2012 Speakers

Sarah Benson

Sarah Benson has been the Artistic Director of Soho Rep since 2007. For Soho Rep: David Adjmi’s Elective Affinities (site-specific); Gregory Moss’ Orange, Hat & Grace; Sarah Kane’s Blasted (OBIE award, Drama Desk nomination). Other recent credits include: Polly Stenham’s That Face (MTC) Gregory Moss’ House of Gold (Woolly Mammoth) Sophocles’ Ajax (A.R.T.) Futurity: a musical by The Lisps (A.R.T. & Walker Arts Center). Upcoming: Richard Maxwell’s Samara.


Ping Chong

Ping Chong is an internationally acclaimed theatre director, playwright, and pioneer in the use of media in the theater. A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, USA Artist Fellowship, two BESSIE awards and two OBIE awards, Mr. Chong’s work has been presented at major festivals and theatres around the world throughout his 40 year career. His adaptation of Kurosawa’s film Throne of Blood premiered at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and was presented at BAM’s Next Wave Festival in 2010. His puppet theater work Cathay: Three Tales of China was presented at Seattle Repertory Theatre, the Kennedy Center, New Victory, the Vienna Festival, The People’s Theater in Xi’an and the 2012 UNIMA Festival in Chengdu, China. In 1992, Ping Chong created the first work in the Undesirable Elements (UE) series of interview-based projects examining the lives of individuals living as “outsiders” in their communities, performed by the individuals themselves. Since then, Ping Chong & Company (PCC) has created over 40 UE productions. PCC will present Cry for Peace: Voices from the Congo (which premieres at Syracuse Stage in September), Secret Survivors (accounts of child sexual abuse survivors) and Inside/Out: Voices from the Disability Community at La MaMa ETC as part of the 20th anniversary Undesirable Elements Festival at La MaMa in October, 2012. www.pingchong.org

Steve Cosson

Steve Cosson is a writer and director. He is the founding Artistic Director of the Civilians, The Center for Investigative Theater. Through commissions, projects and a variety of programs, the Civilians supports artists in their creative investigations into the most vital questions of the present and promotes theater’s dynamic engagement with society. The company has developed thirteen original works that have been performed Off-Broadway and in over 40 cities nationally and internationally. Highlights of Cosson’ work for Civilians as director include: Anne Washburn’s Mr. Burns; Bess Wohl/Michael Friedman’s Pretty Filthy; as writer/director The Great Immensity, The Next Forever created for the 2012 TED Conference; In The Footprint (Top 10 of 2010 in NY Times, Time Out, New Yorker); This Beautiful City; Paris Commune; and Gone Missing (NY Times Top 10 of 2007). These works and others have been produced at BAM Next Wave (upcoming), The Public Theater, Vineyard Theatre, Barrow Street, Woolly Mammoth, Actors Theatre of Louisville, American Repertory Theater, La Jolla Playhouse, Kansas City Rep, Center Theater Group, HBO’s Comedy Festival, MoMA and many others. Outside of the company, recent directing highlights include Anne Washburn’s A Devil at Noon (Humana Festival, O’Neill); Bus Stop (Kansas City Rep) and the musical Times Square by Jill Sobule, Robin Eaton and Jim Lewis. The Civilians are currently developing a new work by José Rivera with songs by Hector Buitrago of Aterciopelados, sustaining an R & D Group for writers and other generative artists, and producing the ongoing cabaret/podcast series Let Me Ascertain You featuring the company’s Associate Artists. His plays are published by Oberon Books, Dramatists Play Service and an anthology from Playscripts. www.thecivilians.org @stevecosson

Mike Daisey

Mike Daisey has been called “the master storyteller” and “one of the finest solo performers of his generation” by the New York Times for his groundbreaking monologues which weave together autobiography, gonzo journalism, and unscripted performance to tell hilarious and heartbreaking stories that cut to the bone, exposing secret histories and unexpected connections. His latest work, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, was called “the best new play of the year” by the Washington Post, and was recognized as one of the year’s best theater pieces by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Seattle Weekly, San Jose Mercury News, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and will return to the Public Theater in 2012.

Teresa Eyring

Teresa Eyring joined TCG in March 2007. Prior to arriving at TCG, Ms. Eyring spent more than twenty years as an executive in theatres around the U.S. Positions included: managing director of the Children’s Theatre Company (CTC) in Minneapolis from 1999-2007; managing director of the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia from 1994-1999; and assistant executive director of the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis from 1989-1993. She began her theatre career as director of development for the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, D.C., in 1983. She holds a B.A. in international relations from Stanford University and an M.F.A. in theatre administration from Yale School of Drama. Ms. Eyring is currently active as an executive committee member of the Performing Arts Alliance, and chair of the follow-up process for the 2008 National Performing Arts Convention.

Seth Godin

Named one of the top 21 speakers for the 21st century by Successful Meetings magazine, Godin draws on his best-selling books and years of being a marketing pioneer to bring audiences of all kinds to their feet. Continuing to push the envelope and make waves in the marketing and publishing worlds, one of his latest endeavors, The Domino Project, completely excludes a traditional print publication for his book, Poke the Box. Hailed as “the kick in the pants you need to shake up your life,” Poke the Box urges everyone to do just as The Domino Project does, move away from conformity and toward ingenuity, toward answering unknown questions for ourselves. Godin’s first book Permission Marketing, was a New York Times best-seller that revolutionized the way corporations approach consumers. Fortune Magazine named it one of their Best Business Books and Promo magazine called Godin “The Prime Minister of Permission Marketing.” In all, he has written 13 books that have been translated into more than 35 languages. Every one has been a bestseller. He writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership and most of all, changing everything.

Emily Mann

Emily Mann (Artistic Director/Resident Playwright) Multi-award-winning Director and Playwright Emily Mann is in her 22nd season as Artistic Director of McCarter Theatre. Under Ms. Mann’s leadership, McCarter was honored with the 1994 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theater. McCarter directing credits include Nilo Cruz’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Anna in the Tropics (also on Broadway), the world premiere of Christopher Durang’s Miss Witherspoon (also off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons), Uncle Vanya (also adapted), All Over (also off-Broadway at The Roundabout; 2003 Obie Award for Directing), The Cherry Orchard (also adapted), Three Sisters, A Doll House, The Glass Menagerie, A Seagull in the Hamptons (an adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull), and Mrs. Warren’s Profession. Her plays include Execution of Justice (supported by a Guggenheim Fellowship; winner of Helen Hayes and Joseph Jefferson Awards; nominated for Drama Desk and Outer Circle Awards); Still Life (six Obie Awards); Greensboro (A Requiem); and Annulla, An Autobiography. Ms. Mann wrote and directed Having Our Say, adapted from the book by Sarah L. Delany and A. Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth (Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle nominations; winner of NAACP and Joseph Jefferson Awards). For the Having Our Say screenplay, Ms. Mann won Peabody and Christopher Awards. A winner of the Dramatists Guild Hull-Warriner Award and the Edward Albee Last Frontier Directing Award, she is a member of the Dramatists Guild and serves on its council. A collection of her plays, Testimonies: Four Plays, has been published by TCG. Her latest play, Mrs. Packard, was the recipient of the 2007 Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award and was published by TCG in spring 2009. Most recently at McCarter, Ms. Mann directed the world premieres of The Convert by Danai Gurira (also at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago and CTG in Los Angeles), Phaedra Backwards by Marina Carr, Sarah Treem’s The How and the Why, and Edward Albee’s Me, Myself & I (also at Playwrights Horizons). This spring, Emily directed A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway with Blair Underwood, Wood Harris, Nicole Ari Parker, and Daphne Rubin-Vega. Also this season, Emily’s adaptation of The House of Bernard Alba, which premiered at McCarter, was produced at The Almeida Theater in London. She is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Princeton University and was recently named the 2011 Person of the Year from the National Theatre Conference.

Kevin E. Moore

Kevin E. Moore is an arts professional with over 20 years experience. Mr. Moore joined TCG is 2010. Prior he served as managing director for Arizona Theatre Company, a LORT B theatre based in Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona prior to joining TCG. He was with Arizona Theatre Company for ten years, starting as marketing director and finishing his time there as managing director. In addition, Mr. Moore has served in many capacities with organizations including the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix, Historic New Harmony in Indiana, Cincinnati Arts Association and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. He has served on grant panels for Theatre Communications Group, the Arizona Commission on the Arts and the City of Phoenix and was Founding Board Chair of Alliance for Audience, a service organization for the arts in Phoenix. He has also been a guest lecturer at Arizona State University. Mr. Moore graduated from Furman University in Greenville, SC.

Ralph Peña

Ralph Peña is a founding member and the current Artistic Director of the Obie and Drama Desk Award winning Ma-Yi Theater Company. Recent directing credits include Michael Lew's Microcrisis (EST/Youngblood and Ma-Yi Theater Company), Lloyd Suh's Children of Vonderly (Ma-Yi) and Happy End of the World (Children's Theater Company and Ma-Yi at Arena Stage), Nicky Paraiso's House/Boy (La Mama ETC, Singapore and Dublin Theater Festivals), and Savage Acts by Kia Corthron, Han Ong, Sung Rno, and Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas (Ma-Yi). He is also the author of Flipzoids, Dead Man's Socks, I__NY, Project: Balangina (with Sung Rno), and additional text and lyrics for Lonnie Carter's The Romance of Magno Rubio (Obie Award). Apart from Ma-Yi Theater Company, his work has been seen at Long Wharf Theater, KumuKahua, Northwest Asian American Theater, ASIA Theater, San Diego Asian American Rep, La Mama ETC, Philadelphia Shakespeare, Victory Gardens, Laguna Playhouse, Fox Theater, NYSF/Public Theater, the Odeon Theater in Romania, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Ralph was one of the lead organizers of the first U.S. Artists contingent to the World Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya. He is a member of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab, and Ensemble Studio Theater.

KJ Sanchez

KJ Sanchez is the CEO of American Records, devoted to making theater that chronicles out time (www.amrec.us). As a playwright she has been produced at Asolo Rep, Actors Theater of Louisville, Two River Theater, Baltimore’s CENTERSTAGE, Round House Theater, Working Classroom, Cornerstone and Off-Broadway at Urban Stages. She has directed plays by Heather Raffo, Jose Rivera, Quiara Hudes, and Kristoffer Diaz. She has performed at the Humana Festival (originating Thyona in Big Love) The Goodman, Berkeley Rep, Long Warf, New York Theater Workshop and BAM. She is the voice of many characters on the cartoons Dora the Explorer and Go Diego Go. She is a former member of Anne Bogart’s SITI Company, a Civilians’ Associate Artist, a Fox Fellow, Douglas Wollop Fellow, Albert Award Nominee and a NEA CDP for Directors recipient. American Records’ flagship production ReEntry, directed and co-authored by KJ, based on interviews with Marines returning from Iraq and Afghanistan toured nationally as part of NEFA’s National Theater Pilot. KJ also contracts with the Department of Defense, utilizing the play as post-deployment training at over thirty military bases and hospitals throughout the US and Internationally. Next: Highway 47 at the Yo Solo Festival in Chicago in July.

Roche Schulfer

Roche Edward Schulfer (Executive Director) is in his 32nd season as executive director of Goodman Theatre, during which time he has overseen over 330 productions, including more than 120 premieres. He launched Goodman Theatre’s annual production of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, which in 2011 celebrated 34 years as Chicago’s leading holiday arts tradition. During his tenure, the Goodman has received numerous awards for excellence, including TIME Magazine’s Best Regional Theater in the United States (2003); the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theater (1992); and the Pulitzer Prize for RUINED by Lynn Nottage (2009). Mr. Schulfer has negotiated the transfer of many Goodman productions to national and international presentations. From 1988 to 2000, he coordinated the relocation of the Goodman to Chicago’s North Loop Theatre District. He is a founder and two-time chair of the League of Chicago Theatres, the trade association of more than 200 Chicago area theater companies and producers. Mr. Schulfer has been privileged to serve in leadership roles with the Arts Alliance of Illinois (the statewide advocacy coalition); Theatre Communications Group (the national service organization for over 400 not for profit theaters); the Performing Arts Alliance (the national advocacy consortium of over 18,000 organizations and individuals); the League of Resident Theatres (the management association for 65 leading U.S. theaters), Lifeline Theatre, and the Arts and Business Council. Mr. Schulfer is honored to have been recognized for his work by Actors’ Equity Association, the American Arts Alliance, the Arts & Business Council, Chicago magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the City of Chicago, Columbia College Chicago, the Illinois Arts Alliance, the Joseph Jefferson Awards, Lawyers for the Creative Arts, Lifeline Theatre/Raymond R. Snyder Award, and Season of Concern. In 2009, he received an honorary doctorate in fine arts from North Central College. He was honored in 2011 (along with development director Dorlisa Martin) with the Vision 2020 Equality in Action Medal for promoting gender equality and diversity at the Goodman. Mr. Schulfer is a member of the adjunct faculty of The Theatre School at DePaul University. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and where he managed the cultural arts commission.

Howard Shalwitz

Howard Shalwitz is co-founder and Artistic Director of the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, DC. He has been the visionary force behind the company for 32 seasons, steering its adventurous play selection, guiding the development of dozens of new works, building a renowned acting company, and leading Woolly Mammoth in the creation of an award-winning new downtown theatre which opened in May 2005.

DJ Spooky

Born in 1970 in Washington D.C., Paul D. Miller is an artist, writer, and musician working in New York. Miller is best known under the moniker of his "constructed persona" as "DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid." Miller has recorded a huge volume of music and has collaborated with a wide variety of artists, writers, musicians and composers such as Robert Wilson, Iannis Xenakis, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Mariko Mori, Kool Keith/Doctor Octagon, Pierre Boulez, Saul Williams, Steve Reich, Yoko Ono, Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, Paul Auster, and Colson Whitehead among many others. In addition to his award winning book "Rhythm Science" (MIT Press, 2005), his written work has appeared in The Village Voice, The Source, Artforum, The Wire, Rap Pages, Paper Magazine, The Nation, and a host of other periodicals. Miller's work as an artist has appeared in a variety of contexts such as the Whitney Biennial; The Venice Biennial; the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, Germany; Kunsthalle, Vienna; The Andy Warhol Museum, Paula Cooper Gallery and many other museums and galleries.

Nilaja Sun

Nilaja Sun is an actor, playwright and teaching artist most known for her Obie award winning solo piece “No Child…” which had its initial off Broadway run at the Barrow Street Theatre from July 2006-June 2007 and was recently revived there in an extended run. For her creation and performance of No Child... and its subsequent national tour, Nilaja garnered 21 awards including: an Obie Award, a Lucille Lortel Award, two Outer Critics Circle Awards including the John Gassner Playwriting Award for Outstanding New American Play, a Theatre World Award, the Helen Hayes Award, two NAACP Theatre Awards, and Best One-Person Show at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival. “No Child…” is published and has been licensed out to over 45 theatres nationally. In 2010, Nilaja was awarded the soloNOVA Award for Artist of the Year by terraNOVA Collective. She has also been seen on 30 Rock, Law & Order: SVU, Unforgettable, Louie, The International, Rubicon and was awarded a NYSCHA grant, through Epic Theatre Ensemble to create a new solo piece. A native of the Lower East Side, she is a Princess Grace Award winner and has worked proudly as a teaching artist in New York City since 1998.

Adam Thurman

Adam Thurman is the Director of Marketing and Communications for Court Theatre, one of the largest nonprofit theatres in Chicago. During his tenure, Court has had some of the highest grossing production in their 57 year history. He is also the founder of Mission Paradox, an organization devoted to connecting art and audience. He authors a widely read blog on the arts, marketing, leadership, diversity and other issues at MissionParadox.com. He has been featured in Time Out New York, the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Artist Resources. Adam is a former board member of the League of Chicago Theatres and has served on the Illinois Arts Council’s Advisory Panel. He has been recognized as an Emerging Leader by Americans For the Arts and the Theatre Communication Group (TCG). His ebook, Authentic Arts Marketing, is available at Amazon.com

Eric Ting

Eric Ting is Associate Artistic Director at Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, CT. In eight MISSING HIS BIO!!!

F. Javier Torres

F. Javier Torres is a Senior Program Officer at The Boston Foundation, and in his roll is responsible for the implementation of the Foundation’s arts and culture sector strategy and leveraging national philanthropic investments for the Greater Boston region. He has refined the Foundation’s arts strategy to focus on culture and arts as a tool for change. Prior to his role at the Foundation, F. Javier was Director of Villa Victoria Center for the Arts, a program of Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA). He was the catalyst for the implementation of a strategic business plan that improved the operational, programmatic and financial health of arts programs and theatre-based earned revenue model. F. Javier guided the rebranding of the program, which led to diversification of funding and a deepening of program impact through community outreach and audience development. He currently serves as a member of the Massachusetts Governor’s Creative Economy Council, national advisory board member for the Cultural Data Project (CDP), he serves on the boards of the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture (NALAC) and MASSCreative, a statewide cultural advocacy organization for Massachusetts, and is the Chair for the Boston Cultural Council. F. Javier has presented and moderated national panels on leadership transition, racial equity and cultural inclusion. F. Javier is a graduate of NALAC’s Leadership Institute, an alumnus of the American Express Leadership Academy and a member of the inaugural Crescendo Cultural hosted by the National Museum of Mexican Art (NMMA).

Suzanne Wilkins

Suzanne Wilkins brings over 20 years of experience developing leaders and executives in Fortune 500 companies. Wilkins works with organizations to support and develop their valued employees and with individuals to clarify purpose, develop strengths, increase resilience and manifest their potential as leaders. She partners with clients to transform themselves into the professionals and people they want to be.

Blanka Zizka

Blanka Zizka (Director, Artistic Director) has been Founding Artistic Director of The Wilma Theater since 1981. This fall Blanka received the Zelda Fichandler Award from the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation, which recognizes an outstanding director or choreographer transforming the regional arts landscape. Blanka has just opened Millennium Approaches, the first part of Angels in America, and will start rehearsals of Perestroika in August. Most recently, Blanka directed Tadeusz Slobodzianek’s Our Class, Sarah Ruhl’s In the Next Room, which received eight Barrymore awards, and Macbeth, which included an original score by Czech composer and percussionist Pavel Fajt. Blanka has directed over 60 plays and musicals at the Wilma. Her recent favorite productions are Wajdi Mouawad’s Scorched, Tom Stoppard’s Rock ’n’ Roll, Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice (which featured an original score by composer Toby Twining, now available from Cantaloupe Records), Brecht’s The Life of Galileo, Athol Fugard’s Coming Home and My Children! My Africa!, and Caryl Churchill’s Cloud 9. She collaborated closely with Dael Orlandersmith on her plays Raw Boys and Yellowman, which was co-produced by McCarter Theatre and the Wilma and also performed at ACT Seattle, Long Wharf, and Manhattan Theatre Club. Blanka directdd Rosemary Harris and John Cullum in Ariel Dorfman’s The Other Side at MTC. For the Academy of Vocal Arts, she directed the opera Kát’a Kabanová by Leoš Janácek. She has collaborated with many playwrights including Yussef El Guindi, Doug Wright, Sarah Ruhl, Tom Stoppard, Linda Griffiths, Polly Pen, Dael Orlandersmith, Laurence Klavan, Lillian Groag, Jason Sherman, Amy Freed, Robert Sherwood, and Chay Yew. Her favorite productions are, even after all these years, Tom Stoppard’s The Invention of Love and Jim Cartwright’s Road.