Faculty and Staff/Resident Company

Claudia Billings
College Associate Professor
Office: CFTA #313

Claudia holds a B.S. in Theatre and Dance from the University of Wyoming and an M.A. in English Literature from NMSU. She currently teaches Introduction to Theatre and Acting. She also serves as the coordinator for all theatre general education classes and acts and directs for ASTC/NMSU.

Jim Billings
College Associate Professor / Resident Scenic and Lighting Designer
Office: CFTA #135B

Originally from Casper, Wy Jim has a BS from the University of Wyoming and an MFA in scenic design from California Institute of the Arts. He often works as a freelance designer in addition to NMSU duties. Design experience includes design for dance, theatre, opera, industrials sculptures and museums. Jim and his wife Claudia helped to found Stage 3 theatre in Casper, Wy in 1980 which is still in operation and vibrant. Jim first came to Las Cruces as an ASTC guest artist, designing the scenery for Spring Awakening in 1985. Courses Jim teaches include scenic design, lighting design, and computer scenographics. Jim received the Ralph B. Crouch award in 2002 for contributions to the life of NMSU, the Community Arts Award from the Dona Ana Arts Council in 2006 and the Department of Theatre Arts’ BRAVO award for service in 2012.  Jim is the inventor of the “KeyBob." Jim’s favorite artist, his daughter Maggie, is a government major at NMSU. One of Jim’s favorite experiences with NMSU Theatre Arts/ASTC was co-directing The Laramie Project with his wife Claudia. For more information about Jim’s current work, check out his website: jimbillingsdesign.com.

Deborah Brunson
College Associate Professor / Resident Costume Designer
Office: CFTA #119D

Originally from Mobile, Alabama, Deborah received a BFA in Costume Design from The University of Alabama in 1977, and an MFA in Costume Design from the University of Texas at Austin in 1980. She has been Resident Costume Designer at NMSU/ASTC since 1988. She also works professionally in many areas of design, always involving students whenever possible. Her professional theatre credits include The Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare in Santa Fe, The New Mexico Rep, Snowmass/Aspen Rep, Utah Summer Music Theatre, Tuacahn Theatre, Jenny Wiley Theatre and the Omaha Community Playhouse. 

She also works in film in a number of different capacities, including consulting on period accuracy and working with actors on period-specific movement and comportment. Her recent film credits include Ambush at Dark Canyon, (where she got to fit Kix Brooks in period western wear!), A Country Christmas, and most recently as pulling specialist for the Emmy-winning film Bessie where she was pleased to see two garments that she made for NMSU productions being worn by Queen Latifah and Mo’nique!

She does many unique fabrication projects, including recently producing an 8-layer, 4’ diameter Green Chile Cheeseburger that was introduced at the NM State Fair and named “El Whoppo” by a many-entry naming contest.  Most recently, she produced costumes for the Drum Majors and Color Guard for the Mayfield High School Band—her 4th such project.  Her favorite project was a joint venture between The NMSU Theatre, Dance and Music Departments where she got to design and fabricate costumes based on desert life such as Roadrunners, Tumbleweeds and Cactuses.

She enjoys working with museums to help them accurately portray period-wear, including The NM Farm & Ranch Museum, the NMSU Museum, and she recently made reproduction garments for the Tour Guides at the Magoffin Home in El Paso.

She has worked extensively with EP fiber artist (former student and Department graduate) Wayne Hilton.  Utilizing student interns in paid positions, she has coordinated the fabrication of clothing for 7’ tall found-object metal “Catrina” Dia de los Muertos sculptures made from vintage textiles that are re-configured as elaborately detailed period costumes.  In her third summer on the project, she produced 5 costumes that represent the Luchador Mexican wrestling tradition through the use of found-object textiles and influenced by the Commedia Dell ’Arte.  At the conclusion of several smaller exhibits throughout the southwest--a retrospective of Hilton’s work, which represents a three-year collaboration with Deb and many of the NMSU Theatre Arts students, will be presented at the El Paso Museum of Art.

Nichole Hamilton
Assistant Professor of Theatre
Office: CFTA 311

Nichole earned a BA in Theatre from the University of Montevallo near Birmingham, Alabama (PV!) and an MFA in Acting from the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL (Go Gators!). Post graduate school, she taught adjunct at the University of Florida for classes in Voice, Acting I-III, Audition Workshop, and Theatre Appreciation. Currently, Nichole is teaching an online Theatre Aesthetics course for incarcerated students through Ashland University in Ohio.

Nichole is a proud member of Actor's Equity, a company member and advisory committee member at the Hippodrome Theatre in Gainesville Florida, and a teacher candidate with the Michael Chekhov Association. She has worked professionally as an actor, director and sometimes stage manager with companies in NYC, MA, FL, GA, TN, NC and CA. This summer, Nichole performed her devised solo performance entitled Dame daDA & the Meta Show at the Minnesota Fringe Festival. She is thrilled and honored to join the faculty at NMSU (Go Aggies!).

David Hereford
Technical Director
Office: Scene Shop

David received his BFA in Theatre from the University of New Mexico, a BA in Forestry from the University of Montana and two years as a graduate assistant in Range Science at NMSU. Before coming to NMSU, he worked five seasons at the Santa Fe Opera as Props Carpenter, a season at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival on the props crew, one year at The Denver Center Theatre Company as a scenic carpenter and a season at the Manitoba Theatre Centre as Props Master. After a short vacation in Forestry, David returned to Theatre at NMSU as Technical Director in 1990. He spent six years on the Dona Anna Arts Council during the renovation of the Rio Grande Theatre, plus an extra four seasons assisting with the Renaissance Arts Faire.

Jim Jaworski
Scene Shop Foreman / Technical Director
Office: Scene Shop

Jim is originally from Western New York.  Born and raised in Buffalo until moving north to the less crowded town of Lockport. He holds an AAS in Surveying Technology from SUNY at Alfred. Later in his working life he received a BS in Industrial Technology with Minors in Urban Planning and Geography from Buffalo State College. After military service as a construction carpenter and surveyor he completed a five-year apprenticeship to become a Journeyman Wood Patternmaker. The rather poor economic climate in Western New York found him taking work in other trades such as machinist, production machinist and jig and fixture maker. The move to New Mexico has been a blessing.  He has been the Scene Shop Foreman since September 2002 and made the seemingly difficult adjustment from work in a manufacturing environment to an academic one.  He enjoys wood turning, ceramics and oil painting when time allows.  Lately he has been making pens and other small turned objects using acrylics. His passion for golf has taken a back burner for now.

Wil Kilroy
Academic Department Head / Professor
Office: CFTA #318

Wil has worked nationally as an actor and director, recently appearing as Steve in Becky’s New Car, with the Good Theatre in Portland.  Other stage roles range from Michael in Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding to Laertes in Hamlet, with TV appearances including As the World Turns, All My Children, Babylon Five, and commercials.  Wil is also an alumni guest artist for The State Ballet of Rhode Island where he annually plays the role of Dr. Coppelius in Coppelia.

Wil’s directing credits range from Nunsense to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – an original presentation which was devised with the cast, and his productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Laramie Project, and Purple Breasts were all chosen to perform at the New England Kennedy Center’s American College Theatre Festival. Purple Breasts was presented at several additional venues, including at the National Breast Care Conference in Washington, D.C.

Wil was part of a cultural exchange which entailed teaching and directing in Mytilene on the island of Lesvos, Greece, and he taught in London for several summers.  As the co-founder of the National Michael Chekhov Association, along with the executrix of Michael Chekhov’s estate, the late Mala Powers, Wil has taught workshops all over the country, in venues ranging from Loyola Marymount University to Bowling Green University, and at various conferences.  Wil has been a workshop presenter and participated as an actor/director annually for the New Play Development Program at the national conference of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education. Wil is former New England Chair of the Kennedy Center’s American College Theatre Festival, and was awarded the Kennedy Center bronze medallion for achievement in Theatre Education in 2014.  Wil has also served as the chair of the New England Theatre Conference.

Wil is the recipient of the Moss Hart Award, the Maine Education Association’s Human and Civil Rights Award, an acting scholarship for study with Uta Hagen, USM’s Advisor award, and USM’s Outstanding Teacher/Scholar Award. Wil is also a certified fitness instructor.

BFA:  University of Rhode Island
MFA:  University of Illinois

Additional Training:
The National Shakespeare Conservatory, NYC
The American Academy of Dramatic Art
H.B. Studios, NYC
The Michael Chekhov Studio, NYC

Larissa Lury
Assistant Professor
Office: CFTA #317

Larissa Lury is one of five inaugural recipients of the National Directors Fellowship, a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab, an Affiliated Artist with New Georges, a Volunteer Director with the 52nd Street Project, and was a Resident Director at Ensemble Studio Theatre from 2008-09.  She earned her BS from Northwestern University and her MFA from UC San Diego.

She has directed and workshopped plays for companies including Ensemble Studio Theatre, Clubbed Thumb, Keen Company’s Keen Teens, New Georges, Ma-Yi, TimeLine, McCarter Theatre’s Youth Ink!, American Southwest Theatre Company, Passage Theatre, Abingdon/Small Pond, Leviathan Lab, Dog Run Rep, Prospect Theatre, Six Figures, and The Loft. She received an AREA award for project development from chashama for the site specific Porch Plays

Her focus is primarily on the development of new work, both traditionally scripted and devised, and the reinvention of lesser-known plays.  Her background in acrobatics often filters into the physical life of her productions.   Some favorite recent projects include: West Highland Way (Meridith Friedman) and Twelfth Night for ASTC at NMSU; Flip Turn (Madeleine George); Something Fine (Eric Dufault); Hookman (by Lauren Yee); Kasimir and Karoline (by Odön von Horváth); Small Prophecies (by David Myers, San Diego Critics Circle Best Play Nomination, 2011), and Oyster (by Ronald McCants, SD Critic’s Circle: Best Play, 2010).  She’s also recently enjoyed being a part of the development process for plays by Jiehae Park and Emily Dendinger.

Current collaborations include a play with music sprung from the Persephone myth with playwright Lauren Yee and composer Pearl Rhein, as well as a part-factual, part fantastical devised play about Yuri Gagarin and the first human spaceflight.  This winter, she will direct a National New Play Network rolling world premiere production of in a word by Lauren Yee at Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company in San Diego, CA.


Dr. William Storm
Office: CFTA #320

Before joining the NMSU faculty, Dr. Storm taught in the Theatre and English departments at the University of California, Santa Barbara, UC Irvine, and the University of Southern California.  His doctorate, from UCSB, is in dramatic literature and theory and he holds an MFA in playwriting from USC.  He is the author ofAfter Dionysus: A Theory of the Tragic (Cornell), Irony and the Modern Theatre (Cambridge), and Dramaturgy and Dramatic Character: A Long View (Cambridge, 2016) as well as scholarly essays and plays.  His essays have appeared in Comparative Drama, Narrative, The Henry James Review, Victorian Studies, The African American Review, and Modern Drama.  He worked in the professional theatre in Los Angeles for many years, including at the Mark Taper Forum where he was literary manager.  His work at the Taper included serving as production dramaturg on many plays in workshop development and full production.  Areas of scholarly specialization include dramatic theory and dramaturgy, the history and theory of the tragic form and sensibility, art in relation to literature and performance, and connections of science with theatre and narrative studies.  He is co-director and dramaturg for the High Desert Play Development workshop.

Jim Wilkinson
Office:CFTA 134

Jim is a graduate of Oñate high school in Las Cruces New Mexico where he studied technical theater. He continued his education at Full Sail University in Orlando Florida where he received an associates of science in show production and touring. He returned to New Mexico to become the head of the audio department at the Spencer Theater in Alto, NM. He travelled the U.S. and Canada on tours of Broadway shows including; OKLAHOMA, BIG RIVER, MY FAIR LADY, and MOVIN' OUT.  In 2007 he moved to New York City and worked as a sound operator and mixer on many Broadway productions including SPAMALOT, HAIR, PORGY AND BESS, A CHRISTMAS STORY, SPIDERMAN, and IF/THEN. Jim is thrilled to be back living in the southwest and to be part of the NMSU Theatre Department. He would like to thank his wife, Jackie for her continued support.

Michael Wise
Production Stage Manager
Office: CFTA #312

Michael has been a professional stage director, actor, designer, university instructor, sound designer, theatre photographer and Equity stage manager for over 20 years. His directing credits include stage productions for the The Players Guild, The American Southwest Theatre,  Dona Ana Lyric Opera, No Strings Theatre Company, Las Cruces Community  Theatre, Seattle Group Theatre, New City Theatre, and the Ensemble Theatre Project. As a stage manager, Michael has worked with such companies as The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Empty Space, A Contemporary Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, The Bath House Theatre, The Seattle Children's Theatre and The American Southwest Theatre. He has designed sound for over two dozen productions and is the resident photographer for the American Southwest Theatre Company.

Administrative Support Personnel

Cumy Gower
Fiscal Assistant
Office: CFTA #314


Susie Ouderkirk
Administrative Assistant
Office: CFTA #321B