Speakers & Presenters
Topics for this third-ever statewide event will range across types of theaters and areas of expertise, from artistic to administrative, production to technical, making to managing. This year, MTASTC will feature opportunities to engage in even deeper connection, reflection, and conversation amidst the inspiring backdrop of Lake Koronis.
Playwright and Performance Artist
May Lee-Yang is a playwright, poet, prose writer, and performance artist. A recipient of the 2018-2019 Playwright Center McKnight Fellowship in Playwriting, she has been hailed by Twin Cities Metro Magazine as “on her way to becoming one of the most powerful and colorful voices in local theater.” Her theater-based works, which often explore the lives of Hmong women and living in a bicultural world, have been presented at Theater Mu, the Center for Hmong Arts and Talent (CHAT), Out North Theater, the 2011 National Asian American Theater Festival, the MN Fringe Festival and others. Her works include Confessions of a Lazy Hmong Woman and Ten Reasons Why I’d Be a Bad Porn Star. She has received grants from the Bush Leadership Fellowship, the Minnesota State Arts Board, the National Performance Network, the Midwestern Voices and Visions Residency Award, the Playwrights' Center, the Loft Literary Center, and the Ordway Sally Award for Arts Access.
Director of Theater & Musical Theater, National Endowment for the Arts
Greg Reiner joined the NEA as the director of theater and musical theater starting in September 2015. Reiner manages NEA grantmaking in theater and musical theater and represents the agency to the field.
Most recently, Reiner was executive director of Classic Stage Company in New York City, where he launched CSC’s Musical Theater Initiative, the organization’s largest fundraising campaign, and implemented new education programs such as a Teen Council and a Shakespeare scene and monologue competition. Prior to that, Reiner was founding executive director of Tectonic Theater Project in New York City, where he received a Tony nomination for Best Play as one of the producers of 33 Variations. At Tectonic, Reiner also designed and managed the simultaneous opening of The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later in 150 theaters in all 50 states, DC, and eight countries, on the same night, with livestreaming and social media outreach. Reiner has also served as managing director at The Actors’ Gang in Culver City, California, and at the Shakespeare Festival/LA.
Rachel Brown is an independent consultant who uses her expertise in research, teaching, facilitation, data-analysis and reporting to help people and mission-driven organizations learn, improve, and grow. Current or recent program evaluation clients include Stages Theatre Company, the Minnesota Theater Alliance, Theater Mu, and Nautilus Music-Theater. For more information, please see http://rachelbrownconsulting.com
Leah Cooper has been passionately devoted to making theater for over 30 years. She is currently Co-Artistic Director of Wonderlust Productions, a community-story-driven performing arts company. She also directors for various other theaters and the Pillsbury House + Theatre’s Breaking Ice (diversity and inclusion) program, and is an arts, non-profit, and community engagement consultant and speaker. Leah was the first Executive Director of the Minnesota Theater Alliance, serving all 450 theaters in the state, from 2010 to 2016; Co-Founder and Partner at MinnesotaPlaylist.com, the state’s performing arts trade journal, from 2008 to 2017; and the Executive Director of the Minnesota Fringe Festival from 2001 to 2006. Leah currently serves on the board of directors for the California Institute of Contemporary Arts and many other advisory boards. Prior to her full time transition to work in the performing arts in 2001, Leah worked by day in the corporate sector as a software engineer and business consultant for ten years.
Suzanne Victoria Cross
Suzanne Victoria Cross was born and raised in North Minneapolis, graduated from St. Cloud State University with a BA in Theater and Community Psychology. Suzanne is a local actor and teaching artist in the St. Paul and Minneapolis area. She has worked with many local theater companies including touring with CLIMB Theatre as an Actor-Educator, Penumbra Theatre Company’s Education and Outreach Program, Lyric Arts Academy, The Southern Theater, Teatro del Pueblo and has been the lead instructor for multiple teaching artist residencies in the Twin Cites. Suzanne's experience includes preforming interactive theatre productions, writing workshops, and goal-setting seminars for various art organizations. She has also worked with special populations, including individuals with physical and mental disabilities, youth treatment centers (ages 12-17), and memory care (ages 55+) along with co-conducted, written and performed interactive educational mini dramas and classes for Pre K-12. Suzanne has a strong passion for the role theatre can play in the development of an individual and a community as a whole. She is currently the Resident Stage Manager and Event Coordinator for Pangea World Theater.
Jay Owen Eisenberg
Jay Owen Eisenberg is an actor, writer, director and arts educator based in Minneapolis by way of New York City and Los Angeles. He is a teaching artist with the Guthrie Theater, Children’s Theatre Company, and Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists. As a performer and director, Jay works with Open Eye Figure Theatre, Pillsbury House + Theatre, Penumbra Theater, Mixed Blood Theatre, Theater Latte Da, and the Jungle Theater, among others. He is the recipient of a 2017 MSAB Artist Initiative Grant and a 2016 SPACE on Ryder Farm Residency. Jay received his BFA in Drama from NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Experimental Theatre Wing, and he is a proud member of both AEA/SAG-AFTRA. As a writer, he is represented by Alloy Entertainment.
Rachel Greenhouse is a brand strategist and grassroots marketing expert who helps visionaries, entrepreneurs, creatives and business owners attract and optimize opportunities to utilize their natural strengths, resulting in greater impact for clients, audiences, communities and the world. A business owner for nearly 15 years, Rachel has cultivated her professional career "on-the-job" in rapidly-growing businesses and non-profit organizations, rather than in the classroom (her college degree is in languages.) A self-taught graphic designer and established writer, Rachel has fulfilled nearly every support and management role possible since the early 1990s (marketing, communications, PR, events, trade shows, fundraising, grant writing, product development, branded gifting and recognition, community organizing, etc.) Rachel currently works primarily with small business owners and creative entrepreneurs from her (heavily-branded of course!) offices in South Minneapolis.
Rachel has been married for 28 years and has two sons, ages 21 and 14. She and her husband Jeremy spent their first year of marriage traveling by sailboat from Montreal to the Bahamas (and no, they were not experienced sailors!)
Cardiff D. Hall
Cardiff D. Hall is a motivational speaker, author and a respected results expert who helps solo entrepreneurs, and small business owners master key productivity skills by offering best- in-class coaching and accountability services, so they gain clarity, increase their competence and live out their legacy.
Ashley Hanson is a social practitioner, theater artist, storyteller, and lover of rural places. She is the co-founder of PlaceBase Productions, a theater company that creates original, site-specific musicals celebrating small town life and the founder of the Department of Public Transformation, a national arts collective that highlights, connects, and supports rural-based artists and change-makers. She is the Director of the first Small Town CAIR (City Artist in Residence) program and The YES! House, creative community gathering space in Granite Falls, MN. She was recently named a 2018 Obama Foundation Fellow for her work with rural communities. She spends most of her time on the road visiting rural places and believes wholeheartedly in the power of people, places, play, and exclamation points!
Seena Hodges is a connector who loves people and is passionate about justice, feminism and access to safe/brave spaces for all. She is a dynamic communications professional with extensive experience in marketing and communications and a staunch equity, diversity and inclusion champion.
Seena recently launched her business, The Woke Coach because she believes that equity is the defining issue of our time. Through her company, she engages with clients, large and small, to complete projects that live at the intersection of equity, diversity, inclusion, education and empowerment.
Seena began her career at the Urban League—a non-profit organization committed to issues of social justice and is a trained equity, diversity and inclusion facilitator. Prior to founding The Woke Coach, Seena was Senior Director—Marketing and Development for Theater Latté Da and Communications Manager for the Guthrie Theater. Most recently, she was Associate Vice President of Strategy and Communications at The Saint Paul & Minnesota Community Foundations.
Seena is a graduate of the Theatre Management & Producing MFA Program at Columbia University where she was a Dean’s Fellow. She is passionate about art in all forms and serves on the Board of Trustees of the Walker Art Center. Seena believes that true change is not possible without progress, and that progress is possible—for everyone.
Theo Langason(He/Him/His) is a theatre artist and teaching artist based in Minneapolis. He is a company member of Sandbox Theatre and a member of Blackout Improv and The Theatre of Public Policy. Theo has also worked with Ten Thousand Things, Park Square Theatre, Pillsbury House, Frank Theatre and others. Theo is a teaching artist with Guthrie Theater, Penumbra Theatre and Upstream Arts.
Marcela Michelle-Mobama is a queer, transgender, multidisciplinary artist of color. Selected Performance credits include And She Would Stand Like This, Ballast (also asst. director), and The Terror Fantastic with 20% Theatre Company, Queertopia 2016 (Bedlam Theatre, Intermedia Arts), Persephone at the Cowles Center, Only I (also movement coach, Pangea World Theatre, Mother Goose's Bedtime Stories), Project 42 (Minnesota Museum of American Art), The Lynchings in Duluth (KVSC, SCSU), and various cabarets with Patrick's Cabaret. As Choreographer: Titus Andronicus and Much Ado About Nothing (Mission Theatre Company). As Director: ReMayda'd 2.0 (Bryant Lake Bowl), The Naked I (20% Theatre Company), Lightning Rod (Patrick's Cabaret). Burlesque and Cabaret: The Minneapolis Burlesque Festival (featured performer and host 2015 - 2018), Visions of Sugarplums: The Burlesque Nutcracker (2014 - 2016), and as resident femmecee of Daddy (voted City Pages Best Queer Event 2018). As Panelist: The University of Minnesota, Hamline University, The Mixed Blood Theatre, Twin Cities Theatre Bloggers. Teaching Artist: Walker Art Center's Teen Takeover. She currently serves on the board of directors for 20% Theatre Company, where she is also costume designer for the upcoming regional premier of Waafrika 123, directed by Lisa Brimmer. Her original work Demons in America, which she wrote, directed, choreographed, and composed the score for, recently presented it's first workshop as part of 20%'s QStage New Works Series. She is currently co-producing the third installment of Lightning Rod alongside Kat Purcell.
Audrey Park is an actor and community organizer residing in Minneapolis, MN. As a committed and passionate artist and activist, she was a strong voice in the Don’t Buy Miss Saigon Coalition and serves on the steering committee of PAVE-MN (Pan Asian Voices for Equity). As an actor, she was most recently seen at Penumbra Theatre's production of For Colored Girls and played the title role of "Electra" in Ten Thousand Things' Electra. She also performed on the Guthrie Dowling Studio stage as "Junhee" in Theatre Mu's You For Me For You. Other acting credits include Frank Theatre, Theatre Mu, Pillsbury House Theatre, History Theatre, and Other Tiger Productions. As a teaching artist, Audrey facilitates workshops with Penumbra Theatre and Theatre Mu. She enjoys planning events for the community, coordinating the popular summer street festival, Little Mekong Night Market in St. Paul from 2015-2016. Audrey sees art as a strong tool for social justice, and is committed to working with people to effect social change on a local level. “You cannot change any society unless you take responsibility for it. Unless you see yourself as belonging to it and responsible for changing it.” - Grace Lee Boggs
Kat Purcell (they/them) is a radical nonbinary transexual performer, lighting designer, experimental producer and theatrical director local to Minneapolis, MN. From intensive classical training to agit-prop street art performance to lighting design and production management, their diverse & comprehensive experience has led them to the conclusion that art and performance are key to galvanizing the healing and activism of communities.They have performed and worked in London, New York, Paris, Stockholm and Minneapolis. Kat is best known in the Twin Cities for conceiving and co-producing Patrick's Cabaret's Lightning Rod, an explicitly political flash theatre intensive for artists. They have worked with Catalyst Arts, Intermedia Arts, Patrick's Cabaret, Southern Theater, Queertopia, Pangea World Theater, New Native Theater, Raw Sugar, Kudeta Dance, In the Heart of the Beast Puppet & Mask Theatre, Gadfly Theatre, Target Margin Theater (NYC), Oubliette Arthouse (London), Theatre Three Collaborative (NYC), and Incubator Arts f.k.a. Ontological Hysteric (NYC). Kat graduated from the London International School of Performing Arts in 2009.
They are also a passionate activist and organizer, with a focus on prison abolition, immigrant detention and fighting for the bodily autonomy of queer and women folk, and a member of the Industrial Workers of the World.
Susan Shehata, also known as The Space Guru™, is a nationally known Educator, Guide and Performing Artist, who specializes in helping people clear their hidden obstacles. She does that through Space Work, Holistic Wellness Services and through Music & Theatre. Susan has been a professional performer for twenty years and a certified wellness professional, focusing on transformational healing and space work, for over fifteen years.
Susan is also a writer, whose writing has appeared in The Huffington Post and Elephant Journal and whose column, The Space Guru™, has appeared in the Edge Magazine. As a musician and performer, Susan focuses on musical theatre and kirtan (yogic chant music) and released her first kirtan album with her band, Sitara & Kalyani with Pavan-Kumar. She is also the creator of The Fabulous Paper Purge, a free online program that was featured in the Pioneer Press, on Fox News and KARE11, and has supported over 1200 participants.
Susan shares her wisdom, through speaking events and workshops on the topics of Core Beliefs and Conscious Space, online and in various cities, across the country. Her life’s mission is to use her voice as a performer, writer, healer and mentor to reduce conflict and suffering. www.SusanShehata.com
David Wintersteen serves as Director of Theatre at Concordia College, Moorhead, where he recently directed Men on Boats, Tartuffe, The Secret in the Wings, Dracula, and The Metal Children. David is a founding member of Theatre B, where his directing credits include The Moors, 1984, Wit, Scrooge Macbeth, Becky’s New Car, Metamorphoses, and Wintertime; roles include Vino Veritas (Ridley), Sylvia (Tom/Phyllis/Leslie), and Dinner with Friends (Tom). He directed Jeeves Intervenes at the Black Hills Playhouse in 2016 and performed in Tokens of Affection in 2018. David is an alumnus of Luther College, MSU-Mankato, and the University of Oregon, Eugene.
Carrie Wintersteen is a founding member and Executive Director of Theatre B in Fargo-Moorhead, where her performance credits include I Will Not Go Gently, Equivocation, Wit, God of Carnage, Becky’s New Car, Vino Veritas, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Guys, Joined at the Head, Parallel Lives, Dinner with Friends and others. Carrie is the 2017 recipient of the LRAC McKnight Fellowship, and she serves as Chair of the Moorhead Arts and Culture Commission. She holds a B.A. in Theatre from Gonzaga University and an M.F.A. in Acting from the University of Pittsburgh where she spent three summers performing with the Three Rivers Shakespeare Festival.