Theatre Video Archive: ON THE BRINK
On The Brink Reading Series
What have we learned from 2020? How do we as theatre artists respond to this moment?
These are multifaceted times we are facing, not just in terms of the political, social and cultural upheavals that 2020 brought upon us, but also the challenges the pandemic has brought to live performance as well. In response, CSU Theatre created a series of readings of new works addressing the hot topic themes of our times – issues that have pushed our culture to the brink…and that reveal whole new worlds of possibilities. A collaboration of professional theatre artists, faculty members, current students and CSU alumni, ON THE BRINK will explore works representing a variety of underrepresented voices and perspectives. The series is curated by Professor Saffron Henke.
Audience Advisory: This production may contain material that could be considered controversial by some audience members.
UnEntitled by Ewok Robinson
Performed by guest artist, Ewok
South African spoken word artist, rapper, activist, and educator Iain “Ewok” Robinson, uses hip-hop practice to galvanize communities around social justice issues. We are every honored to have this multitalented graffiti artist, musican and stage performer join us via Zoom from South Africa to read/perform his one-man tour de force: UnEntitled. Blending exquisite wordplay, deep interrogations, and humorous reflections, Ewok examines assumptions about whiteness and privilege with sincerity, humor and honesty.
Durban-based spoken word artist, rapper, activist, and educator Iain “Ewok”
Robinson, uses hip-hop practice to galvanize communities around social justice issues.
An aerosoloist and graffiti artist, he has painted banners and canvasses for
environmental and social justice groups such as the Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation, COP17 for climate justice, and he paints for
Palestine every year. He is a Dennis Brutus Community Scholar at the Centre for Civil
Society at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and has taught at Clifton College, an
independent boys school in Durban, where he founded the Clifton Spoken Word Society. He has authored and performed several one-man stage shows through Amhelo Productions with his partner Karen Logan: Seriously? (2011), YOBO: You’re Only Born Once (2015), I to I (2015) with UK-based artist Kat Francois, and UnEntitled (2017), which premiered at The Quick Center in The USA in Fall 2017. He also has two anthologies of poetry and four albums of recorded music and spoken word to his name.
For more on his spoken word flavored Hip Hop activism, visit ewokessay.com
Mary Magdalene gives voice to the loves and losses, to the miracles and the exorcisms of her time on earth and reframes and re-centers her role in the greatest story ever told. With wit, warmth, and wisdom, Mary guides us through her world and the experience of being a woman with a voice in a world made for men— along the way, discovering herself what she can do with it. Who is teacher and who is student? Who gets to lead? And what truly does one see when looking into the face of G*d? Both eulogy and celebration, Mary Magdalene Smokes a Joint puts the world’s most misunderstood of women back at the heart of her own story.
In a not-at-all-distant future, all of the statues of colonizers and racists have come down and now two “black experts” must sort through a stack of recommendations and petitions to erect new statues to our best and blackest. But, what is the criteria for immortality? Join us for a production of this new crisp and heady, humorous and biting two hander about who stands forever. Reading Link: Here
Playwright: Idris Goodwin is an award winning scriptwriter, breakbeat poet, educator and director of The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. He was recently named a 2021 United States Artist Fellow. He’s created content for Nickelodeon, HBO Def Poetry, Sesame Street, NPR, BBC Radio, and the Discovery Channel. His plays include And In This Corner Cassius Clay, How We Got On, Hype Man, and Jacked!
Director: Kyle Haden is a director, educator, and Equity actor. He is in his sixth season as the artistic director of the Ashland New Plays Festival in Oregon, where he directed readings of Primary User, I Can Go, Hazardous Materials, and The Luckiest People for ANPF, as well as performing in readings of Go. Please. Go., Edward III, and Now This. During his tenure, over a dozen new plays from ANPF have gone on to have world premieres around the country, with three more scheduled for 2020.
As a director, Kyle has helmed various productions across the country, including the world premiere of Hazardous Materials (Creede Repertory Theatre), A Brief History of America (Hangar Theatre Company), Hamlet and The Winter’s Tale (Island Shakespeare Festival) and The Tens (Actor’s Theatre of Louisville). He was named a 2018 Drama League Directing Fellow, and is also a senior coordinating producer with Black Lives, Black Words International Project.
As an actor, Kyle has performed at regional theaters nationwide, including the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (three seasons), Guthrie Theater, Shakespeare Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Arizona Theater Company, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, City Theatre Company, Quantum Theatre, and Cleveland Play House, as well as various theaters in New York and Chicago. He most recently played Lt. Jack Ross in the Pittsburgh Public Theater’s production of A Few Good Men.
Kyle is an assistant professor of acting at Carnegie Mellon University in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. BA: Wake Forest University, MFA: Columbia University.
Playing Fiona Haysbert: Safiya Harris was born and raised in Miami, FL. She is a proud graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, where she received a BFA in Musical Theatre/Acting. After school, she had the opportunity to perform with New Jersey Shakespeare in their fall production of “As You Like It”, leading the show as Rosalind. She’s been blessed to play roles such as Sally Bowles in Cabaret, Bunny in Detroit ’67 and perform in two off-broadway plays at the Ars Nova festival in New York City. She currently lives in LA pursuing her career in Music and TV/Film. You can check out her music on all streaming platforms. She’s very thankful for this opportunity and hopes you enjoy the performance.
Playing Chess: Jason Sanford is a New York-based actor who is excited to work with an amazing group of artists. He earned his MFA from the University of Washington and has performed in productions across the U.S. He has played Hamlet and Othello at Island Shakespeare Festival (ISF) and performed with Shakespeare & Company, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, California Shakespeare Festival, Seattle Rep, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (School Tour). He is originally from San Diego, CA.
Claudia Rankine’s bold new book is CSU’s Common Read for 2020-2021. Citizen recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV-everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on people of color’s ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in America. Reading Link Here
Director and guest performer: Aisha Kabia Is an actress and director working and living in Los Angeles, California. In Nine Seasons with Independent Shakespeare Company: Thaisa in ‘PERICLES’, Titania in ‘A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM’ Queen Elizabeth in ‘RICHARD III’, Princess in ‘LOVES LABOURS LOST’, Mistress Ford in ‘MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR‘, Helena in ‘MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM‘, Lady Macduff in ‘MACBETH‘, Lady Capulet in ‘ROMEO AND JULIET‘, Celia/Phebe in ‘AS YOU LIKE IT‘, Adriana in ‘COMEDY OF ERRORS‘ Regional Theater: 3 Seasons at OREGON SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL Television: The GOOD PLACE, The RESIDENT, S.W.A.T, GIRL MEETS WORLD, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, NCIS: LA, TRANSFORMERS 5, etc., and more than 35 National Commercials Education: Second City Conservatory Graduate. BFA from UC SANTA BARBARA
Carene Mekertichyan is an actress, writer, singer, educator, and proud Angeleno. As a Black Armenian woman, she is drawn to storytelling that centers marginalized narratives and believes true art exists to spark empathy and create social change. Her identity and upbringing in Los Angeles informs both her art and intersectional activism. She serves as the Artistic Associate for Social Justice at Independent Shakespeare Co. and is a teaching artist for The Unusual Suspects and Creative Acts. She has performed with Independent Shakespeare Co, Rogue Artists Ensemble, Palos Verdes Performing Arts, Hero Theatre, and at the Getty Villa. Her plays have been produced at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, MeetCute LA, Company of Angels, Independent Shakespeare Co., and Sacred Fools’ ”We the People Theater Action”. She is also part of LAist’s “Racism 101” team. She received her training from Dartmouth College and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA).
Bukola Ogunmola is a Nigerian-American film and theater actor and writer born and raised in South Jamaica, Queens, New York. Some of her latest work is in the LA’s Shakespeare in the Park Romeo and Juliet as Juliet, Twelfth Night as Viola, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Measure for Measure and Titus Andronicus. She holds an MFA in Acting from the USC School of Dramatic Arts and is bi-coastal between Los Angeles and New York.
Patrick Dean Batiste, Jr. was born and raised in Berkeley, CA. He has been acting, singing, performing on stage and in front of the camera for most of his life with work spanning TV, film, theatre, voice over, Shakespeare, dance and music. He has shot over 20 national commercials, co-starred in NBC’s TRAUMA, has starred in many award winning short and independent films and has an extensive list of professional theatre credits. Patrick graduated from California State University, Northridge having majored in Theatre with a minor in Music with a focus in vocal performance. He looks forward to getting back on stage and in front of an audience when it is safe to do so.
Jasmine Retland is excited to have her first theatrical debut as a college student at CSU. She is currently a first-year undeclared student but plans to major in music with a concentration in music therapy. In her last theatrical performance, she played The Lady of the Lake in Spamalot (Gateway High School). Jasmine wants to thank her older brother, Andrew, for paving the way to the possibility of being an actor.
Taya Hancock (she, her, hers) from Pueblo, Colorado, is a 3rd year social work major with a minor in ethnic studies at CSU. She volunteers her time as a peer mentor for the Black/ African American Cultural Center (B/AACC) at CSU- Fort Collins and is the lead mentor for GPS a youth mentoring program also with B/AACC. Taya currently holds a position as President for the student org United Women of Color at CSU. She also serves as the Bachelors of Social Work Student Representative for the NASW- Colorado Chapter. Taya is passionate about theatre and the arts and is excited to be a part of the ON THE BRINK Reading Series.
Tre’Vonne Coleman is a Junior studying theater with an emphasis in performance. He has been in three productions here at CSU: One Man, Two Guvnors (Barman), Joint Stock’s Me Too (ensemble), and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Francis Flute). Tre’Vonne would like to thank his family and friends for supporting him in his endeavors to be an actor and is excited for what the future holds for him.
Somewhere in the suburbs, Isaac has returned from the wars to help take care of his ailing father, only to discover a household in revolt. The insurgent: his mom. Liberated from an oppressive marriage, with Isaac’s newly-out transgender sibling as her ally, she’s on a crusade to dismantle the patriarchy. But in Taylor Mac’s sly, subversive comedy, annihilating the past doesn’t always free you from it. Reading Event Link
Lauren Brooke Ellis (Director) is a playwright, director, and stage manager from Aiken, South Carolina. She earned a certificate in New Play Directing and her M.F.A. in playwriting from Hollins. She has devoted a significant amount of time in recent years to the development of new plays, most notably as the award-winning director of She Made Space by Meredith Dayna Levy, Community Garden by Ben Jolivet, and Arachnothology by Kimberly Patterson. Lauren serves as the chair for both the Ten Minute Play Festival and the Charles M. Getchell New Play Contest for SETC. She currently is an adjunct faculty member and virtual production manager for the Hollins Theatre Institute.
Mace Archer (Arnold) is currently the artistic director at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham, Oregon, a suburb of Portland. A native of Montana, Mace was a founder and the producing artistic director of Venture Theatre in Billings, Montana, now the NOVA Center for the Performing Arts. Mace served as assistant professor of Theatre at Randolph College, where he was appointed chair of Theatre in his second year. Mace has worked around the nation as an actor and director, including stops at Kentucky Repertory Theatre, The Clarence Brown Theatre, Arizona Broadway Theatre, and the Springer Opera House. Favorite roles include Henry Higgins in Pygmalion, Captain Walker in Tommy, and Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Directorial credits include Spring Awakening (Randolph College), Man from Nebraska (MHCC), Speech and Debate (Clarence Brown Theatre), and Annie Get Your Gun (Thin Air Theatre Company).
Saffron Henke (Paige) is an assistant professor of Theatre at Colorado State University. A longtime member of the Actor’s Equity Association, Saffron has performed at many regional theatres, including the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Riverside Theatre, and the Furious Theatre Company. She was also an Associate Artist and acting company member for four seasons at the Sacramento Theatre Company, and served as Director of STC-2, a training conservatory. She has taught at the University of Southern California, the Center Theatre Group, and at A Noise Within Theatre, St. Ambrose University, the University of Iowa, and is the Artistic Director of The Brink Theatre Company, a company focused on doing site specific new work. www.saffronhenke.com
Tony Carr (Isaac): Tony is a senior theatre performance major at Colorado State University. He is looking forward to working on another production at CSU and is thankful for this wonderful opportunity in these uncertain times.
Jaye Cooney (Max) Jaye is a 23 year old trans and queer actor. Their credits include The Laramie Project, Alice in Wonderland, Dead Meat and more. When they are not chasing their dreams in performance, you can find them reading a good book or writing plays.