Storytellers

Joanne Alcantara

Joanne Alcantara is a writer, midwifery student and patron of the arts living in Juneau, Alaska. Joanne was born in the Philippines and raised in Seattle. After completing a degree in Women’s Studies from Wesleyan University, she returned to Seattle to work for the Asian and Pacific Islander Women and Family Safety Center where she employed an arts-based anti-oppression framework to promote healthier relationships. For ten years, Joanne worked as a student and community organizer on issues including racial and economic justice, ending violence against women, strengthening LGBTIQ communities as well as advancing national democracy in the Philippines. Upon moving to Juneau, she began to work with Perseverance Theatre. Joanne continues to serve as a grant writer for Pinay sa Seattle-GABRIELA USA, a grassroots Filipino women’s collective that employs arts and cultural work to strengthen local and international political campaigns. She and her lovely wife enjoy traveling, the outdoors and first snow fall of each year.

Matt Cowley

Matt Cowley writes and produces radio theater, including the Sixty Second Radio Hour, which won Best Regularly Scheduled Comedy Series from the New York Festivals, and does sound design and Foley effects for the WMNF Studio@620 Radio Theater Project, a series of live radio theater shows. He’s the host and producer of Soundstage, a weekly radio theater show on WMNF Community Radio, Tampa. He’s a member of Offramp, an improvisation-based radio theater group. As a drummer, he’s toured and recorded with artists such as Salif Keita, Glenn Phillips, Blueground Undergrass, William DuVall, and others. Matt is also the president of Yeti Media, a software development firm.

Nakissa Etemad

Nakissa Etemad is a freelance dramaturg, producer, and French translator based in San Francisco and is the Executive VP Freelance and Regional VP of Metro Bay Area for Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA). In her 20-year career, she has worked with such playwrights as Tom Stoppard, Arthur Miller, Luis Valdez, Julie Hébert, Octavio Solis, Charles L. Mee, Chay Yew, Dael Orlandersmith, Culture Clash, Doug Wright, composer Ray Leslee, and Marisela Treviño Orta. She is the former Dramaturg & Literary Manager of The Wilma Theater in Philadelphia, San Diego Repertory Theatre, and San Jose Rep – where she produced the 5th Annual New America Playwrights Festival featuring writers Lynn Nottage, Polly Pen, James Milton, and Naomi Iizuka. Recent dramaturgy credits include the inaugural premiere of Marcus Gardley’s every tongue confess for Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater; Garret Jon Groenveld’s The Hummingbirds, winner of The Internationalists Global Playwriting Contest 2012 (Rough Reading at Playwrights Foundation); the world premiere of Lauren Yee’s A Man, his Wife, and his Hat (AlterTheater); Gardley’s …and Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi, Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award for Best Entire Production 2010 (Cutting Ball/PF); and the bilingual project Othello 11, adapted & directed by French artist Astrid Bas, for the Cultural Services of the Consulate General of France in SF and Z Space. Other dramaturgy career highlights: The Wilma’s East Coast Premiere and 2nd production of Arthur Miller’s penultimate play Resurrection Blues; The Philadelphia Orchestra & The Wilma’s Every Good Boy Deserves Favor by Tom Stoppard & André Previn; the world premiere Wilma-commissioned musical Embarrassments by Polly Pen and Laurence Klavan; and working with Katori Hall on The Mountaintop (Broadway-2011, Bay Area Playwrights Festival-2008). Nakissa studied at the Université de Paris III, holds culinary certificates from Le Cordon Bleu-London, and an MFA in Dramaturgy from UC San Diego.

Fanny García

Fanny García is the Founding Editor of playwriting in the city, a Los Angeles based arts magazine. The magazine aims to build a portfolio of art criticism written by people of color and increase the coverage of work that is neglected by the mainstream media. She was a 2011 TCG Young Leader of Color and was featured in Theater Communication Group’s I AM THEATRE campaign. Last year, she worked with Individual Artist Collective to send a delegation of artists to TCG’s 2012 conference in Boston. She has written several plays including Portrait of Ten Women, which chronicles the lives of Latina women living with HIV/AIDS. Her play The Rosalila received a workshop production directed by Luis Alfaro in 2010. She recently served as Associate Curator/Dramaturg for Watts Village Theater Company’s Meet Me @Metro. She is also one of the original co-founders of East LA Rep.

Marcus Gardley

Marcus Gardley is a poet-playwright who recently won the 2011 PEN Laura Pels award for Mid-Career Playwright. His most recent play Every Tongue Confess premiered at Arena Stage starring Phylicia Rashad and directed by Kenny Leon. It was nominated for the Steinberg New Play Award, the Charles MacArthur Award for Best Play and was the recipient of the Edgerton New Play Award. His musical, On The Levee premiered last summer at Lincoln Center and was nominated for 11 Audelco Awards including outstanding playwright. Last Spring, his critically acclaimed epic And Jesus moonwalks the Mississippi was produced at the Cutting Ball Theater and received the SF Bay Area Theater Critics circle Award nomination for outstanding new play and had two sold-out extensions. His Bay Area plays: This World in a Woman’s Hands (October 2009) and Love is a Dream House in Lorin (March 2007) have been hailed as the best in Bay Area theater. The latter was nominated for the National Critics Steinberg New Play Award. He has had six plays produced including: dance of the holy ghosts at Yale Repertory Theatre (now under a Broadway option,) (L)imitations of Life, at the Empty Space in Seattle, WA and like sun fallin’ in the mouth at the National Black Theatre Festival. He is the recipient of the Hellen Merrill Award, a Kellsering Honor, the Gerbode Emerging Playwright Award, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre Award, a Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation Grant, a NEA/TCG Playwriting Participant Residency, the Eugene O’Neill Memorial Scholarship and the ASCAP Cole Porter Prize. He holds an MFA in Playwriting from the Yale Drama School and is a member of New Dramatists, The Dramatists Guild and the Lark Play Development Center. The New Yorker describes Gardley as “the heir to Garcia Lorca, Pirandello and Tennessee Williams.” He is the 2011/2012 Aetna New Voices Playwright in residence at Hartford Stage and a professor of Playwriting at Brown University.

Shannon Gibney

Shannon Gibney is a writer, educator, and activist who lives with her family in Minneapolis. She has creative and critical work published in a variety of venues, and teaches writing, journalism and African Diaspora Studies at Minneapolis Community & Technical College.

B.E. Melendez

B. E. Melendez moved to Florida eight years ago from New York City. She has over 25 years’ experience as a media professional. She worked as a news writer for WABC-TV Eyewitness News and has worked in public relations for Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, the City of New York’s Department of General Services, Lenox Hill Hospital, Interfaith Medical Center and Wyckoff Heights Medical Center. She has also worked free-lance as a writer and video producer for a number of non-profit organizations, including A Better Chance, National Medical Fellowships and the Manpower Education Institute, to name a few. Barbara is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and currently writes for USF’s Communications and Marketing office.

*photo by Aimee Blodgett

 

Michael Premsrirat

Michael Premsrirat played guitar and sang with a noise-pop band, first called The Publick Enema and later Monkeyboy, from 1989 to 1998.  The principal members met at Pomona College the first week of school, clicked musically, and became inseparable; after graduation in 1993, they moved to San Francisco to play the clubs up there.

In San Francisco, he worked as volunteer staff grantwriter at Asian American Theater Company, culminating in a grant-supported position as Marketing and Community Relations Director from 1997 to 2000.

While at Asian American Theater Company, he became one of the founding members of the 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors, an Asian Pacific Islander American sketch comedy group that has toured nationally (Pan Asian Rep New York, A.S.U. Tempe, U.S.C., U.S.D., U.C. Santa Barbara, U.C. Santa Cruz), internationally (Hong Kong Fringe Festival, Vancouver Comedy Arts Festival), and produced over a dozen original feature shows in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Los Angeles.  He worked with them as a writer, performer, sound designer and publicist from 1993 until 2005.

From 1996 to 1999, he did sound design and graphic design for Campo Santo (a resident theater company of Intersection for the Arts).

From 1998 to 2003, he performed comedy, drama, music and mime with the Filipino American theater collective Teatro ng Tanan in residence at Bindlestiff Studio.  He also directed the world premiere of Melinda Corazon Foley’s innovative spoken word play Coconut Masquerade in May 2002.

His first full-length play, The Clouds, the Ocean and Everything in Between, won the 2000 East West Players New Voices Playwrighting Competition, received a reading at the Public Theater’s New Work Now! Festival in May 2001, and was produced at Asian American Theater Company (San Francisco) in May 2001 and at Asian American Repertory Theatre (San Diego) in February 2005.

In May 2010, he graduated from the three-year M.F.A. Dramatic Writing Program, a joint program of University of Southern California’s School of Theatre and School of Cinematic Arts.  His thesis play, The Girl Most Likely To, was a finalist for the 2011 Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center National Playwrights Conference.

He is an Associate Artist of Playwrights’ Arena (Los Angeles) under the artistic direction of Jon Lawrence Rivera, and he works as Development Director for Latino Theater Company/Los Angeles Theatre Center.

Donna Walker-Kuhne

Acknowledged as the nation’s foremost expert in Audience Development by the Arts & Business Council, Ms. Walker-Kuhne has devoted her professional career to increasing access to the arts. She has raised over $13 million in earned income promoting the arts to multicultural communities.   She was formerly Director of Marketing and Audience Development for The Public Theater and Director of Marketing for Dance Theatre of Harlem.

Presently, she is President of Walker International Communications Group, a boutique marketing, press and audience development consulting agency. She provides consulting services to numerous arts organizations throughout the country and completed her second lecture tour to Australia in June 2007.  She presented a lecture at the University of Berlin, Germany on the topic of audience development in 2008. In the fall of 2011, Ms. Walker-Kuhne was invited to present a series of lectures in Moscow, Russia on the topic of expanding audiences for theater as part of the U.S.- Russia Bilateral Presidential Commision.

A veteran of over 17 Broadway productions, her clients also include  Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, The Apollo Theater, WNYC Radio, Dance Theatre of Harlem and Opera North, Inc.  She was an Associate Producer for George C. Wolfe’s Harlem Song at the Apollo Theater and co-producer for the 2004 AUDELCO Awards.  She is co-founder of Impact Broadway, a socially and technology driven audience development initiative serving 300 African American and Latino students throughout the 5 boroughs of New York City. These students have participated in Broadway productions, social networking and participation in seminars and lectures.

She is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2008  25 Most Influential Black Women from The Network Journal and 2009 Brooklyn College Managers for the Arts Salute Award..  She is an adjunct professor at New York University, Columbia University and Brooklyn College.   She serves on several boards including Theater at Riverside Church, Harlem Arts Alliance, Brooklyn Arts Council, Dance USA and International Theater and Literacy Project. She is vice-chair of The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, Arts, Culture and Entertainment Committee and a member of the Broadway League.  Her first book, Invitation to the Party:  Building Bridges to Arts, Culture and Community, was published in 2005.  Ms. Walker-Kuhne is a volunteer with the SGI-USA, a world wide peace organization serving as Vice Director for New York and a licensed Minister of Ceremonies for New York State.