John Benitz

John Benitz

College of Performing Arts; Department of Theatre
Expertise: Screen Acting; Directing; Ivana Chubbuck trained;
Office Location: Moulton Hall 208
Phone: 714-744-7055
Sarah Lawrence College, Bachelor of Fine Arts
Brandeis University, Master of Fine Arts


Among the many stage productions John has directed, a few include the West Coast premieres of Borderlands, an original play about Bosnia, which was a Best Pick in the LA Weekly and Fortune’s Fools at the McCadden Theater in Hollywood, and a Best Pick and for which he won a Dramalogue Award. He directed One Grimm Evening at the Odyssey Theatre as well as What I Heard About Iraq by Simon Levy, which performed on college campuses, in theaters and performing arts centers in New York, California, Washington State, Montreal and at the LaMama Theatre in Manhattan. He has acted Off- Broadway at the former Ubu Rep, at the Victory Gardens Theatre in Chicago, The Odyssey and Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles and Shakespeare Orange County, as well as a host film/television roles. He’s a proud member of Actor’s Equity and SAG/AFTRA.

He wrote and directed the award-winning film Children of the Struggle, which was shown in film festivals across the country and on PBS station KQED for three years to commemorate Black History Month, and the film is seen in high schools and colleges nationwide. Children of the Struggle was recognized by the NAACP Film Commission for its “true and poignant portrayal of the fight for black voting rights”. It is distributed through Alexander Street Press.

John is certified by Ivana Chubbuck to teach her approach to acting, a technique used by award-winning actors Brad Pitt, Halle Berry, Charlize Theron, Judith Light, Terrence Howard, Jim Carrey, Jake Gyllenhaal, among many others. In 2019 he directed and produced an educational documentary film featuring Ms. Chubbuck discussing her technique, titled The Power of the Actor: The Chubbuck Technique. The film is distributed through Films for Humanities.

In 2018, he was a consulting producer on the film MFA, released with Dark Sky Pictures and available on Netflix.

In 2007, John approached writer Andrew Carroll about the possibility of a play based on Carroll’s collection of war letters featured in his best-selling books War Letters and Behind the Lines. Three years later he directed the premiere of If All the Sky Were Paper at Chapman University. In 2013 he was awarded a prestigious National Endowment for the Arts grant, as well as a Cal Humanities grant to bring the play to a wider audience. Since then, together they have taken the play to Seattle Rep, the WAMC Linda Performing Arts Studio in Albany, NY, Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara, Martha’s Vineyard Performing Arts Center, the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles and the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Annette Bening, Laura Dern, Gary Cole, Mary Steenburgen, Ed Asner, and Common are only a few of the notable actors he has had the pleasure to direct as part of this production.

As Mr. Carroll’s and Professor Benitz’ collaboration has continued, they are currently in production on a feature-length documentary film, War Unfolding, about the war letters project which Benitz is writing, directing and producing. Preview for War Unfolding film.

Recent Creative, Scholarly Work and Publications

Director/Producer of The Power of the Actor: The Chubbuck Technique. Ivana Chubbuck, arguably Hollywood’s top acting coach, discusses her technique and her work with various award-winning actors such as Charlize Theron, Halle Berry, Terrence Howard, and Brad Pitt. The film features clips from numerous Academy Award-winning and nominated films such as Monsters Ball, Hustle and Flow, Leaving Las Vegas and Monster. The film is available through Films for Humanities, dba Films Media Group. 2019.
Director/Producer of If All the Sky Were Paper, by Andrew Carroll. Musco Center for the Performing Arts. November 10, 2018. With Annette Bening and Ed Asner and original score by Peter Boyer. Also featured current Department of Theatre students, faculty and alumni.
Consulting Producer for feature film MFA that premiered at the South By Southwest Film Festival and was released through Dark Sky Pictures in October 2017. It is available on Netflix.
Director/Producer of, "If All the Sky Were Paper" by Andrew Carroll. Kirk Douglas Theatre, Los Angeles, CA. June, 2017. Starring Annette Bening and a host of Chapman, Department of Theatre Alumni.
Director of Picnic by William Inge in the Waltmar Theatre at Chapman University. May 2017.
Co-Curator of Exhibit Envoy project “WAR COMES HOME”. Commissioned with Andy Carroll to curate a traveling exhibition of war letters with audio tour. The project will tour around California for a year starting with the official opening at the San Francisco Public Library on January 21, 2015.
Director of, "Grace Under Fire", by Andrew Carroll. Wallace Interfaith Center, Chapman University. Founder’s Day. March 11 & 12, 2016
Director/Producer of 2 night performance of "If All the Sky Were Paper" at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, CA. March 14 and 15, 2015. Cast included Academy Award winning actor Annette Bening, Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner Laura Dern, Academy Award winning performer Common, Academy Award nominee Jason Hall, Gary Cole (Talledega Night, Office Space, VEEP), Lauren Bowles (True Blood), Sandra Seacat (Crazy in Alabama, Country), among many other known actors, Chapman Theatre faculty Michael Nehring and a host of Chapman alum actors.
Director of 1 night performance of "If All the Sky Were Paper", by Andrew Carroll. The Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara, CA, November 21, 2015.
Lines of Fire, by Andrew Carroll. Guest artist and director at Union College, Schenectady, NY. January 16-19, 2014.
Was project coordinator for an NEA Grant application that was awarded $20,000 to create a series of staged readings of Andrew Carroll's, If All the Sky Were Paper. John will direct the production in numerous cities around the country, as well as The Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles. 2013-2014
Project director for grant application that was Awarded $10,000 for California War Letters Preservation Project. Expanding on earlier efforts to preserve and share American war letters, director John Benitz and historian Andrew Carroll will collaborate on a new project focusing specifically on California veterans. Performances will provide both a way to share already collected stories and encourage new community contributions.
Completed post-production on the only film about high profile acting coach to the stars, Ivana Chubbuck. The film entitled, The Power of the Actor will be ready for distribution through Amazon and educational markets this summer. Chubbuck is known for working with Brad Pitt, Jim Carrey, James Franco, Charlize Theron, Halle Berry, Jake Gyllenhaal, among numerous other Oscar nominated and Oscar winning actors. 2013
If All the Sky Were Paper, by Andrew Carroll. Performed at WAMC/The Linda Performing Arts Studio, November 16, 2013.
ATHE (Association for Theatre in Higher Education) Conference, Washington DC. August, 2012. Chair of panel on the future of multi-media training and integration into traditional theatre performance training.
Saddleback College, Distinguished Guest Lecture Series. Presented 1.5 hour lecture to approximately 150 members on the actor’s process entitled, “On the Day: An Actor’s Revelation”. May 11, 2012.
Presenter/Lecturer: “The Chubbuck Technique: Creating a Winning Screen Performance” at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, Los Angeles. 2011.
Interviewed with Andrew Carroll on Dialogue with Doti and Dodge, SoCal PBS station on the creation and production of “If All the Sky Were Paper”. 2011
Lead Actor in a television episode titled "Proof of Life" within the Kidnap and Rescue series that was seen nationally on The Discovery Channel. Aired March 2011.
Director of If All the Sky Were Paper by Andrew Carroll at the Los Angeles Theatre Center. Chosen as a national finalist participant of the Kennedy Center American Theatre Festival. 2011.
ATHE Conference, Los Angeles. 2010. Chair of panel on the future of “traditional” theatre programs in a multi-media marketplace.
UFVA (University Film and Video Association) Conference, Burlington, VT. 2010. Panelist on subject of film and theatre program collaborations.
Presenter/Lecturer: “The Chubbuck Technique: Creating a Winning Screen Performance” at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, St. George, Utah. 2010.
Director of World Premiere performance of, "If All the Sky Were Paper" by Andrew Carroll in the Waltmar Theatre, Chapman University. November 2010.
Director of Bus Stop, by William Inge. Waltmar Theatre, Chapman University. 2010
Director of Turkey Day, by Matt Olsen. ATHE (American Theatre in Higher Education) Conference, Los Angeles. 10 Minute play performance.
Voice Over Artist for Global Hybrid II Gallery Installation, Long Beach, CA for artist Richard Turner.
Director of If All the Sky Were Paper, by Andrew Carroll. Staged reading of a new play, Odyssey Theatre, Los Angeles. 2009
What I Heard About Iraq, by Simon Levy. Guest Artist, Director. Western Washington University. 2007
What I Heard About Iraq, by Simon Levy. Guest Artist, Director. Idiom Theatre, Bellingham, Washington. 2007
Interviewed on two occasions on WAMC Northeast Public Radio (22 stations covering 7 States), for direction of the play, What I Heard About Iraq. 2006
Interviewed on the Canadian Broadcasting Company(CBC), on topic of my direction of Simon Levy's play, What I Heard About Iraq in Montreal. 2006.