Cast of King Lear

* Indicates member of Actors' Equity Association

+ Indicates SF Shakes Resident Artist

Powell Jessica   Web

Jessica Powell* King Lear

Jessica Powell is a Bay Area actor, most recently seen as Momo in The Humans for The Stage (San Jose). She played Helicanus, The Bawd, et al. in SF Shakes’ Pericles (2008). Other roles include Volumnia (Coriolanus), Georgia O’Keeffe (A Conversation with Georgia O’Keeffe); Sister Aloysius (Doubt), and Elizabeth I (Mary Stuart), all for Pacific Rep.; Claire (Uncanny Valley), Polly (Other Desert Cities), Hannah, et al. (Angels in America), Aunt Eller (Oklahoma!), Mrs. Roswell (Ice Glen), Goneril (King Lear), Kate (All My Sons), Countess of Roussillon (All’s Well), Aemilia (A Comedy of Errors), Mame (Mame), Lee Green (The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife), The Wicked Witch of the West (The Wizard of Oz - twice!), Mrs. Higgins (My Fair Lady), Joanne (Company) Lady Macbeth (Macbeth), Margrethe (Copenhagen), and Ethel Thayer (On Golden Pond). Jessica co-founded Symmetry Theatre Company and has been an Actors’ Equity member since 1989.

Lowery Phil

Phil Lowery*+ Earl of Gloucester

Phil (he/him) is a director, actor, stage manager, teacher, a member of Actors Equity Association, and formerly the Education Director for SF Shakespeare Festival and a member of the Resident Artist Company. He has performed with Shakespeare on Tour (Macbeth) and Free Shakespeare in the Park (The Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet, The Winter’s Tale and King Lear), was Assistant Director for A Midsummer Night's Dream. Other companies Phil has appeared with include Shotgun Players, Central Works Ensemble and Lamplighters Music Theatre, where he is also on staff. Phil has directed musicals, operas and operettas around the Bay Area for companies such as Altarena Playhouse, Berkeley Opera, Pocket Opera, Lyric Theatre of San Jose, and Lamplighters.

Mbele Mbong Leontyne

Leontyne Mbele-Mbong* Thaisa

Leontyne (she/her) is delighted to return to SF Shakes where she was seen last season as Goneril in King Lear and previously as Gertrude in Hamlet. Additional credits include: Bull in a China Shop with the Aurora, Rime of the Ancient Mariner with Word for Word, and Macbeth with African-American Shakespeare Company. Other AASC favorites include the title role in Medea (TBA Award), and Cleopatra in Antony & Cleopatra (TBA Award Finalist). Other favorites: Temple, Breakfast with Mugabe, Watch on the Rhine, Top Girls, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Fences, Andromache, Candide, Richard III (3 times), Twelfth Night, and Intimate Apparel (Mayme; ARTY Award, best supporting actress).

Ortiz Melissa   Web

Melissa Ortiz* Regan

Melissa Ortiz is overjoyed to make her San Francisco Shakespeare debut. She is a Producing Artistic Director for ShotzSF as well as a PlayGround Company Member. Bay Area acting credits include: Anna in Anna Considers Mars (PlayGround), Lizzy in The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley (Marin Theatre Company), Masha in Seeds (Utopia), Celine in The Moonrisers (The Moonrisers), Masha in The Seagull (Utopia), Emily in Value Over Replacement (PlayGround), Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet (The Free Theatre), Miss Julie in Miss Julie (Amios West). She received her MFA in Acting from the National Theatre Conservatory in Denver, Colorado. She sends her love to her very amazing family and her totally awesome husband.

Jones Diana Lauren   Web

Diana Lauren Jones Cordelia/The Fool

As an actress, Diana has worked commercially, off-Broadway, regionally, and in voice over and independent film. She moved to the Bay Area from the East Coast just over a year ago, and currently lives in Alameda. She earned a B.F.A from Mason Gross School Of The Arts and trained/performed at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater in London. She is passionate about the arts, challenging the status quo, sustainability, and lifelong learning. Diana holds a Masters in Public Administration, has lived in Mozambique, and also loves to swim.

Brown Cassidy   Web

Cassidy Brown* Earl of Kent

Cassidy Brown is an actor and improviser who was last seen on the SF Shakes stage as a blue-faced juggling twin Antipholus in Comedy of Errors. He has also been seen at Berkeley Rep, San Jose Rep, Theatreworks, San Jose Stage, Word for Word, Capital Stage, Pacific Repertory Theatre, Golden Thread, Center REP, and with both Marin Shakes and Carmel Shakes, as well as numerous productions of The 39 Steps. Most recently, Cassidy can be heard as the co-host of the creativity and spirituality podcast, "All the Answers".

Chapman Ron   Web

Ron Chapman* Edmund/Duke of Burgundy

Ron (he/him) is an actor who believes in the power and necessity of great storytelling. He last appeared as Edmund in SF Shakespeare Festival's virtual production of King Lear.

Ansari Thomas Yohanna   Web

Yohana Ansari-Thomas Edgar/King of France

Yohana Ansari-Thomas is an actor and artist currently based in Oakland, CA. Locally, he has worked with TheatreFirst, Shotgun Players, Ubuntu Theater Project, and the American Conservatory Theater, among others. Yohana is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied theater and architecture. Alongside acting, he works with various colleagues and organizations in the fields of architectural design, art practice, choreography, design, new media research, and pedagogy. For more, visit

Moore David

David Everett Moore*+ Duke of Albany/Oswald

David is a Bay Area actor and teaching artist. A Resident Artist of the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, David has performed in numerous Free Shakespeare in the Park productions as well as the SF Shakes School Tour, and has taught in the Midnight Shakespeare program along with other in-school residencies. As an actor, David has worked with several regional and local theaters, including Crowded Fire Theater, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Marin Shakespeare Company, Word for Word, Just Theater, and Marin Theatre Company. David also teaches with Tomorrow Youth Repertory, and has worked as a Teaching Artist at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. David is a proud graduate of UC Berkeley and its Theater and Performance Studies program.

Grier Gabriella

Gabriella Goldstein Duke of Cornwall/Lear's Attendant

Gabriella Grier is excited to join the cast of King Lear this summer. She is a Bay Area native who has recently returned home. Some of her favorite credits include: A Doll’s House, Part 2 (Nora) at Palo Alto Players; A Month in the Country (Natalya), Voices of the Earth (Ensemble), and Democratically Speaking (Ensemble) at Stanford Repertory Theatre; Blithe Spirit (Elvira) at West Valley Playhouse; Love, Money, Drink, God, Christmas (Mary) at Dixon Place Theater; and Top Girls (Pope Joan/Win) at Juilliard. Gabriella has appeared in several commercials and narrated Harlequin Romance novels for She is a graduate of The Juilliard School.

Intern 3

Viv Helvajian Attendant/Servant/Soldier/Herald

Viv Helvajian is a rising junior at NYU Tisch, studying Musical Theatre and Anthropology. She has recently performed in 54 Below’s "I Am Woman" live-streamed on YouTube, and as Duke Senior in As You Like It. This is her debut performance with SF Shakes and she is radically grateful for the opportunity. She commends Elizabeth, Karen, and Neal for regarding massive troubleshooting with tireless enthusiasm and trust, and Christian for making each day hilarious. To the entire King Lear Family, the inconceivable has been possible thanks to your incredible collaboration! Cheers!

Lucero Evan

Evan Lucero Curan/Performance Intern

Evan Lucero is a theatre artist coming from the Sacramento theatre scene, and is a soon-to-be graduate of San Francisco State University with a B.A. in Theatre Arts. He is elated to be newly joining the fold with a company such as SF Shakes that firmly stands for free, public access, especially in these trying times. His most recent professional credits include SWEAT (Capital Stage), and Small Steps (New Comedies Play Festival, B Street Theatre).

Buffum Hilary

Hilary Buffum Attendant/Servant/French Soldier/Captain/ Performance Intern

Hilary Buffum is excited to be joining the cast of King Lear for her first performance with SF Shakes. She is a graduate of the San Francisco State Theatre Department. Her most recent roles include Queen Marie in Exit the King and Hermia in Midsummer Night’s Dream. As a lover of Shakespeare, Hilary is thrilled to be working with Elizabeth and the incredible cast and crew on this truly unique production.

Carter Elizabeth   Web

Elizabeth Carter Director

Elizabeth Carter is thrilled to delve into King Lear with SF Shakes. She has had the pleasure of directing Bondage for Alter Theatre. She has directed for the California Shakespeare Theater Conservatory for nearly 20 years. Directorial credits include Richard III, The Winter’s Tale, As you Like It, The Tempest, Macbeth, and Much Ado about Nothing. Currently she is the Shakespeare and Voice Artist in Residence for the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts (SOTA) Theater Department. While Managing Director of Oakland Public Theater she also directed Motherlove by August Strindberg. As an actor Elizabeth has appeared in numerous Bay Area theaters including California Shakespeare Theater, Marin Theatre Co., Aurora Theatre Co., SF Shakespeare Festival, The Magic Theatre, San Jose Stage, and TheatreWorks. She is a SFBATCCO award recipient for Trouble in Mind at the Aurora Theatre Co.