SAIT 2016 students in Columbinus
"Theatre Lab teachers clearly see something in us as actors and as students, that we don't see in ourselves. That's what makes the environment so supportive."
Student Evaluation

Meet Us


Theatre Lab Co-Executive Directors Deb Gottesman and Buzz Mauro  

Deb Gottesman and Buzz Mauro are the founders and co-executive directors of The Theatre Lab. Professional actors who have appeared on numerous regional theatre stages, Deb and Buzz teach a variety of classes at The Theatre Lab for novices and professionals. They have been featured as guest lecturers at George Washington University, Georgetown University, and the U.S. Congressional Page School, among others. Together they are recipients of the prestigious Linowes Leadership Award for their educational contributions to underserved communities.

Deb and Buzz have authored three books on applied acting, all published by Penguin Putnam: The Interview Rehearsal Book: 7 Steps to Job-Winning Interviews Using Acting Skills You Never Knew You Had (1999), Taking Center Stage: Masterful Public Speaking Using Acting Skills You Never Knew You Had (2001), and The Best Answer (2006). Their work has been featured on numerous radio programs (including the David Essel Show and The Source Report, both nationally syndicated by Westwood One), as well as on the FOX Morning News and WJLA's Let's Talk Live in Washington, D.C., and in the magazines Working Woman, Men's Health, and Cosmopolitan. They are also the founders of Center Stage Communications, a unique consulting firm specializing in the application of acting techniques to the business world.

Deb holds a B.A. in Psychology from Lawrence University, and an M.F.A. in Acting from The Catholic University of America. Buzz is a graduate of Yale University, where he earned a B.A. in English, and of Catholic University, where he received an M.F.A. in Acting.


“There is always more to be discovered—about ourselves, about each other, about the way we live or could live. That’s why I love teaching the craft of acting.”

- Deb Gottesman

“I teach because there's nothing as exhilarating as experiencing a roomful of people hurling their minds and bodies into an active exploration of what it means to be human, in ways that would be frowned upon in the typical office job. I love encouraging that kind of behavior.”

- Buzz Mauro


Theatre Lab staff member Elizabeth Houvener
Elizabeth Houvener

Elizabeth Houvener, Theatre Lab's Finance and Human Resources Manager, was an executive assistant in the U.S. Senate, and an assistant in the office of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation’s chief financial officer. She is a graduate of The Theatre Lab’s Honors Conservatory.


“There is always something exciting going on at The Theatre Lab that I get to be part of. The best creative environment is one where my strengths are recognized and appreciated, drawing me out to do even better, and I have found this here as a student and a staff member. The energy and attitude make it a joy to work here.”
Terah Herman-Saldaña

Terah Herman-Saldaña has been a teaching artist for over 15 years. She is a full-time member of The Theatre Lab staff, serving as the Director of Youth Programs and the Development/Outreach Manager. She holds an M.A. in Theatre from the University of Kentucky and a B.A. in Theatre from Capital University. She has also received improvisation training through The Second City. In addition to her work at The Theatre Lab, she has worked as a teaching artist at Imagination Stage, West Chester Academy, The Center of Science and Industry, Starfire, Kennedy Heights Arts Center, The University of Kentucky, and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. She is an alum of the US Department of State International Exchange program, in which she took The Theatre Lab’s Life Stories program to Malaysia. She is also a recipient of the National Theatre Conference’s Emerging Professional Award.


"Theatre blends some the most pure and basic of our human needs; to explore, communicate, connect, and imagine. What I love about The Theatre Lab is that they harness the power of the arts to give a voice to those who are most vulnerable in our society and allow them to cultivate those needs and skills that otherwise may have never fully developed."
Angelo Merenda

Angelo Merenda, Theatre Lab's IT/Technical Director has worked freelance as an audio technician, lighting director, and production manager for over 20 years on the East Coast. New York credits include Manhattan School of Music, Webster Hall Quarterly Arts Soiree and the Moving Beauty Dance Series. In the DC area, he has worked productions at The Studio Theater, Shakespeare Theatre, and Constellation Theatre, and served as Production Manager for Rainbow Theatre Project. Prior to joining The Theatre Lab, he managed local crews for touring rock and roll and Broadway shows for the Modlin Center for the Arts in Richmond, VA.


Bryce Sulecki

Bryce Sulecki is The Theatre Lab's Program Administrator and Life Stories Coordinator. He is a graduate of American University. In addition to his work with The Theatre Lab, Bryce also is a performer and sound designer. Some of his credits include: Constellation Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre, and Capital Fringe.


Theatre Lab staff member Kara Turner
Kara Turner

Kara Turner is The Theatre Lab's Marketing and Events Manager. Kara is an actor (SAFD actor combatant) and graduate of the The Theatre Lab’s Honors Acting Conservatory. Following training at the Life Stories Institute, she has serves as a Life Stories teaching artist to enable DCPS students to use the dramatic arts to share their own stories. She previously served as Deputy Director of Communications for Governor Martin O'Malley.