Cast of King Lear


* Indicates member of Actors' Equity Association

+ Indicates SF Shakes Resident Artist

Jessica Powell

Jessica Powell* King Lear

Jessica Powell is a Bay Area actor, most recently seen as Momo in The Humans for The Stage (San Jose). She played Helicanus, The Bawd, et al. in SF Shakes’ Pericles (2008). Other roles include Volumnia (Coriolanus), Georgia O’Keeffe (A Conversation with Georgia O’Keeffe); Sister Aloysius (Doubt), and Elizabeth I (Mary Stuart), all for Pacific Rep.; Claire (Uncanny Valley), Polly (Other Desert Cities), Hannah, et al. (Angels in America), Aunt Eller (Oklahoma!), Mrs. Roswell (Ice Glen), Goneril (King Lear), Kate (All My Sons), Countess of Roussillon (All’s Well), Aemilia (A Comedy of Errors), Mame (Mame), Lee Green (The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife), The Wicked Witch of the West (The Wizard of Oz - twice!), Mrs. Higgins (My Fair Lady), Joanne (Company) Lady Macbeth (Macbeth), Margrethe (Copenhagen), and Ethel Thayer (On Golden Pond). Jessica co-founded Symmetry Theatre Company and has been an Actors’ Equity member since 1989.

Phil Lowery

Phil Lowery*+ Earl of Gloucester

Phil is a director, actor, stage manager, teacher, and a proud member of the SF Shakes Resident Artist company, and of Actors Equity Association, and the Education Director for SF Shakespeare Festival. He has performed with Shakespeare on Tour (Macbeth) and Free Shakespeare in the Park (The Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet and The Winter’s Tale), was Assistant Director for A Midsummer Night's Dream, and looks forward to performing in King Lear this summer. Other companies Phil has appeared with include Shotgun Players, Central Works Ensemble and Lamplighters Music Theatre, where he is also on staff. Phil has directed musicals, operas and operettas around the Bay Area for companies such as Altarena Playhouse, Berkeley Opera, Pocket Opera, Lyric Theatre of San Jose, and Lamplighters.

Leontyne Mbele-Mbong

Leontyne Mbele-Mbong* Goneril

Leontyne Mbele-Mbong is delighted to return to SF Shakes where was last seen as Gertrude in Hamlet. Most recent shows: Bull in a China Shop with the Aurora, Rime of the Ancient Mariner with Word for Word, and Macbeth with African-American Shakespeare Company. Other AASC favorites include the title role in Medea (TBA Award), and Cleopatra in Antony & Cleopatra (TBA Award Finalist). Other favorites: Temple, Breakfast with Mugabe, Watch on the Rhine, Top Girls, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Fences, Andromache, Candide, Richard III (3 times), Twelfth Night, and Intimate Apparel (Mayme; ARTY Award, best supporting actress).

Melissa Ortiz

Melissa Ortiz* Regan

Melissa Ortiz is overjoyed to make her San Francisco Shakespeare debut. She is a Producing Artistic Director for ShotzSF as well as a PlayGround Company Member. Bay Area acting credits include: Anna in Anna Considers Mars (PlayGround), Lizzy in The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley (Marin Theatre Company), Masha in Seeds (Utopia), Celine in The Moonrisers (The Moonrisers), Masha in The Seagull (Utopia), Emily in Value Over Replacement (PlayGround), Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet (The Free Theatre), Miss Julie in Miss Julie (Amios West). She received her MFA in Acting from the National Theatre Conservatory in Denver, Colorado. She sends her love to her very amazing family and her totally awesome husband.

Diana Lauren Jones

Diana Lauren Jones Cordelia/The Fool

As an actress, Diana has worked commercially, off-Broadway, regionally, and in voice over and independent film. She moved to the Bay Area from the East Coast just over a year ago, and currently lives in Alameda. She earned a B.F.A from Mason Gross School Of The Arts and trained/performed at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater in London. She is passionate about the arts, challenging the status quo, sustainability, and lifelong learning. Diana holds a Masters in Public Administration, has lived in Mozambique, and also loves to swim.

Cassidy Brown

Cassidy Brown* Earl of Kent

Cassidy Brown is an actor and improviser who was last seen on the SF Shakes stage as a blue-faced juggling twin Antipholus in Comedy of Errors. He has also been seen at Berkeley Rep, San Jose Rep, Theatreworks, San Jose Stage, Word for Word, Capital Stage, Pacific Repertory Theatre, Golden Thread, Center REP, and with both Marin Shakes and Carmel Shakes, as well as numerous productions of The 39 Steps. Most recently, Cassidy can be heard as the co-host of the creativity and spirituality podcast, "All the Answers".

Ron Chapman

Ron Chapman Edmund/Duke of Burgundy

Ron Chapman is an SF Bay Area based actor who believes in the power and necessity of great storytelling. He last appeared as The Duke in African American Shakespeare Company's Cinderella.

Yohana Ansari-Thomas

Yohana Ansari-Thomas Edgar/King of France

Yohana Ansari-Thomas is an actor and artist currently based in Oakland, CA. Locally, he has worked with TheatreFirst, Shotgun Players, Ubuntu Theater Project, and the American Conservatory Theater, among others. Yohana is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied theater and architecture. Alongside acting, he works with various colleagues and organizations in the fields of architectural design, art practice, choreography, design, new media research, and pedagogy. For more, visit

Moore David

David Everett Moore*+ Duke of Albany/Oswald

David is a Bay Area actor and teaching artist. A Resident Artist of the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, David has performed in numerous Free Shakespeare in the Park productions as well as the SF Shakes School Tour, and has taught in the Midnight Shakespeare program along with other in-school residencies. As an actor, David has worked with several regional and local theaters, including Crowded Fire Theater, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Marin Shakespeare Company, Word for Word, Just Theater, and Marin Theatre Company. David also teaches with Tomorrow Youth Repertory, and has worked as a Teaching Artist at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. David is a proud graduate of UC Berkeley and its Theater and Performance Studies program.

Sharon Huff

Sharon Huff Duke of Cornwall/Lear's Attendant

Sharon Huff, a former Resident Artist with San Francisco Shakespeare, has a long history as a designated hitter with the company. Shakespeare on Tour: Julius Caesar (Cassius), Macbeth (Lady Macbeth), Romeo and Juliet (Nurse), The Tempest (Alonso/Stephano) and Hamlet (Polonius/Laertes). Shakespeare in the Park: Hamlet (Polonius) and Cymbeline (Queen). Currently, she is directing The Tempest at Mule Creek State Prison through Marin Shakespeare’s Social Justice Program and designing costumes for Water by the Spoonful at San Francisco State University. Like Isak Dinesen, she judges everyone by their reaction to King Lear.

Viv Helvajian

Viv Helvajian Attendant/Servant/Soldier/Herald

Viv Helvajian is a rising junior at NYU Tisch, studying Musical Theatre and Anthropology. She has recently performed in 54 Below’s "I Am Woman" live-streamed on YouTube, and as Duke Senior in As You Like It. This is her debut performance with SF Shakes and she is radically grateful for the opportunity. She commends Elizabeth, Karen, and Neal for regarding massive troubleshooting with tireless enthusiasm and trust, and Christian for making each day hilarious. To the entire King Lear Family, the inconceivable has been possible thanks to your incredible collaboration! Cheers!

Suhail Kumar

Suhail Kumar Curan

Suhail Kumar is an 18 year old actor originally from the Bay Area, California. Suhail is currently pursuing his BFA in acting at Syracuse University. King Lear will be his first performance with San Francisco Shakespeare Company, as well as his first Shakespeare experience. He is especially excited about the unique presentation style of this show, and is excited to see the reactions to this hi-tech Zoom performance. Outside of acting, Suhail enjoys playing and watching basketball, working out and doing yoga, and reading plays.

Tessa Nesbet

Tessa Nesbet Attendant/Servant/French Soldier/Captain

Tessa is incredibly grateful to be interning and performing with SFShakes this summer! As a native San Franciscan and former Bay Area Shakespeare Camper, Tessa couldn't envision a better company to be making her professional debut with. Tessa is a senior at NYU studying Musical Theatre at Tisch and couldn't be more excited to graduate in the coming semester. All my love to the cast and crew who worked so diligently to make this platform accessible! For mom and dad.

Elizabeth Carter

Elizabeth Carter Director

Elizabeth Carter is thrilled to delve into King Lear with SF Shakes. She has had the pleasure of directing Bondage for Alter Theatre. She has directed for the California Shakespeare Theater Conservatory for nearly 20 years. Directorial credits include Richard III, The Winter’s Tale, As you Like It, The Tempest, Macbeth, and Much Ado about Nothing. Currently she is the Shakespeare and Voice Artist in Residence for the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts (SOTA) Theater Department. While Managing Director of Oakland Public Theater she also directed Motherlove by August Strindberg. As an actor Elizabeth has appeared in numerous Bay Area theaters including California Shakespeare Theater, Marin Theatre Co., Aurora Theatre Co., SF Shakespeare Festival, The Magic Theatre, San Jose Stage, and TheatreWorks. She is a SFBATCCO award recipient for Trouble in Mind at the Aurora Theatre Co.