The Intensive Faculty is made up of  Steppenwolf Classes West teachers and Guest Artists, each of whom bring their own unique voice, style, and experience to the classroom. Our teachers work from the intellect, the heart, and the soul, creating a classroom environment where individuals can  take risks and support each other in their craft. These artists bring decades of experience as actors, directors, teachers, and working artists to their classrooms, and each student is afforded an opportunity to train, to grow, and to thrive under their guidance.

2018 Summer Intensive Teachers


Alexandra Billings, Viewpoints

Ms. Billings currently co-stars as Davina in Amazon's Golden Globe Award winning comedy Transparent. She has taught at the Steppenwolf School in Chicago since 1998. Alexandra has studied Viewpoints under Tina Landau, one of the originators of Viewpoints along with Anne Bogart. She has also taught Viewpoints – as both an acting tool and a rehearsal technique – at Universities and theaters across the country since 1995, including the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois, Louis University, Depaul University, and has been on staff at both Act One Studios and for the Illinois Theatre Alliance. Ms Billings earned her MFA at California State University Long Beach and has been on staff as a professor there since 2008. 


Shannon Cochran, Scene Study

Ms. Cochran is an actress and director who has been working in theatre, film, and television for 30 years and has performed with Steppenwolf Theatre Company multiple times. She's been a member of the teaching staff at The School at Steppenwolf in Chicago, as well as Steppenwolf Classes West since its beginnings. She has been a visiting teacher / lecturer at USC, Northwestern, DePaul, and Loyola Universities. Ms. Cochran has directed productions for Remy Bummpo, Slaughterhouse Productions, Greasy Joan, and Chicago's Odyssey Theatre.

Julie Granata, Movement

Ms. Granata is an educator and performer with 20 years of professional experience in regional theaters across the country, including Ensemble Theatre Company, Rubicon Theatre Company, Laguna Playhouse, B Street Theatre, and Boston Court on the West Coast and Goodman Theatre, Timeline Theatre Company, and Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago. She has worked in television, film, radio, and is a voiceover artist for interactive media. Julie holds a BFA in Acting from The Theatre School at DePaul University, a proud member of SAG - AFTRA & AEA, a graduate of the SITI Company Intensive, and holds her MFA Acting/Performance Pedagogy from CSULB. Julie's interest in the interconnectedness of movement, text analysis, and unscripted collaboration sprang from her experiences as trained dancer and certified yoga instructor. The intersection of her work as a performer and her deep interest in body mechanics, movement as meditation, and the physical expression of self has led to her work as a performing arts educator.


Eric Hunicutt, Improvisation

Eric's work as an actor includes television, film, sketch comedy, commercials, and over two decades performing improv. Eric has studied and performed with The Second City, the Improv Olympic (iO)  in Chicago and iO West in LA, UCB, Comedy Sportz, and more. He is a member of the acclaimed improv ensemble the Reckoning, who began performing in Chicago in 2002 and continue to tour and perform in Los Angeles. His work as a director includes plays, solo shows, web series and short films. He is a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab and the Echo Theatre Company in Los Angeles.

In addition to Steppenwolf Classes West, where he has taught for the past ten years, Eric has taught at Warner Loughlin Studios, The Art of Acting Studio,  iOWest, BGB Studio, AK Studios, California State University’s Summer Arts intensive, UC San Diego, and at dozens of festivals across the country. In addition to teaching actors, Eric uses improv to train scientists and researchers at UCSD to more effectively communicate their research to the public.


Tom Irwin, Scene Study

Mr. Irwin is a Co-Founder of Steppenwolf Classes West, and a Steppenwolf Ensemble Member since 1979. He has been involved as an actor or director in over 50 productions with Steppenwolf Theatre. Tom has been on the faculty of The Goodman School of Drama at DePaul University, Columbia College and The School at Steppenwolf, and has taught at Steppenwolf Classes West since its beginnings.


Jeff Perry, Scene Study

Jeff starred for seven seasons on the ABC hit series Scandal, playing the role of Cyrus Beene, The White House Chief of Staff. Jeff is a co-founder of Chicago's internationally acclaimed Steppenwolf Theatre, The School at Steppenwolf, Steppenwolf Classes West and Steppenwolf Films.

Directing credits at Steppenwolf include Educating Rita (in Chicago and Off Broadway), The HothouseThe Homecoming, Little Egypt (World Premiere) and A Moon for the Misbegotten.

Acting credits at Steppenwolf include Uncle VanyaAugust Osage County (also NY, London, Sydney), Balm in Gilead (also Off-Broadway), The Time of Your Life (also Seattle, San Francisco), Picasso at the Lapin Agile (World Premiere), The Grapes of Wrath (also Broadway and London), The Caretaker (also Broadway) and Streamers (also Kennedy Center).

Past Summer Intensive Faculty / Guest Artists: Rob Clare, Linda Lowy, Hugh O'Gorman, Monica Payne, Kim Rubinstein, and Christopher Shaw.