Our mission is to use classical theater to engage and inspire communities. It is our vision that individuals from diverse backgrounds will share a common creative experience and develop a greater sense of empathy in their everyday lives.
Jeffrey Chips: Artistic Director A Pittsburgh native, Jeffrey earned both a Master's of Literature and an MFA in Shakespeare and Performance at Mary Baldwin College while training at the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Virginia. He founded the Steel City Shakespeare Center in order to reach as many people as possible in a profound way, including those in under-served communities or anyone who has given up on Shakespeare or the theater.
Michael Mykita: Associate Artistic Director Michael has been an advocate for Steel City Shakespeare’s mission from the very beginning and most recently played Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. With years of experience as a street performer, magician, and Renaissance festival performer, Michael possesses great skill at engaging a crowd – piquing their interest and earning their trust. With years of networking behind him, he has proven invaluable with finding multiple venues for performances and building relationships with local communities.
Amanda Holman: Managing Director Amanda attended Allegheny College with Jeffrey, where they were chosen to participate in a study abroad session overseas learning almost everything there is to know about Shakespeare. While she'd rather be researching and theorizing her own Shakespearean criticisms, she's paid to be an Accounting Specialist. Amanda has over 10 years of corporate business experience and is excited to use her skills and talents to bring Shakespeare to a stage near you!
Jessica Schiermeister, Production Manager Jessica is an actor, director, and dramaturg originally from Iowa. With Steel City Shakespeare, she directed the 2017 production of "A Christmas Carol" and performed in "The Seven Voyages of Sinbad" and played Tiny Tim, Belle, and others in the 2016 "A Christmas Carol." She holds two master's degrees in Shakespeare and Performance from Mary Baldwin University in Staunton, Virginia. Previous work includes Dionyza in Pericles and Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night (Hoosier Shakes), Tiny Tim/Belle/others in A Christmas Carol (Steel City Shakespeare), and Luciana in The Comedy of Errors (Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks).
Darcy Mahaffey: Director of Marketing Darcy brings an array of talents to Steel City Shakespeare, from her experience as an actor, dancer, and fire-eater (yeah, she eats fire!) to her amazing skills with graphic design and visual art. Although she's the newest member of the team we already know her creativity will be a significant part of every one of our productions.
Marsha Mayhak: Founding Member Marsha is a recent graduate of Duquesne University’s theater program and has been working in the theater since childhood. She first worked with Artistic Director Jeffrey Chips at the Gemini Children’s Theater when she was in middle school. Since then, her talents have grown and her passion has deepened. Her role as Director of Repertoire Development will be to seek out work by female authors and classical literature and folklore from non-Western cultures and adapt it for performance by a small company of actors.
Jessica Moore: Founding Member Jessica is relatively new to the Pittsburgh area but left an indelible mark on the theater community with her performance as Regan in King Lear with Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks. She arrives with an extensive resume as both an actor and educator, complete with an MFA from the University of Georgia and a certification in the Michael Chekhov technique. Jessica is working closely with Artistic Director Jeffrey Chips to develop a training method for actors in the company and eventually roll out classes for actors through Steel City Shakespeare Center.
"It is required you do awake your faith." The Winter's Tale 5.3 Steel City Shakespeare Center employs a style of performance known as "Extreme Casting," which utilizes a small cast or even a single performer to convey the story of a much larger cast of characters, even in a single moment. The style is rooted in other theatrical styles, such as puppetry, stand-up comedy, pantomime, poor theater, and certain aspects of Elizabethan theater. Our performances do not rely on elaborate theatrical effects, such as large sets, sampled sound effects, period costumes, or a conventional lighting design. By stripping away all aspects of theatrical technology, we enable ourselves to rediscover some of the elements with which these plays were written and strengthen the bond between performers and audience. The performers, without the aid of enhanced production elements or a large company, are responsible for conveying the story through broad physical and vocal choices, while inviting the audience to, "Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts," and, "Into a thousand parts divide one man." With these elements firmly in place, extreme casting can serve to reclaim the theater as popular entertainment for the masses, rather than solely a fixture for the cultural elite, through imaginative, fast-paced, and interactive storytelling.