The Action Art Collaborative is a multidisciplinary team of St. Louis artists producing community-engaged theater. The core team of producers includes Kathryn Bentley, Delaney Piggins, Colin McLaughlin, and Joan Suarez. Each member of the group has worked with each other extensively over the past five years on a myriad of community-engaged projects.
This is the first time all four have assembled for one artistic project.
"It is a pleasure and honor to work with Percy Green. His legacy for activism and advocacy is unparalleled. We hope our play this November amplifies his work, and that he feels celebrated and honored."
KATHRYN BENTLEY Action Director and AAC Member
Kathryn Bentley is a professional actor, director, and community artist who has worked regionally and nationally. She is the Associate Professor in the Department of Theater and Dance at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE), where she has been the Artistic Director of The Black Theatre Workshop since 2006 and is the Director of SIUE’s Black Studies program and IMPACT Academy. She has directed with several theater companies such as St. Louis’ Hot City Theatre, Harlem based Blackberry Productions, Portland Stage, Cleveland Playhouse, Buffalo Studio Arena, and the St. Louis Black Repertory Company. In 2000, she was instrumental in developing the CHIPS In Motion program at CHIPS Health and Wellness Center in North St. Louis. This program utilizes performance to teach the community about pertinent health and wellness issues. In 2018, she joined Bread & Roses Missouri as Artistic Director for the Workers’ Theater Project, directing Jailbird, The Workers’ Opera, and Mrs. Palmer’s Honey. She directed the 2019 Shakespeare in the Streets production with Shakespeare Festival St. Louis. In 2020, Kathryn received the St. Louis Visionary Outstanding Working Artist Award.
"We are building a community for civically engaged theatre where our funders and audience share the same goal of dismantling St. Louis' structural racism and poverty. Here, our values as activists and theatre-makers are represented from process to production"
DELANEY PIGGINS AAC Member
Delaney Piggins is a Theatre Artist and Producer who prioritizes art at the intersection of great storytelling and activism in the Midwest. She is pursuing her MFA in Arts Leadership at DePaul University and currently serves as an Arts Leadership Fellow at Chicago Shakespeare Theater where she works with the leadership team on special projects grounded in organizational leadership and strategy. Delaney spent the last two and half years as the Artistic Producer at COCA - Center of Creative Arts. At COCA, Delaney led and developed the new program COCAwrites, a new play development program centering the voices of young people which earned national recognition from ReImagine TYA. She previously served as an Associate Producer on St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s Shakespeare in The Streets in 2018 and 2019. As a playwright, she was a member of the 2021 Confluence Regional Writers Cohort at St. Louis Shakespeare Festival where her play, HOMES, premiered in March of 2022. Delaney’s play Burden of Proof premiered at SATE in 2018 and was produced in 2020 by Exit Left Theatre Company. Her work as a facilitator, teacher, artist and leader is further informed by consent-forward practices from her training and practice in Intimacy Direction. She earned her BFA in Acting from The Sargeant Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University.
"Action is the story we want to share with St. Louis in this moment in time. Stories of war, violence, and crime are exceedingly common in our culture. Stories about people power, solidarity, and non-violence are more rare. This story gives me hope, and I hope it does the same for my community."
COLIN MCLAUGHLIN Action Playwright and AAC Member
Colin McLaughlin is a St. Louis based playwright, musician, teaching artist, and social worker. His plays examine social and economic justice issues, and are often collectively written and collaborative in nature. In partnership with The Gesundheit Institute, a health clinic/traveling circus, Colin has traveled four times to Peru and has organized three humanitarian clown trips to Guatemala. He worked as a hospital clown at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital for 5 years. McLaughlin served as the collective writing facilitator and musical director for the Bread and Roses Workers’ Theater Project, and is a member of the Organizing Committee at St. Louis Jobs With Justice. He is currently a resident teaching artist with Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, teaching theater at Sumner High School in North St. Louis, and is a Project Manager at CHIPS Health and Wellness Center, a free and charitable clinic. He received his Bachelors in Social Work from St. Louis University.
"Percy Green has used his entire life in the fight for civil rights and human rights. He is an icon and a true hero. Action is our first project as a collaborative, and I hope it leads to many more."
JOAN SUAREZ AAC Member
Joan Suarez is a life-long activist and organizer. Joan went to work for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America as an Education Representative in 1962. After organizing in Texas for 17 years, she returned to St. Louis in 1987 as The International Vice President for UNITE. She was the founding, now Emeritus, board chair of the Missouri Immigrant & Refugees Advocates (MIRA) and Founding Director of Bread and Roses Missouri. Both MIRA and Bread & Roses are spin-off organizations of Missouri Jobs With Justice, a state-wide organization of community and faith-based organizations, student groups and unions. She serves as a Community Co-Chair on the Missouri Jobs With Justice Board of Directors.
"I strive to reimagine the Arts to not just be a space of equity, but also liberation and empowerment."
MICHAEL THANH TRAN
Michael Thanh Tran (he/him) is an actor, director and producer around Saint Louis. As an actor, he has performed with the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, The MUNY, Metro Theatre Company, among others. Through his work, he hopes to cultivate greater intersectional diversity, nurture growth within communities, find new ways to foster audience engagement, affect new change through innovative theatrical exploration. He holds a BFA in Acting from Sargent Conservatory and an Intimacy Captain Certificate from Intimacy Coordinators of Color (w/ Ann James). Learn more about Michael at michaelthanhtran.com.