Meet Our Staff
John Pietrowski has been at Writers Theatre since its inception thirty years ago, and in his current position for the past twenty years. As an actor, he has recently performed as Professor Schrag in David Wiltse’s Sedition, and has played Zeblyan in Seth Rozin’s Two Jews Walk into a War at Writers Theatre, NJRep in Long Branch and Shadowland Theatre in Ellenville, NY. He reprised the role of Zeblyan in April 2011 at InterAct Theatre in Philadelphia.
At Writers Theatre, most recently he directed Richard Dressser’s The Last Days of Mickey and Jean in a coproduction with The Bickford Theatre in Morristown and The Oldcastle Theatre in Bennington, VT. His latest directing project, Mother Hicks by Suzan L. Zeder is currently running at The Growing Stage in Netcong, NJ. He has directed the Premiere Productions of Mahida’s Extra Key to Heaven by Russell Davis, Augusta by Richard Dresser, Rising Water by John Biguenet (coproduction with Shadowland Theatre), Where the Sun Never Sets by Robert Clyman, When Something Wonderful Ends by Sherry Kramer, Whores by Lee Blessing, Big Boys by Rich Orloff and Spain by Jim Knable (all co-productions with NJ Rep), The Good Girl is Gone by D.W. Gregory, Foreign Exchange by Peter Hays, Sally’s Porch and Song of Grendelyn by Russell Davis, I See My Bones by Kitty Chen, Sister Calling My Name by Buzz McLaughlin and three shows in Rowing To America: The Immigrant Project.
He has directed Richard Dresser’s Rounding Third at What Exit? Theatre Company and Shadowland Theatre, More Fun than Bowling by Jeffrey Sweet at 12 Miles West Theatre and Midnight Cry, Our Dad Is in Atlantis and Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie at The Growing Stage in Netcong, Tammy Ryan’s Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods at Premiere Stages. He has also directed Max McClean in productions of Acts of the Apostles, Mark’s Gospel, and Genesis at Writers Theatre, the latter piece also moving to productions at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland and the Lamb’s Theatre in NYC.
Other New York productions include readings of Song of Grendelyn by Russell Davis, at the Public Theatre and Alice’s Fourth Floor, as well as I See My Bones for Urban Stages. He has directed two radio plays for the WNYC Radio Stage Consortium, St. Joe’s Takes the Radio Stage and The Rehearsal, both of which have aired on National Public Radio. He also directed the stage adaptation of The Rehearsal, by J. Rufus Caleb, at the New Harmony Project.
His two plays Black Madonna and The Buda have been performed at Writers Theatre, Foundation Theatre, Loaves and Fish Theatre and Arts Club Theatre, and his most recent play, Dura Mater, was workshopped at Johns Hopkins in the fall of 2010.
Mr. Pietrowski was also the Program Coordinator of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Theatre Program for Teachers and Playwrights from 1988-94. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Performance Studies Department, he also holds an Masters of Public Administration in non-profit management from Seton Hall University, where his master’s thesis became the basis for New Jersey’s Arts Education Census Project. He teaches theatre history and stage management at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and has taught at Drew University, Seton Hall, Kean University, and Bloomfield College. He is a member of the 2001 class of Leadership New Jersey, Secretary of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance, Treasurer of the Madison Arts and Culture Alliance and the Treasurer of the National New Play Network.
Jim DeVivo is a teaching artist who specializes in youth-driven theatre and creates theatre with, for, and by young people. He is a PhD candidate in the Program in Educational Theatre at the Steinhardt School of Education at NYU where his dissertation will focus on the impact of arts education on former student-writers from the NJ Young Playwrights Festival. Jim is also an adjunct instructor at NYU, Manhattanville College, Middlesex County College, and Monmouth University.
As Director of Education for Writers Theatre, Jim coordinates the New Jersey Writers Project residencies, the Creative Arts Academy classes, and the statewide and local Young Playwrights Festivals. At NYU, Jim is the Artistic Associate for the New Plays for Young Audiences Series at the Provincetown Playhouse.
Jim has presented at national conferences for the American Alliance for Theatre and Education (AATE) and the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) regarding his work in playwriting and new play development for young people. Jim’s work with teachers includes workshops in drama-in-education practices at the NJEA Convention and at secondary schools across New York and New Jersey. He is a frequent reader/adjudicator for local and nationwide writing and recitation contests and consulted on the theatre exit exams for the NJ Department of Education.
As an actor, Jim performed with the New Plays for Young Audiences Series and with the Artpark Repertory Theatre in Lewiston, NY. As a dramaturg, he has worked with undergraduate playwriting students at Niagara University and NYU.
Jim is the recipient of the Lowell S. and Nancy Swortzell Graduate Scholarship (2008-2009), a member of the Liverpool (NY) Central School District Fine Arts Hall of Fame, a member of the advisory board for the Union County Academy of Performing Arts, and a recipient of a NJ Governor’s Award in Arts Education (2009).
He received his MA in Educational Theatre from New York University and a BFA in Theatre and English (dual major) from Niagara University.
Walter F. Rodriguez
Walter F. Rodriguez is a “Swiss Army Person,” with a varied skillset that’s had him working professionally in theatre, television, education, photography, business, graphic and web design, writing, and the world of museums.
As an actor, he’s toured throughout the U.S. and performed in regional and Off-Broadway theatres. He’s also worked in television, spending three years working on The Onion News Network, including the show’s Peabody Award-winning season in 2008. After leaving The Onion, Walter worked in development and as an Executive Producer for various film and TV projects. But it was when he was first cast in a reading of a new play at Writers Theatre (then known as Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey) that he got a glimpse into the world of new play development, fell in love with the process, and became an actor and teaching artist for Writers Theatre, eventually leading to his current position with the company.
As a photographer, he’s shot fashion and editorial spreads and ads for various high-end designers and brands in New York and shot the cover of Tim Hayes’ book, “Riding Home: The Power of Horses to Heal,” for St. Martin’s Press, a division of MacMillan Publishing. Seeing his work on book shelves was a dream come true for him, as he’s an avid reader. Walter’s work can be seen on his personal photography site, www.wfrphoto.com
In the business field, Walter co-founded Cozy Room, a luxury travel startup, in 2013. It lead to an immersion in the world of business, where he found himself in demand as a creative problem-solver and consultant. It also taught him the value of surrounding yourself with a great team, which he helped assemble.
He’s served as the Head Artifact Handler at the Discovery Times Square Exhibition Center in New York, where he lead his team in putting together many world-famous exhibits including “Harry Potter: The Exhibition, ” Odyssey: Pirates and Treasure,” and “Lego: The Art of the Brick.” He’s also worked professionally as a graphic designer, including being the long-time graphic designer for the incredible Wud Furniture Design company in Brooklyn, New York.
As a poet and writer, he spent a year working as the Arts & Leisure editor of an educational magazine called Forum and wrote two books, one a collection of poetry, and the other a mix of poems, short stories, and essays. He’s currently working on a new play, as being around all of the wonderful talent and creativity at Writers Theatre makes it almost impossible not to continually create yourself.
Walter is proud to be originally from Puerto Rico and even prouder to have spent his formative years split between growing up on the beaches of Isabela, Puerto Rico and the streets and parks of Dover, New Jersey. Jersey boy and tropical islander, “Swiss Army Person,” Director of Marketing and Community Development, lover of the Oxford comma, and a very proud and happy part of Writers Theatre of New Jersey.
For Writers Theatre’s mainstage, he has directed world premieres of Two Jews Walk Into a War… (co-produced with both NJ Rep and Shadowland Theatre), Sedition, The Good German, Sunrise at Monticello, Circumference of a Squirrel, as well as premieres of his own plays, Flying Crows (since published by Dramatic Publishing Co, 2010) and The Special Prisoner (starring William Schallert), each adapted from novels by Jim Lehrer. His years of collaboration with Mr. Lehrer have produced, as well, his adaptation of Lehrer’s novel Kick the Can, and, also at Writers Theatre, he has directed the concert reading of Mr. Lehrer’s play, The Will and Bart Show, with an all-star cast including Josef Sommer, Frank Converse, Pamela Payton-Wright, and John Astin.
Other recent projects: Jeff Daniels’ new play, Guest Artist (w/John Astin & Anthony Blaha), Shadowland Theatre, NY; Noël Coward’s rarely-produced final play, A Song at Twilight (w/Orson Bean & Alley Mills), Odyssey Theatre, Los Angeles; Bluff (w/John Astin) & Mrs. Warren’s Profession (w/Paula Prentiss & Prentiss Benjamin), BoarsHead Theatre, MI; and The Price (w/Orson Bean & Stephanie Zimbalist), Shadowland Theatre; Death of a Salesman (w/Frankie Faison), Luna Stage, NJ; area premiere of Canadian playwright Maureen Hunter’s Transit of Venus, Bickford Theatre, NJ; and The Value of Names (w/Jack Klugman, Dan Lauria & Liz Larsen), George Street Playhouse (NJ) & Falcon Theatre (Los Angeles).
Other notable area productions include The Gin Game (w/William Schallert); All My Sons (w/Richard Benjamin & Paula Prentiss), east coast premiere of Day & LaZebnick’s Tour De Farce (w/ Ames Adamson & Prentiss Benjamin), Immoral Imperatives (w/Malachi Throne & Laura Esterman), Waiting for Godot (w/Vin Scelsa & Paul Murphy), and the Equity world premiere of Sheldon Harnick’s musical, Dragons.
Rediscovered and directed lost American political comedy Spread Eagle (w/Ed Asner, Sharon Gless, Jamey Sheridan, Fred Savage), L.A. Theatre Works. Adapted & Directed Kate Atkinson’s Whitebread-Award-winning Behind the Scenes at the Museum (for which he was named Best Director of the Year by the The Star-Ledger); staged reading of Contact With the Enemy with Eli Wallach, Jack Klugman, and Joyce Van Patten (George Street).
Last April, directed first staged reading of Unexplored Interior, Jay Sanders, new epic play about the Rwandan genocide, at The Public Theater, with an award-winning cast including Boyd Gaines, Frankie Faison, Marlyn Afflack, Dion Graham, and Fritz Weaver as Mark Twain. His screenplay adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, Bluebeard, has been optioned by Quince Productions in Los Angeles.
He has adapted and directed works by Twain, Faulkner, O Henry, Joyce, Fitzgerald, Cheever, Runyon, and others. His adaptation, for radio, of Stephen Crane’s The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky, was produced at WGBH-Boston and broadcast on NPR Playhouse, and his performance as Charlie in The Foreigner was nominated for Best Comic Performance by The Star-Ledger. Upcoming projects include a new musical based on Rafael Sabatini’s Scaramouche; and Mr Glossman’s own adaptations of Jim Lehrer’s novel, Eureka; and of Raymond Chandler’s classic Trouble Is My Business at Portland Stage Company, following a staged reading here at Writers Theatre last December. Flying Crows and The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg are available from Dramatic Publishing.
Graduate of Northwestern University, ACT, BADA-Oxford, and Yale School of Drama. Lecturer in Directing and Shakespeare, Johns Hopkins University.
Jim Ligon is an actor, director, and teacher and has worked with Writers Theatre of New Jersey in all three of those capacities for the last 20 years as well as running the box office and designing/maintaining the original WTNJ website.
He holds an M.F.A. degree from the University of Virginia and teaches acting and improvisation at Montclair State University where he has directed numerous productions including, Radium Girls (which premiered here at Writers Theatre in the 1999-2000 season), All in the Timing, A Few Good Men, Nunsense, Deathtrap, Of Mice and Men, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Pippin.
He was on the theatre faculty at Northern Kentucky University for two years, where he directed the world premiere of The Great Easter Egg Hunt, by Ken Jones and Noel Coward’s Fallen Angels among other projects. He is also a teaching artist in the New Jersey Writers Project in high schools and elementary schools across the state.
Jim, along with fellow actor Michael Irvin Pollard, last year did a 7-week run of Greater Tuna both at the What Exit Theatre Company in Maplewood and the Bickford Theatre in Morristown. Most recently at Writers Theatre he was Sugar in the award-winning drama, Rising Water, by John Biguenet, a co-production with the Shadowland Theatrew in Ellenville, NY. Also at Writers Theatre, Jim was Bob in Where the Sun Never Sets by Robert Clyman and he played Papa in the world premiere of The Good Girl is Gone, by D.W. Gregory.
In NYC he created the role of Joe Spinelli in the hilarious new off-off Broadway comedy Skin Deep by Jon Lonoff, recently published by Samuel French. Also in New York he was Paul in the New York premiere of Jim Grimsley’s The Lizard of Tarsus, playing opposite John Pietrowski and directed by Joseph Megel. He was also in Heathen Valley and A Woman Without a Name, both in the Romulus Linney season at Signature Theatre Company.
Among his many regional theatre acting credits, he counts as favorites: Waiting for Godot, Greater Tuna (7 productions at different regional theatres across the country), How the Other Half Loves, Rounding Third (2 productions and counting…), Speed the Plow, ART, Rising Water, and A Midsummer Nights Dream. Jim can also be seen on your TV set in many regional and national commercials. Check out his web site at www.jimligon.com.
Danielle Constance has served as production stage manager and prop master at Writers Theatre since 2005. Dani has been a teaching artist here, and previously for Notre Dame High School and Ewing High School, where she also designed and directed for their performing arts departments, and for the NJ Governor’s School of the Arts.
She has also been stage manager and/or prop designer for: The Growing Stage, Passage Theatre, Centenary Stage Co., Shadowland Theatre, NJ REP, What Exit?, Luna Stage, The Bickford Theatre, Cape May Stage, Premiere Stages, Strange Dog Theatre, the Madison Y.P.F. and the NJ Young Playwrights Festival at Premiere Stages.
Dani started her theatre career on stage with her parents in Trenton’s Theater-in-the -Park at age 4. Since then she has danced & performed in hundreds of shows, designed sets, directed, built puppets, props and has even sung with a rock band! She graduated from Trenton Stage College (now The College of NJ) and is a member of The Stage Managers’ Association and Actors’ Equity Association.