Chaya Gordon-Bland, Executive Artistic Director

Chaya Gordon-Bland is a co-founder of the South Dakota Shakespeare Festival and an Associate Professor of Theatre at the University of South Dakota. Chaya holds an MFA in Performance Pedagogy from the University of Pittsburgh. Her professional background includes work as an actor, teaching artist, dramaturg, director, and fight director at theatre companies across the country, including the American Shakespeare Center, New England Shakespeare Festival, Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, American Globe Theatre, Inwood Shakespeare Festival, Hawaii Shakespeare Festival, Black Hills Playhouse, and Native Voices at the Autry. Chaya is a member of Actors’ Equity Association (AEA), the Association of Theatre Movement Educators (ATME), the Michael Chekhov Association (MICHA) and the Society of American Fight Directors (SAFD). In 2018 she was  honored with the Belbas-Larson Excellence in Teaching Award, in the tenured category, at the University of South Dakota. 

Brian Smallwood, Director of Operations and Production

Brian Smallwood has project managed as a Technical Director and Production Manager for dozens of Off and Off-Off Broadway companies. He co-founded a production company called No Time for Love Productions, with clients like the Ma-Yi Theater Company, New York Musical Festival, New York Photo Festival, and Second Stage. He graduated from the Yale School of Drama in 2013 with an MFA in Technical Design and Production. Brian is currently an Associate Professor and Production Manager for James Madison University’s School of Theatre and Dance. Brian’s research interests include structural engineering for production and increasing productivity through employee wellness. Watch for Brian’s book: Productivity Through Wellness for the Live Entertainment and Theatre Technician: Increasing Productivity, Avoiding Burnout, and Maximizing the Value of An Hour slated for release in May 2020.



Oliver Mayes, Director
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Oliver Mayes is a theatre artist whose work has been seen in several states throughout the U.S. such as California, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and most recently South Dakota. With a background in acting, directing, producing, movement choreography, writing, and teaching, his credits span various mediums including plays, musical theatre, new play development, cabaret and new media. Oliver has been awarded commendations of achievement from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival for his direction of The Eccentricities of a Nightingale and choreography for Spring Awakening, both produced at the University of South Dakota. He will graduate in May with an MFA in Directing from the University of South Dakota and has additional training in directing through the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. He is a 2020-2021 Stage Directors and Choreographers Society Fellow and a proud member of SAG-AFTRA. Oliver is a co-founder of Coast to Coast Music Theatre Intensive, a summer training program for aspiring performers in Oregon, where he serves as a lead instructor and director/choreographer. He is thrilled to be working with the South Dakota Shakespeare Festival for the summer 2021 season.