While the principles of great acting don’t change, the realities of the film and TV business do—constantly. That’s why NYCDA faculty are working professionals who bring real-world acting experience to every class they teach, under the direction of seven seasoned department heads. Each department head is a master teacher who works closely with adjunct faculty in related disciplines like dance, directing, casting, and producing. All instructors are available to students inside and outside the classroom for personal advice and direction.
Sara Buffamanti has worked as both an actress and a director in the U.S., Japan, Korea, Germany, Italy, and Scotland. Her movement mentors are world-renowned clown and mime James Donlon and Romanian performer and director Nikolaus Wolcz. In New York City her work has been seen at PS 122, Dixon Place, HERE, The Metropolitan Opera and New York Theater Workshop. Sara is the creator of Eleanor Alla Barre, a one-woman clown show, and also stars in the upcoming feature film Maybe There’s a Tree by Ashlin Halfnight. Sara earned her MFA in acting and theater from Columbia University.
Eileen Connolly is the founder and Artistic Director of Wallis Knot Theatre, where she creates, designs and directs original multimedia productions, including Late to the Republique (NYCDA), Dance with Me, Harker (New York International Fringe Festival) and Seeing Andre Gide (New Actors Workshop). As an actress, she has worked Off-Broadway and at the Meadow Brook and Birmingham theatres in Detroit, the Royal George in Chicago and the Walnut Street Theatre and Painted Bride Art Center in Philadelphia. As a director, she was honored to assist Betty Comden and Adolph Green on their revival of A Doll's Life (York Theatre). She recently created the movement and combat for Irish Repertory Theatre's production of Beowulf. For the University of Vermont, she was commissioned to co-author an adaptation of Aristophanes' The Birds and Don Marquis' Archy and Mehitabel. Eileen holds an MFA in Acting from the University of Minnesota, and a BA in Theatre and Dance from DeSales University.
For 20 years, Maury has been teaching acting both in Los Angeles and New York. He has been a faculty member in the film and television program at The New York Conservatory for Dramatic Art since 2008. As a professional actor of stage, film and television, he has had a 25-year working relationship with Olympia Dukakis and three seasons at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Off-Broadway credits include Laugh it up Stare it Down at Cherry Lane Theatre; regional credits include productions at Cincinnati Playhouse; The Old Globe in San Diego; Great Lakes Theater; South Coast Repertory; Geffen Playhouse; Geva Theatre Center; Philadelphia Theatre Company; Arizona Theatre Company; Pasadena Playhouse; among others. Recent film credits include the soon to be released The Week Of with Adam Sandler and 5 Flights Up with Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton. Recent TV credits include: Elementary, Blacklist, Madam Secretary, and HBO’s Vinyl. Other film and television credits include: Rocket Science, According to Greta, Big Miracle, My One and Only, The Girl in the Park, Blue Bloods, House of Cards, Damages, The Good Wife, Law & Order, Law & Order SVU, Unforgettable, Louie and Friends, among many others. He is a graduate of Bard College and student of the late Sanford Meisner and Larry Moss.
Jay R. Goldenberg
Jay Goldenberg is an actor, director and teacher, and has coached actors on the sets of feature films, including: Say Anything; miniseries: Elvis and Me; sitcoms: Moonlighting; and daytime dramas: General Hospital. His private client roster has included Salma Hayek, Cybill Shepherd, Alicia Silverstone, Estelle Getty, Michael Chiklis, Charles Kimbrough, Beth Howland, Ione Skye, Mary Wilson, Eric Close, Allyce Beasley, and Nicollette Sheridan, to name a few. Jay holds an MFA from New York University School of the Arts.
Neal Lerner has appeared in Girls, Orange is the New Black, Law & Order, Seinfeld, The War at Home, Lipstick Jungle, Reba, Frasier, Ally McBeal, NewsRadio, Married with Children, Murphy Brown, Cheers, and All My Children. His film credits include Batman Returns, Boiler Room, Homewrecker, Please Give, The Visitor, and Demolition Man. Neal has also performed extensively Off-Broadway, including Stuff Happens and Serious Money at the Public Theater; Julius Caesar at the New York Shakespeare Festival; Fuddy Meers at MTC; and Hurrah at Last at the Roundabout Theatre Company. Neal holds an MFA in acting from the Yale School of Drama.
Becky London's television credits include Inside Amy Schumer, Blue Bloods, Law & Order, Third Watch and Quantum Leap. She has also appeared in numerous films including Nasty Baby, El Camino, United 93, Changing Lanes, and A Very Serious Person. Becky’s Broadway and Off-Broadway credits include Marlene, Ubu, Isn’t It Romantic, Othello, Last of the Red Hot Lovers, and Jewtopia. Becky also directed Separating the Men from the Bulls in the Unofficial New York Yale Cabaret’s award-winning first season. Becky earned her BA in English from Yale University, and her MFA in acting from the Yale School of Drama.
Amy Marcs has appeared at many regional theaters across the country. Most recently she was seen as Gorgeous Teitelbaum in The School House Theater's production of The Sisters Rosensweig. Other credits include featured roles in Geminin, Kingdom of Earth, The Star Spangled Girl and And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little. She has performed in the independent film The Waiting Game. Her voice can be heard on numerous national network television and radio commercials. She recently played the role of Peg the Pig in the animated feature film Impy's Island. Amy received a BA in Theater from Rider University and is a long time student of Fred Kareman.
Karl Maier is a dancer, singer, puppeteer, aerial artist and musician. He has had the pleasure of creating and performing with a variety of great minds. Highlights include: Stephen Schwartz, Micky Dolenz, Vanessa Williams, Mark Dendy, Jerry Mitchell, Josh Rhodes, and John Adams in his Grammy Award winning Dr. Atomic. He has also worked extensively with Robert LePage and his team Ex Machina, most recently in staging and performing the new Ring Cycle at the Metropolitan Opera. Credits include Late Night with Conan O'Brien, the national tour of the musical Pippin, performances with the Little Orchestra Society, and more than a dozen operas at the Met as a dancer and aerialist. Karl can be seen dancing and flying in many productions for the Met's HD Broadcast series. Karl holds a BA in Theatre and Dance from the University of New Hampshire. While in school, he supplemented his studies with additional training at Boston Ballet and with The American Academy of Ballet at Vassar.
Donnie Mather is an instructor of Suzuki & Viewpoints training. He has taught at the Atlantic Acting School, NYU, Columbia University, Bard College, Fordham University, the New School, Hope College, Louisiana State University, University of Puerto Rico, and the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. Donnie has performed in Macbeth, Nicholas & Alexandra, Seven Deadly Sins, Lilith (SITI Company); I, Claudius (Theatre Askew); Anthony & Cleopatra, Comedy of Errors, Merchant of Venice, and Two Gentlemen of Verona (Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey); and works by Charles Mee including Fetes de la Nuit (Dir. Kim Weild) and Trojan Women A Love Story (Dir. Tina Landau). Donnie created A Show of Force (FringeNYC, Hope College, Hudson Guild, Manizales Theatre Festival). Donnie is the founding artist of The Adaptations Project, performing in its inaugural production Kaddish (or The Key in the Window) based on the poetry of Allen Ginsberg. He holds a BFA in Theatre with minor in Dance from Western Kentucky University.
Ruth Nerken has guest starred on Law & Order, Kate & Allie, and Too Close for Comfort, and performed in regional theatre, Off-Broadway, and in the national touring company of Grease. Ruth has also appeared in more than 200 television commercials, and been a guest speaker at events for AFTRA, SAG, and Yale University. Ruth earned a BA in theater from Yale University, before going on to train with William Esper and the American Conservatory Theatre.
After completing his degree at Hofstra University, Richard Omar trained under famed acting teachers Uta Hagen and Bobby Lewis in NYC. Richard’s New York theatre credits include Dance with Me, Harker, The First Day, Never the Sinner, The Secret History, Richard III, which played at the New York International Fringe Festival. As a ballroom dancer, he appeared on film with Leslie Caron, Patrick Stewart and Jennifer Beals. His previous teaching experience also includes SUNY Purchase, Hofstra University, and the New Actors Workshop for Mike Nichols.
Steve Perlmutter has performed at regional theaters throughout the country, including Philadelphia’s famed Walnut Street Theater. He has also appeared in numerous radio and television commercials for brands including Volvo, Nestea, Jell-O, Norwest Bank, Bell South, and Staples. And in addition to his work at NYCDA, he also teaches at Rutgers University and NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies. Steve holds a BS in speech from Northwestern University, and studied extensively with renowned teachers Fred Kareman and Larry Moss.
Alan Rackham earned his BA in history from Columbia University and his MFA in directing at New York University Tisch School of the Arts. He has worked as an actor in both New York and Europe. His short films have won awards from film festivals all over the world.
Ben Sander is the creator of Brini Maxwell, a domestic guru character featured in her own eponymous television show on the Style network. In addition to developing the character, he also executive produced the show. Ben is a published author and has worked with NPR and made appearances on World News Now, The Conan O’Brien Show, Style, Soap Talk, Tyra Banks and the Oscar and Golden Globe pre-shows on E!, among others. A devotee of mid-century culture and film, he also works as an interior designer and film blogger. Ben holds a BFA in fashion design from FIT.
Judith Searcy has written, directed, and performed sketch comedy and improv for more than two decades, including live and video projects for American Express, ESPN, Mercedes-Benz, British Airways, and many others. She was a principal member of Chicago City Limits, New York’s longest-running comic revue, for 10 years; played the title role in the award-winning comedy short, Marge, and has been featured on PBS, CBS, the Today show, NPR, and Comedy Central. She holds a BA in speech/theater from Appalachian State University and an MFA in Acting from the University of North Carolina. She has continued her studies at NYU, Columbia University, and the University of London.
Abigail Zealey Bess
Abigail Zealey Bess is an award-winning filmmaker and theater director who has worked with the legendary Sidney Lumet, John Leguizamo, Kevin Smith, Matt LeBlanc, Frank Whaley, Bruce Beresford, and many others. Abigail has been directing theater and film--specializing in new work--since she arrived on these shores and established her company, Weird Sisters, in 1997. She subsequently directed and produced her debut film, the award winning baseball trilogy: Play Ball! (Fanfare for A Common Man, Random Acts of Intimacy, Caught in Time), screened throughout the globe including the Berlin Film Festival, Cannes Director Fortnight, and at over 40 USA festivals including New York, Newport, Seattle and Savannah. In addition to garnering Best Film at seven USA festivals, she was awarded 1st Prize for Best Short Film by woman director at the LA Women In Film Competition. Recent Film Projects on the film festival circuit include the comedy webisode series, Here’s what I Like and Now I’ll tell you Why, the Award winning Mary and Louise, (Best Short film screenplay LA Film Festival, Brit Penrod Audience Award, Roy W Dean Finalist), and Icarus Stops For Breakfast. Full-length features currently in pre-production include Caroline’s Wedding, Walking Shadows, and The Beacon. She is a member of Ensemble Studio Theatre, Actors Studio Director/Playwrights Unit, SDC, NYWIFT and LPTW. Abigail is on the faculty for the Graduate Film Program at Tisch School of the Arts, New York University.