Faculty & Staff

Lee Neibert

Lee Neibert
Department Chair of Fine Arts and Communications; Director of Theatre; 
Full Professor

Office:  Humanities and Performing Arts Center 125

Lee Neibert is in his 12th year of teaching at USC Upstate and his 6th year as the Chair of Fine Arts and Communication Studies. At USC Upstate, Lee has directed 18 productions including, Tick, Tick, BOOM!Bluest EyeA Midsummer Night’s Dream, the musical Spring Awakening, Rumors and A Raisin in the Sun. He has also directed Pursuit of Us, a devised theatrical piece, Mud, Almost Maine, and All About Ives for the International Youth Arts Festival (IYAF) at The Rose Theatre in Kingston, London. Lee has taught Script Analysis, Fundamentals in Acting, Intermediate Acting, Fundamentals of Directing, Voice and Diction, Voice for the Actor, Audition Techniques, Dramatic Theory and Criticism, Classical Styles of Acting, Alternative Styles of Acting, and Advanced Directing.

Lee received his B.A. in English from Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania and his M.A. in theatre from Oklahoma State University. In 2010, Lee received his MFA in Drama Directing from the University of Oklahoma. He currently serves on the Advisory/Selection Board and as the Coordinator of Devised Theatre Project for the Region IV Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF).

Rich Robinson

Rich Robinson
Associate Professor of Theatre

Office: Humanities and Performing Arts Center 130

Rich Robinson is in his 20th year of teaching in the USC Upstate Fine Arts and Communications Department and will retire in May 2022. He received his MFA from Florida Atlantic University, MA from California State University Stanislaus and BA from Fresno State University. 

Rich has taught Introduction to Theatre, Theatre for Youth, Stagecraft, Lighting Design, Set Design, Theatrical Makeup, Stage Management and Senior Seminar. He designs sets and lighting for the USC Upstate Theatre and directs TAAG (Thursday Afternoon Acting and tech Group). He also directs and coordinates a 3 week Summer Youth Theatre Camp held on campus and tours a children's play to local schools every spring. Rich is involved in Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) as a respondent and was a board member for 16 years with the South Carolina Speech and Theatre Association (SCSTA). He designs for Chapman High School, Landrum High School and for the Spartanburg Ballet. 

Laura Rikard

Laura Rikard
Assistant Professor of Theatre

Office: Humanities and Performing Arts Center 132


Laura Rikard (SAG-AFTRA/AEA/SDC) is in her 3rd year of teaching at USC Upstate. She is a director, actor, stage movement specialist, intimacy choreographer, intimacy coordinator, and a founding member of Theatre Intimacy Education. Directing credits include: The Three Sisters, Anon(ymous)The SeagullDead Man’s CellphoneSpring Awakening13 - the MusicalRomeo and Juliet, and others.  Acting Credits include: A Streetcar Named Desire, By the Bog of CatsTwo Gentlemen of VeronaMacbethThe Last Night of BallyhooRhinoceros, and others. Stage Intimacy Choreography includes: Scenes from an Execution, Heathers, Indecent, Spring Awakening  and other. She has worked as an Intimacy Coordinator for NBC Universal and the upcoming film What If?. She contributed to the only book on Theatre Intimacy, Staging Sex; Best Practices, Tools, and Techniques for Theatrical Intimacy by Chelsea Pace. Laura has worked in film and television in NYC, regionally, on national tours, internationally and devised solo performance productions.
She has been coaching and teaching for 20 years. Former students have won the National Shakespeare Competition at the Lincoln Center, been accepted to top MFA programs and are currently working on and off Broadway, in professional theatres in Chicago, Los Angeles, London, at top regional theatres and her students can also been seen in numerous films and television series. Laura is a recipient of the American College Theatre Festival Kennedy Center Medallion for her contributions to the intimacy discipline, best acting award at the Virginia Film Festival, and has been named by Academic Keys as a "Who's Who in Fine Arts Education" Festival.  She has  taught theatre at the University of Virginia, Stephen F. Austin State University, Brown University, and the University of Maimi.  She is a member of the SAFD, ATME, ATHE, VASTA and Learn more about Laura at www.laurarikard.com and www.laurarikarddirector.com

Allen Evans Allen Evans
Associate Faculty

Office:  Humanities and Performing Arts Center 133

Allen received his M.F.A. in Acting from the Yale School of Drama. He has originated two published theatrical roles and performed in their respective world premieres: James in Jane Martin’s The Boy Who Ate the Moon, directed by Jon Jory at Actors Theatre of Louisville (Samuel French) and The Bear in Phil Bosakowski’s Chopin in Space, directed by James Simpson at Yale Repertory Theatre (Dramatists Play Services). Regional theatre credits include: Tartuffe, What the Butler Saw, Much Ado About Nothing (Yale Rep), The Grapes of Wrath, A Midsummer Night's Dream (ATL). Local credits include: Moonlight and Magnolias, Hound of the Baskervilles, The Little Foxes, Side by Side by Sondheim, Hairspray, The Dining Room, A Murder is Announced and Tintypes.

Allen also served on the board of SCTA (South Carolina Theatre Association) for numerous years while working as Development Director and Marketing Director at a local professional theatre.

In Spring 2020, Allen directed the debut production of our department's Voices to Hear series titled Last Night and the Night Before by Donnetta Grays as well as the Spring 2021 virtual production of Rotterdam by John Brittan. 

Voices to Hear is a new series here at USC Upstate that shines a light on recent works from both upcoming and established playwrights whose voices may not be heard otherwise. It focuses on diverse characters, themes, and cultures that may not be experienced or appreciated within the confines of the mainstream, commercial theatre.

Fred Van Patten Fred Van Patten
Adjunct Professor

Office:  Humanities and Performing Arts Center 133

Frederick Van Patten has worked in community theatre, academic theatre, equity-waiver theatre, and professional theatre over the past four decades. Fred is a produced playwright, an accomplished teacher, and an award-winning director. After earning his MFA in Dramatic Art from the University of California, Davis (way back in the ‘70s), Fred pursued a directing career in Bay Area theatre. He directed for the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, the JulianTheatre, City Repertory Theatre, The Works Theatre Company, San Francisco Musical Stage, Intersection for the Arts, and the Eureka Theatre, as well as various independent production companies on the West Coast and in New York City. Fred has directed everything from musicals to Shakespeare, and he has loved them all. Fred has taught theatre and speech at the University of Denver (as a Ford Foundation Fellow), at the University of California, at the University of San Francisco, North Carolina Wesleyan College,  Cleveland Community College, Spartanburg Community College, and here at the University of South Carolina – Upstate.

Stephen Unwin Stephen Unwin
Adjunct Professor  

Stephen Unwin is a very experienced, award-winning British theatre and opera director.

He has directed almost 100 professional theatre productions and worked with a wide range of famous actors including Tilda Swinton, Simon Russell Beale, Alan Cumming, Ken Stott and Timothy and Samuel West.

In 1993, he founded English Touring Theatre, for whom he directed more than 30 productions of classical and new plays including award-winning productions of Hamlet, Hedda Gabler, Henry IV Parts One and Two, King Lear,The Seagull and Ghosts. In 2008, he became Artistic Director of the new Rose Theatre in Kingston, which he ran until January 2014.

He’s directed more than 20 operas and written 10 books on theatre and drama. He has also written five original plays (All Our Children was premiered in 2017, New York in 2019) and numerous translations. He has taught in universities and drama schools across the UK and the USA.

Stephen is active in campaigning for the rights of the disabled. He is Chairman of KIDS, a national charity which provides a wide range of services for disabled children, young people and their families.



Jimm Cox

Jimm Cox
Distinguished Professor Emeritus

Director of Theatre (1974-2018)


Twice nominated by USC Upstate for the United States Professor of the Year Award, Jimm received the USC system wide Trustee’s Professorship and the Founder’s Day Award from the University. He was named the 2009 South Carolina Art Administrator of the Year in Higher Education and was nominated for the Andrew Heiskell Award for Innovation in International Education. He spent 45 years teaching in the USC system, having previously taught on the campus in Columbia and at Coastal Carolina University. 

Barry Whitfield

Barry Whitfield
Theatre Manager and Technical Director
Adjunct Professor

Office:  Humanities and Performing Arts Center 138A

Barry Whitfield is in his 27th year as Theatre Manager and Technical Director for the Humanities and Performing Arts Center at the University of South Carolina Upstate. He received his MFA-IA from Goddard College. He is also a set, lighting and costume designer and has designed sets and lights for The Warehouse Theatre in Greenville SC.

Barry has directed The Upstate Theatre productions of The Wizard of Oz, Steel Magnolias, Leading Ladies, Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, Vanities, Sordid Lives and Greater Tuna. He has also designed and taught classes in WYSIWYG (a lighting design program), Technical Directing, Costume History & Scenography, Sound Design, and Introduction to Theatre. As an actor some of his portrayals include: Riff in West Side Story, Freddi in My Fair Lady, Rolfe in The Sound of Music & Michael in I Do! I Do!

Tiffany Bismarck

Tiffany Bismarck
Box Office Manager

Office:  Humanities and Performing Arts Center 138

Tiffany Bismarck joined the USC Upstate family in fall of 2015 as the Performing Arts Center Box Office manager. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in Ceramics from Clemson University in 2003.

Over the past 15+ years, Tiffany has worn many hats including marketing & administrative assistant at NASCAR®, ceramicist at Cider Press Tile, guest services representative & museum guide at The Children’s Museum of the Upstate, and painting instructor at Wine & Design - Greenville. In her free time, she enjoys cheering for the Clemson Tigers, working out, crafting, hiking, building LEGOs, horseback riding, spending time with friends & family and adventuring/traveling with her husband, Stephen and son, August.

Performing Arts Center Box Office 
Humanities and Performing Arts Center, 138
170 Gramling Drive
Spartanburg, SC 29303
Hours: Monday-Friday from 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.