Meet the Collective
Founding Member/Casting Director
Laura Espino is a Mexican actor and teacher. Born to Mexican immigrants in San Francisco, she is a San Francisco native and a teacher in the San Francisco Unified School District, teaching in Spanish and English. Currently, she teaches freshmen at the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of The Arts. As a casting professional, she has cast projects at Golden Thread Productions, Marin Theatre, Playwrights Foundation and SF Playhouse. As an actor, her credits include work with Theatreworks, The Magic Theatre, Playground, California Shakespeare Theatre, and Playwrights Festival. She is a proud company member of TheatreFirst in Berkeley and also a Theatre Bay Area Award Finalist. As an MLA Candidate at Stanford University, Laura is a fierce advocate for interdisciplinary art. She lives in San Francisco with her partner and three children.
Dori L. Jacob, CSA
Founder & Casting Director
Dori Jacob was born and raised in the Bay Area and has been working in the local, regional theatre scene in myriad capacities for the past 12 years. Pre-pandemic, she served as the resident Casting Director at San Francisco Playhouse and Marin Theatre Company consecutively. Prior to MTC, Ms. Jacob was the Director of New Play Development for Magic Theatre and dramaturged the world premiere productions of Octavio Solis’ Se Llama Cristina, Linda McLean’s Every Five Minutes, Christina Anderson’s pen/man/ship, and John Kolvenbach’s Sister Play. Further Bay Area credits include: Assassins (Shotgun Players), Marilee Talkington’s The Creative Process (SOMArts), Laura Schellhardt's The Comparables and Elizabeth Hersh’s Shelter In Place (Playwrights Foundation), Colman Domingo’s The Brother(s) and The Kilbanes’ Weightless (Z Space). As Magic's producer for all new play development, credits include: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 & 2015 Virgin Play Series, the 2012 Asian Reading Series, and the 2013 Costume Shop Festival. Ms. Jacob previously served on the executive board and literary committee for the National New Play Network and is a graduate of UC Santa Cruz and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. As a daughter of an immigrant and a mother to a child with Autism, advocacy is in her bones and The Casting Collective is the answer to Ms. Jacob's desire to make a lasting, positive impact on her community and her field.
Leigh Rondon-Davis (they/them) is a performer, dramaturg, and director from both New York City and the Bay Area. They attended Wellesley College and were a member of Oakland's Laney College Fusion Theatre Project. Leigh’s performance credits include: Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. and Inked Baby (Crowded Fire Theater), Port Stories (Idiot String), Variety Pack in 2018 and 2019 (Cutting Ball Theater), Where The Boys Are (FaultLine Theater), A 24-Decade History of Popular Music (Curran and Magic Theatre), and Hamlet and Dance of the Holy Ghosts (Oakland Theater Project). They have directed and dramaturged at Shotgun Players, Oakland Theater Project, PlayGround, Aurora Theatre Company, Crowded Fire, TheatreFirst, Playwrights Foundation, Moxie Arts NYC, 3GirlsTheatre, The Bowstring Collective, and Magic Theatre. Leigh is on staff as Shotgun Players’ first-ever Associate Artistic Director and Crowded Fire Theater’s Curator of Online Programming, where they host a weekly Twitch Stream and are also a Resident Artist. They are also an Artistic Company Member at Shotgun and Oakland Theater Project, Board Member at Cutting Ball Theater, and Producing Director at The Forum Collective.
Kieran is a Bay Area director and dramaturg focused on devised performance and the development of new plays. Their work has been produced at The Forum Collective, Quantum Dragon Theater, FaultLine Theater, Fuse Theater, Dragon Theater, Utopia Theater Project, and more. A TITAN Award winner and two-time CA$H Grant recipient, Kieran is also a company member at the Oakland Theater Project, a former artistic director of the U.C. Santa Cruz poor theatre performance lab, Barnstorm, and a founding member of The Forum Collective. They currently serve as the Literary Development Director for The Forum Collective, and are a former Associate Literary Manager for the Bay Area Playwrights Festival.
As a Bay Area native, Mariel grew up knowing there was something unique about her hometown “the city” but she also recognized that there was a world full of imagination and creativity to explore outside of her everyday reality. She attended San Francisco School of Arts for her first year of high school but realized early on that her talents were better suited behind the scenes and not on stage in front of an audience.
In 2005, she volunteered for two local filmmakers, Benjamin Morgan and Brant Smith, to help with a grassroots outreach and marketing campaign for their feature film Quality of Life. Since then, she has independently sought out opportunities to cast student films, indie projects and music videos for the credit and experience while continuing to work full time as an administrative assistant. She applied and was accepted for a Casting Associate Internship at the San Francisco Playhouse in 2019 where she met and worked closely with casting director Dori Jacob, and after some time away from the industry in 2020, Mariel is excited and looking forward to what the future holds as she joins this amazing team of professionals at the Casting Collective.
Anina Baker is an actor, casting associate, and EMT, native to the Bay Area. She is arecent graduate of UC Berkeley holding degrees in Sociology and Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies. Anina has also had extensive training at the American Conservatory
Theater in San Francisco where her interest and passion for casting was born. She worked closely with Dori Jacob as a casting associate for the San Francisco Playhouse, assisting with casting and programming for their 2019-2020 season.
Growing up as a Chinese Jewish adoptee in an LGBTQ family, social justice and advocacy has been an essential part of her upbringing and identity. She is committed to making others feel
heard, understood, and connected to the world and those around them through her work. Anina is so excited to be part of the Casting Collective and for the resurgence of live theater in
the Bay Area!
Keith Carames is a teacher and director living in San Francisco. He received the Meritorious Achievement in Directing award from the Kennedy Center, has consulted with Carole Shorenstein Hays at the Curran Theater and has taught at the American Conservatory Theater Young Conservatory. For twelve years, he taught at The Ruth Asawa School of the Arts where he served as the Head of Technical Theatre and as the Artistic Director of Main Stage Events. While at the College of Creative Arts at SFSU, he served as Audience Services Director and taught both Acting and Masks & Movement. Most recently, he collaborated with SFBATCO, the San Francisco Opera Guild and the Mission Academy of Performing Arts at the Brava Theater to create new work.
He now works full-time at James Lick Middle School teaching theatre arts and directing after school productions. He consults nationally as a Master Trainer with ArtfulLearning.org as part of the Leonard Bernstein Center for Education. He works with local artists to write, produce and direct original productions for both youth and adults, most notably The Barbary Coast Revue which received TalkingBroadway.com ’s 5-star rating as a “theatrical gem!” (Richard Connema).
Awards include the SFUSD Dream Catcher for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Education, SFUSD's Teacher of the Year, the Susan Stauter Bravery in Arts Education Award, the Engineers Alliance for the Arts Teacher of the Year Award and the first ever Pacific Singers and Actors Workshop STAR Award.
R. Réal Vargas Alanis
They | Purépecha | Tlahualil
R. Réal Vargas Alanis is a world-renowned, 2-spirit, indigiqueer artist from Winton, CA (Yokut). They have worked nationally, internationally, in regional theatre, and touring productions. Réal is the current Artistic Director of the arts and advocacy organization: IN THE MARGIN — leading an ensemble of intersectional and interdisciplinary QT,BIPoC artists in New Work Development and Civic Engagement.
Réal was recently named to be among “the best latinx comedic talent in the country” by the Latinx Theatre Commons for their piece A Little Bit of Gay: A Stand-up Piece by a Homo. Vargas Alanis is currently the Associate Director for the tour of Between Two Knees by The 1491’s, Directed by Eric Ting.
Réal was among the inaugural cohort of the National New Play Network’s Bridge Program as an Executive Producer for The New American Theatre Festival developing 10 New Works. Réal’s commissioned docuvela, La Demanda: A Call to Action – co-written with union leader Margarita A. Cacho, sparked protests and rallies in the Central Valley in support of food factory and farm workers contributing to the current Farm Worker’s Movement.
Réal is also a minister, curandera, and co-run their taco business Sexii Tacos: Where the tacos are Sexii, and so are you. Feel free to contact them to officiate your wedding… or cater it… or both.
Juliann Lathung is currently a student at San Francisco State University. She received the Toni K. Weingarten Youth in Theatre Scholarship to study Theatre Arts with a Performance Emphasis at San Francisco State University. She made her acting debut with The Fusion Theatre Project at Laney College in their production of We Are Pussy Riot or Everything is P.R. by Barbara Hammond where she played the roles of the Defense and the British Feminist Lecturer. She reprised these roles for performances at TheatreFirst with The Holy Fools. Her other performance credits include a virtual reading of Deirdre the Queer Queen by Ai Aida in collaboration with the Aurora Theatre Company as Chorus Girl A and Demeter, a student short film, and a commercial spot for the California Community Colleges. She is also a company member of the newly formed theatre company DaMTspace. She made her official debut with the company in a performance of Deirdre the Queer Queen as Izanami at Mile High Theater.
While she has a passion for performing, she has developed a desire to take her theatrical experience beyond the stage. From assistant lighting design to board operating, she has discovered new ways of taking part in the world building and storytelling of creative works and wants to continue exploring. She is excited and grateful for the opportunity to be joining the amazing team of professionals at the Casting Collective.