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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 now has an enrollment of 63 students, has performed a total of seven full length plays and hosted its first summer program in 2021. 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 two Summer intensives, one for older students and the other for younger children.

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, 2 years of Literature and Writing Cooperative classes, 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 Wonderland, an adaptation of Lewis Carol's Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, and an original work entitled The Spelling Bee Buzz. She has directed over ten productions. 

Justin Fabela

Assistant Director


As a former student of The Player’s Studio, Justin brings a total of 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 three shows and has directed one play with the Young Player's. He is currently a student at South Texas College in McAllen pursuing a degree in organizational leadership. 

Our 2022-2023 Student Leaders

Manny Cianciotto

Young Player's Assistant 

Manny is a Junior in his third 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 Aslan in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Manny is excited to help younger students learn to love theater as much as her does. 


Kate Wilson

Social Media Director

Kate is a Junior who is in her fifth year with The Player's Studio. Her roles include Alice in Wonderland, Celia in As You Like It, Mrs. Boyle in The Mousetrap and is currently cast as The White Witch in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Kate is excited for the challenge and experience that leadership in theater offers for her future. 


John Thomas Culbertson

Sound Technician

John Thomas  is a Junior and is in his sixth 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 Wonderland. John Thomas is excited to continue learning the craft of technical theatre and hopes to one day make a career in the business. 


Nathan Johnston

Light Technician

Nathan is a Sophomore in his fourth 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 Mr. Beaver in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Nathan is excited to learn more about technical theatre by helping teach others. 


Ellie Culbertson

Stage Manager / Props Master

Ellie Culbertson is a senior and founding actress of The Player's Studio. Her roles include Emily in Our Town, Rosalind in As You Like It, the Caterpillar in Wonderland, and is currently cast as the White Witch in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Ellie is glad to be a student leader at The Player's Studio because she feels ownership in the organization as a whole. 


Asael Chavez 

Junior Player's Assistant

Asael is a Sophomore in his fourth year acting with The Player's Studio. His roles include, Ferdinand in The Tempest, Card Five in Wonderland, Metcalf in The Mousetrap, and is currently cast as Aslan in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. 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. 

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