The current Technical Advisor and Artistic Director of Theatre Knights, Ms. Kristen Russell was born and raised in New Hampshire. She went to West High School and was once a Theatre Knight (check out the Brighton Beach Memoirs in the Archives section)! She graduated from Plymouth State University in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in English with a Teachers Certification in grades 5-12 and returned to West High School to teach British Literature, American Literature, Creative Writing, Fantasy and Mythology, Theatre I, and Advanced Theatre.
She has been advising Theatre Knights since June of 2017. In that time, she has directed A. R. Gurney's "The Dining Room", Richard A. Barbie's "Shrew!" the musical, and co-created the first Theatre Arts Summer Program for the Manchester School District through Theatre Knights. The program immersed new and current members of Theatre Knights with 2 weeks of intensive workshops covering all aspects of technical theatre, preceding and including the production of "Aladdin! Kids".
The Technical Advisor and Artistic Director of Theatre Knights, Mr. Timothy Benner, originally came to New Hampshire from New York. Mr. Benner has over forty years experience in professional, community and educational theatre, and has worked throughout New York and New England as an actor, director, stage manager, technical director, and a set and lighting designer, as well as a backstage hand and technician. Mr. Benner earned his undergraduate degrees at Plymouth State University and his Master of Arts degree in Theatre at Emerson College in Boston. He has been the Advisor and Director of the Theatre Program at Manchester High School West since 1994, and is extremely proud of the young actors and technicians who are Theatre Knights. They have worked hard over the years to earn the well deserved reputation of "Manchester's premier young people's theatre company." Mr. Benner is especially proud that Manchester West has been recognized twice as one of the top theatre programs in the nation by the American High School Theatre Festival, which led to the company performing at the prestigious Finge Festival in Edenburgh, Scotland. Manchester High School West is the third school in New Hampshire to have received this honor; West is the first school in New Hampshire to be invited back a second time!
So Long and Thanks for all the Fish!
After a rich, full and rewarding 20 years of teaching,
mentoring and directing-18 of those years at Manchester West-some of the best and brightest young people Manchester, Bedford, Hooksett, Auburn, and anywhere else you have come from, has had to offer, it is time for me to lay down the mantle and move on to other things and other adventures. There is no question that I shall miss terribly all the eager and energetic young faces I have met, worked with and become close to over the years-some of those faces will stay in my heart for the rest of my life-but I believe I have done all that I can at this juncture of my journey, and once I rediscover the spark and the passion for what I love so much, and have dedicated my life to-the Theatre-I shall continue on a journey that, I hope, will continue to enable me to touch the lives and spirits of those who have yet to discover that passion of their own. Through all the hardships, adversities, roadblocks and contrary personalities I have dealt with over the years, the one constant that has kept me going and coming back each day is my kids, the students of theatre who placed themselves trustingly in my care. It has always been for them that I have done whatever I could to pass on something worthwhile to remember, something they could use in their own lives as they themselves move on to bigger and better things in their own futures. It has always been for them that I have poured my heart and soul into something that I have believed in with a fire and passion that has made both friends and enemies along the way. To those friends I say, stay true to yourself, keep your dreams large yet reachable, and have fun with life. To the enemies I would simply remind them that I may have had more to do with who you are and what you have or will accomplish than you might care to admit. Everyone who has been a part of our Theatre Family over the years has taken something with them, and whether they realize it today, or twenty years from now, there will come a time when they will understand just what it was they learned or gained as the result of being a member of our family. May God bless all of you as you embark on your own roads to glory, as well as those of you who have already embarked on that journey and found the success I always knew you were capable of. I will always love you, I shall always miss you, and I will forever be proud of the accomplishments, triumphs and learning opportunites each and every one of you will experience. Have fun, stay focused on your dreams, live the moment and Break-A-Leg!
Love Always, TB