MELISSA SMITH has served as Conservatory Director and Master Acting Teacher for the American Conservatory Theatre since 1995. In that time, she has expanded the Master of Fine Arts Program from a two to a three-year program. In the third year, students perform in full-scale productions at such San Francisco venues as the Zeum Theater, Theater Artaud, New Langdon Arts and The Magic Theatre. The Third Year MFA productions have quickly developed a reputation for being some of the best alternative theater in San Francisco.
Prior to her work at A.C.T., Melissa was the Director of the Program in Theater and Dance at Princeton University where she also taught all levels of acting. She has taught acting and improvisation to students of all ages in various high schools, colleges and universities in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Hawaii. Among other plays, her directing credits include The Lady From DuBuque, Red Cross, Forensic and the Navigators, and Life Under Water for ACT’s MFA Program, Tennessee William’s The Eccentricities of a Nightingale at Lang College and Eugene Ionesco’s The Killing Game at PrincetonUniversity.
As a professional actress, Melissa has performed in the New York premieres of plays by avant-garde playwrights David Greenspan and Mac Wellman. She has worked extensively in Off-Off Broadway theater and in regional theater. Her performances include Rebecca McKeene in Continental Divide at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Birmingham Repertory (UK), and the Barbican Centre (London), Sonia in Harold Pinter’s Celebration at American Conservatory Theatre, Sonya in Uncle Vanya at Yale Repertory Theater, Laura in The Glass Menagerie at Liberty Stage, Sally in Lips Together, Teeth Apart at the Hangar Theater, and Fefu in Fefu and Her Friends as well as a solo piece, The Miller’s Daughter, at Princeton University.