NCDA's instructors are all actors, directors, producers, film makers, and playwrights who are actively engaged in the DC-area acting community. It is a requirement for our faculty members to be working regularly on stage or in film or video.

Senior Faculty


Ray Ficca, President

Ray is a graduate of both Georgetown University and the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts and is a founding member of the NCDA’s Actors Repertory Theatre company.  Ray has been acting professionally for 28 years, appearing in more than 150 productions on stages nationwide, including Wayside Theatre, Totem Pole Playhouse, Olney Theatre, Charter Theater, Theatre on the Hill, Metro Stage, Imagination Stage, Keegan Theatre, and the Hanna Theatre.  He served as the artistic director of Totem Pole Playhouse, a professional theater located in Pennsylvania, from 2008 to 2013.  He is a proud member of the Actor's Equity Association and served as co-chair of its Washington, DC Equity Liaison Committee for seven years. Ray has also served as chair of the Theater Departments at Calvert Hall College and Iona Preparatory School.​


Nan Ficca, School Director

Nan has worked in the theatre business for more than 20 years. She continues to work as a producer (SAG/AFTRA) and casting director – with occasional forays into stage management, lighting design, and props. Her resume includes producing credits for dramas, comedies, musical theater, and theater for young audiences. At NCDA, she teaches the business of acting and the art of self producing. She established the Artist's Project at the Conservatory, which gives free performance space and production mentoring to alumni producing their own work. Nan has produced shows in the Capital Fringe Festival every year since its inception, as well as in the 48-Hour Film Project and other independent theater and film projects. Nan is co-producer of the DC Non Equity Auditions, the largest theatre cattle call in the Metro area. She has served as a delegate to the League of Washington Theatres and a board member and board president of the Actors' Center. During her tenure at the Actors’ Center, Nan produced the first Actors Expo, transitioned the Lottery Audition to a twice yearly event and added a piano accompanist for singers.  


Doug Wilder, Director of Education

​​Doug is the former director of education and a graduate of the three-year program. Doug has acted in more than 60 plays in the Washington area. He has directed shows at NEXTSTOP Theater, 1st Stage, Imagination Stage, Actors Repertory Theatre, Charter Theater, The Capital Fringe Festival, and Wayside Theater, as well as many different scenes and acts for local cabarets. Doug is also active in the independent film/industrial world, where he has appeared in more than 40 projects and directed over 50 short film, many of them award-winning. In 2015, at the Helen Hayes awards, Doug won the Robert Prosky Award for Best Lead Actor in a Play, presented for his work in One Man Two Gunners. In 2017, Doug was nominated for two more Helen Hayes awards, one for best supporting actor in a Musical, and one for his writing.  In 2018, Doug was nominated for another Helen Hayes award for Best Lead Actor in a Play for his performance in 'Trevor' at 1st Stage.  In 2018, Doug began work on the CBS television show 'This is LA' as a segment editor. Doug travels to DC frequently to teach Film and Media at NCDA. You can see his reel and resume at

Faculty Members


Tamieka Chavis

Tamieka ​is an actress and theatre educator. She has been nominated for and awarded numerous awards for Best Actress, Best Ensemble, and Producer including the Indie Series Awards and the Daytime Emmys for her role as Mia in the critically acclaimed webseries Anacostia. Tamieka's theatre credits include work with Mosaic Theatre Company, Constellation Theatre Company, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company (company member), Ally (company member) Theatre Company, NextStop Theatre, Faction of Fools, Smithsonian's Discovery Theater (company member), including being awarded DC Metro Theatre Arts Best of 2015: Best Actress in a Play for her work in Source Theatre Festival's The Word and The Wasteland. On camera, she has appeared in productions such as HBO's The Wire, Investigation Discovery's Psychic Detectives, Maverick Entertainment's Torn, and Netflix's House of Cards. She has provided her acting and voice over talents to numerous commercials, industrials, and independent films. She is also a teaching artist with Smithsonian's Tools of Discovery and Chesapeake Shakespeare Company. She is a proud graduate of NCDA.


Zach Brewster-Geisz

Zach has worked in DC theatre, on stage and off, for over 20 year. Since graduating from NCDA in 2012, he has worked at Studio Theatre, Constellation Theatre Company, WSC Avant Bard, Rorschach Theatre, NextStop Theatre Company, Unexpected Stage Company, Baltimore Shakespeare Factory, Annapolis Shakespeare Company, Pallas Theatre Collective, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, and others. Television work includes Who The Bleep Did I Marry, Evil Twins, American Genius, Nightmare Next Door, and The War of 1812 on the Chesapeake, a docudrama still in heavy rotation on Maryland Public Television. His short films have shown at festivals in DC and around the world and garnered numerous awards.


Tia Shearer Bassett

Tia is a professional actress and produced playwright. She has performed with Second City, Baltimore Center Stage, Imagination Stage, The Hub Theatre, Taffety Punk's Riot Grrrls, Constellation Theatre, Arts on the Horizon (performing nonverbal theatre for ages 6 and under) and the Kennedy Center TYA (including two national tours of Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical), among others. Non-local credits include Tennessee Rep, Nashville Shakespeare Festival, Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, Nashville Children's Theatre and New York's East River Theater Company. She is a graduate of NYU's Gallatin School for Individualized Studies and has practiced theatre with the likes of Austin Pendleton and SITI Company's Jeffrey Fracé. Tia is especially adept at highly physical theatre, multi-character tracks, and theatre for young audiences.


Sasha Olinick

Sasha  is a DC-based actor and teaching artist. His local credits include: Arena Stage, the Kennedy Center, Round House Theatre, Studio Theatre, Theater J, Rep Stage, MetroStage, Maryland Shakespeare Festival, Imagination Stage, WSC Avant Bard, Forum Theatre, and Spooky Action Theatre. Regional credits include: American Shakespeare Center, Trinity Rep, Vermont Stage and the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse. For his appearance as Mozart in Amadeus at Round House Theatre, he was recognized with the 2011 DC Theatre Scene Audience Choice Award for Favorite Resident Play; for his role as Mr. Toad in Wind In the Willows at Imagination Stage, he received the 2011 DC Theatre Scene Audience Choice Award for Favorite Actor in a Family Production. He has taught acting to students of all ages through his work with the Educational Theatre Company and as an adjunct faculty member at Montgomery College, were he has also directed a production of The Tempest, and assistant directed productions of Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Sasha has been a faculty member at the Conservatory since 2009.


Reginald Richard

Having completed both the two-year program and Actors Repertory Theatre in 2014, NCDA alum and faculty instructor Reginald Richard has since made and continues to make his mark within the DMV theatre community. Some of his most notable stage roles have been in productions through DC Capital Fringe, SOURCE Festival, WSC AVANT BARD, and Ally Theatre Company where he serves as an active company member.


David Elias

David is an actor, stage manager, and voiceover specialist. Stage appearances include Inspector Hound (The Real Inspector Hound), Greg (Sylvia), Schotter (King of the Jews), Matt Friedman (Talley's Folly), Don Quixote (Man of La Mancha), Ira Stone (Laughter on the 23rd Floor), Uncle Gabe (Sleeping Arrangements), Polpoch (Marat/Sade), Friar Peter (Measure for Measure), Everyman (Everyman), and Frederik Egerman (A Little Night Music) at venues that include Olney Theatre, Bay Theatre, Metrostage, Theater J, Wayside Theatre, Signature Theatre, the Other Opera Company, and many others. David as served as Production Stage Manager for shows at The Studio Theatre, Theater J, Totem Pole Playhouse, and Wayside Theatre. More recently David was PSM for The Alliance of New Music-Theatre's productions of The Vaclav Havel Project, and a new version of Kafka's Metamorphosis. He was the resident PSM for Metrostage for 3 seasons, 2015-17. His voice can be heard on books and magazines for the Library of Congress and in the commercial sector; his voices and accents are embedded in many industrial-training films. He is a member of Actors’ Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA.


Natasha Mirny

Natasha  is a stage director, choreographer and teaching artist. Her background is in pantomime, physical theater and puppetry. Natasha started her career as a stage director at one of the largest puppet theaters in Moscow. For the past seven years Natasha has devised, directed and choreographed fifteen shows for children and adults. Natasha has been running her own theater company since 2011. She founded Happy Theater company in 2015 when she moved to the DC area. Natasha is currently working as teaching artist at several Art Integration programs - Dumbarton/Inner City Inner Child, Local Motion and Wolf Trap. She has also been developing her own movement technique for professional actors and choreographers inspired by Jerzy Grotowski, Pina Bausch, and Michael Chekhov's works. 

Amanda Haddock Faculty

Amanda Haddock

Amanda recently appeared in Giant Spoon's Back to the 90's in Las Vegas, The Banyan Family House at the Electric Forest Music Festival in Michigan, and directed and produced a featured performance with the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks. Prior to that she reprised her role as Madame Martine for the final installment in The Cabaret Trilogy with TBD Immersive in Washington, DC.  Her solo performance in the 2019 Capital Fringe show, Nothing Broken, was met with unprecedented popular acclaim and her work in Ambien Date Night garnered a Best Performance Honor at the 2015 Capital Fringe. She was a 2017 company member with Actors Repertory Theatre where she appeared in The Judas Goat as Olivia, The Adventures of the Extra Ordinary Superheroes as Gadsby Googlefry, Much Ado About Nothing as Beatrice, and served as a key collaborator and performer in the devised piece, #LYLO.  Other local stage credits include, Theater Alliance's Night Falls on the Blue Planet as Claudia and DC Dead and ATL Dead as Brookland. Amanda is also an award-winning filmmaker, taking home festival awards for Best Writing, Best Actress, and Best Villain, among others. Amanda studied Theatre & Drama at Indiana University and continued her training at the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts.    Amanda is especially adept at large- scale immersive activations, immersive improv, devised theater, and self-producing.  


Matt Bassett

Matt's acting credits include shows at Ford’s Theatre, Bay Theatre, Hub Theatre, Washington Stage Guild and the Kennedy Center’s Theatre for Young Audiences on Tour. He has directed productions for Arts on the Horizon, Compass Rose Studio Theater, People’s Branch Theatre and Tennessee Tech University. He is a proud member of Actors Equity Association. In addition to teaching at NCDA, Matt is an adjunct professor at Montgomery College and a teaching artist with Imagination Stage and Compass Rose Studio Theater. He currently serves as Artistic Director for Hub Theatre. 


Mario Baldessari

Mario has been a playwright, actor, and acting instructor in the DC area for more than 20 years. He has served as an artistic associate with Charter Theater and the original Washington Improvisational Theater (WIT); as a playwright in residence for First Draft at Charter Theater; and has founded both a comedy troupe (Dropping the Cow) and a small theater company (Crash of Rhinos). Acting credits include There is a Happiness That Morning Is, Orlando and Caesar & Dada (WSC Avant Bard); Noises Off, Parfumerie, Three Bears and Jack and the Bean-Stalk (1st Stage); The Every Fringe Show You Want To See in One Fringe Show Fringe Show (Capital Fringe Festival); and Fat Gay Jew and Sacred Cows (Charter Theater). NCDA has commissioned numerous plays from him for its Actors Repertory Theatre. Mario regularly teaches classes in acting and improvisation and playwriting for the Actors’ Center and has been a corporate trainer in creativity for PR firms such as Porter Novelli, GYMR and Devine + Powers.​​

Noah Schaefer actor prologue theatre

Noah Schaefer

Noah is a DC based actor, director, and casting director. As an actor, he has worked with Imagination Stage, 1st Stage, Keegan Theatre, Constellation Theatre Company, Keegan Theatre, NextStop Theatre Company, Flying V, and others. He has worked in casting for various theatres in the area for the past 7 years. He is a proud graduate of The National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts. Noah currently serves as the Associate Artistic Director of Prologue Theatre, where he also oversees all casting operations.


Christopher Herring

Since graduating from NCDA, Christopher has performed with: The Washington Stage Guild, NextStop Theatre, Flying V Theatre, Washington Shakespeare Company Avant Bard, the American Century Theatre, Imagination Stage, Theatre Alliance and numerous others. Film credits include: The Dirtyard (Kid McConaughey) with Crash of Rhinos, Late-Night Partying (John) with Abracadabra Productions, How Mulch is Made (Keysus) and Denny (Agent Winters) with Conservatory Productions, both winners of “Best in DC” for the 48-Hour Film Festival. He has also appeared in a number of regional and national commercials. Christopher is a production manager and casting director with Gondolin Inc., a character actor with Carbone Entertainment, a voice-over artist, and a musician.


Michael Harris

Michael is an actor, improviser, writer, and teacher. He has performed locally at Shakespeare Opera Theater as Falstaff in Merry Wives of Windsor & Bottom in Midsummer Night's Dream, at Compass Rose Theater as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof and as Multiple Characters in Forever Tuna. Amongst his other credits are Studio Theater, In the Red & Brown Water (O Li Roon & Man from State); Doorway Arts Ensemble, Endgame (Clov); Signature Theater, Dirty Blonde (Charlie & others). In addition, Michael is a company member of Lean & Hungry Theater and has performed in their productions of Hamlet (title role), As You Like It (Jacques,, The Scarlet Letter (Chillingworth), and King Lear (Cornwall, He served 7 years as the Executive/Artistic Director of the Baltimore Improv Group (BIG), and continues to perform, teach and develop new shows with BIG including improvised Shakespeare and an improvised Law & Order show. He has been an invited performer at comedy/improv Festivals from NYC to Austin & Chicago to Philadelphia.


Randy Baker

Randy is a playwright, director and the co-artistic director of Rorschach Theatre. His plays have been produced at Rorschach Theatre, Source Theatre, Forum Theatre (re)acts, Extreme Exchange, Three Leaches Theatre (Colorado), George Washington University and the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts. He has hosted readings and workshops with the National New Play Network, Inkwell Theatre, Theater J, the Arts Club of Washington, Wordsmyth Theater, Primary Stages, American University, Theater Alliance and Rorschach Theatre. As a director, for Rorschach Theatre he has directed The Minotaur, After the Quake, 1001, Rhinoceros, JB, Behold!, Fair Ladies at a Game of Poem Cards and Monster.  He has also directed for Source Theatre, Inkwell Theatre, Young Playwrights Theatre, the Conservatory’s Actors Repertory Theatre, Wayward Theatre, and Cherry Red Productions. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild and received his MFA from Goddard College. In addition to teaching at the Conservatory, he is also adjunct faculty at American University and an instructor at the Writer’s Center.​


Rex Daugherty

Rex is a DC based actor and director and currently serves as the Artistic Director of Solas Nua. He has performed at The Kennedy Center, The Shakespeare Theatre Company, The National Theatre, The Warner Theatre, Ford's Theatre, Signature Theatre, Round House Theatre, Folger Theatre, Rep Stage, Solas Nua, and Off Broadway at 59E59. He has received three Helen Hayes nominations and is a member of Actors’ Equity Association. Directing credits include: Wild Sky, Little Thing, Big Thing, Coolatully, and Misterman (Solas Nua); Night Falls on the Blue Planet (Theatre Alliance); Late: a cowboy song (No Rules Theatre Company); Suite Surrender, The Prince and the Troubadour (1st Stage); Wake Up, Brother Bear (Imagination Stage); Snow Day (Arts on the Horizon); Yours, Isabel (Edinburgh Fringe); The Beauty Queen of Leenane (Electric Chair Gallery); Bad Dates (Wayside Theatre); The Importance of Being Earnest (Catholic University) Angels in America (assistant - Forum Theatre); The Flick (assistant - Signature Theatre); and Billy Elliot (assistant - Signature Theatre). Rex is the co-creator of DC Dead - a zombie apocalypse survival experience. Find out more about this immersive, live action production on its website,


James Meerdter

James is an award-winning DC filmmaker and teaches on-camera programming at NCDA. He has guided students through dozens of productions in which they serve as both cast and crew, writing and directing their own short films and developing the skills to enter the professional world capable of producing their own work. James most recently won Best Director, Best Writing, and Best Film for the 2014 Crash of Rhino's film "MouseDAD!" He was awarded Best Cinematography and Best Song as well as Audience Choice in the 2013 48 Hour Film Festival. His films have shown in LA, premiering at the TCL Chinese Theatre, and on screens along the East Coast.