Photo Credit: Nelvin C. Cepeda - San Diego Union-Tribune

Meet The Roustabouts

Will Cooper, Ruff Yeager & Phil Johnson


Bringing together notable local actors, directors and playwrights, we have formed a new theatre company called The Roustabouts, a non-profit San Diego theatre company dedicated to entertaining, educating, and inspiring audiences in Southern California by producing fresh visions of classics, well-known contemporary plays and new works.


We celebrate the artist and honor the creative impulse by drawing from the rich, diverse talents of actors, directors, designers, and playwrights who live in our region. The best plays for you, matched up with the best local artists. We believe the new works we produce will have an important impact and deserves a prominent place on the American stage. All three founders bring passion, excitement and dedication to making great theatre and sharing with the young and old residents of So. Cal and beyond. That is our mission.



Theatre lives in the moment. It embodies the risk and suspense of real human drama. When I watch a play I take it personally. I feel a relationship with every character. Theatre more than imitates life; each performance of a play needs hearts to beat, lungs to breathe, and muscles to move. It brings to life on stage a world of the imagination, but it also recreates in us, as we enter into it, new worlds of possibility, new ways of knowing and being."

Will Cooper is a playwright based in San Diego and Chicago and a founding member of San Diego's Roustabouts Theatre Co. His plays Book of Leaves, Jade Heart and Margin of Error received widespread acclaim from critics and audiences alike. Jade Heart was last produced at San Diego’s award-winning MOXIE Theatre in 2014. His drama Margin of Error kicked off The Roustabouts' premiere season at the Lyceum Theatre in downtown San Diego and was selected as "Critic's Choice" by The San Diego Union-Tribune. It was also chosen as a Best Play finalist in the 2017 Craig Noel Critics Circle Awards. Following its run, the play was honored to be read at UCSD as a teaching tool of the Departments of Philosophy, Theatre, and Ethics & Sciences. Will is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild.



We celebrate the artists and draw from the excellent talents of actors, playwrights, directors, and designers who live in our region. The best plays for you, matched up with the best local creative people. Every artist should have means to express themselves."

Phil Johnson is a proud founding partner in The Roustabouts Theatre Co. As an actor/ writer, his latest solo show, A Jewish Joke (co-written with Marni Freedman, directed by David Ellenstein) opens Off Broadway on Theatre Row in NYC this February, having just closed in San Diego for The Roustabouts, as well as touring regionally: Chicago’s Victory Gardens, New Haven, and St. Louis. ( Other original shows: Withering Heights, written and performed with Omri Schein and directed by Ellenstein, for TRTC; She-Rantulas from Outer Space in 3D!, co-written with Ruff Yeager, for Diversionary Theatre and the NY Fringe Festival; and Hound of the Baskervilles, as a San Diego Foundation Creative Catalyst Grantee, at North Coast Rep in 2012. Phil played in Les Misérables on Broadway and on tour; the Canadian production of Sunset Boulevard; and the 1st National Co. of Miss Saigon. He is a two-time winner of the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle Craig Noel Award for acting, for Midsummer Night’s Dream at Intrepid Theatre Company, and The Man Who Came to Dinner. So. California theatres include: North Coast Rep (Last of the Red Hot Lovers, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Spelling Bee), Old Globe (How the Grinch...), and Cygnet Theatre (Mistakes Were Made, Pageant). Local directing credits include SD Playwrights Project, and Scripps Ranch Theatre.



All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts..." - As You Like It, Scene VII

Ruff Yeager is proud to be a Founding Partner of The Roustabouts Theatre Co. A product of the San Diego's East County, he graduated from Helix High School and then moved to Missouri for his college education; graduating from Evangel College (B.S.) and Missouri State University (M.A.). A professor of Theatre Arts at Southwestern College in Chula Vista, Ruff enjoys teaching the next generation of actors, directors, and playwrights. As Artistic Director of Playwrights Projects' Plays by Young Writers, he mentors young California playwrights and oversees the artistic vision of the yearly festival. 



The Roustabouts Theatre Co. Team


Board Members


Phil Johnson  President

Ruff Yeager  Treasurer

Will Cooper  Secretary





Sher Krieger  Operations Manager & Marketing

Nancy Richards  Public Relations

Donna D'Angelo  Graphic Design & Program Layout

Devon Neubauer  Website Design & Graphic Layout

Ali Terrill  Accountant

Deborah Pantoni & Julie Ustin  Volunteer Coordinators



Advisory Council Officers


Tom Haine  Lawyer

Jill G. Hall  Author

Dea Hurston  Philanthropist and Retired San Diego County Arts Commissioner

Marjory Kaplan  Consultant and Retired Foundation President

Lew Klein  Retired San Diego County Arts Commissioner

Michael McCarron  President/CEO MHM Glass Etching

Sheryl Rowling  MBA, CPA/PFS  Rowling & Associates Wealth Management

Jeff Silberman  Real Estate Developer

Karen Silberman  Philanthropist

Dr. Lynne Thrope  Reading Therapist & Education Consultant and Founder of The Reading Room