Our People


Nick Ishimaru - Artistic Director & Board Member

Nick Ishimaru was trained originally as a musical theatre performer and started exploring Japanese theatre while studying at Colorado State University (BA, 2005), where he directed a kabuki adaptation of MacBeth. He went on to study at San Francisco State University, (MA, 2009). His work explores a combination of Western and traditional Asian performance techniques for original creations, along with work in conventional musical theatre and Shakespeare.

In October 2016, he opened his debut as Theatre of Yugen’s Artistic Director, The Red Demon by Noda Hideki.  Previous directing work includes It Ain’t Me by Claire Rice (original), Land of Infants by Meghan O’Patry (original), and Kaguya (original adaptation).  Other recent production work includes A Minor Cycle by Greg Giovanni (original; actor and fight choreographer), This Lingering Life by Chiori Miyagawa (original; actor), and several traditional kyogen plays with the Theatre of Yugen (actor).


Melissa Ramirez - Rentals Manager & Technical Director

Mel began her time at Theatre of Yugen as a house technician, supporting renters and in-house production staff alike with her technical prowess.  A graduate from UC Berkeley, Mel has served in a variety of technical positions for companies across the Bay Area.


ella cooley - Office Manager

Ella started working with Theatre of Yugen as a sound designer and production manager before coming on staff as Office Manager. She graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in Theatre Arts, focusing primarily on acting and directing, and initially moved to San Francisco to focus on music and sound. In addition to working with the team at Yugen, she teaches theatre to children at The Rabbit Hole and continues to work as a freelance sound designer. She is also currently fleshing out an EP of original songs to be released in late 2018.



Matt Snelham, President, Board Member since 2014

Matthew Snelham is Director of engineering at Google, leading the organization responsible for planning, infrastructure investment, budgeting, and product efficiency behind some of Google’s major services, including Search, Maps, and Machine Learning.  Prior to Google, Matthew has worked with companies around the world designing and building leading-edge high performance computing systems, as well as co-founding two companies in the Bay Area.  Matthew hails from San Francisco.


Yuriko Doi, Founder

Japanese-born and trained in the classical theater styles of Noh and Kyogen, Doi brought this heritage to the West in the 1960s, founding Theatre of Yugen in 1978. That troupe has proven to be the major beneficiary of Doi’s directorial resume’ of more than 30 productions. Her foundation in these arts began when she was a graduate student of Waseda University in Tokyo, where she studied with Kyogen master and National Living Treasure of Japan, Mansaku Nomura (Izumi School). She has also been influenced by the Noh practice of her aunt, Yuki Doi (Hosho School), and her studies with Noh principal actor Shiro Nomura (Kanze School). Developing her skills in both forms through continued study with Mansaku Nomura, his disciple Yukio Ishida, and Shiro Nomura, Doi has worked diligently to share these arts with an American audience and students.

The array of productions Doi has directed range from classics and adaptations to original works. She has taken for her inspiration theater throughout time, from around the world, directing plays that run in style and subject matter from Japanese and Greek mythology to 20th-century American, using movements from sources as diverse as flamenco and Native American dance. The classical Japanese plays Doi has directed include the Noh plays: Sotoba Komachi (1987); and the Kyogen plays: The Melon Thief/Uri Nusubito (1978), Sweet Poison/Busu (1980), The Magnificent Beard/Higeyagura (1981), The Sickle and Injured Pride/Uri Nusubito (1981), Three Handicaped Men/Sannin Katawa (1981), Owl Mountain Priest/Fukuro Yamabushi (1983), Parting of the Seasons/Setsubun (1985), Tug of War/Kubibiki (1987), Sumo Wrestling with a Mosquito (1987), The Persimmon Mountain Priest/Kaki Yamabushi (1996), Tied to a Pole/Bo Shibari (2002), Spring Water/Shimizu (2004)


Jock Walker, Board Member since 1978

Currently retired and building a large wooden sailboat but has served as the President of the Board of the Theatre of Yugen, President of Phacor Inc., a medical device company, President and R&D VP of Menlo Care Inc., a catheter company, and as an R&D manager at Raychem Corp.   Graduated from the University of Michigan with BSE and MSE in Mechanical Engineering.


Alex Sinclair, Board Member since 2016

Alex J. Sinclair has been a digital asset and photo manager, for 18 years and has, during his tenure, advised prominent global museum organizations and publishers regarding their archives and intellectual property rights. Mr. Sinclair has created and assessed digital collections, preservation services and workflows, and long-term product management strategies for accessibility and maintenance of archival materials, for such clients as Chicago's Historical Society, British Library, Encyclopedia Britannica and Deagostini Editore. Mr. Sinclair brings decades of experience handling rare collections and making them accessible for educational purposes as well as addressing the longevity of said collections. Additionally. Mr. Sinclair has a background and training in Japanese traditional arts including Taiko, Kagura, Minyo, Kyudo, Noh and Kyogen; this experience in combination with Mr. Sinclair's work in archival arts is invaluable to Theatre of Yugen's Archive Program.