Meet Our New Arts Administrator!

We are pleased to introduce our newest addition to 20% Theatre, Kristen Stoeckeler. Kristen joined 20% back in April as our first ever arts administrator. She gave us this interview so that you can get to know her!

Tell us a little about yourself. How’d you come to work with 20%?

I grew up in St. Paul. As you might imagine, I was a hardcore theater kid. As an adult I moved to Minneapolis and spent a decade performing in the Twin Cities’ queer cabaret scene, largely with Dykes Do Drag, but also various other shows that have blossomed up here and there over the years.

As a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, my focus was Performance Studies and I cut my teeth there as an arts educator for undergraduates. I have since worked for several local nonprofits managing arts-based educational programming, and in some cases teaching. On the side, I’ve also had a stint as a podcaster for Broadside: a queer feminist conversation about arts & culture, and have played with a couple local queer bands.

When I saw that 20% was hiring I thought, Everything I’ve ever done in my life has prepared me to crush this job! Since I was hired in April, I’ve been so happy to be working on a daily basis to make queer theater and performance happen in the Twin Cities. This work is definitely a dream to me.

What’s your favorite thing about the job so far?

I am so happy to be working in my field! I spent a really long time thinking, writing, talking about and practicing queer performance and for the last few years I haven’t been working a day-job in this field because, well, there are so few! So, I’m very grateful to have found a job in this line of work because my interests and values feel more integrated with my day-to-day work life.

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On top of that, I’d say that I’m one of those people who’s really excited by the energy of starting new projects. Being 20%’s first arts administrator ever, my job is just rife with potential ways to give to 20% Theatre. So, one of my favorite things about the job right now is trying to innovate new ways for 20% as an organization to function internally, and new ways for us as a theater company to create platforms and spaces for our community.

Awesome! But who are you really? Like outside of work?

Like what do I like to do when I’m not working for 20%? I love to dance, play music, ride my bike, garden, and hang out with my loved ones. I love to travel. I like fixing things and making things with my hands. I also work in video production as a freelancer so I’m often making videos with my spare time.

Oh neat, what kind of videos?

Oh, I just wrapped up a set of training videos for a local small business and now I’m working on a video for Three Rivers Fibershed, a nonprofit that works on promoting sustainable fiber production and local fiber economies.

Very cool! Well, anything else you want to tell the 20% community?

Just that I’m very excited to be a part of 20%. And please don’t hesitate to reach out to me by email (kristen@tctwentypercent.org) or say ‘hi’ at the next show, or if you happen to see me around the cities!

Q-STAGE Feature: Addison Sharpe & The Last Resort

Where did the ideas for your Q-STAGE show come from?

I first came across this subject matter during an internship for Chicago essayist Peggy Shinner in the summer of 2014. As I immersed myself in the world of the work, I formed a deep connection with the material. This is a story with such rich artistic potential that I couldn’t leave it behind; deep thanks go to Peggy for permitting me to form my own sculpture from her stash of clay.

Why do you feel it is important to share the stories of your performance with the community?

The structure of so many institutionalized social ills that we experience today were solidified in the mid-20th century. In the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, I found my thoughts returning to this research. I could not ignore the glaring parallels between the Atomic Age and contemporary America. Media bias; toxic masculinity; the performance of femininity; sex-appeal; imperialism; the environmental implications of nuclear warfare; displaced communities of color; the role of nostalgia and kitsch in infantilizing, glamorizing, and otherwise skewing the way we interpret violence – these issues, which are so often talked about as bygone or obsolete, are as deadly relevant to my generation as they were to my grandparents’ generation.

What is this performance about for you on a personal level?

As an alcoholic in recovery, this is a piece about the impossible effort it takes to live in a fantasy of one’s own design. As an emergent artist, this fellowship has provided me the opportunity to write and develop my first feature-length stage piece.

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Talk about your background as an artist. What sort of artistic experience are you bringing to this production?

I’ve pet a lot of dogs, so I’m coming in with a substantial backlog of blessings to cash in.

What social issues are important to you and how do they inform the art you create?

According to Strengthsfinder (TM), two of my top assets are Connectedness (TM) and Ideation (TM) so I don’t uplift pet social issues with my art so much as I draw connections between seemingly disparate issues. Everything is connected to everything and art is my way of processing that inalienable truth.

What artists or performances have inspired you over the years?

The first time I had an oh-shit-this-is-the-kind-of-art-I-didn’t-know-I-wanted-to-make moment was the first time I saw The Neo-Futurists. The second time I had that feeling was when I learned about La Pocha Nostra’s work. Since then, I’ve been inspired by performance groups with aesthetics grounded in absurdism, dada, found text/objects, gesture, and social practice. As for the local scene, I’m consistently floored by the work I see my community bring forward at variety shows like Daddy and Mother Goose’s Bedtime Stories.

Are you working on any other projects presently or coming up in the future?

Concurrent with the culmination of Q-Stage, I am graduating from a year long Arts Organizing Institute with Pangea World Theater. As for upcoming work, I’m looking forward to focusing on crafting with friends.

Describe your pre-performance ritual if you have one.  

Stretching and praying.

When you’re not deep in Q-STAGE rehearsal and development, how do you spend your time? What are some of your hobbies or passions in life?

Trying to get my cat to stop eating plastic, shotgunning La Croix, rollerblading, swapping dank memes with my nerds, finishing abandoned crosswords, and trying to suss out whether or not anyone else in the room watches the same anime I do.

Have you been collaborating with any other artists to create this show? Who are they and how are they contributing?

This process has been a great conduit for connecting with former Q-Stage artists. Several of my fore-daddies in this program are already friends of mine so it was enriching to engage creatively with those folks. Extra special thanks with a cherry on top go to Jay Eisenberg, Sami Pfeffer, AP Looze, Kat Purcell, Billy Noble and my anchor, my rock, my director, Chantal Pavageaux.


More about The Last Resort

The Last Resort
Created & Performed by Addison Sharpe
Directed by Chantal Pavageaux

The Last Guest at The Last Resort passes the time basking in the desert sun, sipping sparkling refreshments and lauding the patron saint of pool-side glamour, Micheline Bernardini, the first woman to model the bikini swimsuit. But the desert oasis may prove to be a fragile mirage as the Last Guest is forced to recon with the repercussions of living in lavishness. In their most ambitious stage project to date, Addison Sharpe navigates a world of sex, kitsch, fallout and the bewildering spectacle of the Atomic Age.

Click HERE for more information and to get tickets to Q-STAGE!

Q-STAGE Feature: Marcela Michelle-Mobama & Demons in America

 

Where did the ideas for your Q-STAGE show come from?

I went to see a broadcast of The National’s revival of Angels in America and Tony Kushner was lamenting the play’s relevance today, despite it being 40 years old, saying it was his hope that the work become irrelevant. I was also watching a lot of political documentaries at the time and had just started to read more conservative/Nazi blogs. People were glamorizing America's response to Nazism in the ‘40’s in such a false, idealistic repainting of history, and I wanted to highlight the hypocrisy of that and examine why we can't call things what they are.

 

Why do you feel it is important to share the stories of your performance with the community?

I think it is important for the artist to offer catharsis, to heal, to guard history and culture. It sounds grandiose, but it is true and ancient. Artists have a responsibility to share their reflections/ideas/stories because we can. Art is a necessary social and political part of a healthy functioning society, and some people have a capacity for and desire to confront the less examined, maybe more upsetting sides of ourselves, and that needs to be looked at and discussed as well. People still talk about the theatre here in a way that is more productive I think than cinema or streaming. Maybe someone realizes something, someone had a good cry, found the courage to make a change, got a laugh, met their future spouse, who knows?

What is this performance about for you on a personal level?

This is about being black, being queer, being transgender, being femme, being a foster of white families, being in the jail system, experiencing police brutality, being 25, and watching everything you thought might maybe become progress turn against itself. It is about my abusive relationship with media consumption and self-harm. It's about feeling like I'm going crazy and like I have to because someone has to read this shit and report back. It's about staying up all night reading terf lit and crying but also feeling better armed for battle. It's about not wanting to fight anymore. It's about the illusion of control, of democracy, of safety, of fear. It's about how far we're willing to go, and for what.

Talk about your background as an artist. What sort of artistic experience are you bringing to this production?

I've been performing since childhood, was very involved in school productions, competitive speaking, music, writing and directing plays. I studied mime as a kid, ballet folklorico, gospel music, I gave sermons...all kinds of weird shit. After I dropped out of high school I went out and auditioned. Eventually I found cabaret, variety, burlesque, performance art. I still do some traditional theatre but now I work mostly in performance art, curation, and recently speaking and teaching/facilitating. I've always been very autodidactic, so I seek out new work, techniques, mediums, artists, and research voraciously, then I try it until I'm good at it.

What social issues are important to you and how do they inform the art you create?

Intersectionality as a holistic approach to understanding feminism and not as a method of reinforcing hierarchical power structures amongst the oppressed. The nightmarish gift that is the body. The transitional nature of all living things. Race, Sexuality, Gender, of course. The earth is under assault, so there's that. Technology and its impact on social interaction. Police violence. White Supremacy. So many things. I think, if you know my other work, these things pop up in various smaller forms, and here I think they all are sort of on full display. We see the confusion, the overwhelming weight of what it is to spend all of your time caring and none of your time doing.

What artists or performances have inspired you over the years?

I’m all over the place. Anne Bogart is a great inspiration, as is Tony Kushner. Amiri Baraka, Anne Sexton. Anna Deveare Smith, Marina Abramovic, Ron Athey, Andrea Jenkins at Intermedia Arts in Q-Stage a few years ago is HUGE for me, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Grace Jones, Bob Fosse, Ionesco, Sartre, Baudrillard, Eartha Kitt, Becket, Badu, Albee, Reza, Sondheim, Marceau, Decroux, Hughes, Hansberry, Gershwin, Chita Rivera, Anna Theresa De Keersmaeker, Luminous Pariah, Martha Graham, Miss Indigo Blue, bell hooks, Beyonce, FKA Twigs, Liza Minnelli, and Ben Vereen. Is that enough? I've got more.

Are you working on any other projects presently or coming up in the future?

I’m singing for an evening with my bestie on May 12th at Can Can Wonderland. I’m working on some new burlesque for Pride season, which is even busier than the other months (when everyone is still gay but whatever) and something really grand for the Minneapolis Burlesque Festival in October. Daddy is always upon me (yikes) in that I always feel pressure to do something exciting. I recently got an offer to teach some workshops at a fancy museum but I won't say where because the ink isn't dry, and I'll be auditioning for Waafrika 123, 20%’s next show. I'm directing Mayda in the upcoming revival of her Dowling Studio show, now at BLB in mid-July. I'll also be continuing this work (Demons) and looking for additional funding for its continuation.

Describe your pre-performance ritual if you have one.  

Warming and stretching the body and voice is very important. I like to have a glass of wine while I do my makeup. Music is a must. In general, if I'm doing a three-week run or 6 shows in one weekend it is very important that I go and see something: a play, the museum, a great burlesque show, or a very fine dinner. Taking in a grand work of art feels fueling to me.

When you’re not deep in Q-STAGE rehearsal and development, how do you spend your time? What are some of your hobbies or passions in life?

Working is my favorite thing to do. I have a hard time shutting it off because it's so stimulating. Being a full-time freelance artist means gigging quite a bit, and you're doing all of your own administrative work on top of the creative. My partner and I love to eat, so fancy dinner is a nice treat. I watch a lot of documentaries, I like to read journals, studies, mostly sociology and psychology stuff. I love to cook, and I'm very ambitious in my attempts.  

Have you been collaborating with any other artists to create this show? Who are they and how are they contributing?

After working solo for seven or eight months I brought on three artists for the last few weeks: Yoni Tamang, Zealot Hamm, and The Lady Wolf. They all have very different backgrounds/styles/minds/voices and are contributing a great deal, helping to provide shape, bringing concepts to life, showing me my thoughts so I may edit them, generating content, and invigorating me. They gave me fresh life and eyes. They also gave me the opportunity to lead some Viewpoints exercises for voice, which I hadn't done before so I'm extremely grateful for that. I think any young director should be truly humbled and honored that anyone would give their time and bodies and allow you to grow by leading or facilitating. It's a weird thing, but it's how we get better.

Click HERE for more information and to get tickets to Q-STAGE!

Q-STAGE Feature: Pedro Pablo Lander & Noche Bomba

Where did the ideas for your Q-STAGE show come from?

Noche Bomba is my latest accumulated research looking at my gender and sexuality evolution in relationship to my latinx Venezuelan upbringing. The work began as an exploration of my relationship with my mother; then developed into a solo that I presented at Exposition: Queer Performance and Conversation curated by Marcel Michelle-Mobama and 20% Theatre. As I dug deeper and got rid of the unnecessary, I developed a solo, a trio, and a duet, which I performed at the Walker, Fresh Oysters, and Lush.

I am working with social dances, drag, text, and expression through movement. The complexities of my experiences develop and dissolve through these forms in Noche Bomba. I am interested in driving the audience in an emotional ride as the work unfolds in the performance.
Noche Bomba

Why do you feel it is important to share the stories of your performance with the community?

My experiences are pretty specific to me, though I have encountered plenty of folks who connect on a personal level to moments in my work: whether it’s a still image, a movement phrase, a sound, the collection of images. The cathartic nature of the work in Noche Bomba, and my work in general, stirs up the performers’ bodies and energizes the space in particular ways. I want to share the emotional, physical, and mental boundaries I continuously shattered growing up.

What is this performance about for you on a personal level?

This is about wrestling with the demons, getting down in the mud, digging, excavating. It is about eruption of the infected, disposing the gangrene parts that I stored in my body and consciousness. Noche Bomba is exposing my body and my identities, revealing, sharing, digesting on stage. This is my experience. This is my life.

Talk about your background as an artist. What sort of artistic experience are you bringing to this production?

I am a performance artist, a teacher, maker. I focus on movement, how the body can generate precious materials and information. I am also a drag queen–the genderfuckery and ecstasy of drag, framed within the history of femme-identified folks in Venezuela. I work with text as well; sounds and words are also parts of the human experience and hold lots of context.

What social issues are important to you and how do they inform the art you create?

I teach different arts curriculum for kids, toddlers, folks with disabilities of all ages, and elders, of all ethnicities, backgrounds, creeds, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Equity through my teaching, representation, visibility, exposure [is important to the me]. My communities keep me grounded as I venture into art-making. The practice of being a teacher truly makes me a better person every single day. I make work about the inequities I have faced as a queer, brown, immigrant, latinx artist. I am driven by the challenges the folks I encounter every day face on a regular basis.

What artists or performances have inspired you over the years?

I am inspired by the incredible people around me and by the wonderful makers I have had the chance to work with in the last seven years, when I moved to the US and began my performance journey. I am inspired by character, tenacity, endlessly curious artists, artmakers who surprise me, honest, honest performance work. Among the people I have worked with I look up to many folks. Currently, I am very much moved by the team of artists across departments at Pillsbury House–Emily Zimmer, Pramila Vasudevan, Masanari Kawahara, Siddeeqah Shabazz, Jen Scott, Mike Hoyt, Molly VanAvery, among many others; also, by the talented and ferocious queer/trans drag and burlesque performers in the Twin Cities.

Are you working on any other projects presently or coming up in the future?

Drag Story Hour every month!! I create performances for kids, with other artists; we read stories, dance, lip-sync, etc. Next one is May 26th from 10:30-11:30am at the Pillsbury House Theatre.

I am working with Judith Howard and a stellar team of performers for ICON SAM: Temple Dances, June 14-17th and 21-24th.

I will also join Pramila Vasudevan in the fall for a parking ramp performance project to be performed September 28 & 29th.

Much more to come <3

Describe your pre-performance ritual if you have one.  

Getting my head underneath my pelvis for a long time, oxygenating the hamstrings, the joints, finding mobility in my joints, putting weight in my hands, rolling on the floor a bunch, making sounds, putting makeup on. (It varies immensely whether I am doing a 50-minute exhausting work, or a 7-minute piece, or a drag story hour, or a performance installation.)

When you’re not deep in Q-STAGE rehearsal and development, how do you spend your time? What are some of your hobbies or passions in life?

I am passionate about making empanadas and arepas, passionate about eating them too. I love going out dancing, biking to most of my destinations, spending time outside, teaching all sorts of people. My schedule is pretty different from week to week, which I love! I love dancing too. I get a kick out of having several different activities in one day that require different things of me. I am passionate about making dance, about performing. I love hanging with people that love me and care about me.

Have you been collaborating with any other artists to create this show? Who are they and how are they contributing?

The performers: Genevieve D. Johnson, Lelis Brito, Sharon Picasso, Tim Rehborg, Kim Schneider, Belize Torres Narváez–they are exquisitely generous every time they show up in rehearsals.

Joyce Liza Rada Lindsay, music composer whom I’ve worked with since 2014. Joyce truly connects with the work I make, and she interprets my emotions in a vibrant way through sound textures and compilations. Joyce lives in Chicago and is an accompanist for dance programs, as well as an independent artist and maker.

Zoe Cinel developed the visual materials for the piece last year when Noche Bomba was in its crafting stages. I will show that work in the piece. Zoe is just finishing her master’s degree from MCAD. We began working together June 2017 after performing with Aniccha Arts and Labor Camp.

Click HERE for more information and to get tickets to Q-STAGE!

THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZE/D – Featured Artist, Jeff Miller

thumbnail.jpg1. In what way/s are you involved with THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZE/D? I am one of the actors in Andrea Broman’s Voices. 
 
2. Why is it important to tell the stories in THE NAKED I? For a lot of the people involved in THE NAKED I, these are the first time our stories are being told by people who are actually apart of the community. For example, so often we see cis actors cast as trans characters and being praised for it while trans actors are not being cast because they “look trans” or don’t “look trans enough” (whatever that means). This is our chance to reclaim our stories. This is by us and for us.
 
3. Talk about your background as an artist. What sort of artistic experience are you bringing to this production? I’ve been performing since I was a young kid as both a musician and an actor. From putting on “concerts” using a tennis racket as a guitar and a fireplace hearth as my stage to theater performances now, I’m fortunate to have found a home with the arts. Most recently, I had the honor of being the headline performer for the Black Hills Pride Festival.

4. What social issues are important to you and how do they inform your work? 
Accessibility with captioning. A lot of the content on the internet is not accessible for everyone. As someone who is a video content creator, I think we need to do better at providing equal access and one of the things we can do is add proper captioning so all are welcome.
 

5. When not involved in this production, how do you spend your time? What are some of your hobbies? I have a 6 year old husky mix named Aspen who is my pride and joy. Outside of hanging with the coolest pupper in town, I spend a lot of my time listening to or playing music.

 

6. Finish this sentence: I feel the most naked when……. I let someone see me past the walls I put up.

THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZED performs February 2-11 at Minnsky Theatre. Click here for more information and to reserve tickets now!

THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZE/D – Featured Artist, Dua Saleh

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1. In what way/s are you involved with THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZE/D?
This year, I am involved in THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZE/D as a director/choreographer of a movement-based piece called “Miskeena”. I cast two movement artists (Lea Reed and Zealot Hamm), and I will also perform the song/lyrics live as a part of the ensemble. In addition, I am a featured performer in another piece in the show that is written and directed by Marcel Michelle called “Shopping for Carrots”.

2. Why is it important to tell the stories in THE NAKED I? More often than not, the narratives of LGBTQIA+ communities are explicitly omitted and excluded from theatrical productions. If our stories are told, they are often encapsulated in a manner that is reductive and tokenizing. The stories featured in this show, however, highlight nuanced readings of identity and social placement, providing a wide array of complexity and emotional range. THE NAKED I is a radical space for exploration, where LGBTQIA+ identities are highlighted to their fullest breaths.

3. Finish this sentence: I feel the most naked when… I’m performing.

THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZED performs February 2-11 at Minnsky Theatre. Click here for more information and to reserve tickets now!

THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZE/D – Featured Artist, Dakota Lancour

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1. In what way/s are you involved with THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZE/D? I am the backstage manager of sorts? I make sure that scene transitions happen smoothly, and that all the props are where they need to be!

2. Why is it important to tell the stories in THE NAKED I?  The stories told in THE NAKED I represent a kaleidoscope of different experiences and identities that do not always get told! And THE NAKED I makes sure to tell these stories in a respectful and honest manner that we do not often (or ever) see in mainstream media.

3. What aspects of your identity do you hope to express through your involvement with THE NAKED I?  As I am a backstage helper, my identity as a nonbinary queer person does not really come into play on stage, but my work hopefully helps all the performers express their identities in their pieces!

4. Talk about your background as an artist. What sort of artistic experience are you bringing to this production?   I majored in Theatre/Dance with an emphasis in design.  So I have a lot of experience in all aspects of technical theatre. I am also a dance artist, though that doesn’t come into play in this particular production.

5. What social issues are important to you and how do they inform your work? Obviously LGBTQ rights are an important issue for me.  As a bi-racial Native American, Native and enviromental issues are also extremely important to me.  I try to bring some of these issues forward when creating dance scores, and they also inform my movement research.

6. What other artists or shows have inspired you?  I have been inspired by so many artists of all different disciplines. Jennifer Tipton has inspired my love of lighting design, Martha Graham, Buffy Sainte-Marie. Most honestly my professors from college inspired me to be creative and resourceful and honest in all I create. The shows Cabaret and Spring Awakening and of course RENT have all inspired me.

7. When not involved in this production, how do you spend your time? What are some of your hobbies? I spend a lot of my time moving and dancing. I also play the viola and crochet and knit. And I listen to lots of podcasts!

8. Finish this sentence: I feel the most naked when….. I use words to share my thoughts and feelings.

 

THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZED performs February 2-11 at Minnsky Theatre. Click here for more information and to reserve tickets now!

THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZE/D – Featured Artist, Wren Hess

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1. In what way/s are you involved with THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZE/D? I’m one of the actors in “Voices” – a piece about asexuality.

2. Why is it important to tell the stories in THE NAKED I? While it’s good that there is more and more queer and trans representation in the media, I think we often get told the same gay stories and the same trans stories. This can alienate people who haven’t had that experience, not to mention those identities that don’t get much representation at all. Especially when you’re questioning an aspect of yourself, it’s amazingly helpful to see other people like you talking about the same things you’ve thought, but that you maybe never said out loud.

3. What aspects of your identity do you hope to express through your involvement with THE NAKED I? “Voices” is about asexuality, and I don’t identify as ace, but as a nonbinary trans person, I can relate to the doubt and confusion in the piece, and the relief of finally finding community.

4. Talk about your background as an artist. What sort of artistic experience are you bringing to this production? I did a lot of acting in high school, but I’ve only done one show besides this during the three years I’ve been in college. That show was called Acute Care: Performing Emotional Labors, and it was a piece put together from interviews with nurses by Beth Cleary at Macalester College, where I go to school. Acute Care told stories of people who often feel unheard, like The Naked I. Some of the nurses who came to see the show told us how meaningful it was to see us talk about their lives and work. I believe The Naked I will give people that same feeling of recognition.

5. What other artists or shows have inspired you? Would it be cheesy to say I’m inspired by all the other artists working on The Naked I? I was already wowed hearing all the pieces at our first full run-through rehearsal, and I’m really excited to watch them evolve as we get closer to performances!

6. When not involved in this production, how do you spend your time? What are some of your hobbies? I do pretty much all kinds of art that I can get my hands on. I’m majoring in art and also study geography and urban studies, so I’m always in at least one studio art class, but I also try to keep drawing and painting and doing other little projects all the time. Other things I do with my time include reading books about cities, baking, watching horror movies with my housemate, and teaching myself to play guitar.

THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZED performs February 2-11 at Minnsky Theatre. Click here for more information and to reserve tickets now!

THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZE/D – Featured Artist, Johnnay Leenay

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1. In what way/s are you involved with THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZE/D? I am a directing apprentice/co-directing Morning Rituals with powerhouse Lisa Marie Brimmer for the brilliant Rica De La Concha!
 
2. Why is it important to tell the stories in THE NAKED I? Queer and Trans folks need spaces dedicated to sharing their complex lived experiences with other queer and trans folks. It is crucial for us to see other people who experience similar struggles, victories, and worries and it is equally important to be able to see the spectrum of what it means to embrace these identities today. It allows the community to be vulnerable with one another and to be critical.  Stories are most powerful when they are for us, by us, and about us and The Naked I fully commits to this.
 
3. What aspects of your identity do you hope to express through your involvement with THE NAKED I? My blackness and queerness. My need to be around artists who dream far beyond this world and allow me to do the same.
 
4. Talk about your background as an artist. What sort of artistic experience are you bringing to this production? I have a hard time defining myself as an artist. I am just starting to feel comfortable using the word curator and convener but that is the beauty of this production. It allows you to test, and screw up, and learn, and grow. Artist have such a special place in the world and I am trying to be as inspiring as I have been inspired.
 
5. What social issues are important to you and how do they inform your work? Some days I feel like a walking talking social issue. I am an outspoken mixed race queer feminist. All of my identities inform how I view the world and that informs how I view art. I am envisioning a world where all my identities are welcomed and embraced and art allows me to get closer and closer to this utopia that I am redefining every day.

6. What other artists or shows have inspired you?Erin Sharkey and Junauda Petrus give me goosebumps. Whatever they touch is gold. Adja Gildersleve forces me to question and embrace my blackness. Albert Conteh. His vulnerability on stage allows me to feel soft. Sun Yung Shin is my favorite person to follow on Facebook. Mackenzie Owens. If I could buy all of her work I would. I could go on and on. The Twin Cities are overflowing with talent! You aren’t paying attention if you are not inspired.

7. When not involved in this production, how do you spend your time? What are some of your hobbies? Exploring the queer art scene, gearing up for Queertopia 2018, celebrating the 14 days of Valentine’s Day, trying to find the perfect pair of thrifted overalls, facetiming with my best friends, eating ice cream, and pretending Lena Waithe is my girlfriend.

8. Finish this sentence: I feel the most naked when…….  I feel understood.

THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZED performs February 2-11 at Minnsky Theatre. Click here for more information and to reserve tickets now!

THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZE/D – Featured Artist, Allison Knauss

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1. In what way/s are you involved with THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZE/D? I’m one of the directing apprentices for this project, and specifically I worked on Just Google It by Aubri Drake, with director Hannah Stein.

2. Why is it important to tell the stories in THE NAKED I? These are stories that don’t get told anywhere else. We’re lucky in the Twin Cities to have several companies telling queer stories, but it’s merely a drop in the bucket of cis straight white stories. There is something magical in seeing something of yourself on stage, and THE NAKED I lets us see things we rarely ever see.

3. Talk about your background as an artist. What sort of artistic experience are you bringing to this production? Most of my experience has been as a stage manager, so I generally bring an organized and precise eye to plays and projects that I’m working on. I’m excited at the opportunity to stretch my creativity through this apprentice directing role.

THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZED performs February 2-11 at Minnsky Theatre. Click here for more information and to reserve tickets now!