Alumni Success Stories
- Rena Heinrich, '94
- Brian Poth, '97
- LaRita "Jazzy Rita" Shelby, '84
- Charlie Koontz, '09
- Caitlin Bryson, '12
- A.J. Knox, '05
- Marc Valera, '98
- Nicole Rossi, '09
- Elena Muslar, '11
- Katie Betian, '98
Riley Jacqueline Berris received her B.A. in Theatre Arts from LMU in 2010. Since then, she has earned her Master's in Education from UCSB and her teaching credential to teach theater in California. Currently, she teaches theater and directs all of the productions at San Marcos High School in Santa Barbara, California where she gets to practice all of the skills she learned in her work study job as an electrician in the theater department as well as teach many of the techniques she learned throughout her career at LMU and through the Bonn-Moscow program. Not only was she inspired to teach because of the amazing professors she had at Loyola, but by Sam Wasson who's plan was always to be a theater educator.
After graduation, Riley along with fellow LMU alumnus, Abby Piece, started a theater company in the Lyric Theater where playwright and other LMU graduate, Steve DiUbaldo flew out from NYU to write an original piece called "Coyote and the Origin of Death," that Abby Pierce directed and Riley produced and acted in. Once Riley moved to Santa Barbara to start her career as a theater teacher, she filled her summers by helping start and create a theater company "On the Verge Theater Company," with feminist themes centering all female and transwomen playwrights.
Riley continues her growth as an actor, artist, director and teacher by taking acting classes with Jeffrey Meek in Santa Barbara, acting/producing plays in her summers, and directing two productions a year at San Marcos High School. So far, she has directed Steve Martin's, "Picasso at the Lapin Agile," Gershwin's "Crazy for You," the Tectonic Theater Company's "The Laramie Project," which she dedicated to Sam Wasson, and most recently Dolly Parton's "9 to 5, the Musical."
She feels honored to be featured on LMU's theater alumni. Not only does she still collaborate with many LMU theater alumni, but she practices what she learned through the program daily.
A.J. Knox received his B.A. in Theatre Arts from LMU in 2005. Since then, he has earned his M.A. in Theatre Education from Emerson College and his Ph.D. in Drama from Tufts University. A.J.'s research explores the role of dark humor in addressing taboo subjects, particularly in relation to race, sexuality, and gender. He is also one of the few theatre scholars in America to be actively researching and working within the aesthetics of Pataphysics. As an undergraduate and graduate student, A.J. was awarded a number of honors and recognitions for his contributions as a scholar and artist, and also received several teaching awards for comedy courses he developed at Tufts.
After completing his Ph.D., A.J. moved back to his hometown of San Diego to escape the frigid New England winters. Since moving back, he has kept busy with a wide variety of projects: in addition to teaching film and theatre courses throughout San Diego, A.J. keeps busy serving as the Artistic Director for the Ocean Beach Ensemble Experiment (a small experimental theatre company), and also serves as the Director of Connectivity for New Village Arts Theatre, an award-winning nonprofit theatre. In his spare time, he also performs stand-up comedy.
Throughout his academic and artistic careers, A.J. has performed, designed, directed, and written for a variety of theatres throughout the U.S. and abroad. Directing credits include Mr. Marmalade, Psycho Beach Party, Endgame, and The Laramie Project. His work has also been featured at a number of conferences and festivals, including the Irish Theatre Seminar in Dublin, and the Last Frontier Theatre Conference in Alaska.