Actor Spotlight: Phillip Zawieruszynski

Inver Hills Theatre major performing in Chameleon production of Ashland

Phillip Zawieruszynski, 22, is earning his Theatre Transfer Pathway A.F.A. at Inver Hills Community College. Phillip is performing in The Chameleon Theatre Circle production of Ashland in the Black Box Theatre on campus this February (see below for details). He is portraying the character Sebastian in the play, which is written by Isabel Estelle and directed by Bradley Donaldson.

“I’d describe Sebastian as the perfect middle child,” Phillip said. “He loves his sisters, but he can’t win with those two! His older sister bosses him around, and his younger sister is leagues ahead of him in school and always ready to remind him. Though he’s desperate to look out for his younger sister without any of the courage to do so.

“Being a perfectionist, Sebastian’s struggling to finish his doctoral dissertation that he needs to complete before getting his dream job, but the deadline is right around the corner! However, he feels trapped in a difficult circumstance. He could finish his Ph.D., landing the dream job and making his family proud while also finally catching up with his little sister in school. But he might be sacrificing his own mental wellbeing and the time he’d rather be spending with his sisters in these crucial months.”

Phillip has performed lead roles in three Inver Hills Theatre productions during his time at the college. He played multiple lead antagonist roles in the fall 2022 production of Spoon River Anthology, directed by George Roesler, followed by the lead role of Greg in the spring 2022 production of Sylvia, directed by Lisa Weaver, followed by the lead role of Sganarelle in the spring 2023 production of The Doctor in Spite of Himself, directed by George Roesler.

Former theatre faculty perspective: George Roesler

George Roesler

“Phillip is a dynamic, creative individual with a fun personality. A definite free spirit! I enjoyed directing him in several play productions, including my last show at Inver, The Doctor in Spite of Himself.

“I looked forward to coming to rehearsal with him because I knew he would bring a certain creativity and experimentation. Phillip has the kind of personality that engages others and puts them at ease. Phillip is one of those rare individuals I knew I could count on to be there when needed.”

George M. Roesler
Former Theatre Faculty
Inver Hills Community College

Theatre faculty perspective: Lisa Weaver

Lisa Weaver

“Phillip is a delight to work with! Not only is he talented and creative, but he is very laid back and fun! Every actor gets stressed at some point, but Phillip is able to manage the stress so well and is even able to laugh at those times!

“I also have to admit that I still feel a little guilty that I asked him to cut his hair for Sylvia. I am sorry about that, Phillip!”

Lisa Weaver
Theatre Faculty
Inver Hills Community College

During the summer of 2023, Phillip performed as part of an ensemble cast in the Eagan Summer Community Theater production of The Wizard of Oz. He also appeared onstage during one performance of the Inver Hills Theatre production of Antigone.

“I am an enthusiastic performer that will take any opportunity to grow,” he said. “My work has primarily been comedic relief, or bringing sympathetic personality to antagonists, but I have also performed very serious roles. I am adept at bringing the character out from a script, and I am passionate about improving my abilities by taking a variety of roles. I currently have an extensive theater background, but intend on expanding to film-acting as well as voice-acting.”

Along with his education in the Theatre department at Inver Hills, Philip’s training includes Stage Combat, Improvisation, and Slips, Trips, and Falls with Minnesota Thespians. He also completed the Comedy of Manners course at International Baccalaureate. He has a natural talent for quickly learning dialects, improv, and slapstick.

“What I like best about acting is being able to realize someone’s vision for a character whilst also being able to put my own spin on the role,” Phillip said. “I enjoy entertaining people and keeping them invested in a world or a story—knowing they don’t need to think about anything else.”

Spoon River Anthology gallery

Sylvia gallery

The Doctor in Spite of Himself gallery

Creative Crash Spring 2023 gallery

Ashland gallery

More about Ashland…¹

Winner of Chameleon’s 2022 New Play Contest, Ashland is written by a Minnesota playwright. The play had a staged reading in our February 2023 Festival as part of Theatre in the Round’s Readings in the Round series.

A young woman, Vim, is unexpectedly diagnosed with a terminal illness and chooses to pursue Death with Dignity. Vim and her new partner, Wes, must navigate the beginning and end of their relationship simultaneously. As her health rapidly declines, Wes (Jessica Lynn Frederikson) and two siblings, Emily (Marlo Teal…see below) and Sebastian (Phillip Zawieruszynski) grapple with the absurdity and hilarity of death, family, and what it takes to let go.

Also appearing in the play are Courtney Matula as Vim and Nissa Frederikson (an Inver Hills student and Jessica Lynn’s daughter) as Susan, a healthcare specialist.

Six performances will be held at the Inver Hills Community College Black Box Theatre in the Fine Arts building on the college’s campus in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota.

Friday, February 9, 2024
Saturday, February 10, 2024
Thursday, February 15, 2024
Friday, February 16, 2024
Friday, February 23, 2024
Saturday, February 24, 2024


Tickets for Ashland can be purchased online through TicketSpice.

View play photos by visiting the Inver Hills Flickr album:

Ashland at the Black Box Theatre

Marlo Teal portrays Emily in Ashland

Marlo Teal

Marlo Teal, project manager in the Strategic Marketing and Communications department for Inver Hills and Dakota County Technical College, portrays Emily in Ashland. Emily is Vim’s sister and a nurse.

“My husband, Aaron, passed away from cholangiocarcinoma, a rare cancer, in November,” Marlo said. “This work brilliantly captures the heartache and the necessary humor needed to navigate the end. The grief doesn’t subside, but over time, our lives grow bigger around it. I am deeply honored to be part of this production with such a talented cast and crew.”

In May 2023, Marlo performed in Mom! The Musical in the Black Box Theatre. The play was also a production of The Chameleon Theatre Circle directed by Bradley Donaldson and featured Inver student, Nissa Frederikson, as well.

View Mom! photos by visiting the Inver Hills Flickr album:

Mom! The Musical at Inver Hills

Marlo Teal Ashland gallery

More about Phillip…

Phillip Zawieruszynski

Originally from Cottage Grove, Minnesota, Phillip graduated from Park High School, Class of 2019. Along with his intensive participation in theatre at Inver Hills, he also belongs to the Inver Hills Choir. He has worked full-time as a bartender while doing school in the past. Currently, he’s working part-time as a barista. He is looking forward to graduating from Inver in 2025.

Phillip’s family includes his mom, dad, and little brother, Patrick. The family has one wonderful doggy, an Australian shepherd named Misiek (Me-Shek), and one derpy cat, a grey shorthair named Momo (Mo-Mo).

Both of Phillip’s parents immigrated to the U.S. from Poland. “I grew up in a multicultural household with Polish at home and American culture elsewhere else,” he said. “At an early age, I learned a lot from my neighbors and from movies and video games, which made learning English not super-difficult.”

In his free time, Phillip enjoys playing video games, editing videos, watching movies, and writing. Dota 2 is probably his favorite game of all time, however, he has a sizable amount of games he loves, like Warcraft 3, Half-Life, The Legend of Zelda, The Sims, Halo, Plants vs Zombies, and Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion.

Phillip focuses his writing on poetry, but sometimes he’s motivated to work on scriptwriting. “I’ve never published anything, but I do have a few projects I like to work on,” he said. “I like anything that has to do with creative expression, whether it’s consuming or creating.”

Phillip resides in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota.

Phillip life gallery


One word that best describes your experience at Inver Hills:


Phillip Zawieruszynski Q & A

Phillip Zawieruszynski
What did you find most interesting about your lead role as Sganarelle in The Doctor In Spite of Himself?

SGANARELLE!! The single most interesting part about the role was being directed to be as unhinged and out of this world as possible, while keeping myself juuuust a pinch into reality as to not lose the story. The entire role felt like a stand-up routine built into a play, and it was so fun to break character to comment on audience engagement, or the absurdity of the plot. All while keeping up his selfish, go-get-em attitude (when it’s about money or women).

What do you remember best about your lead role as Greg in Sylvia?

One thing that will always stand out about Greg was how difficult it was to be so normal. Greg is a man going through a mid-life crisis over the span of the play. Having to hold back his fall into delusions of animal instincts, and an animal kingdom in his apartment in the heart of New York City was a super-difficult process to master.

Three words that describe you as college student:

How did you prepare for your multiple lead antagonist roles in Spoon River Anthology?

Adjusting from playing one–two characters in a play, to playing almost a dozen including the main antagonists of the play was eye-opening to me as an actor. Given one costume piece to differentiate the characters, it was super important to adjust my mannerisms and tone to match the gradual audience realization that these characters are manipulating everyone for their own gains.

The two specific characters, Reverend Pete and Thomas Rhodes, were presented as town saviors and are eventually revealed, which made it important for me as an actor to prepare these different personalities and how they handle being exposed.

What are the most challenging aspects of acting in a college production?

Balancing the commitments with homework and a job. There’s a lot of time committed to setting up a production, and it’s important to pace yourself and create a roadmap to being successful in all three of those aspects.

Another challenging aspect for me, personally, is making sure everyone’s time isn’t wasted. Making sure to handle all those commitments so that you’re able to have a clear mind when performing will make sure that not only is the audience entertained, but you’re also having fun at the same time.

Out of the all the roles you’ve played which one is your favorite and why?

Sganarelle is a really good choice because he’s everything the audience hates about a person. He’s greedy, cheats on his wife, gives terrible advice, and lies about being a doctor. However, being able to portray all of those traits with a “laugh at how stupid I am” attitude created an amazing audience reception, and they loved to laugh at how stupid I was!

But I’m torn because presenting Greg’s slow descent into a delusional eutopia in his head where everyone owning a dog will solve all of the world’s problems was super fun! Also, big plus that I got my very first ovation during a performance with his explosive monologue with his therapist was absolutely heart fulfilling.

Three words that describe you as an actor:

If you could play any lead role in any play, what role would you choose and why?

Not many people know this about me, but I am a big Shakespeare buff, and have always dreamed about performing Hamlet as Hamlet. He feels like an ultimate goal to me, being able to perform Hamlet as written, memorizing all of it, and entertaining people with one of the most difficult characters to play. Shakespeare aside, Mushnik from Little Shop of Horrors has been a role I’ve always wanted to perform, especially because I’ve always wanted to play a lead role in a musical, and I love all of the songs he sings and really enjoy the musical.

What advice would you give students who would like to perform in a college production, but have little or no acting experience?

I started off without the confidence to speak at my first audition. I walked in, was handed a monologue to read, got nervous, and walked home. However embarrassing that is, I never gave up!

Next audition I spoke… and then cried and walked home. Working on my confidence was the biggest thing for me personally. The first production I got cast I walked into the audition room with a “I don’t care how stupid I look, I’m just going to DO IT” attitude and had the dumbest monologue prepared that I poured my heart and soul into. And with no acting experience was cast as a lead and had to learn very quickly how to act, but here we are!

I tried to revel in the uncertainty of the process, and once I got comfortable with owning up to the absurdity of acting and auditions, I became a much more confident performer.

What person has influenced your life the most and why?

A childhood friend of mine, Sabrina, is the sole reason I am as confident in myself as I am today. She’s ultimately the person who convinced me to audition again, even after my failures. She also influenced me to practice singing, and join a choir.

Sabrina, and other friends, also convinced me to try out for my high school’s cheerleading team, which was considered “social suicide” by the majority of people in school, but her encouragement helped me realize that I just don’t care what the masses think of me—as long as I had her support, I could do anything. Which led me down a path of independent confidence.

If you could make one thing happen on Earth right now, what would it be?

The ONE thing I would choose to make happen on Earth RIGHT NOW would definitely be an endless supply of sushi spawns out of nowhere! “What are we going to do with all this sushi?” one might ask. However my bigger concern will be “How will I burn all these calories?” when I do my part in reducing the infinite sushi.

Phillip Zawieruszynski 12 Answers

  1. Favorite sport or physical activity: Swimming and diving
  2. Place you would most like to visit: Poland (again!), Japan, and Norway
  3. Most exciting thing you’ve ever done: Traveling alone to Seattle to watch The International Dota 2 Championship
  4. Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Purchase Dota 2 cosmetics 2) Pay off my family’s mortgages 3) Purchase X and rename it back to Twitter
  5. Best book or movie you’ve read or seen lately: The Boy and the Heron was super fun to watch, and I want to watch it again
  6. Time period (past or future) you would explore if you could time travel: I would go back in time to grab as many cute animals that have gone extinct and create the Phillip’s Arc back to 2024
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in your life: Creating my own feature-length film that is shown in movie theaters
  8. Your national bird if you were your own country: Toucan, because you can!
  9. Dream occupation: World-renowned film director
  10. Person you would most like to meet: Johnny Depp—I would love to learn all about how he prepared for his roles like Jack Sparrow and Edward Scissorhands
  11. Skill you would most like to learn and master: Bass guitar because it’s my favorite instrument
  12. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: The metaphorical wedge between the ruling classes of society and the working classes; how modern politics and information mediums not only drive that forward, but polarizes issues and ideologies to create an “us or them” society; neighbors will stand divided because of the penultimate goal of upper class maintaining power, and the richest one percent can net nearly two-thirds of all new wealth in the world
Learn more about the Theatre Transfer Pathway A.F.A. at Inver Hills by contacting:

Inver Hills Community College
Virtual Visit

¹ SOURCE: Chameleon Theatre Circle

More about the Theatre department at Inver Hills…

The Theatre department at Inver Hills is on a mission. As a student in our program, you will learn we are driven to instill in you a lifelong appreciation for the theatre arts and film studies. Our curriculum will encourage you to develop your performance skills and capabilities.

Stella Adler, the renowned acting teacher, once said: “The theatre is a spiritual and social X-ray of its time. The theatre was created to tell people the truth about life and the social situation.”

Why Study Theatre at Inver Hills?

Take your theatrical skills to the next stage.
The Transfer Pathway A.F.A. in Theatre offers you the powerful opportunity to complete your associate degree and then transfer with junior-year status to a Minnesota State university to pursue a baccalaureate degree in the theatre arts.

Confirm theory through practice.
Our Theatre department offers a wide variety of courses, both practical and theoretical, that will give you the experience and knowledge you need to harness your talent. You can begin by taking introductory film, cinema, and theatre courses that teach you how to view and analyze performances. You can follow through by taking practicum courses that provide hands-on learning in essential theatrical areas.

Spark your magic by acting in college plays.
Inver Hills features two venues ideally suited for live theatrical performances, the 300-seat Inver Hills Theatre and the more intimate Black Box Theatre. The former features three plays a year, including a children’s play in April for elementary school students. Our theatre students have worked on and performed in numerous college productions from Dracula to Jesus Christ Superstar to Aladdin to Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz to Sylvia.

Our faculty live and breathe theatre.
The instructors in our Theatre department bring strong academic credentials and professional experience to their curriculums. Many work on Twin Cities theatrical productions, directing and performing live. The theatrical world is the engine of their lives.

Join a community that lasts a lifetime.
Theatre at Inver Hills provides opportunities for both beginners and old hands, including the chance to participate in student-directed productions through Theatre Club. The sense of a shared purpose gives our department an exciting, interconnected atmosphere. Former students have gone on to become respected professional actors, designers, and theatrical managers in the Twin Cities metro area theatre community.

Theatre tells you how it is.
Indeed Career Guide offers this advice: “If you love the stage and majored in theatre, there are many jobs in the theatre industry you can pursue. Understanding where you can work and what you can do with your theatre degree can help you determine the best career path for your interests.”

Career Opportunities

Theatre arts date back more than 2,500 years to the city-state of Athens in ancient Greece.

Modern theatre in the English-speaking world is exemplified by Broadway, which features 40 professional theatres with 500 seats or more. Dozens and dozens of theatre companies across the U.S. produce plays of all kinds, including dramas, tragedies, musicals, comedies, and improv.

Theatre majors obtain a remarkable range of communication, organizational, people, problem-solving, and critical-thinking skills that apply to numerous careers beyond the performing arts.

Some occupations you could consider are attorney, program officer, researcher, policy analyst, advocate, and social services professional.


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