For the past 28 years, Paula Frasz has been designing dances that mirror her students, their experiences and the world we all live in.
“All artists reflect wherever they are,” she said. “I don’t just see our students in the classroom. This is my community. This is their community and their surroundings.”
As the makeup of the students in the dance program has become more diverse, Frasz has challenged herself to create works that reflect her students and their world.
For all of her efforts over nearly three decades, Frasz has been named a 2021 Presidential Engagement and Partnerships Professor.
In 2018, students from the NIU Dance program earned an invitation to the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. to perform, “ENUF” a dance choregraphed by Frasz. The dance had been judged to be the best performance at the Central Conference of the American College Dance Association (ACDA).
“In the summer of 2016 I was sitting in my car waiting for the endless train to pass by in downtown DeKalb,” Frasz said. “The news was all about another young black man shot by police, and the Colin Kapernick kneeling situation during the national anthem. One of the train cars that went by had a graffiti tag on it that said ENUF in capital letters.
“I sat there and thought to myself, ‘Yes, I agree. ENUF already.’ I decided at that moment, because we have a wonderful group of minority dancers, that my next piece of choreography would be a dance addressing the history of oppression, suppression and violence against minority groups. I am an old hippie and protest is in my blood. It was time to speak out and my forum is movement.
“The dance, “ENUF,” was born.”
For Frasz, ENUF’s recognition and selection for the Kennedy Center performance was especially meaningful.
“I made it my mission to attract and train minority students as professional dancers, and to include dances in our concerts that were specifically choreographed for Black, Hispanic and other minority casts. To see seven Black, three Hispanic and one white dancer perform it with such heart, helped me realize the meaningful message of that dance.”
One of those who performed “ENUF” at the Kennedy Center was Amber Echols, a 2018 graduate of the dance program.
“I didn’t meet Paula until I transferred to NIU in the fall of 2016, but I had already heard of her and how amazing she is,” Echols said. “When she sees something in a dancer she pushes them to become better than they can ever imagine. I have studied so many types of dance styles, but once I was under her wing, I started to learn so much about the history of different minority dances. She took the time to learn for herself so she could help us understand it.”
In 2019, Frasz wrote the dance, “Your Excellency” inspired by black Union soldier James Henry Gooding’s letter to President Abraham Lincoln. Gooding had been born a slave in 1838 but as a child his freedom was purchased, perhaps by his father, and he was sent to school in New York City. In 1863, he enlisted in the Union Army and wrote letters that were published in his local paper. But it was a letter he wrote to President Lincoln that is most famous. Gooding wrote to Lincoln about the disparity of pay in the army, with Black soldiers earning three dollars less per pay period than white soldiers did. “We have done a Soldiers Duty,” Gooding wrote, “Why can’t we have a Soldiers pay?”
Frasz wrote “Your Excellency” with a specific cast in mind.
“We had these three fantastic male dancers and a wonderful actor,” she said. “I wanted to give them something, I wanted to give them a voice. I wanted to present it in a way where these four talented Black men could express anger and frustration, not in a rage. The way the letter was written, because it was the 1860s, the language is very proper, very respectful to President Lincoln. I could use that to make the movement contrast and really dynamic to show the anger and frustration.”
“Your Excellency” was performed at the American College Dance Festival at Western Michigan University at the beginning of March 2020, one of the last live dance performances before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The dance was first performed in November 2019 in conjunction with the NIU Art Museum exhibition, Exploring Aspects of War In and Through the Visual Arts.
Our BIPOC dancers are extremely talented and my work is enhanced by their skill,” Frasz said. “As our dance program attracts more highly skilled BIPOC dancers, my research also has become more focused. What better opportunity to give voice to an underserved population than to place their issues and concerns on stage? My personal growth has been profound, as the students generously share their cultural experiences and viewpoints, which helps me develop choreographic material to best suit them.”
This post originally appeared in the April 15, 2021 edition of NIU Today.
Gibson Cima, assistant professor of theatre history and head of the bachelor of arts in theatre studies program in the Northern Illinois University School of Theatre and Dance will appear on PBS’ The Roundtable Perspective. Cima discusses his extensive research into South African theatre.
The Roundtable Perspective “gives experts a platform for scholarly discussion, touching on a variety of communication issues.”
The episode will air Friday, April 9 at 8:30 p.m. and again at 10 a.m., Sunday, April 11 on Lakeshore PBS.
There is a livestream for Lakeshore PBS.
Check your local listings for cable, over the air and satellite availability.
The NIU School of Theatre and Dance Black Artists Speaker Series welcomes alumna, J. Nicole Brooks for a guest artist lecture, Friday, April 9 at 3 p.m. via Zoom. Brooks is an award-winning actor, writer and director.
Her selected acting credits include Lottery Day (Lookingglass Theatre Company), Immediate Family (Center Theatre Group), and House Home (Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center, China). Her directing credits include Mr. Rickey Calls A Meeting, Thaddeus & Slocum: A Vaudeville Adventure and Black Diamond: the Years the Locusts Have Eaten.
Brooks is author of HeLa, Fedra: Queen of Haiti, Black Diamond, and 3 Weeks With Her Honor Jane Byrne. Television credits include recurring roles on Showtime’s The Chi and Comedy Central’s South Side. She is a multi-award winning artist honored by 3Arts, TCG Fox Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Black Ensemble Theatre Playwright of the Year, LA Ovation and Black Theatre Alliance. She is an ensemble member of Lookingglass Theatre Company.
Kane Repertory Theatre was founded by a group of recent graduates from the NIU School of Theatre and Dance and premiered their first show in 2019.
Kane Repertory Theatre Artistic Director Daniil Krimer and Managing Director Avery Bowne announce the world premiere online production of Hammaad Chaudry’s Security, as part of the company’s new Multiplatform Commission. Security, directed by Executive Producer Ansley Valentine, premieres online April 10-May 2, with plans for an in-person production when it is safe to do so.
The cast includes Academy Award and three-time Golden Globe nominee Eric Roberts (Brian) and Harsh J. Gagoomal (Riaz). The stage manager is Rayne Kleinofen with assistant stage manager Justin Williams.
Security: A 17 year old Riaz arrives from Britain to the United States for the first time and is stopped at the airport by a Homeland Security officer named Brian. The experience will change Riaz’s life forever. Thirteen years later, a grown up Riaz returns to the United States, hunts down Brian at his home, and now interrogates him—it’s time to return the favor.
The online production will be a blend of film and theatre. Green screens and professional film set-ups will be sent to the cast in their individual locations, and with the with the work of a top-notch video editor, the final production will look and feel as if both actors are sharing the same space.
A 17 year-old Riaz arrives from Britain to the United States for the first time, and is stopped at the airport by a Homeland Security officer named Brian. The experience will change Riaz’s life forever. Thirteen years later, a grown up Riaz returns to the United States, hunts down Brian at his home, and now interrogates him — it’s time to return the favor.
About the production
This world-premiere virtual production blends theatre and film into one compelling experience for the audience.
The actors are equipped with professional film equipment to record their performances in real-time. And through the work of the video editor, the final production will look as if both actors are sharing the same space. Living in the same world.
Tickets for the online production are $25 per household or $10 per adult, $8 per senior and $5 per student. Tickets are currently available online.
Artistic Director Daniil Krimer comments, “You don’t get to work with Oscar nominees often. Eric Roberts is one of those rare, class act actors that has immense talent and zero ego. It is a masterclass to watch him work and it’s an honor to have him as part of this project. Combine Eric Roberts with the dynamic Chicago actor Harsh J. Gagoomal and you forget that you’re watching a play on an Ipad and not in the actual room. With Zoom fatigue being a real thing, we want to make sure this isn’t just another production with two Zoom screens. We are combining the mediums here, intertwining film and theatre, and the performances are something special.”
“Hammaad Chaudry provides a wonderful new Muslim voice to the American theatre. In this time when we are being challenged by so many prejudices coming to light, this play provides an interesting and nuanced discussion of issues race, religion, and patriotism we all must confront,” adds Director/Producer Ansley Valentine. “Eric Roberts and Harsh Gagoomal are both powerful actors. Their combination of stage and screen experiences lift the words off the page in a thrilling way. And bringing Mr. Roberts back to the theatre, albeit virtually, is an exciting prospect. The play is scary, and funny, and touching. We hope to create a piece that provides a blend of stage and film for something we do not see often; it won’t be your typical Zoom reading. I can’t wait to share it with an audience!”
About the Artists
Hammaad Chaudry (playwright) is a U.S. and U.K. based playwright. His plays include An Ordinary Muslim, which received its World Premiere at the New York Theatre Workshop where he was the Tow Foundation Playwright in Residence. The play was the recipient of The Edgerton Foundation New Play Award and The Laurens/Hatcher Theater Grant. Other plays include God Willing, Tokens, Kismat, Salaam Mr. Bush and Bobby and Rabia. His work has been staged/developed at The Public Theater, The Pershing Square Signature Center, The Flea Theatre, The Kiln Theatre, The Royal Court Theatre in London and The Royal Lyceum Theatre in Scotland.
He was a Van Lier Fellow at New Dramatists, is an alumni of The Public Theater’s Emerging Writers Group and remains a Usual Suspect at the New York Theatre Workshop. He is also a graduate of The Royal Court Theatre’s Young Writers Programme, where the theatre selected his work for the Young Writers Festival and Unheard Voices competition. He is a recipient of the New Playwrights Award from Playwrights’ Studio Scotland. Residencies and workshops include: Cove Park Residency, Vineyard Arts Project Public Theater, Composer Librettist Studio (Nautilus Musical Theater). He holds an M.F.A. in Playwriting from Columbia University where he completed his studies on scholarship and a B.A. in International Politics and History from The University of Surrey in England.
Ansley Valentine (director, Executive Producer) is a professional director and choreographer for the theater and musical theater and an educator with experience teaching professionally at the collegiate level and in both public and private performing arts high schools. Ansley holds an M.F.A. in Directing from Indiana University. He is currently a proud member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) and Actors’ Equity Association (AEA). Ansley is also a graduate of the Arts Midwest Minorities in Arts Administration Fellowship, a program funded by the Ford Foundation to increase minority representation in leadership roles at American not-for-profit organizations. His many awards include a 2014 Telly Award and a Kennedy Center Gold Medallion. He is past National Play Program Chair for Region III of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. In that capacity, he helped to foster the writing and development process of a number of young playwrights including producing readings of new work. In the summer, he is Artistic Director of the Ohio Youth Ensemble Stage, a company that provides an inclusive performing arts experience for students regardless of ability or financial resources.
Ansley’s performance credits include (Mr. De Pinna) at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, and several seasons with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s A Yuletide Celebration as puppet master and Scrooge (a 9-foot tall puppet). He also performed his character mask work with the Alabama and Detroit Symphonies. He has shared the stage with legendary performers Kaye Ballard and Judy Kaye. Other credits include performances with the Indianapolis Shakespeare Festival, Phoenix Theatre, Red Barn Playhouse, Brown County Playhouse, Horsefeathers and Applesauce Dinner Theatre, a national tour with the Mr. Wizard production of Supermarket Science.
Eric Roberts (Brian) is an Academy Award nominee for his role in Runaway Train and a three-time Golden Globe nominee for Runaway Train, Star 80, and King of the Gypsies. He received critical acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival for his roles in A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints and It’s My Party. He starred in La Cucaracha, which won Best Film at the Austin Film Festival, and for which Roberts won Best Actor at the New York Independent Film Festival that same year. Other notable performances include his roles in Final Analysis, The Pope of Greenwich Village, Raggedy Man, Hollywood Dreams, Babyfever, Heaven’s Prisoners, The Dark Knight, and The Expendables, Lovelace and an upcoming feature he is not at liberty to discuss, but is most excited about.
On television, Roberts has received international attention for roles in “Heroes”, “Entourage,” “The L Word,” “The Cleaner,” the CSIs, “Justified,” “Less Than Perfect.” He made a profound impact in the Emmy-nominated adaptation of Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood,” directed by Jonathan Kaplan. He joined the cast of the Starz series “Crash” for its second season, playing the kind of complex character Roberts is known for.
Roberts has also diversified into music videos, appearing in Sophie Muller’s “Mr. Brightside” video for The Killers, plus its prequel, “Miss Atomic Bomb” and Brett Ratner’s video for Mariah Carey’s “Emancipation of Mimi”—both award winners. One of his most popular appearances was as the surprised recipient of a heart-felt, spontaneous shout out from The Wrestler’s Mickey Rourke at the Independent Spirit Awards. On stage, Eric won the Theatre World Award for his role on Broadway in Burn This. He returned to the New York stage in “The Exonerated” and appeared in the show’s touring company as well.
Roberts was born in Biloxi, Mississippi, and grew up in and around the Atlanta area. He began his career in theatre, and as an actor in his late teens in New York City on the soap opera “Another World.”
If you ask Roberts today, he will tell you he has more than retained his passion for acting, but that there have been some additions to his repertoire of which he is most proud, namely his daughter Emma Roberts, and his step kids, Morgan and Keaton Simons. He supports them in all their artistic, musical and culinary endeavors. Eric’s other personal passions can be explored at his website.
Harsh J. Gagoomal (Riaz) is a joyful artist and aspiring policymaker who currently resides in Chicago. Previous acting experiences include performing in Guards at the Taj (Underground Railway Theater), The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity (Red Theater Chicago), and Black & Privileged (Netflix, 1555 Filmworks). Harsh previously served as the director of The Homeless Monologues at the Goodman Theatre. Learn more about him at www.hiimharsh.com.
About the Kane Repertory Multiplatform Commission
The Multiplatform Commission was created to explore how virtual theatre can serve the transition of a brand-new play to the live stage. The Kane Repertory Theatre Multiplatform Commission selects one outstanding playwright to have a World Premiere of new play in two mediums—digitally this spring and, later, in-person when it is safe to do so. Hammaad Chaudry’s play was selected to be developed over a months-long process, both in this digital moment is explored in its entirety, using that process to inform its eventual premiere on the physical stage.
Daniil Krimer explains, “At Kane Rep’s 2020 New Play Lab, we gave 14 playwrights the opportunity to workshop their new works for about 10 hours each. In retrospect, it’s clear that that is not enough time to help playwrights make significant changes to their works of art. This realization inspired us to create the Multiplatform Commission. We decided that, in order to give a playwright the ability to develop a piece, we should commission them and work in tandem to give a piece life. After reading An Ordinary Muslim, we knew that Hammaad Chaudry was our guy. We are now on draft two of Security, and Hammaad’s ability to make everyday dramatic situations symbolize something much bigger, is a testament to why he is one of the premiere up-and-coming playwrights of this decade.”
About The New Play Lab
The New Play Lab is an ongoing project that is committed to helping playwrights continue the development of their new scripts. 2020 was a year full of challenges and opportunities, and Kane Rep worked with 14 professional playwrights on their new works. Over the course of five-months,15 plays, brought to life by more than 75 actors and directors, were produced. Funded by our generous audience and community, each and every participating theatre artist was compensated.
The New Play Lab provides a virtual rehearsal room to each selected playwright, connecting them with professional actors from our ensemble and beyond. On Wednesday evenings, audiences are invited to join us for a virtual reading of the scripts on YouTube Live. The audience gets a firsthand look at the development of these works and becomes an integral part in the creative process by joining us for post-read discussions, where sharing questions, thoughts, and impressions with the team is welcome.
As the company looks forward to 2021, it envisions a year of hope—one that will bring artists and audiences back to the theatre and in physical community with one another. The Kane Repertory Theatre Multiplatform Commission reflects that hope.
The 2020 New Play Lab has featured actors and directors Mark Brokaw (Drama Desk Award, Obie Award and Lucille Lortel Award winner), Rondi Reed (Tony Award winner), Austin Pendleton (Tony nominee/Drama Desk recipient), James Vincent Meredith (Steppenwolf ensemble member), Francis Guinan (Steppenwolf ensemble member), BJ Jones (Artistic Director, Northlight Theatre), Eddie Torres (Co-founder Teatro Vista), Isabel Arraiza (Driven, Pearson), Karen Rodriguez (Steppenwolf ensemble member), Hallie Gordon (former Artistic Director, Steppenwolf for Young Adults), Kyle Beltran (The Cherry Orchard, In The Heights) Justin Lucero (Aristic Director, El Paso Opera), Jon Blake Hackler (Dallas Theatre Center ensemble member), Ken Barnett (Mozart in the Jungle, Too Much Sun) Anthony Irons (Lookingglass ensemble member), Kevin Asselin (Artistic Director, Montana Shakespeare), Michael Stebbins (Artistic Director, Door Shakespeare), Marcy Kearns (Associate Artistic Director, Chamber Theatre), Michael Patrick Thornton (Artistic Director, The Gift Theatre), and Barbara Zahora (Artistic Director, Oak Park Festival).
About Kane Repertory
Kane Repertory Theatre is a home for professional, intellectually stimulating theatre. By using visceral performance to explore values in America, we seek to spark conversation, evoke empathy, and strengthen the community. We work to be one of the Midwest’s leading regional theaters by forming an ensemble of dynamic artists, providing patrons of all ages with first class theatre education, and engaging new audiences through various outreach efforts.
For more information about Kane Repertory Theatre, visit https://www.kanerepertorytheatre.com/
The NIU School of Theatre and Dance presents a live streamed performance of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. Tickets are free of charge and can be reserved online. Performances will be streamed at 7:30 p.m., Friday, March 26 and Saturday, March 27.
The School of Theatre and Dance began experimenting with presenting theatre online in early 2020 due to the COVID 19 pandemic. In the Spring 2021 semester, we are continuing this presentation of non-traditional performances to showcase the work of our students and faculty, and we are pleased to be able to now share them with you!
This performance will be streamed on Zoom Webinar. You will receive a confirmation once you place your order. Then, 60 minutes prior to the show, you will receive a customized link and password to the performance. Please ensure your email address is accurate when checking out.
We are currently transitioning to a new ticketing system and appreciate your patience. Please email email@example.com if you have any questions or trouble reserving your ticket.
If you would like to donate to the School of Theatre and Dance, please follow this link and choose “School of Theatre and Dance” in the menu. Thank you, as always, for your patronage.
The NIU School of Theatre and Dance presents “Everybody” by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Friday, March 5 and Saturday, March 6 at 7:30 p.m. via Zoom. There is no charge for tickets but you must reserve your space.
This modern riff on the fifteenth-century morality play Everyman follows Everybody as they journey through life’s greatest mystery—the meaning of living.
The production is directed by Edwin Lee Gibson. The assistant director is Victor Jaimes.
For tickets, visit the School of Theatre and Dance online Box Office. (Don’t forget to make sure you choose the performance date you wish to view.) The School of Theatre and Dance began experimenting with presenting theatre online in early 2020 due to the COVID 19 pandemic. In the Spring 2021 semester, we are continuing this presentation of non-traditional performances to showcase the work of our students and faculty, and we are pleased to be able to now share them with you! Performances will take place at 7:30 pm each night listed. Please check back for more information and where these productions will be streamed.
This performance will be streamed on Zoom Webinar. You will receive a confirmation once you place your order. Then, 60 minutes prior to the show, you will receive a customized link and password to the performance.
Isabelle Ajemian (Mind/C) Isabelle Ajemian is a sophomore BFA in acting candidate, and this is her second show with NIU. She is so grateful to get to share this work with you all and is excited to show what can be accomplished in this new zoom theatre world that she has gotten the unique opportunity to be a part of. The rehearsal process of this show has been the first time in a year that she has gotten to act and dance in the same room as other creators, and she has never felt more moved, humbled, and abundantly grateful. She would like to thank the cast, crew, and the genius Edwin Lee Gibson for making this a possibility. Nothing is more powerful than a room full of artists all creating with the goal to inspire.
Sophia Arnold (Chorus/B/Beauty/4th Somebody) is s a third year BFA in acting candidate. She has understudied with Indianapolis Shakespeare Company and interned with Oak Park Festival Theatre. Some of her favorite roles at NIU include Helen in Troilus and Cressida, Kitty in The Time of Your Life, and O’Casey in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. Past productions include Adrianna in The Comedy of Errors (Two-Town Theatre Company), Margaret in Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare Playworks), and Maria in Twelfth Night (Shakespeare Playworks).
Nicholas Bishop (Kinship/Evil) is a television, film, and stage actor who has appeared in Chicago Med, Hamlet, and Art Collectors. He is a second year BFA candidate at Northern Illinois University. Nicholas has an interest in script writing and starting a production company and in his free time he enjoys playing guitar and skateboarding. Lastly, he is thankful for being a part of this amazing show and cast.
Marcell Boclair (Cousin/1st Somebody) is a second year BA in theater studies candidate with a focus in acting and health sciences major here at NIU. He hopes you enjoy the show as he makes his debut!
Caroline Byrne (Stuff/Chorus) This is Caroline’s fourth production with the school of theatre and dance. She hopes you enjoy the show!
Clark Cheatham (Chorus/Cousin/3rd Somebody) is a Junior BFA in acting candidate from St. Charles, Illinois. His credits at NIU include: Nick in The Walk Across America for Mother Earth, Dudley R. Bostwick in The Time of Your Life and Jim Crocket in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. Other favorite credits include Algernon in The Importance of Being Earnest, Marius in Les Miserables, and Squire Trelawney in Treasure Island.
Wesley Hutchinson (Strength/A/5th Somebody) is a second year BFA in acting candidate from Michigan and a student at NIU. This is his second role at NIU. Some of his past roles include: NIU’s production of Love and Information, Grandpa Joe in Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, and Vice Principal Douglas Panch in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Romeo High School.
Morgan Mallory (Girl/Time/2nd Somebody) is a second year BA in theatre studies candidate, and she is very excited to be a part of this production of Everybody. Some other things she has been a part of are Northern Illinois University’s 24-Hour Theatre Play Festival as well as Crete Monee High School’s productions of Mamma Mia and Noises Off. She hopes that you all will enjoy the show!
Savannah-Lee Mumford (God/Usher/Understanding) is a second-year MFA in acting candidate here at NIU. Savannah-Lee’s NIU credits include #7 in Sarah DeLappe’s The Wolves and Actor in Love & Information. Savannah-Lee is a North Carolina native who holds a BFA in drama from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. After graduating, Savannah-Lee primarily worked in New York. Some of her credits include: Off-Broadway: Candy in 12 Steps: The Musical (Original Off-Broadway Cast). Workshops: Barb Holland in Stranger Sings: The Parody Musical (Original Cast), Sigourney Weaver! in PITS: The Unauthorized Holes Musical. Concerts: Barb Holland in Stranger Sings: The Parody Musical with Christina Bianco at 54 Below. Regional: Evil Stepmother/Witch u/s in Into the Woods (Charlottesville Opera), Sherrie in Rock of Ages (ATC, BroadwayWorld Nom.), Fiona u/s in Shrek: The Musical (SSMT). Other credits include Imelda in On the 20th Century, Mae in Reefer Madness, The Drowsy Chaperone in The Drowsy Chaperone (UNCSA), Dolly Levi in The Matchmaker (UNCSA), Claudia in Nine (UNCSA), Lady of the Lake in Spamalot. As always… this is for Sandy Beam.
Jamaque Newberry (Everybody) hails from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He received his BFA degree in filmmaking from Western Kentucky University while competing for their world-renowned speech and debate team. While competing, he accumulated multiple national awards in dramatic and poetic performance. Before coming to NIU, Jamaque taught dramatic performance and film techniques for various middle school and high school programs. He is now furthering his love for performance and art at Northern Illinois University as an MFA in acting candidate.
Naava Ofri-Akman (Senses/D) is a sophomore BFA in acting candidate. This is her second production at NIU, the first being Bird in the Hand. It has been such a joy to work in the space and craft this piece. May we all define and find peace within our own realities.
Kaz Qutab (Death) is an MFA in acting candidate from central Massachusetts. Everybody is his third virtual production at NIU. He dreams of doing a traditional show before graduating, though he couldn’t ask for better people with whom to weather this storm. Previous credits: Nick in The Time of Your Life and Givola in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui.
Makenzie Weatherford (Love) is a second year MFA in acting candidate. At NIU, she recently performed as Susan in A Bird in the Hand and as Maria in a reading of Summertime. Raised in Idaho, she moved to California and received two BAs at Concordia University Irvine: English and theatre. Some of her favorite performances at Concordia include Antigone in Antigone, Beatrice in The Servant of Two Masters, Mrs. Hardcastle in She Stoops to Conquer, ensemble in All Shook Up, The Secret Garden, and The Plain Princess, and her favorite, an original script adaptation of Ten Days in a Madhouse as Nellie Bly.
Rachael Yoder (Friendship) is a second year MFA in acting candidate, who is thrilled to join the Everybody team for this special virtual production. Favorite credits include, NIU: The Wolves, Girls and Dolls. Regional: Sleepy Hollow (Capital Repertory Theatre) A Christmas Carol, Amadeus (Geva Theater Center) Richard III, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, The Winter’s Tale (MaineStage Shakespeare) Love’s Labour’s Lost, Two Gentlemen of Verona (Shakespeare in the Valley) New York: Fifth of July, Independence (Stella Adler Studio) Pretty Theft (Jordan Bean & Co). Rachael also serves as managing director of The Outer Loop Theater Experience, overseeing partner projects in Tanzania with her husband Michael. For more information, please visit outerlooptheater.org. Proud member of Actors’ Equity Association.
Branden Jacobs Jenkins (Playwright): Hailed as “as one of this country’s most original and illuminating writers about race,” Jacobs-Jenkins has written on a variety of topics, often taking a much-older play as a starting point. His 2014 hit An Octoroon, slyly subverted an 1859 melodrama about mixed-race romances. Everybody riffs on an even older model: a late-medieval morality play called Everyman. Because the title character in both plays represents any human on the verge of death, the actor who played the role in the original run of Everybody was chosen randomly every night. Jacobs-Jenkins explains: “The concept…is that every night there’ll be a different Everyman, chosen by lottery, so the cast will shift a lot. This may be an insane idea. We’re assuming all these lovely actors are going to memorize the entire script.” The NIU production isn’t quite so ambitious.
Jessica Ferreira (Assistant Stage Manager) This is Jessie’s first show that she has worked on and completed. Previously she had worked on Time of Your Life, but sadly that show never saw the light of day. Jessie is a sophomore in the school of Theater and Dance and is pursuing a BFA design and technology degree. In taking on the role of assistant stage manager, Jessie is one step closer to her goal of one day becoming a stage manager.
Vincent Juarez (Student Choreographer) is a third year BFA in acting candidate at Northern Illinois University. His past NIU credits include Paris in Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida, Newsboy in The Time of Your Life by William Saroyan, and Gabriel in Bird in the Hand by Jorge Ignacio Cortinas. Vincent is grateful for the opportunity to have collaborated with Sophia Day Arnold, Jamaque Thomas New-berry & Kendra Holton to direct and produce the Danse Macabre.
Justin Williams (Stage Manager) is a BFA design and technology alumni class of 2016 and has been in the professional world ever since. With his first production in 2011, he has spent almost 10 years doing shows all over. Starting at Crete-Monee High School and finishing at Northern Illinois University, Justin spent years learning multiple skills in the entertainment world that made him the success he is today. Most notable work experiences are Cedar Point Amusement Park, Carnival Cruise Lines, and now currently at Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Ltd. When asked how it feels to be doing a NIU show again he said, “Returning to NIU and joining the production of Everybody has been an unexpected pleasure.”
Director / Edwin Lee Gibson
Assistant Director / Victor Jaimes
Stage Manager / Justin Williams
Assistant Stage Manager / Jessica Ferreira
Technical Director / Brysen Hannappel
Scene Shop Supervisor / Ethan Rosing
Movement Coach / Kendra Holton
Student Choreographers / Vincent Juarez, Sophia Arnold Costume Consultant / Jeremy Floyd
Casting Director / Dr. Kay Martinovich
Production Liaisons / Kendra Holton, Jeremy Floyd
Director of Marketing / Suzanne Rosenik
Outreach Coordinator / Sylvie Baldwin
Run Crew / Elijah Bustamante, Hernan Acosta
Student Editors / Jamaque Newberry, Alexander Boyer, Clark Cheatham, Wesley Hutchinson, Aidan Murphy, Alexa Wiljanen Properties Designer / Dave Doherty