing in New York, Javier works both in United States and in Europe. Although Javier has taught exclusively in Europe, giving priority to his acting career in the States, he has generously agreed to teach U.S. workshops exclusively through Waterfront Conservatory’s Program. Visit to learn more about Javier, actor and teacher.


acting conservatory teacher-brandee selck

Brandee Selck is a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner ®, who incorporates her expertise as a Certified Ballroom Dance Instructor into her work with performing artists.

Using the Feldenkrais Method ®, Brandee helps people develop a high level of physical awareness to change habitual patterns limiting their movement and creative expression. Brandee’s 15 years of ballroom dance experience includes being a master teacher at the Ballroom Dance Teachers College. There she was central to developing teacher training curriculum used in studios around the U.S. and internationally. Brandee has also co-authored the books Teach Like a Pro and Move Like a Champion.

Brandee maintains a private Feldenkrais® and dance instruction practice, offering group classes and individual lessons in the East Bay. Visit to learn more about Brandee.

Clark Houston Lewis, Founding Artistic Director of Roustabout Theater, received his graduate degree from The Juilliard School and established himself as a professional coach in New York. Clark continues to coach leading performers on Broadway, National Tours, films and television shows and has directed theater and produced documentaries in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. Oscar-winner Marisa Tomei says: “Clark gets the best out of you – he’s so smart about actors and acting!” Clark is also the Artistic Director of the Academy of Art University’s Sutter Street Theater in San Francisco. Clark serves as an elected member of Theater Services Committee, an advisory board to Theater Bay Area, the service organization for the 9 Bay Area counties.


Deb Fink's Headshot

Deb Fink is an acting instructor to adults, children, and teens.

She is the founder of “Comfort On Camera,” a renowned program in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and New York that is dedicated to teaching on-camera acting technique, offers on-set consults, classes, and individual coaching for theatre, film, and television. Deb teaches for Waterfront Playhouse & Conservatory, San Francisco Acting
Academy (SFAA/Casting Networks), Voice One, UC Extension, Marin Shakespeare Company, and previously coached auditions at the William Morris Agency in New York.

A graduate of The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles, she studied the techniques of Uta Hagen, Stanislavski, Boleslavsky, Strasberg, Adler, and Meisner, as well as dance, voice, musical theater, and dialects.

Deb has performed in NY at Playwrights Horizons, Seraphim, and New York Stage and Film, and in the Bay Area at Berkeley Rep, the Magic Theatre, Aurora Theatre, Berkeley Shakespeare, the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, the Traveling Jewish Theater, Marin Shakespeare, San Jose Stage, Thick Description, and American Zoetrope. She is a founding member of Berkeley’s Central Works Theater Ensemble, where she is also a member of the Board of Directors. Film and TV credits include Woody Allen’s currently untitled feature, Warnings from the Bathtub (short), Half Life, Happily Even After, This Space Between Us, the series Nash Bridges, and a national commercial running currently for Walgreens.


On-camera acting coach Tim Phillips has worked as an actor with Meryl Streep, Robert Duvall, and Klaus Maria Brandauer, and he ignited the careers of Emmy Winner Richard Schiff, Emmy and Golden Globe Nominee Wendy Malick, Nancy Travis, Roma Maffia. He recently coached Justin Timberlake, Molly Simms, Jane Brook, Joanne Baron, Justin Chatwin, and Kate Del Castillo. Tim also taught famed acting coach Larry Moss; in his book “The Intent to Live,” Larry Moss wrote that “Tim Phillips…taught me to be more specific than I knew I could be.” Tim’s script analysis technique “Sherlock Holmesing the text” is the foundation of his audition technique. It was developed through his 25 years of coaching actors in New York and Los Angeles and grew out of Meisner technique, but it goes much further. In his 25-year teaching career, Tim has coached thousands of actors and more than 30,000 auditions; and more than 70% of his students book the auditions they bring into class.


L. Peter Callender Headshot L. PETER CALLENDER is a native of Trinidad, West Indies, and has worked professionally as an actor for over thirty years, more recently as a director and writer. He received his formal training in the theater at the Juilliard School in New York City; Webber/Douglas Academy in London, England; Mask Technique with Julie Taymor, and The Suzuki Technique with The Tadashi Suzuki Company in Toga-mura Japan. He has appeared on Broadway, off-Broadway, in regional theaters across the US, and has performed internationally in Japan, England and France. His New York Credits include: Tom/Jamaican Waiter in Prelude to a Kiss (Circle Rep. and at the Helen Hayes Theater on Broadway directed by Norman Rene); Off-Broadway; Roscoe in Black Eagles (directed by Ricardo Kahn at Manhattan Theater Club), Casbeque in The Caucasian Chalk Circle (directed by George C. Wolfe at the Public Theater); Caliban in The Tempest (directed by Julie Taymor at Classic Stage Company); Curio/Ensemble in Twelfth Night at the Delacorte Theater directed by Harold Guskin).

Currently, Mr. Callender is an associate artist at the California Shakespeare Theater– now in his 21st season. Some roles at CalShakes include: The title roles in Julius Caesar and Cymbeline, Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, Orsino in Twelfth Night, Leonato in Much Ado About Nothing, Polixenes in A Winter’s Tale, Navarre in Love’s Labor’s Lost, Bolingbroke in Richard II, Duke Solinus in Comedy of Errors, Laertes in Hamlet, Dukes Frederick and Senior in As You Like It, La Feu in All’s Well That ends Well, Dr. Chasuable in The Importance of Being Earnest, Vincent Crummels in Nickolas Nickleby, and Roebuck Ramsden in Man and Superman. He also teaches Acting Shakespeare Level One — for adults — each fall for CalShakes.