Gordon Davidson is the Founding Artistic Director of Center Theatre Group. He led the Mark Taper Forum throughout its first 38 seasons, guiding over 300 productions to its stage and winning countless awards for himself and the theatre – including the Tony Award for theatrical excellence. The Taper was also distinguished by having two of its plays, The Kentucky Cycle and Angels in America, receive in consecutive years the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, the first time for plays produced outside of New York. In 1989 he also became Artistic Director of the Ahmanson Theatre and in 2004 of CTG’s newest space – the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City.
In Los Angeles his directing credits also include The Devils and Terra Nova at the Taper,
The Real Thing and A Little Night Music at the Doolittle Theatre, and The Deputy and
Candide for The Theatre Group at UCLA. For the opening of the Kirk Douglas Theatre, he directed the world premiere of A Perfect Wedding. Other directing credits include the world premiere of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass which opened the Opera House of the Kennedy Center. Most recently he directed Jitney, one of the ten plays in the Kennedy Center’s 2008 Festival, August Wilson’s 20th Century.
His many honors and awards include the Mr. Abbott Award for lifetime achievement in the theatre and the Margo Jones Award for encouraging new plays and playwrights. He received the Governor’s Award for the Arts in 1990 for his contributions to the performing arts in California and was appointed to the National Council of the Arts by President Clinton. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame, and is past president of both the Theatre Communications Group and the League of Resident Theaters. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and served as a Senior Fellow at the USC Annenberg School for Communication. He has honorary doctorates from Brooklyn College, California Institute of the Arts, and Claremont University Center.
Her public speaking has taken her around the world, including to the first TEDWomen, where she spoke about the virtues of confusion in breaking stereotypes of Muslim women.
In 2010, the Anna Lindh Foundation awarded her its Special Prize for Outstanding Contribution to Journalism, and the Estlow International Center for Journalism and New Media at the University of Denver gave her its Anvil of Freedom Award. In 2009, the European Union awarded her its Samir Kassir Prize for Freedom of the Press for her opinion writing and Search for Common Ground named her a winner of its Eliav-Sartawi Award for Middle Eastern Journalism.
Ms. Eltahawy is a lecturer and researcher on the growing importance of social media in the Arab world. She has taught as an adjunct at the New School in New York, the University of Oklahoma, and the U.N. -mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica.
Ms. Eltahawy was born on Aug. 1, 1967 in Port Said, Egypt, and has lived in the U.K, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. She calls herself a proud liberal Muslim. In 2005, she was named a Muslim Leader of Tomorrow by the American Society for Muslim Advancement, and she is a member of the Communications Advisory Group for Musawah, the global movement for justice and equality in the Muslim family.
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Marcus Gardley is a poet-playwright whose most recent play every tongue confess premiered at the Arena Stage starring Phylicia Rashad and directed by Kenny Leon. It has been nominated for the Steinberg New Play Award and the Charles MacArthur Award for outstanding new play. His play, On The Levee premiered last summer at Lincoln Center in July and was nominated for 11 Audelco Awards including outstanding playwright. His play And Jesus moonwalks the Mississippi was produced at the Cutting Ball Theater last spring and received both critical acclaim including a SF Bay Area Theater Critics circle Award nomination for outstanding new play and was one of the top ten plays in the Bay Area in 2010 with two sold-out extensions. His Bay Area plays This World in a Woman’s Hands (October 2009) and Love is a Dream House in Lorin (March 2007) have been hailed as the best in Bay Area theater. The latter was nominated for the National Critics Steinberg New Play Award. He has had six plays produced including: dance of the holy ghost at Yale Repertory Theatre (now under a commercial Broadway option, (L)imitations of Life, at the Empty Space and like sun fallin’ in the mouth at the National Black Theatre Festival. He is the recipient of the SF Bay Area’s Gerbode Emerging Playwright Award, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre Award, the Eugene O’Neill Memorial Scholarship, and the ASCAP Cole Porter Prize. He holds an MFA in Playwriting from the Yale Drama School and is a member of New Dramatists, The Dramatists Guild and the Lark Play Development Center. Gardley, a native of West Oakland, was recently chosen as one of 50 writers to watch by Dramatists Magazine. Gardley teaches Playwriting and African-American studies at Umass Amherst.
Janie Geiser is a visual/theatre artist and experimental filmmaker whose work explores the emotional power of inanimate objects, the nature of artifice, and issues of power and fear. An Obie award-winning director, Geiser has made a significant contribution to contemporary puppet theatre through her innovative multidisciplinary performances. Her work has been presented at MOCA, The Public Theater, The Walker Art Center, REDCAT, the Museum of Jurassic Technology, Arts at St. Ann’s, Dance Theatre Workshop, and other venues. Geiser’s films have screened at the Whitney Museum, the Guggenheim, MOMA, Redcat, the New York Film Festival, and other venues. Geiser’s film The Red Book is included in the Library of Congress National Film Registry. Geiser has received funding from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, NEA, MAPfund, Creative Capital, the Center for Cultural Innovation, the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, among others. She is co-artistic director of Automata, a Los Angeles nonprofit dedicated to experimental puppet theatre and film, and founding director of the Puppet Lab at St Ann’s. She is currently the director of the Cotsen Center for Puppetry and the Arts at CalArts.
David Houle is a futurist, advisor, and speaker. He has always been slightly ahead of the curve. Mr. Houle spent more than 20 years in media and entertainment. He has worked at NBC and CBS, and was part of the senior executive team that created and launched MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1, and CNN Headline News. Mr. Houle is consistently ranked as one of the top futurists and futurist keynote speakers on the major search engines. He has keynoted numerous conferences, both across the country and internationally. Called “the emerging futurist in the world today”, he is regularly invited to speak at corporate management retreats. He won a speaker of the year award from Vistage International, the leading organization of CEOs in the world. He is often called “the CEOs’ Futurist”, having spoken to or advised 1,500+ CEOs and business owners in the past three years.
He writes the highly regarded futurist blog, www.evolutionshift.com, with the tag line “A Future Look At Today”. For those of you on Twitter, his user name is evolutionshift, which is also the name of his YouTube channel. He publishes a free newsletter and the highly acclaimed semi-annual Shift Age Trend Report, where all his forecasts are published. (Both are available at www.davidhoule.com. ) He has been speaking about the future for a number of years and his first book, The Shift Age, was published in 2008. His second book, Shift Ed: A Call to Action for Transforming K-12 Education, will be published in spring 2011. His third book, The New Health Age: the Future of Healthcare and Medicine in America, will be published in the summer of 2011.
In February 2010 he also became a featured contributor to Oprah.com and his column can be found at www.oprah.com/davidhoule .
Follow him on Twitter: @evolutionshift
Read his blogs: www.evolutionshift.com and www.oprah.com/davidhoule
Nancy Keystone is a director/playwright/designer, and visual artist. She is the 2003 recipient of TCG’s Alan Schneider Director Award, and was named one of the “Faces to Watch in 2005” by the L.A. Times. In Los Angeles, she is the founder and artistic director of Critical Mass Performance Group, whose latest multi-disciplinary piece is Apollo. Apollo [Parts 1 & 2] premiered at Center Theatre Group’s Kirk Douglas Theatre in 2005, Apollo [Part 3]: Liberation premiered at Portland Center Stage in 2009 when the entire trilogy was produced for the first time. That production is represented at the Prague Quadrennial this year. In 2000, with Critical Mass, she created and directed the award-winning The Akhmatova Project, inspired by the life and writing of Russian poet, Anna Akhmatova. Theatres at which she has directed and designed include: Portland Center Stage, Mark Taper Forum, Theatre @ Boston Court, Actor’s Express, Georgia Shakespeare Festival, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival. Other directing forays include opera, festival performance events, and film. As a visual artist, Ms. Keystone works in mixed media, creating paintings and collages, as well as unique scenic environments for her productions. In 2006 she was co-design consultant for Portland Center Stage in the historic Portland Armory, designing features for the four lobby spaces. She is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, NEA, APAP/Doris Duke Ensembles Collaborations grant, TCG/Pew Charitable Trusts’ NTARP Grant (with Portland Center Stage), Center for Cultural Innovation’s Investing in Artists Grant, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Drama League of New York, California Community Foundation, among others. She is a member of the visiting faculty at UCLA, is a frequent guest lecturer and an instructor in arts-in-education programs nationwide. www.nancykeystone.com
Sage Lewis is an emerging Los Angeles-based composer who writes for concert, theatre, film/video, and new media. He integrates music composition and new media design to explore concepts of local, virtual, and international space. His work has been presented by the Havana Film Festival, Miami Light Project, Centro Cultural Español, REDCAT, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and the National Children's Chorus. His recent work as founder, producer, and composer of Project Por Amor uses video projection and performance to transcend impossible barriers of cultural exchange between the United States and Cuba. Sage and his collaborators in LA, NYC, and Havana devised a historic theatre-film production entitled The Closest Farthest Away (La Entrañable Lejanía) under the direction of Chi-wang Yang. Its premiere in Havana and Miami was uniquely lauded by journalists and cultural institutions across both nations who described the work as “groundbreaking artistically, politically, and technologically. ” Sage's second US-Cuba performance, Far Away (Lejos) integrates the US and Latin America's two premiere children's choirs in song and holographic video projection. It premiered at Santa Monica’s Broad Stage and will be performed in Havana on July 17. The music from these two projects was recently released on an independent record entitled POR AMOR: the album. Sage received an MFA from California Institute of the Arts and a BA in Music Composition from the Oberlin Conservatory. He is the recipient of the 2009 Sherwood Award administered by Center Theatre Group celebrating innovation in the theatre.
Mimi Lien is a designer of sets/environments for theatre, dance and opera. She was born in New Haven, CT and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Having arrived at set design from a background in architecture, her work often focuses on the interaction between audience/environment and object/performer. Notable designs include Born Bad (Soho Rep), Neighbors (The Public Theater), Queens Blvd (Signature Theatre), Strange Devices from the Distant West (Berkeley Rep), Welcome to Yuba City (Pig Iron), In the Red and Brown Water (Alliance Theater) and Becky Shaw (The Wilma Theater). Mimi is an artistic associate with Pig Iron Theatre Company, resident designer at BalletTech, and she was a semifinalist in the Ring Award competition for opera design in Graz, Austria. Her work has been recognized by a Barrymore Award, three Barrymore nominations, American Theatre Wing Hewes Design Award nomination, Bay Area Critics Circle nomination, and she was a recipient of the 2007-2009 NEA/TCG Career Development Program. Her design for Love Unpunished (Pig Iron) will be presented in the 2011 Prague Quadrennial, and her sculpture work was featured in the recent exhibition, Landscapes of Quarantine, at the Storefront for Art and Architecture.
Todd London is in his fifteenth season as Artistic Director of New Dramatists, where he has worked closely with more than a hundred of America’s leading playwrights and advocated nationally and internationally for hundreds more. A former Managing Editor of American Theatre magazine and the author of The Artistic Home, published by TCG, he has written, edited, and/or contributed to eleven books. Last fall saw the completion and publication of Theatre Development Fund’s (TDF) Outrageous Fortune, a four-year study of new play production in America, for which Todd has served as project director and senior writer. His particular brand of advocacy journalism has focused on both the lives and livelihoods of individual artists and on the not-for-profit theatre movement, especially the impact of institutionalization on the field. His magazine essays and articles on the theatre have been translated for publication in Russia, North and South Africa, Scandinavia, Serbia, and Romania. Todd won the prestigious George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism for his essays in American Theatre and a Milestone Award for his first novel, The World’s Room, published by Steerforth Press. In 2001 he accepted a special Tony® Honor on behalf of New Dramatists, and in 2005 he represented New Dramatists at the Obie Awards, where the organization was honored with the Ross Wetzsteon Award for excellence. In 2009, Todd was recognized by TCG with the inaugural Visionary Leadership Award, for an individual who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to advance the theatre field as a whole, nationally and/or internationally.
Cricket Myers is a Los Angeles based sound designer. In 2011, she recieved a Tony Nomination and a Drama Desk nomination for her design of Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo. She was nominated for 3 Ovation Awards in 2010, bringing the total nominations to 13. Cricket has been named Sound Designer of the Year mulitple times by StageSceneLA, and was a finalist for the 2005 NEA/TCG Career Development Program for Designers. In 2003, she won the USITT Young Designers Clear-Com Award for Sound Design. Broadway: Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (Tony nomination, Drama Desk nomination). Off-Broadway: Marvelous Wonderettes. Regional: The Lieutenant of Inishmore (Ovation nomination), Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, The Subject was Roses, The School of Night, Nightingale (Mark Taper Forum); The Wake, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (Ovation nomination), The Little Dog Laughed (Ovation nomination), Two Unrelated Plays, Come Back, Little Sheba (Kirk Douglas Theatre); In the Wake (Berkeley Rep); Wrecks, Some Girl(s), Emergency (Ovation, NAACP nomination-Geffen); Crowns, Orson’s Shadow (Pasadena Playhouse); Life Could be a Dream, Marvelous Wonderettes, Winter Wonderettes (Laguna Playhouse). Selected L.A. : Grace & Glorie, Mary’s Wedding, Trying (Ovation nominations), Master Harold and the boys (NAACP nomination-Colony Theatre); Picasso at the Lapin Agile (Ovation nomination), Fascinating Rhythms (Rubicon Theatre); Cousin Bette (Ovation nomination-Antaeus Company); Norman’s Ark (Ovation nomination-Ford Amphitheatre); Battle Hymn (Ovation nomination-Circle X).
Marsha Norman won the Pulitzer Prize, Blackburn Prize, Hull-Warriner, and Drama Desk Awards for her play ‘NIGHT, MOTHER. She won a Tony Award and a Drama Desk Award for her Broadway musical, THE SECRET GARDEN. She also wrote the book for the Broadway musical, THE COLOR PURPLE, which is still out on tour. Her new play, THE MASTER BUTCHER’S SINGING CLUB, premiered at the Guthrie Theatre in 2010. She is currently writing a musical based on THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY, with Jason Robert Brown, with whom she wrote a symphonic adaptation of E.B. White’s THE TRUMPET OF THE SWAN. Recently she has received a commission from the U.N. for a play about the issues of women and children around the world.
Her many television and film credits include ‘NIGHT, MOTHER, THE LAUNDROMAT, THE POOL HALL, FACE OF A STRANGER , COOLER CLIMATE, starring Sally Field and Judy Davis; AUDREY HEPBURN, CUSTODY OF THE HEART, and SAMANTHA, AN AMERICAN GIRL. She spent one year as Co-Executive Producer of LAW AND ORDER:CRIMINAL INTENT, and in 2009, wrote for HBO’s IN TREATMENT, which won a PEABODY award. She is currently writing an HBO film based on THE NO. 1 LADIES DETECTIVE AGENCY. Her other published work includes FOUR PLAYS, COLLECTED WORKS OF MARSHA NORMAN, VOL 1, and a novel, THE FORTUNE TELLER. She has awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. She has also won the Margo Jones Award, and the Sidney Kingsley Award. In the spring of 2011, she will receive the William Inge Lifetime Achievement Award in Playwriting. For 17 years, Ms. Norman has been Co-Chair, with Christopher Durang, of the Playwriting Department of The Juilliard School. She serves on the Governing Board of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. She is Chair of the Academic Affairs committee of the Board of Agnes Scott College, and a former VP of the Dramatists Guild of America. She is a native of Kentucky and currently lives in New York.
An accomplished actor, Sonja has performed at many notable venues around the country including: The Public Theatre, Playwrights’ Horizon, with the Kennedy Center, The Boston Center for the Arts, The Guthrie Theatre, The Children’s Theatre Company, Penumbra Theatre, Pillsbury House Theatre, & The Playwrights’ Center as well as having extensive television, commercial and film credits. She was an original member of the celebrated root wy’mn theatre company, touring nationally with them for 3 years and was the featured performer in two one-woman shows, one of which was nominated for an Osborn Award by The American Theater Critics Association.She has studied at The University of Texas, The Dance Theatre of Harlem and The National Black Theatre in New York.Sonja is the recipient of a 2000 NEA grant; a 2002 Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship; a 2005 McKnight Artist Fellowship; was named “Best Actress in the Twin Cities—2004”, has two Minneapolis Ivey Awards (Acting-2009 & Directing-2010), has been a featured artist in Time Magazine and named one of “Seven Artist You Must See” by American Theatre Magazine. She currently teaches acting as a member of the Theatre Arts faculty at the University of Minnesota.
Born in Sri Lanka and raised in Long Beach, CA, Tanya Selvaratnam is a producer, writer, actor, and activist. Since 2008, she has also been the artist and press liaison for the Rubell Family Collection. Tanya’s recent productions include Beginnings, an original short film series for the Sundance Channel; Made HERE, a documentary series and website about performing artists in New York City, for HERE; and Jay Scheib’s Simulated Cities/Simulated Systems, a trilogy of performance works. The trilogy is comprised of Untitled Mars; Bellona, Destroyer of Cities; and the forthcoming World of Wires, which goes into development this summer at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Governors Island Residency and will premiere in January 2012 at The Kitchen NYC. Past productions include Catherine Gund’s What’s On Your Plate? (Berlin International Film Festival premiere; Discovery’s Planet Green broadcast), Chiara Clemente’s Our City Dreams (Locarno Film Festival premiere; Film Forum run; Sundance Channel broadcast), Jed Weintrob’s On-Line (Sundance Film Festival premiere; STARZ broadcast) and The F Word (Tribeca Film Festival premiere; IFC broadcast), and Gabri Christa’s Domino (Black Filmmakers Foundation Lab). As a theatre artist, Tanya has performed around the world in shows by The Wooster Group, The Builders Association, Jay Scheib and many others; appeared in films and video installations by Carrie Mae Weems, Sharon Hayes, Andrea Geyer, and Jennifer Reeves; been a fellow at Yaddo and Blue Mountain Center; and a guest actor at New Dramatists, Lincoln Center Directors Lab, Voice & Vision Theater and the Institute on Arts and Civic Dialogue. She is currently writing a solo show called Jaffna, inspired by the history, geography and civil conflict of her native Sri Lanka. As an activist, Tanya has worked with the Ms. Foundation, World Health Organization, Third Wave Foundation, Groundswell Community Mural Project, and Artists for Tsunami Relief. She received her graduate and undergraduate degrees in Chinese language and history from Harvard University.
Mark Shugoll, Ph.D. is CEO of Shugoll Research in Washington, DC, one of the nation’s leading marketing research companies for the arts. Its clients include a prestigious roster of nonprofit theatres, symphony orchestras, opera companies, dance companies, performing arts centers, museums, and choral groups. The company has worked for over 25 non-profit theatres. Under Dr. Shugoll’s leadership, Shugoll Research has been an active supporter of the arts. It has created a series of nationally known arts education programs including TheaterTrips! which underwrites theatre tickets for students and ArtSpeak! which brings great artists such as Brian Stokes Mitchell, Kristin Chenoweth, Audra McDonald, Marvin Hamlisch, and Stephen Schwartz into schools. Shugoll Research was twice named one of the “10 Best Companies Supporting the Arts in America” by the Business Committee for the Arts and Forbes magazine. Shugoll Research has also been honored with the Business in the Arts Commitment Award (1998), the Business in the Arts Innovation Award (2000), the 2002 Washington Post Award for Innovative Leadership in the Theatre Community, the 2002 Council of American Survey Research Organizations Community Leadership Award for Promoting the Arts through Research and School Outreach, and the 2003 Founders Award from the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington. In 2009, Dr. Shugoll was named one of the “Ten Most Powerful People in DC Theater” according to a survey of those in the DC theatre community. Dr. Shugoll is Immediate Past Chair of the Arena Stage Board. In addition, he is a member of the Mason Arts Partnership Board at George Mason University, which includes The Theatre of the First Amendment, and the Boards of the Business Committee for the Arts and Theatre Communications Group (TCG). He has a Ph.D. and MPA for American University and a BA from Union College (NY).
In 1998, Taymor became the first woman to win the Tony® Award for Best Direction of a Musical, and also won a Tony® for Best Costumes, for her landmark production of The Lion King. The musical has won three Molière Awards including Best Musical and Best Costumes, garnered Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Drama League awards for Taymor's direction, and myriad awards for her original costume, mask and puppet designs. For her latest Broadway production, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Taymor served as director and co-book writer. Taymor made her Broadway debut in 1996 with Juan Darién: A Carnival Mass, nominated for five Tony® Awards. Other theatre work includes The Green Bird, Titus Andronicus, The Tempest, The Taming of the Shrew, The Transposed Heads and Liberty's Taken. Taymor's feature film directorial debut, Titus, starred Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lange and Alan Cumming. In 2002, her biographical film Frida, starring Salma Hayek and Alfred Molina, earned six Academy Award® nominations, winning two. She took on the music of the Beatles, and earned a Golden Globe® nomination for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy, in Across the Universe. Julie's most recent film, The Tempest, had its North American premiere at the 48th New York Film Festival in October 2010, following a world premiere at the 67th Venice International Film Festival. Taymor's adaptation of the William Shakespeare play features an all-star cast including Helen Mirren, Russell Brand, Djimon Hounsou and Alfred Molina. Beyond the theatre and screen, Taymor has directed five operas internationally including Oedipus Rex with Jessye Norman, for which she earned the International Classical Music Award for Best Opera Production. A subsequent film version premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won her an Emmy® award. Taymor also directed Salome´, The Flying Dutchman, Die Zauberflöte (which has been in repertory at The Met for six years), The Magic Flute (the abridged English version of Die Zauberflöte, which inaugurated a new PBS series entitled “Great Performances at The Met”) and Elliot Goldenthal's Grendel. Taymor is a 1991 recipient of the MacArthur "genius" Fellowship.
Angel Ysaguirre is the director of global community investing at The Boeing Company. He was a program officer at the McCormick Tribune Foundation from 1996 to 1999 and managed the Foundation’s grants in homelessness, youth development, and employment programs. He also co-authored “A Guide to Funding Youth Development. ” He served as director of programs at the Illinois Humanities Council from 1999 to 2005. There he managed the grantmaking program and developed “Brown v. Board 50 Years Later: Conversations on Race, Integration, and the Courts,” “Einstein’s Revolutions,” and The Odyssey Project, a series of college-level courses in philosophy, literature, history, art history, and critical thinking and writing for the poor. He has served on the boards of the Donors Forum of Chicago, the Illinois Center for the Book, Horizons Community Services, Blair Thomas and Company, and the Next Theatre, where he served as board chair. He is currently on the board of TCG.