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TESOL Drama offers exclusive dramatic training workshops for teachers and artists all over the world facilitated by performing art scholars, professionals, and practitioners. We are a NYC based art education institution and conduct creative professional development workshops in New York, Los Angeles, Paris, and Florence. No art or teaching experience required, just a passion for art and drama!


Dr. Marisol Santana (maiden name Tirelli), founder of TESOL Drama, has designed curriculum using the most innovative arts education and communication methodologies for grades K-12 and at the college level for over ten years.


In 2010, she founded TESOL Drama which provides professional development workshops for English teachers in New York City; Los Angeles; Paris, France; and Florence, Italy; and more. 


Together with her husband, she has provided training for the Erasmus program for teachers throughout the EU in collaboration with Europass Teacher Academy in Florence, Italy.

In conjunction to the workshops, she created the TESOL International Film and Art Exhibit which produced multimedia art shows in New York City and at the Nouvel Organon Gallery in Montmartre, Paris.

Marisol has coached senior executives and professionals from China, Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, India, Russia, Iran, Europe, South America, and more to successfully achieve high level communication skills and cultural assimilation, and facilitated employee development training for the Estée Lauder Companies, NYC corporate headquarters. She also developed a 12 week online for executive American English conversation and American cultural understanding. 

She has performed in various venues in Los Angeles and New York City over the past twenty years. Marisol is a graduate of Pepperdine University, with a BA degree in Theatre Arts/Acting, where she also studied opera with the Mozartum, in Florence, Italy. She is a graduate of NYU with a Masters degree in Educational Theatre, and has a doctorate in Art and Art Education from Columbia University, Teachers College. In 2011, her play Fashion the Musical won Best Overall Musical for the West Village Musical Theatre Festival. Marisol is the founder of TESOL Drama and continues to perform, teach, and create in global venues, transcending cultures though the universal expressions of art.


She has served on the faculty as a Professor of English in the ESL Department at New Jersey City University for four years. She currently teaches writing, critical thinking, and English with the American Musical and Dramatic Academy College for the Performing Arts in Hollywood, California to undergraduate actors, singers and dancers.

Other executive clients have included: International TEFL Training Institute, Posco America, Samsung, ING Financial Services, and more.

Awards/Grants Include: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and the California Arts Council Grant for Artists and Cultural Practitioners, The Haven Foundation Grant, Dramatist Guild Playwriting Grant, Max’s Kansas City Project Grant, Moser-Burton Art Education Fellowship, Columbia University, Hispanic Scholarship Award, Lily Endowment for the Arts, and Ahmanson Arts Foundation Scholarship.

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José Angel Santana, Ph.D., Director of Mutual Understanding for TESOL Drama, 

is an educator, a Bravo Network "Arts for Change” award-winning director, an accomplished actor, and an innovator in the field of interpersonal communication. He was a student of the great Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre and appears throughout the documentaries Sanford Meisner Master Class directed by Sidney Pollack and Sanford Meisner: The Theater’s Best Kept Secret.

As the Head of the Directing Actors Division at the NYU Graduate School of Film from 2008 – 2012, he has influenced and continues to mentor some of today's most promising and award-winning young filmmakers. On March 15, 2021, three of those, Shaka King (along with USC SCA's Ryan Coogler), Chloé Zhao, and Mollye Asher, were nominated collectively for 12 Academy Award nominations.


He has taught the course he created at the School of Visual Arts, The Art of Connecting from 2007 until relocating to Los Angeles in the summer of 2020 and has served as Adjunct Assistant Professor of Film, specializing in Directing Actors at the Columbia University School of the Arts, Graduate Film School, since 2014.


As a young actor, José Angel Santana received critical acclaim for his heartbreaking debut performance as "José - the Junkie" in Sidney Lumet's Prince Of The City and is remembered as the "Strange Boutique Owner" with Madonna in the ‘80’s cult classic Desperately Seeking Susan. Among his other featured performances in film are, “Benny” in Batteries Not Included with Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn, along with roles in Night Hawks, The Pope of Greenwich Village, Garbo Talks and The Morning After with Jane Fonda.

He has originated leading roles in works by some of our most important international contemporary playwrights: three world premiers of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet's works: The Blue Hour directed by Mr. Mamet at the New York Shakespeare Festival; Edmond directed by Gregory Mosher at Chicago's Goodman Theater and in its OBIE Award winning production at the legendary Provincetown Playhouse in Greenwich Village; and Mamet's adaptation of Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard directed by Mosher with Oscar Nominees (Fargo) W.H.Macy and (Places in the Heart) Lindsay Crouse.

In 1979, he acted alongside Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington in the New York Shakespeare Festival's Central Park production of Coriolanus.

He originated leading roles in Academy Award Nominee (Reds) Trevor Griffiths' Real Dreams directed by Mr. Griffiths and opposite two time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey at the Williamstown Theater Festival; in Joe Cacaci's Self Defense directed by Arvin Brown at the Long Wharf Theater and Off-Broadway; in Eduardo Machado's The Modern Ladies of Guanabacoa directed by James Hammerstein, at Ensemble Studio Theatre, in New York City; and the title role in Felipe Santander's, Casa de Las Americas award-winning play, El Extensionista directed by John Dillon, at the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre.

In television he co-starred alongside renowned playwright/actor and leading member of the Nuyorican literary movement, Miguel Piñero in the Emmy award-winning episode of Miami Vice - Calderon's Demise; as well as in episodes of Hill Street Blues, The Twilight Zone and Beverly Hills 90210, and once again with Oscar nominated actress Lindsay Crouse, in the Lifetime Channel movie Stranger In My House.

While acting, José Angel Santana recognized pervasive media violence's destructive influence on young people's lives. Rather than continue making such programs, in 1987 he set out to work full-time to help young people.

Over his 35 years of working with teenagers, first as Drama Director of Jane Fonda's Laurel Springs Performing Arts Ranch, then as co-founder and Drama Director of Santa Barbara's award-wining City At Peace Youth Program, Dr. Santana combined professional actor training with the openhearted methods of conflict resolution/mediation to create a unique approach to reaching and teaching "empathy" to young people, who otherwise might have fallen through society's cracks. Today, he provides consulting services to teachers and students for the Board of Education in his hometown of Union City, NJ, teaching professional practices in the Performing Arts and Film & Television. 

For his work with City At Peace, he was recognized as a Santa Barbara "Local Hero" in 1999.

He is a lifetime member of New York's Ensemble Studio Theater. 

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