Theatre Faculty

Jim Hesselman (Acting) is in his second year as a permanent faculty member in the IU Southeast Theatre Department. He is an actor/director/playwright from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who has made the Kentuckiana area his home for over twenty years. In that time he received his MFA from the University of Louisville, where he directed a production of Urinetown, and currently teaches a course in Musical Theatre. Jim has acted in, written and/or directed over one hundred and fifty productions at Derby Dinner Playhouse and runs his own Production Company, Theatre Island Productions. He has performed all over the country, including almost two years on the road playing Billy Crocker opposite “Days Of Our Lives” diva Gloria Loring on the National Tour of Anything Goes. Jim has also been Producing Artistic Director of both the Shawnee Summer Theatre and Music Theatre Louisville and has written fourteen children’s musicals, a gospel musical called Celebrate, and co-written the gospel musical comedies, Peace In The Valley and Sing Hallelujah! which broke box office records at Derby Dinner Playhouse. As an actor, Jim most recently toured in the 20th Anniversary of the original Nunsense starring Kaye Ballard, Lee Meriwether, Georgia Engel, Mimi Hines and Darlene Love. That experience yielded some wonderful friendships and began yet another career turn as an author. His memoir with Ms. Ballard, How I Lost 10 Pounds In 53 Years was published in 2006 and he is currently finishing up work with Lee Meriwether on her biography and a manuscript with television pioneer, I Love Lucy and Bewitched director, William Asher.

Rebekkah Meixner (Technical Theatre). Currently Rebekkah wears a number hats for the Indiana University Southeast Theatre Department. While serving as the Department Coordinator, she also serves as the resident scenic, lighting, and costume designer while teaching both design/production and academic classes for the University. Originally from upstate New York, she holds her BA in theatre from Oswego State University, and she obtained her MFA in design/production from the University of Louisville. Prior to joining academia Rebekkah worked for numerous regional theatre throughout the Northeast in a range of technical theatre positions. Memorable design credits include; House of Blue Leaves, Lend Me a Tenor, My Name is Tracy, Bus Stop, Proof, Sweet Bird of Youth, and Noises Off, among many others. Regional Technical Theatre Credits Include: Bunbury Theater in Louisville KY, University of Louisville in Louisville KY, New Harmony Theatre in Evansville IN, Worcester Foothills Theatre in Worcester MA, The Boston Conservatory of Music in Boston MA, Merry-Go-Round Playhouse in Auburn NY, as well as others.

Dru Pilmer (Linklater Voice) joined the IU Southeast faculty in 1996, where she has taught acting, voice for the actor, and movement for the actor. Ms. Pilmer has taught for Camp Shakespeare, a summer course for youth offered by the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival. She studied at the renowned Shakespeare and Company program, and is a designated specialist in the Linklater technique involving proper use of the speaking voice. She performed with the Louisville Improvisers and has trained with specialists from Disney and Second City. Her credits include film, radio voice work, and television commercials.

J.R. Stuart (acting) has been the resident character actor at Derby Dinner Playhouse in Clarksville, Indiana since July, 1990. He has performed across the United States and Canada in the national tours of BRIGADOON, CHICAGO, and GIGI. A graduate of Ball State University, J.R. enjoys the study of film comedy, particularly Laurel & Hardy, Bert Lahr, Buster Keaton, W.C. Fields, and the Marx Brothers. An actor, director, and playwright with over 200 productions to his credit, his favorite roles include Tevye in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, Pseudolus and Senex in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,, Elwood P. Dowd in Harvey, Bela Zangler in Crazy for You, Moonface Martin in Anything Goes, Willie Clark in The Sunshine Boys, Sancho in Man of La Mancha, Whiteside in The Man Who Came to Dinner, Estragon in Waiting for Godot, Froggy in The Foreigner, President Truman in Give 'em Hell Harry! and Twain in his own one-man show, The Gospell According to Mark. Directing projects include Run for your Wife, David and Bathsheba -A Biblical Soap Opera, Bent, That Championship Season, Greater Tuna, and The Gin Game. J.R. has co-authored two musicals, Peace in the Valley and Peace Like a River, with Jim Hesselman.