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|Devise Symposium Presenters|
Pearl Cleage is an Atlanta based writer, currently Mellon Playwright in Residence at The Alliance Theatre in Atlanta where her play, “What I Learned in Paris,” opened the 2012-2013 Season. Her new play for young audiences, Tell Me My Dream premiered at the Alliance Theatre in the 2015-2016 Season. The 20th anniversary production of her play “Blues for an Alabama Sky,” closed the 2014-2015 season, earning critical praise and enthusiastic audiences. Her works include award winning plays, bestselling novels and numerous columns, articles and essays for a wide variety of publications including Essence, Ebony, Rap Pages, Vibe, The Atlanta Tribune, and The Atlanta Journal Constitution. Her first novel, What Looks Like Crazy On An Ordinary Day, was an Oprah Book Club pick and spent nine weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. She is the author of thirteen plays, including Flyin’ West, the most produced new American play in the country in 1994. Blues for An Alabama Sky was included in the 1996 Olympic Arts Festival . Her other plays include Chain; Late Bus to Mecca; Bourbon at the Border; A Song for Coretta and The Nacirema Society Requests the Honor of Your Presence at a Celebration of Their First One Hundred Year. She is the author of eight novels, including Baby Brother’s Blues, which received an NAACP Image Award for Literature. She is also the co-author with her husband, writer Zaron W. Burnett, Jr., of We Speak Your Names, a praise poem commissioned by Oprah Winfrey for her 2005 Legends Weekend and A 21st Century Freedom Song: For Selma at 50, commissioned by Winfrey for the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March. Cleage and Burnett are frequent collaborators including their award winning ten year performance series, “Live at Club Zebra!” featuring their work as writers and performance artists. Her new book of non-fiction entitled Things I Should Have Told My Daughter: Lies, Lessons and Love Affairs, was published by Simon and Schuster/ATRIA Books in April, 2014.
Chris Moses, Director of Education/Associate Artistic Director, Alliance Theatre.
Chris has been working in professional theatre education for over a decade. In January of 2011, Chris took on the position of Director of Education at the Alliance Theatre, overseeing the Alliance Theatre Institute (twice recognized as an Arts Model by the Federal Department of Education), Theatre for Youth & Families, and the Acting Program. Since taking over this position, Chris has developed deep partnerships with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta, Atlanta Public School System, Fulton County Public System, the Anti-Defamation League, the City of Atlanta, and the High Museum of Art. Under his leadership, the Alliance has launched its Theatre for the Very Young program, which provides fully interactive professional theatre experiences for children of all abilities from ages 18 months to 5 years old, the Alliance Teen Ensemble, which performs world premier plays commissioned for and about teens, and Alliance@work, a professional development program designed for the business sector. In 2014, Chris added the title Associate Artistic Director, and has continued to expand the Alliance’s education offerings. Currently, the Alliance serves over 50K students pre-k – 12 each season, as well as over 2,000 adults through its extensive education offerings. Chrislooks forward to leading this department and expanding their continued efforts to provide a national level of theatre and arts education to the Atlanta community.
Pointless Theatre is dedicated to creating bold, visceral, and affordable spectacles that gleefully smash the traditional boundaries between puppetry, theatre, dance, music, and the visual arts. The recipient of the 2014 John Aniello Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company, Pointless has developed and devised 11 original productions since its founding in 2010 and continues to bring a fresh aesthetic to the Washington DC theatre community. Recent works include: Gimme a Band! Gimme a Banana: The Carmen Miranda Story (2015), Doctor Caligari (2015), Sleeping Beauty: a puppet ballet (2014), Minnie the Moocher (2014), Canterbury (2012), and Hugo Ball: a super spectacular Dada adventure (2011). Lead by Co-Artistic Directors Patti Kalil and Matt Reckeweg, the Pointless ensemble has been described by the Washington Post as, “one of the best young companies in the region," and has received support from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, the Smithsonian Institution, the Share Fund, and is a resident company at the Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint in downtown DC.
Rachel Grossman is an artist, producer, and engagement strategist focused on the triangulation between art, artist, and audience. She is a co-founder and Ensemble Director of the devised theatre ensemble dog & pony dc. With the ensemble Rachel collaboratively created seven shows and directed three, and is currently leading dpdc’s Beertown Takes America project.
Ryan Conarro is a performance maker, teaching artist, and community-based artist. He’s in residence at Ping Chong + Company in New York, where he recently designed and led the new DevisingHub, a 5-week collaborative workshop for performance makers. He’s currently guest faculty with PC+C at the New School for Drama in devised and interview-based performance. After earning his BFA at NYU, Ryan moved to Nome, Alaska to join KNOM Radio as Public Affairs Director, which sparked for him an abiding commitment to exploring documentary practice in performance. Over the course of 13 years as an Alaskan artist, Ryan became a company member with Juneau’s Perseverance Theatre and co-founder of Generator Theater. Highlight projects with Perseverance include co-writing and directing “Eight Stars of Gold,” an interview-based play exploring Alaskan identity and statehood history; and co-creating and performing “The Blue Bear,” an interdisciplinary adaptation of the memoir by Lynn Schooler. For Generator, he’s directed and performed scripted pieces and devised works. His solo performance installation “this hour forward” was created at Juneau’s JACC Gallery and presented and performed on national tour and at New York’s Performance Project at University Settlement. Ryan is an Adjunct Artist with the international ensemble Theater Mitu, with whom he’s created, performed, and taught in the US, Mexico, India, Abu Dhabi, and Lebanon, as well as Off-Broadway, including the interview-based performance and installation “Juarez: A Documentary Mythology.” He’s directed two Alaskan operas, including his original adaptation “Arctic Magic Flute,” which also engaged documentary material. His work as a director/deviser has been seen at the Kennedy Center; the National Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian; Oregon Contemporary Theatre; the Stonington Opera House; Gainesville Theatre Alliance; and numerous Alaskan venues. MFA, Goddard College. www.ryanconarro.com
Stephanie Handel, is a child and family therapist at the Wendt Center for Loss and Healing specializing in grief and trauma. She has provided more than 15 years of individual, family and group counseling at the Wendt Center. Stephanie serves as the Director of Camp Forget-Me-Not/Camp Erin DC, the Wendt Center’s 3 day grief camp for children and teens who experienced a loss due to death. She is the coordinator and member of the Wendt Center’s RECOVER team, which provides early intervention bereavement support and crisis intervention at the DC Medical Examiner’s office. Stephanie had provided consultation to organizations and agencies throughout the United States on therapeutic camp programming for grieving children, children and trauma and building a morgue based support program. She has presented, trained, lectured and published on topics of children, crisis response, traumatic death, attachment, trauma, domestic violence, grief, loss, play therapy, vicarious trauma and alternative interventions. Stephanie is a part of the Washington DC Department of Behavioral Health Crisis Response Team and most recently was honored with Wendt Center colleagues for their crisis work after the Navy Yard shooting. Stephanie is a contributor to the published “Childhood Traumatic Grief: A Multi-Site Empirical Examination of the Construct and its Correlates" in Death Studies, co-author of “The Analyst at the Morgue: Helping Families Deal with Traumatic Bereavement at the Morgue in Psychoanalytic Inquiry, “Memory Boxes” in Robert Neimeyer’s Techniques in Grief Therapy: Creative Strategies for Counseling the Bereaved and a guest on the National Child Traumatic Stress Network Webinar “Ready to Remember: Helping Children With Traumatic Grief.” Stephanie is a past recipient of the NASW Passionate Social Worker of the Year award.
Anita Maynard-Losh, Director of Community Engagement, Arena Stage
Anita has over 30 years of experience in arts education and leads the theater’s education and outreach programs. Now in her 12th season at Arena Stage, Anita directed the world premiere of last season’s Our War as part of the National Civil War Project, and has been an associate director on several productions at Arena Stage, including Oklahoma! and Oliver!. Anita trained and taught at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, was on the faculty at Webster University in St. Louis, headed the theater department at the University of Alaska Southeast, and was the associate artistic director of Perseverance Theater in Juneau, Alaska where she directed 18 mainstage productions. Anita traveled extensively with the artist-in-schools program in Alaska, working primarily with indigenous populations within the context of traditional villages. The Alaska Native-inspired production of Macbeth that Anita conceived and directed was performed in English and Tlingit at the National Museum of the American Indian as part of the Shakespeare in Washington Festival. Her essay about the project was published in Weyward Macbeth: Intersections of Race and Performance, Palgrave MacMillan. She has been dialect coach for numerous productions at Arena Stage, including Camp David, and has coached dialects for the Kennedy Center, the Washington National Opera and on the Broadway revival of Ragtime. Anita was part of the teams that took the Voices of Now program to India in October 2012, and again in January 2014, collaborating on devising original plays in Kolkata, New Delhi, Patna, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad. In September 2015 Anita collaborated on an original Voices of Now play in Zagreb with artists from Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Anita co-created and directs Camp Arena Stage and the Arena Stage Academy, as well as oversees all programming in the Community Engagement division.
Ashley Forman, Director of Education, Arena Stage
Ashley is in her 15th season at Arena Stage and oversees all lesson planning and curriculum for Arena Stage’s education programs. She is also responsible for the design and development of Voices of Now, Arena Stage’s devised theater program for young artists in the Washington, D.C. area. Through a partnership with the U.S. Department of State, Ashley has implemented the Voices of Now model in India (2012 and 2014), Ukraine (2013), Croatia (2013/2015) and Peru (2014). She also spearheaded the development of Moving Stories at Arena Stage, a curriculum that enhances literacy skills through creative drama for students ages 3-6. Ashley has facilitated workshops with public health workers for the National Institute of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Archie Institute in Atlanta and DC Child and Family Services Agency. In addition to public health workers, Ashley has trained university professors and students, medical professionals, social service workers, cultural attaches, Pre-K through high-school public school teachers, teaching artists, professional artists and young artists. Through Voices of Now she has devised autobiographical plays with numerous populations including young people aging out of the foster care system, grieving teens and survivors of sex trafficking and child labor, as well as professional artists and social advocates. For the past decade Ashley has worked with clinicians and grief counselors to develop an applied theater curriculum, which she has implemented at bereavement camps in Virginia, Maryland and New York. She has presented on Voices of Now, devised theater techniques and applied theater at numerous national and international conferences, is currently the co-chair of the American Alliance for Theater and Education’s Youth Theater Network and in 2015 was named Youth Theater Director of the Year by the American Alliance for Theater and Education. Ashley graduated from Syracuse University with a B.S. in theater, concentration in directing and a minor in child development.
Double Edge Theatre
AMRITA RAMANAN joined Double Edge Theatre in 2013 as the company’s Associate Producer and Dramaturg. Now in its 33rd year, Double Edge Theatre applies rigorous physical training and the principle of the artist’s autonomy to create original performance work in an ensemble, laboratory setting. The company maintains its artistic home on a 105-acre former dairy farm in Ashfield, Massachusetts that they have transformed into an international center for performance, training, research, and agricultural sustainability. Through her role with Double Edge Theatre, Amrita support's the company's mission of ‘living culture’ with her work in community engagement, collaborative exchange, and cross-sector partnerships that foster diversity and inclusion.
Amrita formerly held the position of Artistic Associate/Literary Manager at Arena Stage, where she managed Arena Stage’s new play script library, produced the Downstairs New Play Reading Festival, served as a Dramaturg, and developed the Public Arena - an engagement initiative aimed at creating and maintaining a dynamic exchange between artists, audiences and staff about the art onstage. Prior to her position as Artistic Associate/Literary Manager, Amrita was a New Play Producing Fellow and Dramaturgy Fellow with Arena Stage and School Programs Intern at the Shakespeare Theatre Company. She recently pursued an independent research project through support from the India Foundation for the Arts where she documented 20 interviews with theater artists and ensembles in Tamil Nadu.
Rachel Hynes is a freelance devisor and performer who creates collaborative, innovative performances and helps others develop new works. Her own creations have spanned the topics of scars, zombies and tigers (You Have Made a Story On My Skin, Half Life, a zombie love letter for no one, Tale of a Tiger) and Source Artistic Blind Date (Facebook In Memoriam), as well as several site-specific performances featured in Art All Night (Lit) and Supernova Performance Art Festival (Burning Down the House), featuring her bouffon character, The Bossy Fat Sack of Shit.
She has performed and/or devised with banished? productions (Tyger), George & Co (Animal Animal Mammal Mine), Emma Jaster (To Know a Veil), Babel Theatre (Balloon Plays), Megan Dominy (Lolita Reinterpereted), Goldie Patrick (Femminine Folklore), Brave Spirits (Richard III), Synetic Teen Company (The Jungle Book) and two iterations of Natsu Onoda Power’s gender-bending show at Forum Theatre (The T Party).
From 2006-2011, Rachel was the Co-Artistic Director of avant garde performance group, Helsinki Syndrome, performing in On the Boards Northwest New Works Festival, the Henry Art Gallery, Bumbershoot Arts Festival, Annex Theatre (Seattle), Hand2Mouth’s Risk/Reward Series (Portland), Camden People’s Theatre SPRINT Festival (London) and had two residencies at Richard Forman’s Ontological-Hysteric Incubator (NYC).
Rachel earned her MFA in Lecoq Based Actor Created Theatre from Naropa University at the London International School for the Arts (LISPA). Rachel is currently developing You Have Made a Story On My Skin, a show about scars, is an Artistic Associate with banished? productions and is a proud member of playwrights collective, The Welders.