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Teaching Artists

Denice Hicks (NSF Artistic Director) has been working for the Festival since 1990. Educated at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA, she moved to Nashville in 1980 to perform at Opryland. She was an original company member of Tennessee Repertory Theatre and was among the founders of the Darkhorse Theater and of People’s Branch Theatre. She has worked as a Teaching Artist for Kids On Stage, the Nashville Institute for the Arts and TPACed, and was a Design Consultant for the Leonard Bernstein Center.  An Ingram Fellowship award winner, and advocate for Arts in Education, she has edited and directed touring productions of Shakespeare’s works, developed and facilitated workshops for students of all ages and designed and implemented the Nashville Shakes Apprentice Company Training and Shakespeare Allowed! programming. She has been a guest lecturer at Vanderbilt U., Belmont U., Oklahoma City U., Bethel U.and Austin Peay U., served as a Teaching Artist for the Folger Shakespeare Library Institute, is a regional judge for the English Speaking Union Shakespeare Competition and is currently serving on the Arts, Media and Communication Partnership Council for the Nashville Chamber of Commerce. 

Nettie Kraft (NSF Education Director) graduated with an MFA from Roosevelt University's CCPA in Chicago where she interned at Steppenwolf with Tracy Letts, Amy Morton, and many other amazing artists on a production of Betrayal, by Harold Pinter. Prior to that, while attaining her BFA from the University of Colorado at Boulder, she worked with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival and began a theatre company which produced six plays in two years and was counted a critical success. She has studied abroad in England, and lived all over the United States, all in preparation for her move to Nashville. While in the great state of Tennessee she has been in several commercials and seen on stage for the Tennessee Women's Theatre Project, Actor's Bridge Ensemble, and the wonderful Nashville Shakespeare Festival! Currently she is teaching at Belmont University, MTSU, TSU, and Watkins College as well as starting another theatre company, The Five Dollar Recession Theatre Company, with her friend and coworker Dr. James Al-Shamma.


Jon Royal (Teaching Artist) is a local actor, director, and teacher who got his start with students in the summer of 1990 working for the YMCA of Middle Tennessee’s childcare department and has been instructing youth ever since.  He is the co founder of the Voices Arts Institute for Youth in Murfreesboro, and served as its Artistic Director from 2000-2002.  He is a teaching artist for numerous arts educational programs in Middle Tennessee including TPAC education’s Artsmart and Wolftrap programs, Nashville Children’s Theatre, Stageworks, and The Nashville Shakespeare Festival.  Jon has also taught master classes for youth and teens in Russia, Finland, and Latvia.  He has appeared as an actor in productions by Nashville Shakespeare Festival, Nashville Children’s Theatre, MTSU Theatre, People’s Branch Theatre, Mockingbird Theatre, Actor’s Bridge, and The Nashville Opera Association.


Emily Landham (Teaching Artist) is an NYU Tisch honors graduate and the recipient of a Founder’s Day Award and a Tisch School Outstanding Achievement Award. Credits Include: Rosalind, As You Like It (NSF); Juliet, Romeo & Juliet (NSF); Perdita, The Winter’s Tale (NSF);Viola, Twelfth Night (NYU); Annie Sullivan, The Miracle Worker (Studio Tenn); Shelby, Steel Magnolias (Studio Tenn); Mrs. Fred, A Christmas Carol (Studio Tenn); Gwendolen Fairfax, The Importance of Being Earnest (Nashville Rep); Annie, All My Sons (Nashville Rep); Helen, The Cripple of Inishmaan (Atlantic Theatre Company); Julie, Christmas is Miles Away (Babel NYC). Film, television, commercial credits include: A Dying Art, Chasing Ghosts, Closer to God, Season of Miracles, Tempo, The Game, Toyota, Zaxby’s, State Farm, Dollar General, Oreck.



Terry Occhiogrosso (Teaching Artist) has been an Arts-in-Education actor, director and teacher for many years in New York City and the surrounding metropolitan area, where she performed in the world premiere of Kelly Patton’s “A Child Goes Forth”.  She ran the Theatre Dept. at Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y. Jr./Sr. H.S. for ten years and taught teacher in-service workshops at Southampton College, N.Y. She was a co-founder and program director of Theatre Arts in Education, which produced and toured original curriculum-related shows in schools, conducted student and teacher workshops and artist residencies.  Her one woman show, Animal Crackers and Crumbs, was selected by the NY State Council on the Arts to showcase at an Arts in Education symposium in Saratoga Springs.  She is also currently a Teaching Artist for TPAC Education, and formerly for the YMCA artEMBRACE program, and has acted in productions for Tennessee Women’s Theater Project, Groundworks Theatre and The Boiler Room Theatre.

Amanda Card McCoy (Teaching Artist) was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. As a child, her father frequently offered her money to memorize Shakespeare monologues (she’s still waiting for that $100.00). Amanda studied at Sewanee: The University of the South, where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre Arts with a concentration in Shakespeare and the coveted Chip Gilliam award for “Best and Brightest Theatre Major.” Amanda has studied acting at the Michael Howard Studios Acting Conservatory in New York City, and with renowned Voice and Shakespeare teacher Patsy Rodenburg. She has appeared in many professional productions in Nashville, including "Charlotte’s Web" and "Goodnight Moon" (Nashville Children’s Theatre); "The Columnist", "To Kill a Mockingbird", and "August: Osage County" (Tennessee Repertory Theatre); "Arcadia" and "Magic" (Blackbird Theatre Company). Learn more about Amanda at


Nat McIntyre (Teaching Artist) Nashville credits include: A Midsummer Night's Dream (The Nashville Shakespeare Festival); Othello (The Nashville Shakespeare Festival); As You LIke It (The Nashville Shakespeare Festival); Frost/Nixon (Studio Tenn); The Diary of Anne Frank & Becky Shaw (Actor’s Bridge); Director: End Days (FDR). Broadway: War Horse (Lincoln Center). Some Shakespeare credits include: Othello (Epic Theatre Ensemble); Macbeth (Repertory Theatre of St. Louis); Othello (Shakespeare on The Sound); Merry Wives of Windsor, Measure for Measure, All’s Well That Ends Well, Pericles, Much Ado & Hamlet (The Old Globe); The Merchant of Venice, Troilus and Cressida, Twelfth Night, Hamlet, Macbeth, Much Ado, & Winter’s Tale (The Boston Publick). His original work includes The Jewish Independent & Jester’s Dead (A Top Gun Shakespeare mash-up performed at The PIT in NYC); TV and Film: Devious Maids, Law & Order: CI, The Good Wife, & Elementary. Nat graduated with an MFA in acting from The Old Globe.

Santiago Sosa (Teaching Artist) is from Guayaquil, Ecuador. He earned a BFA in acting and directing from Texas State University and an MFA in acting from the University of Wisconsin. He also studied improv at the iO Comedy Training Center in Chicago. Santiago has previously worked as an actor and a teaching artist at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, American Players Theatre, Shakespeare REp, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Door Shakespeare, Muse of Fire Shakespeare Company, Definition Theatre, and Writers Theatre-Chicago.


Chris Bosen (Teaching Artist) An NSF teaching artist since 2012, Chris is the Artistic Director & Co-Founder of Playhouse Nashville -- a theatre dedicated to amplifying the voices of local artists -- where he has directed four professional premieres since 2013 in addition to producing the popular Ten Minute Playhouse series of staged readings. He also served as a director for the Nashville Rep's 2014 Ingram New Works Festival. As an actor, he has performed with Nashville Shakespeare Festival; Actors Theatre of Louisville; Nashville Rep; Nashville Children's Theatre; Blackbird Theatre; Street Theatre Company; and Chaffin’s Barn Dinner Theatre. Before moving to Tennessee in 2006, he was a member of the ComedySportz Los Angeles Sunday Team, advanced through The Groundlings training program, and studied sketch writing with SecondCity LA. He currently serves on the Board of the Tennessee Theatre Association.


Keri Pisapia Pagetta (Teaching Artist) Keri has been a Nashville Shakes Teaching Artist since 2012. She is a voice over artist, actor and educator. She is a recipient of the Individual Artist Fellowship for Theater from the Tennessee Arts Commission. She has voiced multiple characters for Veggie Tales and worked on industrials as well as audio books. Keri was last seen in the locally written Voices of Nashville where she had the pleasure and challenge of bringing four characters to life from across the globe. She taught high school for four years and received her Master’s in Teaching and Learning from Lipscomb University. Keri is passionate about life and learning and thoroughly enjoys sharing in that experience with both teachers and students alike. For more information please visit


Teaching Artists

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