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About Us

The Player’s Studio is a non-profit drama club and performing group based in North McAllen, Texas. We exist to serve the greater McAllen area with particular focus on youth and youth/community involvement through access to the performing arts and education. 

Our Story

The Player's began as a homeschool cooperative class. In the fall of 2016 the original organizer of the class moved away from the area and our current director, Karen Culbertson, agreed to take the club until a replacement could be found. However, by the end of the spring semester she had become fully invested and has been running the club ever since. That first semester in the spring of 2017 the club had nine students and performed a Showcase of four short skits. The Player’s Studio has now enrolled more than 150 students and has performed fourteen plus full length plays. We currently have programs in three drama clubs. The Players is a performing group for high school students, The Junior Players is our group for middle school students, and the Young Players is our elementary class. The Player’s Studio also offers Summer intensives and workshops, engages in collaborative community projects and seeks to partner with various groups to make the performing arts accessible to all.

Our Mission

Without confidence in who they have been created to be, young people may find themselves lost and falling short.  But when confidence is nurtured, children, teens and young adults can become competent and cooperative  members of their communities. Artistic performance is an effective means for awakening this kind of confidence in people of all ages and for all times of their lives. At The Player’s Studio it is our goal to use quality art and education to promote confidence for a lifetime.

Meet Our Team

Karen Culbertson

Founder and Director


Karen is the Founding Director of The Player's Studio. She took over the club in 2016 when it was a cooperative class for homeschoolers and has since been blessed to see it grow into a thriving educational and performing program. Outside of the studio setting, Karen has a variety of educational experiences across multiple age groups including 12 years homeschooling, 2 years of preschool, 4 years of Literature and Writing Cooperative classes, and 3 years as a personal tutor. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and United States History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is also a poet and playwright and has written several plays for The Player's Studio, including several Shakespeare adaptations and Wonderland, an adaptation of Lewis Carol's Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, and two  original works; The Spelling Bee Buzz. and Jack, the Giant Thief. She has directed over a dozen productions. 

Justin Fabela

Assistant Director


A former student of The Player’s Studio, Justin brings  more than five years in connection with the Studio. His unique experience as both student and assistant makes his input to the programming invaluable. Justin played several roles in the Studio's earliest presentations, including Nick Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare. He has served as technical director, Stage Manager and Assistant Director in several shows and has directed two plays with the Young Player's. He is currently a student at South Texas College in McAllen pursuing a degree in organizational leadership. 

Maya Wylie

Lead Stage Manage/Props Master


Maya Wylie is a freshmen at South Texas College where she is studying Graphic Design. She is also a singer. Maya has been singing since she was 11 years old and is currently a soprano in the STC Choir. She was also afforded the opportunity to act in two summer theatre productions at 13 years old. She began her volunteer time with TPS the summer of 2023 as Stage Manager for Hamlet Gone Wrong. Maya looks forward to helping actors produce the best play they possibly can. 

Elanor Culbertson

Costumes/Social Media Manager


Elanor (Ellie) is a graduate of The Player's Studio where she acted for seven years. Her love of theatre began at an early age when she was cast as Spot in the Disney Jr musical 101 Dalmatians. Since then Ellie has participated in more than a dozen shows. She was the White Witch in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, the caterpillar in Wonderland, Emily in Our Town and Rosalind in As You Like It, just to name a few. Ellie has also been a student leader at TPS for several years. She will begin her freshmen year at South Texas College in the fall of 2023 where she will study Graphic Design and then plans to pursue art school. 

Our 2022-2023 Student Leaders

Manny Cianciotto

Production Assistant 

Manny is a Senior in his fourth year acting with The Player's Studio. His roles include Giles in The Mousetrap, the Cheshire Cat in Wonderland, Silvius in As You Like It, and is currently cast as Martin Vanderhof in You Can't Take It With You. Manny is excited to take on more responsibility in his new role this year and enjoys helping young students develop a love for acting. 


Charis Paredes

Young Player's Assistant

Charis is a sophomore in her fifth year with The Player's Studio. Her roles include Mrs. Cagney in The Spelling Bee Buzz, Susan in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and Judith in The Ash Girl. She is currently cast as Alice in You Can't Take It With You. Charis is passionate about helping younger children overcome and improve things they struggle with and is excited to make an impact. 


Nathan Johnston

Light Technician

Nathan is a Junior in his fifth year with The Player's Studio. His roles include Frankie in Kid Frankenstein, Trotter in The Mousetrap, Adam in As You Like It and is currently cast as Paul Sycamore in You Can't Tak. Nathan is excited to learn more about technical theatre by helping teach others. 


Simon Fontenot

Junior Player's Assistant

Simon is a Junior in his fourth year with The Player's Studio. His roleswith TPS include The March Hare in Wonderland, Mr. Paravacini in The Mousetrap, Mr. Tummnus in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  He is currently cast as Tony in You Can't Take It With You. Simon is looking forward to the opportunity to improve his leadership skills as he helps witht he younger students. 


Asael Chavez 

Junior Player's Assistant

Asael is a Junior in his fifth year acting with The Player's Studio. His roles include, Ferdinand in The Tempest, Prince Amir in The Ash Girl, Metcalf in The Mousetrap, and is currently cast as Tony in You Can't Take It With You. Asael feels that drama has helped him with his confidence and public speaking skills and he is glad to help other students achieve the same. 


Omar Rodriguez

Young Player's Assistant

Omar is a Sophomore in his fifth year with The Player's Studio. His roles for the studio include Frankie in Kid Frankenstein, Drew  in The Spelling Bee Buzz, Peter in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Man in the Forest in The Ash Girl. He is currently cast as Paul Sycamore in You Can't Take It With You. Omar is eager to help both the students and directors this season. 


John Thomas Culbertson

Sound Technician

John Thomas  is a Senior and is in his seventh year as a student with The Player's Studio. He has served on tech crew for shows such as Our Town, The Tempest and The Mousetrap. He has also acted in A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Ash Girl. John Thomas is currently cast as Mr. De Pinna in You Can't Take It With You. He hopes to one day make a career in technical theatre. 

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