Julia began acting in Chicago, where she performed with many of Chicago’s foremost theater companies, including Bailiwick Repertory, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Court Theater, Chicago Dramatists Workshop, Commons Theater and Pegasus Players. She has worked in regional theaters across the country, including Alabama Shakespeare Festival, New American Theater in Rockford, Illinois, New Stage Theater in Jackson, Mississippi, and First Stage Milwaukee. Shakespearean roles include Juliet in Romeo & Juliet, Rosalind in As You Like It, Cordelia in King Lear, Lady Percy in the Henry IVs, The Queen in Richard II and Hermia in Midsummer Night’s Dream. “Shakespeare-adjacent” roles include Doll Tearsheet in Blaire Baron’s Outspoken.
She received her Theater degree from Northwestern University, and her MFA in Shakespeare from the Alabama Shakespeare Festival Professional Actor Training program, and has studied at the Actors’ Center in Chicago. A former dancer, she has performed with a variety of Chicago dance companies, and expanded her experience with Movement for the Stage at the Laban Institute in New York. She is particularly passionate about working with Shakespearean text, and helping her students understand the joys of iambic pentameter.
Julia has worked extensively performing for and with children. She has taught acting and movement workshops to children all over the country from inner-city Chicago, to rural communities in Alabama and Illinois, to Los Angeles, Pasadena and Glendale, and most recently in Kogelo, Kenya, as an artist-in-residence at Sauti Kuu Foundation, at the invitation of director Dr. Auma Obama. As a director and movement coach, she has created shows for Chicago Actors Ensemble, Bailiwick Repertory, and MoMing Dance and Arts Center in Chicago, and Zoo District and the Northwestern University Entertainment Alliance in Los Angeles.
Julia became a part of Shakespeare Youth Festival (then known as Los Angeles Drama Club) in 2007, and as Executive Director, worked with Founder Blaire Baron to build the organization into a thriving nonprofit. Since then, she has directed all but four of Shakespeare’s 37 plays (seven, if you count Two Nobel Kinsmen, Love’s Labors Won and Cardenio).
J. BAILEY BURCHAM, Executive Director
J. Bailey Burcham is an LA local who has made a name for himself as an award winning Actor, Director, Writer and Producer all over the world. After receiving his second degree in Theatre Production from Wichita State University, Bailey transplanted from Kansas to California to pursue his love of the theatrical arts. As a performer he has sang in Carnegie Hall as well as the Vatican and has been in musicals and plays all across America. Known for conceptualizing classics and bringing new works to life, Bailey has directed over 15 productions in Los Angeles alone and many more in Kansas and beyond. He is honored to have won multiple awards as a playwright and comedian including his historic 1st and 2nd place win at the Serial Killers Writing Competition at Sacred Fools; Hollywood 2019. Bailey’s last major position was as the Manager of the Pasadena Playhouse where he was a crucial part of their Tony Award winning season. After 7 years of serving as a teaching artist and pseudo-production manager at the Shakespeare Youth Festival, Bailey has officially stepped into the role of Executive Director in pursuit of continuing the legacy started almost 20 years ago.
BLAIRE BARON Founder
Los Angeles native, Blaire Baron began a professional career in theatre and television at age 20. While attending The New School in New York, she studied with legends Geraldine Page and Estelle Parsons, performed on/off Broadway with The Roundabout Theater, Ensemble Studio Theater and Playwrights Horizons and, and worked in daytime television. Blaire appears in over 50 films and TV series, including Seinfeld, Malcolm in the Middle, A League of Their Own and Fly Boys.
In 2005, Blaire was invited to the first Youth Arts Professional Teacher Training by the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles. She has directed theatre in underserved communities ever since. Blaire created The Hero Program: prevention education (K-8). The program was incorporated in 5 L.A. schools. Blaire launched the first Shakespeare Program at The Center for Early Education, LA and our Shakespeare for Social Justice Workshops, which have permeated the entire approach of the Shakespeare Youth Festival.
In Africa: In 2018/2019 Blaire went to Botswana and launched a Shakespeare program at Motopi, a rural village in the Kalahari, with 340 children participating and performing Shakespeare for the Village in English and Setswana. In Guanajuato, Mexico, Blaire taught workshops on The Tempest at a high school in San Miguel. Students performed in Spanish. Also in 2019, Blaire was invited by Dr. Auma Obama (President Obama’s sister) to bring all the Teaching Artists of Shakespeare Youth Festival to Saudi Kuu for 10 days of theatre with 100 children and youth in Kogelo Village. The children performed various iterations of Hamlet in Luo, English and Swahili for the village and guests. With the Shakespeare Youth Festival team, Blaire co-produced and co-directed over 50 Shakespeare productions.
KILA PACKETT, Director & Teaching Artist, Stage Combat
Kila has performed at numerous Off-Broadway and regional theatres, notably The Mark Taper Forum, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Classic Stage Company. His television credits include: Hawaii Five-0, Grey’s Anatomy, Counterpart, Shooter, and Wisdom of the Crowd.
Kila has taught drama for the BELL Foundation, Columbia Business School’s Senior Executive Program, Columbia High School Institute, and Classic Stage Company in New York. In Los Angeles, Kila has led workshops in Shakespeare and stage combat for Los Angeles Drama Club’s Shakespeare Youth Festival, Society Performers Academy, and Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum.
He is a co-author of the Off-Broadway hit, Unnatural Acts, for which he received a Drama Desk nomination. He is a head mentor with Young Storytellers, Associate Director of Los Angeles Drama Club, and co-producer for the LA-based concert series, A Little New Music. Kila is a Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center fellow and proud graduate of Columbia University’s School of the Arts.
ALESSANDRA MAÑON, Teaching Artist
Alessandra Mañón is thrilled to be a part of the Shakespeare Youth Festival team! She is an LA based actor that works in theatre, film, and tv. Most recently, Alessandra played Juliet for Backroom Shakespeare’s production of Romeo and Juliet . She has previously performed with South Pasadena Theatre Workshop, Sacred Fools, Orange County Shakespeare, Austin Shakespeare, and ZACH Theatre. Her film & tv credits include Rich Kids, Vida, Queen of the South, Crazy Ex Girlfriend, Walker, and Murder Made Me Famous.
Off stage and screen Alessandra studies Argentine Tango at the Los Angeles Tango Academy and can be found rock climbing at The Stronghold Climbing Gym.
ANJA RACIĆ, Teaching Artist
Anja Racić is a Serbian actor, singer, dancer and writer. Last summer, Anja premiered her original solo show, Steps of Glory, for which she received two nominations at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Anja was recently seen in two different productions of The Tempest, with Shakespeare Center of LA and Antaeus Theater Company. Keep your eyes peeled for her film Cake in the festival circuit this winter.
Education: Professional Conservatory at the Art of Acting Studio, Stella Adler NYC & Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts
ANNIWAA BUACHIE, Director & Teaching Artist
A true Renaissance woman, Anniwaa is a South London Ghanaian – British, award winning Actress (The Alan Bates Outstanding Newcomer award), Dancer and writer. A former ballet and contemporary dancer at the Royal Academy of Dance. Anniwaa is an actress is shifting sands in the entertainment industry in the United Kingdom, United States and in Ghana. An esteemed stage actress, she has worked extensively on stages in London and internationally, performing at world renowned theatres such as The Pubic Theater, The Old Vic, Young Vic, and the National Theatre of Ghana. She made her debut on the ‘Silver Screen’ in Aux, sharing the screen with Welsh treasure and Lord of the Rings Star: Jonathan Rhys Davis. Her portrayal of “Eka,” a Nigerian mother battling with issues concerning FGM in the TV series Survivor’s Remorse garnered a tremendous positive response from the industry. Early on in her career she became the founder and Artistic Director of Golden Delilah from 2009 -2015. Golden Delilah was an innovative Theatre company which celebrated new writing which promoted strong female roles. This theatre company showcased a diverse range of actors, directors and writers aiding them in the development of their career.
As an actor who started from very humble beginnings, she is an avid supporter of community outreach work, she is a Board member and head of the Outreach Committee at Los Angeles Drama Club.
ESDRAS TOUSSAINT, Director & Teaching Artist
Esdras Toussaint is a Haitian born, American actor, director, producer, and teacher with a passion for community outreach. He earned his MFA in Theatre from Columbia University.
Esdras now works and lives in the Los Angeles area and continues his work in community engagement with several organizations. He has contributed his talents to several outreach programs, including Classic Stage Company’s Young Company in New York, Theater Masters in Colorado, The Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum in California, and The Sauti Kuu Foundation in Kenya, Africa.
His theatrical career extends from the experimental and the avant-garde to Shakespeare and the classics. Esdras serves as a resident Artistic Associate at the prestigious Los Angeles Drama Club (the country’s youngest Shakespeare ensemble). His directing credits include: Timon of Athens, Antony and Cleopatra, Comedy of Errors, Twelfth Night, Clybourne Park, and the internationally renowned play Outspoken by the great Blaire Baron.
He is forever grateful to his acting coach James Brill of The Neighborhood Playhouse, and his wife Jeanie.