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2020 Virtual Conference - Plenary Sessions

The 2020 Conference Committee is pleased to announce all-conference plenaries planned for this year's virtual conference. Registration is now available.

Thursday, July 23
12noon - 12:20pm. (Eastern)

Join us for the start of the 2020 ATHE Virtual Conference with a performance invocation by The TETRA.  The TETRA is a Detroit collective led by Sherina Rodriguez Sharpe & Chace Morris. -- blending poetry, music, & ancestral technologies into a underground journey of interconnected of freedom rituals--- leading to a festival in 2022 (pandemic-willing).  Sherina Rodriguez Sharpe is a writer, ritualist, performance artist, & educator from Detroit. Trained in Haitian healing traditions, she roots her writing in rituals to create sacred spaces, magical enough to explore power, heal wounds, and rewrite origin stories that transcend trauma. Chace Morris (also known as Mic Write) is a poet, emcee, curator & educator from Detroit. His writings have been called “codes”, verses that spin Black myth & Afrofuturism into clever heists of language & culture, rewriting Black & Brown futures around “Americana” & “independence”.  As The TETRA, they have been recipients of the 2020 Lewis Prize, 2018 Art Prize Juror’s Short List Award, 2018 MAP Grant, 2017 Knight Arts Challenge award, a 2016 Alain Locke award & are also both Kresge Arts fellows.  When not performing, The TETRA is relentlessly correcting the word “soda” to “pop” & quietly judging your pound cake.

Jamil Jude & Nicole Brewer

"Dear ATHE: It's not a moment... it's a movement"
Thursday, July 23
12:30 - 2:15 p.m. (Eastern)

featuring Jamil Jude, Artistic Director of Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company in Atlanta, GA, and Nicole Brewer, anti-racist artist and educator. The opening plenary will set the stage for the virtual conference by challenging the membership to consider how the work of ATHE’s governance, focus groups, sessions, and individual members may support anti-racist theater practices.

The opening plenary kicked off the conference to a dynamic start, centered BIPOC voices, and provided a charge to the membership to frame the conference with a call to engage in anti-racist work. You are invited to bring the charge to every focus group business meeting, every session, every ATHE leadership meeting, and to your institutions and organizations. As a follow-up, you are also invited to attend an open forum on Wednesday, July 29 from 4:00-6:00 pm to share responses from focus groups and individuals.

What do you have to fear or gain in doing anti-racist work?
Who is in the room, who isn’t, and what does that mean?
What action steps can you take to lead to sustainable change

ATHE is indebted to the following people who advocated for and organized this new plenary to reframe the conference and keep the organization accountable to its aspirational statement to be an anti-racist organization: Carlos Cruz (VP of Conference), Monica White Ndounou (VP of Advocacy/BTA Immediate Past  President), Nicole Hodges Persley (BTA president/ Conference Planning Committee), Baron Kelly (BTA member/Conference Planning Committee), Daniel Banks (past BTA president), Eunice S. Ferreira (BTA board member/Chair of Ad Hoc Conference Planning Committee), Brian Herrera (LIA Member), Donatella Galella (ATDS board member), and Courtney Mohler (LIA Focus Group Representative).


Nicole Brewer is an actor, director and educator who was compelled to speak out against the harmful and unnecessary practice of cultural erasure in traditional theatre programs.  In her 2018  American Theatre article, Training With A Difference Nicole called on theatre institutions to disrupt homogeneity by embracing conscientious training practices and implementing cross cultural collaborative curriculums.  Currently Nicole travels both domestically and internationally partnering with individuals and organizations to help them adopt an anti-racist theatre ethos.  She has shared her work on various panels and has presented at TCG conferences, National Black Theater Festival and Goldsmiths University in the UK.  She has given anti-racist theatre workshops at Yale, NYU, University of Cambridge, National Theater Institute, and more.  Nicole is a proud member of the 2018 artEquity cohort. She resides in Washington DC with her husband and three heartbeats (children). 


Jamil Jude

Jamil Jude is a highly accomplished director, producer, playwright and dramaturg focusing on bringing socially relevant art to the community. Jamil is the Artistic Director at Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company in Atlanta, Georgia, where he previously severed as Associate Artistic Director. Additionally, he is the Co-Founder of The New Griots Festival, which is dedicated to celebrating, advocating, and advancing the careers of emerging Black artists in the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area in Minnesota. Prior to joining the staff at True Colors, Jamil served as the Artistic Programming Associate at Park Square Theatre in St. Paul, a Producer in Residence at Minneapolis’ Mixed Blood Theatre, a New Play Producing Fellow at Arena Stage in Washington, DC and co-founded the Colored People’s Theatre. Among his many awards, Jamil has been named the recipient of the Turn The Spotlight Fellowship (18/19), Andrew W. Mellon/TCG Leadership U Fellowship (2015/17), Nautilus Music Theater Management Fellowship (2014/15), NNPN Producer Residency (2011/12; 2012/13), Jerome Foundation/The Playwrights’ Center Many Voices Mentorship (2013/14) and the Allen Lee Hughes Fellowship at Arena Stage (2009/10; 2010/11). Jamil received his Bachelor’s of Arts from Colgate University.

Envisioning Resilience in Performance

Friday, July 24
1:30-2:45 p.m. (Eastern)

Theatre across the globe faces difficult choices for how to best connect with their audience while staying safe. Some academic theatre programs produced Zoom performances and/or radio plays in the last few months, professional theatre released past productions on YouTube, artists turned to virtual reality, and still other theatre practitioners debuted new ways of doing live performance. This roundtable discussion / presentation will feature instances of your innovations of performance and practice in the COVID-19 era that have been successful.


Kaja DunnKaja Dunn is an Assistant Professor of Theatre at University of North Carolina Charlotte as well as being an actor, director, and activist. She has been invited to consult or present on issues of Equity and Diversity for Princeton University (Fall 2020), Blumenthal Performing Arts, Actor’s Equity Association, Spelman College, Emory University, The Women’s Theatre Festival, MICHA, North Carolina Theatre Association (Keynote Panelist), George Mason University (keynote July 2020), Children’s Theatre Charlotte as well as for schools and private corporations. Dunn has presented her work on Equity, Diversity and inclusion as well as Anti-Racism and Decolonization at University of London Goldsmiths, SETC and SETC Theatre Symposium, KCATF and The Association of Theatre in Higher Education, among other places. She is on the National Board as secretary of the Black Theatre Association. Her primary research focus is on using theatre to facilitate complex cultural conversation and Reimagining Theatre Training for Actors of Color. You can follow her on Twitter where she frequently posts about EDI issues under the handle @KajaDunn.  


Tobi Poster-Su

Presentation: "My Face: The British East Asian body as object and insurgent subject"

Tobi Poster-Su is a theatre-maker, writer and scholar who specialises in devised, cross-disciplinary work. He lectures in Drama at Bath Spa University, UK and is undertaking an AHRC-funded PhD at Queen Mary University of London. His research centres on race, puppetry and politically-engaged performance. As co-artistic director of Wattle and Daub, Tobi has co-created and performed in The Depraved Appetite of Tarrare the Freak and Triptych. He has directed puppetry for shows including Tom Morris' A Christmas Carol at Bristol Old Vic and Heidi: A Goat’s Tale at the egg. Other companies he has worked with include Fine Chisel and Lost Spectacles.


Divya RajanDivya Rajan

Presentation: "Who is a Collective-Individual?"

Divya identifies as a creative practitioner. She is an inter- and multi-disciplinary experimental performance artiste whose work is inspired and informed by storytelling, rituals, healing & spirituality. Her evolving introspection into her identity as a 'cultural-conduit' significantly informs ROOTS - her foray into site-specific immersive experience design for the collective-individual. She just graduated with an MFA in Theatre Arts from Towson University in the midst of the dramatic global pandemic. Her thesis is a deep delving inquiry of her artistic process; which she believes significantly informs her evolution as an artiste. Divya started her journey on stage with Theatre Nisha in Chennai, India as a lighting designer in 2008. Before moving to the US for her graduate program, she lived in the Philippines for ten years where she created several one-woman performance storytelling shows; and also served as the festival director and co-producer of Short+Sweet Theatre Festival Manila for four seasons. 

Jordan RosinJordan Rosin

Presentation: "Envisioning Resilience through The Ume Group's Inaugural Online Playback Theater Event"

Jordan Rosin (he/him) is a director/choreographer, actor/creator, and researcher/teacher, specializing in Butoh Dance and ensemble-devised physical theatre. He is a Co-Founder and Artistic Director Emeritus of the New York City-based physical theatre ensemble, The Ume Group and is a frequent collaborator with the butoh/physical theatre company 連翹奏 Ren Gyo Soh. Since 2014 he has been recognized for his work as co-choreographer of Butoh Medea (Poland, Italy, Turkey, Czechia, Scotland, Germany) with awards for “Best Physical Theatre” (2015) & “Best Choreography” (2014) at the United Solo Festival and a nomination for “Best Physical Theatre” (2018) at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Critics have hailed his other directorial and choreographic works as “beautiful & disturbing” (; “commanding, physically impressive” (The Village Voice); and “minimalist theatre at its expressive best” (North Coast Journal). He holds a BFA in Drama from Syracuse University and an MFA from Dell’Arte International, where his practice-as-research thesis explored the intersection of Clown & Melodrama. Currently he is on faculty at Virginia Tech where he teaches Acting & Applied Theatre as a Post-MFA Teaching Fellow in the Department of Theatre & Cinema. He is a member of the Association of Theatre Movement Educators (ATME) and winner of their 2019 Integrated Artist-Scholar Award; as well as a member of Playback North America (PNA); International Playback Theatre Network (IPTN); Network of Ensemble Theatres (NET); and most recently, the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC Associate). / @jordanrosin


Kristen WrightKristen Wright

Presentation: "Beyond Miss Anne: Toward An Abolitionist Vision"

Kristen Wright is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Humanities Scholars Program at Cornell University's Society for the Humanities. She previously earned a PhD and MA in Africana Studies from Cornell University, an MA in African-American Studies from Columbia University, and a BA in Theater Studies and Political Science from Yale University. Her work exists at the intersections of African-American drama (from the 19th century to the present), Black performance studies, and critical theory. She was a co-author of an article published in Theatre Topics, and also contributed a chapter on Adrienne Kennedy to the Gale Researcher's American Literature volume and a performance review to Texas Theatre Journal. Dr. Wright has been a Member-at-Large for the Performance Studies Focus Group of ATHE since 2017, and also served on the Graduate Student Caucus of ASTR.  She won the 2018 Information Literacy Prize from Cornell's Knight Institute for her teaching, and Dr. Wright's article "'The Killing of My Mother I Claim Myself': Adrienne Kennedy's Electra and Orestes, Aeschylus' Oresteia, and the Question of Justice," won the 2016 Marvin Carlson Award for Best Student Essay in Theatre and Performance from Cornell's Department of Performing and Media Arts. Dr. Wright is also a playwright and dramaturg, and her plays APPLE CORE, MISS ANNE, THE SHIRT (CIVILITY), and JAMAL FROM EMPIRE were produced as a part of Cornell's 10 Minute Play Festival. Her new play JODECI FOR WHITE GIRLS will be featured in the 10 Minute Play Festival this fall.

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Humanizing the Digital: Pedagogy
Thursday, July 30
1:30-2:45 p.m. (Eastern)

Spring 2020 presented a challenge to move theatre and performance classes online. While roadblocks abounded, innovation did too. This roundtable discussion / presentation will feature successful lesson plans, exercises, assignments, discussions, and other classroom techniques to share with the membership during this plenary.


Meghan BrodieMeghan Brodie

"The Art of Empathy: 1 Living Newspaper Radio Play Written by 9 Students in 6 States over 5 Weeks during the COVID-19 Pandemic"

Meghan Brodie is Associate Professor of Theatre and a faculty member in the Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies program at Ursinus College. She is also a director, dramaturg, and playwright. Her directing credits include plays by Sarah Ruhl, Charlotte Jones, Diana Son, Ellen McLaughlin, Germaine Tillion, and Paula Vogel. Meghan has previously written about queer casting and feminist directing, co-edited two anthologies of performance pieces written by LGBTQ youth and allies, and partnered with the Remember the Women Institute on several projects about women, theatre, and the Holocaust. She is currently writing a play, Claude & Marcel, about lesbian surrealist artists and Resistance fighters Lucy Schwob and Suzanne Malherbe. Meghan holds a Ph.D. from Cornell University.


Timothy JohnsonTimothy Johnson

"TUTTI, An Abstract Monologue Performance Exercise"

Timothy Johnson is a director, performer, flutist, playwright and educator.  For his New York City production of On Strivers Row he received an AUDELCO nomination for Best Direction of A Play, along with three additional nominations including Best Dramatic Production.  In their review of this production The New York Times said that “Timothy Johnson has shaped 16 striking performances here.” He is a member of the 2018 Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab. His performance highlights include Legends! starring Mary Martin and Carol Channing, Regina at the Scottish Opera, A Chorus Line on Broadway and it’s National Tour and The Temptation of St. Anthony directed by Robert Wilson at the Melbourne International Arts Festival. As a flutist, he was a First Place winner of Baldwin-Wallace College Conservatory Annual Concerto Competition. His play Listening To The Trees achieved Semi-Finalist status for the 2012 Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. Timothy is currently an Associate Professor of Theatre Arts at Marymount Manhattan College. He holds an MFA in Acting from the University of Washington Professional Actor Training Program.


Margaret Laurena Kemp & Sinéad Rushe
"AntigoneNOW – a performance film made in response to Covid-19, rehearsed, directed and created online"

Margaret Laurena KempMargaret Laurena Kemp is Associate Professor of Theatre and Dance at University of California, Davis. She is a multidisciplinary artist and has appeared at Arena Stage, Mark Taper Forum, Yale Rep, South Coast Repertory, La Mama Theatre (Melbourne, Australia), Theatre of Changes (Athens, Greece), Red Pear Theatre (Antibes, France), and The Magnet Theatre (Cape Town, South Africa). She won worldwide praise for her starring role in the film Children of God. Other screen work includes the supernatural film thriller, The Dark Rite, Blood Bound, The Orlando Jones Show and Commander in Chief. Her visual work has been shown in solo and group shows at Art Share Los Angeles, The National Gallery of Art, Nassau, Bahamas, Elaine Jacobs Gallery, Detroit, Michigan. Recent awards include a 2019 Lucas Art Residency at Montalvo Arts Center,  2019 Kennedy Center KCAT award for directing, 2019 Michael Chekhov Artist Scholar Award and the 2019 VASTA Featured Artist Award.

Sinead RusheSinéad Rushe is a director, performer and teacher. She is Senior Lecturer in Acting and Movement on BA Acting (Collaborative and Devised Theatre) at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London, specialising in Michael Chekhov Technique, Meyerhold's Biomechanics and experimental productions of Shakespeare. Recent directing includes Concert (The Pit, Barbican, Baryshnikov Arts Centre, New York [Gradam Comharcheoil TG4 2018 Award]), Night Just Before the Forests (Macau Arts Festival, China), Diary of a Madman (Sherman Cymru, Wales), Out of Time with Colin Dunne (The Pit, Barbican, Baryshnikov Arts Centre [nominated for Olivier and Dance Critic’s Circle Award]). She was this year’s Granada Artist-in-Residence/Visiting Professor at University of California, Davis, Spring 2020. She is the author of Michael Chekhov’s Acting Technique: A Practitioner's Guide and co-translation into French of four plays by Howard Barker. Her recent research, begun at Central and explored at the Macau Arts Festival in 2018, is on polyphonic characterisation, where a role is played by an ensemble of actors.


Derek R. MunsonDerek R. Munson

"Connecting to The Laramie Project on a Digital Platform"

Derek R. Munson recently completed his PhD in Theatre at the University of Missouri. He will join the faculty at Illinois State University this fall as professor of theatre studies and managing director for the Illinois Shakespeare Festival. Munson is working on his first book, a comprehensive biography about Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and Missouri native Lanford Wilson. He chaired the planning committee for "Missouri Self-Taught: Lanford Wilson and the American Drama" (2018) an interdisciplinary conference hosted by the University of Missouri. Munson published two book reviews in the Journal of American Drama and Theatre, and he is the recipient of a New York Public Library Research Fellowship. He has worked extensively in New York City and in regional markets as a producer, director, actor, and teaching artist.

Monica PayneMonica Payne

"Embracing Toy Theatre in the Wake of COVID: Small in Scale, but Vast in Imagination"

Monica Payne is a director, working primarily in theatre, and occasionally making forays into film. Her work includes literary adaptations, devised work, re-imaginings of the classics, and new plays, primarily by writers from abroad. Payne has directed in major cities throughout the United States, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, New Orleans, and Pittsburgh. Her most recent devised piece, Song of Home, toured to Poland and Moldova in February of 2020. She has directed for BODYART, Trap Door Theatre, The Artistic Home, The Pittsburgh Playhouse, The International Voices Project, Kulture Plus Productions and others. She is the founder and Artistic Director of Theatre Lumina, a company focused on cross-cultural collaboration and international exchange. Payne has been a Meisner-based acting teacher for over twenty years and has worked as an actress at many of Chicago’s most prestigious venues: Steppenwolf Theatre Company, the Hypocrites, the Journeymen, Famous Door, and Collaboraction, among others. She has held teaching appointments at UCLA, Carnegie Mellon, and Point Park University, where she also served as the Head of Graduate Acting. She holds an MFA in Directing from UCLA.

Linda A. ShkreliLinda Shkreli

"Scripted Translations: Decoding the Essay through Mediated Design"

Linda A. Shkreli holds a PhD in Communication Studies from Louisiana State University with an area focus in performance studies. Her teaching philosophies focus on creative empowerment, mind/body integration, consumer consciousness and multi-disciplinary exploration of stagecraft. Her current research interests include interdisciplinary applications of oral history and designing performance-based teaching and learning strategies for the writing classroom. She teaches in the freshman writing program at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA.

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Innovations in Software and Technology
On-Demand Videos via the conference platform

This series of videos created by theatre practitioner-pedagogues explains and demonstrates some innovative software and technology to enhance online classes and performance during COVID-19. Applications include using virtual reality for improv, using Hypotheses for script analysis, using online game building software (Kahoot!, Jeopardy Labs, Drawize) as a means of class participation, using CallQ to teach stage managers, and using dry erase boards for drafting and scenic painting. 

Video Presentations featuring

Michael BudmaniMichael Budmani
Call Q - Interactive Software For Training Show Callers

Michael Budmani, programme leader in the Diploma in Theatre Production and Management at LaSalle College of the Arts in Singapore, is a professional stage manager, production manager and educator with over 30 years of experience. His areas of expertise include stage management, production management, technical management, professionalisation, coaching and mentoring. A UK national, he has worked internationally and with some of the very best talent in British theatre, both onstage and backstage. Key engagements include Stage Manager for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Head of Stage Management for Scottish Opera, and latterly Head of Technical for Scottish Opera. Michael was also Chair and Director of the Stage Management Association of United Kingdom. Michael is particularly interested in new pedagogies in theatre production, and the interface between technology and theatre production. In this regard, he has been actively working on new stage management and show calling systems that can facilitate new and path-breaking ways of learning technical theatre.


Jim Dennen
Long Distance Rehearsal in Virtual Reality

Jim Dennen’s work as a theatre artist and director has been seen in regional theaters and festivals around the U.S. and abroad. He was the founding director of the nationally-acclaimed improvisational theatre company, ED, whose work was foundational in the emergence (for better or for worse) of what is now widely known as “long form improvisation.” As a filmmaker, Jim’s experimental work with live performance, improvisational techniques in narrative development, and documentaries earned a New Television Award through the National Endowment for the Arts. His scholarly work on improvisational theory and practice has been published in The Drama Review and The New England Theatre Journal. Prior to joining the Theatre faculty at Denison University (in 2017), Jim taught courses on performance theory and practice, acting, directing, devising, dramatic literature, improvisation, documentary filmmaking, public speaking, and expository writing at Harvard University and Kenyon College. He has an M.F.A. from UCLA and is ABD in Theatre and Performance Studies at Brown University.


Jennifer Ivey
Play More Games: How to Build Community Online

Jennifer Rose Ivey is an assistant professor of Scenic Design at Florida International University. She has worked as a designer and/or technician at the Georgia Ensemble Theatre in Atlanta, West Virginia Public Theatre, Atlanta Opera, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, WILL-TV Illinois Public Broadcasting, Theatre Workshop of Owensboro, Jacksonville State University, Florida International University, and most recently, the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival. Jennifer currently teaches Introduction to Design, Scenic Design, Scenic Painting, Portfolio, The Business of Theatre, and Rendering and Period Styles for Theatrical Design. In addition, she advises students on scenic design, props, and painting for productions throughout the academic year. In the past she has also taught Computer Graphics, Stagecraft, and numerous independent studies. She has also devoted time to workshops in portfolio development, resumes, sketching, and computer skills in programs like VectorWorks, InDesign, Sketchup, Corel Painter and Photoshop.


Amy Osatinski
Collaborative Annotation for the Theatre Classroom with Hypothesis

Amy Osatinski is a theatre artist based in Cedar Falls Iowa where she is an Assistant Professor of Theatre at the University of Northern Iowa. She holds a PhD in Theatre from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her research interests include: Disney Theatrical Productions, musical theatre, popular culture, and the intersection of digital media and contemporary theatre. Amy is also a prolific director, designer, and performer and a proud Associate member of the Stage Director's and Choreographer's Society. 


Francesca Rollins
Dry Erase Template Boards

Francesca Rollins, an assistant professor of theatre at Mercer University, earned her M.F.A. from the University of Oregon in theatre design and technology and her B.A. in theatre at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. Her research interests focus on new technologies in theatrical design and the scholarship of learning and teaching theatre in higher education. She has designed scenery, lighting, projections, and props for shows including the musical “Anything Goes” and Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” at Georgia College. She is also an active participating member of the Education Commission with the United States Institute of Technical Theatre and an active member of the American Association of University Women.

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