Artistic Comrades

Melia Bensussen

MELIA BENSUSSEN is thrilled to be a part of the Sleeping Weazel family of gifted artists. A recipient of an OBIE Award for Outstanding Direction, she is the recently appointed Artistic Director of Hartford Stage.  In addition to work for Sleeping Weazel, in Boston she’s directed for the Huntington Theatre, the Nora Theatre, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, and Actors Shakespeare Project. Around the country she has directed at American Conservatory Theatre, Baltimore Centerstage, Hartford Stage Company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, La Jolla Playhouse, the New York Shakespeare Festival, Primary Stages, Trinity Repertory Theatre, the Long Wharf, Actors Theatre of Louisville, People’s Light and Theatre (Barrymore for Best Direction), San Jose Rep, and many others. Recent and ongoing collaborations include works with Masha Obolensky, Kirsten Greenidge, Melinda Lopez, Kate Snodgrass, and, the inspiring Charlotte Meehan.

GLORIA CRIST MA, Holistic Counseling, CAGS, Expressive and Creative Arts.  Gloria Crist has been a professional SAG-AFTRA and AEA actor, director and arts educator for over 30 years. She has a wide range of credits from award winning theater, peabody winning television series, commercials and films. Gloria is President and Founder of The CORE Org.(, a source and resource 501(c)3, providing arts enrichment and wellness programs throughout Newport County, Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts. She remains active in arts advocacy in public school education. In her downtime, she continues to write ( about living, loving and loss. She lives with her daughter in Tiverton, RI.

Stephanie Burlington Daniels

STEPHANIE BURLINGTON DANIELS is a director, actor, and teacher. She is an Associate Professor of Theatre and Chair of the Theatre and Dance Studies Department at Wheaton College (MA). Her Wheaton College directing credits include Caryl Churchill’s Cloud Nine, Tony Kushner’s Angels In America, Part One Millennium Approaches, and Anna Deavere Smith’s House Arrest. She has recently performed in Ken Prestininzi’s Birth, Breath, Bride, Elizabeth, Charlotte Meehan’s Sweet Disaster, Federico Garcia Lorca’s House of Bernarda Alba, and a 1950s version of Twelfth Night.

CHRISTINE EVANS’ production highlights include Trojan Barbie (American Repertory Theatre, Playbox Theatre, U.K.; Garage Theater, LA), Slow Falling Bird (Crowded Fire), Weightless, Mothergun and All Souls’ Day (Perishable Theatre); and Closer Than They Appear (HERE Arts; StreetSigns, NC). Samuel French, Smith and Kraus, Theater Forum and NoPassport Press have published her work. Honors include a Rockefeller Bellagio Award, a Fulbright Award, the Jane Chambers Playwriting Award and the RISCA Playwriting Award. Evans holds an MFA and PhD from Brown and is an Associate Professor in Georgetown Department of Performing Arts. Her play Galilee was featured at PlayPenn, 2017, and her novel-in-verse, Cloudless, is published by UWA Publishing (Australia).

Jess Foster

JESS FOSTER is a playwright, dramaturg, and teacher whose work has been produced in New York, Providence, Boston, Washington DC, Albuquerque, and Iowa, where she earned her MFA from the Iowa Playwrights’ Workshop. She was a producing member of Boston Public Works. Jess’s plays have had readings as part of the White Horse Theater American Women Series in New York, through Interim Writers in Boston, and at the Iowa New Play Festival. Her short plays have been produced by the Boston One-Minute Play Festival, Boston Mad Dash, Chameleon Theatre Circle, and Madcap Players. She is originally from Maine and a graduate of Wheaton College.

Vanessa Gilbert

VANESSA GILBERT directs and devises performances with people, objects, and digital media.  Her recent work lands at the intersection of Civic Practice, which brings artistic sensibilities to work with non-arts partners through relationship-based dialogue and Social Practice, which engages a community as co-creators/collaborators of an art work. Vanessa also loves a good story.

MAGDALENA GÓMEZ: is the Poet Laureate of Springfield, MA (2019-2021). In 2018, she was a recipient of the New England Public Radio Arts and Humanities Award. Publications include: L.A. Times; upstreet; Massachusetts Review; The Progressive; among many others. Her poetry collection, Shameless Woman (Red Sugarcane Press, NYC, 2014), is included in college curriculums throughout the U.S. Her poems have been set to music and performed across the U.S. and Canada.

JEFFREY M. JONES is a playwright whose works include A Letter from Omdurman70 Scenes of HalloweenNightcoilDer Inka Von PeruTomorrowland, a series of Crazy Plays, and J.P. Morgan Saves the Nation, a musical with a score by the late Jonathan Larson, directed by Jean Randich. He has been manager of The Wooster Group, Richard Foreman and John Jesurun; taught playwriting at the Yale School of Drama and a series of Pataphysics workshops at the Flea Theater; and is currently co-curator of the OBIE-winning Little Theatre series at Dixon Place.

Holly Laws

HOLLY LAWS is interested in a multidisciplinary approach to art. Laws’ first love, sculpture, draws heavily on her work in theatre and puppetry. Her recent sculptural installation Axis Mundi: Levittown, incorporates objects, projected video, and recorded dialogue. Her work is exhibited nationally and is in numerous private collections. Laws holds a BFA in Sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth University, and an MFA in Sculpture from Tyler School of Art, Temple University. She teaches art at the University of Central Arkansas, and has seven pet chickens.

Ju-Pong Lin

An immigrant from Taiwan, JUPONG LIN weaves her ancestral traditions into community performances, cultivating kinship between humans of different places and with our more-than-human kin. As an artist, de/colonial and institutional activist and educator, she fuses story circle, qigong, and cultural somatics in a relational art that bridges personal and collective healing. JuPong enjoys finding links (metaphoric mycorrhiza) between communities, institutions, and webs of earthbeings, to enhance connections that foster personal and community resilience and new kinships. Her community performance, media and installation art aspires to incite deep, systemic change through creating relationships of mutuality and reciprocity.

Jake Mahaffy

JAKE MAHAFFY’s self-produced, micro-budget shorts and features were made single-handedly, featuring untrained actors in rural settings. More recent projects combined with professional actors and crew have also screened internationally. Venues include Sundance (2004/05/06/08/09/15), Venice (2012, 2016 & Orizzonti Prize for Best Film, 2015), and SXSW (2016, Grand Jury Prize, 2008). He founded two new filmmaking programs at two universities as an Associate Professor of Film and Art in the United States and currently coordinates the Screen Production program at Auckland University in New Zealand.

ROBBIE MCCAULEY’s theater work spans several decades as an actor, playwright and director. She directed a series of pieces in this country and abroad based on dialogues between black, white, and varieties of people with cultural differences. At Penumbra Theater Company she directed plays by Shay Youngblood and Adrienne Kennedy; she worked with notable experimental Open Theater Director Joseph Chaikin originating a role in a Kennedy play. An OBIE Award recipient for her play, Sally’s Rape, she also received a 2012 Ford Foundation United States Artist Award, and was recipient of Boston’s 2013 Boston Theater Critics Association Award for her performance piece, Sugar; she replaced Tony Award winner Trazana Beverly on Broadway in Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who’ve Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf. McCauley’s innovative writing is widely anthologized, including TeenyTown, in collaboration with Laurie Carlos and Jessica Hagedorn. Her book of collected works, The Struggle Continues, will be published by Theatre Communications Group July 2021.

Kym Moore

KYM MOORE (Multidisciplinary Theater-maker, Professor) is Co-Artistic Director of Antigravity Performance Project and Dean of the Ira Brind School of Theater Arts at University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She directs, devises and writes plays and performance works that utilize the unique materials of theater to explore the multiple dimensions of human existence. Experimentation with interactive media technology is ongoing. Professionally, she has directed plays and taught workshops/courses in Acting Outside the Box, nationally and internationally at the Juilliard School, Carnegie Mellon University, Yale University, Columbia University, SoHo Rep, Berkshire Playwrights Lab, Joe’s Pub, The Factory Theatre (Boston), La MaMa E.T.C., Women’s Project, Belgrade Theater (UK) and SIBFEST (Romania). She is an associate member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, National Alliance of Acting Teachers, Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab. For more information please visit: and/or

Elise Morrison

ELISE MORRISON has been performing in the Providence area since 2004. She has performed a number of surveillance art pieces on the public thoroughfares of NYC, Providence and the INTERNET, created the live performance events Cabaret Murderess (2007) and Mirror Stage (2008), co-produced Brown’s late night cabaret, Smoke and Mirrors (2008-10), and performed in shows at Brown and Perishable Theatre (where she was also a Resident Artist), including Sweet Disaster (2008), Biography of a Constellation (2008), Anna Bella Eema (2009), Fracture/Mechanics (2009), and the burlesque cabaret Jingle Belles and a Few Balls (2009, 2010). Having finally finished her doctorate in Theatre and Performance Studies at Brown University, she has recently moved to Boston to teach Speech and Communication at Harvard.

KEN PRESTININZI is a director of new work and a New Dramatist alum playwright. Sleeping Weazel playwright: Birth Breath Bride Elizabeth (The Next Thing Festival, ArtsEmerson); Ugmo and Eenie Go Down the Ruski Hole (remounted at Dixon Place, NYC); Timbuktu, USA; director: Charlotte Meehan’s 27 Tips for Banishing the Blues; Elana Greenfield’s Wrench. Workshop director:  Martyna Majok’s Sanctuary City (Sundance Institute/Morocco, New York Theater Workshop); Melisa Tien’s Best Life (JACK); Mashuq Mushtag Deen’s Flood (Kansas City Rep). Original plays: Impure Thoughts (without apology), Repertorio Español; AmeriKafka, Beholder, Chaste, Cookie Play, Trap A Theater, Chicago. Original musicals: Tom Visits Rose, AriadneDee and Servitude of a King. Dramaturg/director: Jennifer Hayley’s  Dreampuffs of War; Barbara Hammond’s We Are Pussy Riot; Quiara Alegría Hudes’ Bario Grrrl; Meehan’s Sweet Disaster;  Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s boom, TIC,  and The Totalitarians; Gregory Moss’ Reunion and Indian Summer. Teaching: Connecticut College; National Theater Institute; Associate Chair/Acting Chair of Playwriting at the Yale School of Drama; Brown/Trinity Rep (artistic director); Cornell. Ken studied with Maria Irene Fornes in Mexico.

PATRICK RASHLEIGH is a New Media designer, and has done sound design work for Sleeping Weazel and fellow affiliated artist Holly Laws. He received his MA in Musicology from York University in Toronto and his BA in English at the University of British Columbia. During business hours, he currently does Data Visualizations at Brown University.

JACOB RICHMAN is a multimedia artist, scholar, and educator fascinated by the interconnectedness of things—sounds with images, places with memories, people with the natural world. He combines video, music, and custom-designed multimedia to create performances, installations, and videos that explore these connections that surround us. His work focuses on emerging media technologies, experimental performance practices, site-specific art, and building community through artistic practice. He is co-director of Tenderloin Opera Company, a homeless advocacy music and theater group, and co-directs Verdant Vibes, a Rhode Island-based new music ensemble and concert series. His work has been presented all across the country. He lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife, composer Kirsten Volness, dog Tito, cat Juniper, turtle Terdl, hermit crab Chloë Sevigny, and a bunch of plants. He is an adjunct professor in the School of Art and Design at Portland State University.

George Emilio Sanchez

GEORGE EMILIO SANCHEZ is the Chairperson of the Department of Performing and Creative Arts at CUNY Staten Island. He teaches undergraduate courses in the Drama program and graduate courses for the Education Department. He has directed six original student productions for the PCA and continues to work with students and classes with the goal of creating original theater/performance works. He directs Emergenyc, the performance project for young “artivists” under the Hemispheric Institute umbrella, and travels nationally and internationally to facilitate workshops on Augusto Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed techniques. A writer, performer, and director, George has performed his most recent solo work, Buried Up To My Neck While Thinking Outside The Box, at Dixon Place, La MaMa, and Wheaton College (MA).

LISA SCHLESINGER‘s works for stage and radio include Iphigenia Point Blank: a film opera, Celestial Bodies, Wal-martyrs, Same Egg, Manny and Chicken, Rock Ends Ahead, The Bones of Danny Winston, and Twenty-One Positions: A Cartographic Dream of the Middle East (with Naomi Wallace and Abdel AbuSrour), In the Wake of the Graybow Riots. Winner of the BBC Playwriting Award, she has received commissions from the Guthrie Theatre, the BBC, Ensemble Studio Theatre, and fellowships from the NEA, TCG, CEC/Artslink, the Sloan Foundation, the Iowa Arts Council, the International Writing Program  Produced nationally and internationally, her work is published in American Theatre Magazine, Performing Arts Journal, Broadway Plays, NoPassport, Playwrights Canada Press, The New York Times, and elsewhere. Lisa is currently working on Windfall for the Havel Project and Ruinous Gods, an opera, with composer/violinist Layale Chaker. Lisa is co-head of the Iowa Playwrights Workshop at the University of Iowa.

KATE SNODGRASS is the Artistic Director of Boston Playwrights’ Theatre and the Boston Theater Marathon, which she co-founded. She heads the MFA in Playwriting Program at Boston University and was designated a StageSource “Theatre Hero” in 2001, a Playwriting Fellow with the Huntington Theatre Company in 2005-07, and a Milan Stitt Outstanding Teacher of Playwriting in 2010 by the Kennedy Center. She was awarded Boston’s Elliot Norton Award for Sustained Excellence in 2012. The author of the Actors’ Theatre of Louisville Heideman Award-winning play Haiku and the winner of two IRNE Awards and a Gertrude Steinberg nomination, Kate is the recipient of a 2015 Tanne Foundation Award for her passion and commitment to the Theatre. Kate studied acting at the London Academy of Dramatic Arts and in NYC, and is a proud member of the Dramatists’ Guild. Her short plays Bark’s Dream and The Last Bark were produced by Sleeping Weazel in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

DAWN SIMMONS is the co-founder and artistic director of the Front Porch Arts Collective, a black theater company committed to advancing racial equity in Boston through theatre. She also founded New Exhibition Room in 2008 to produce provocative, political, and affordable theater events. She is also the  Executive Director of StageSource, an arts service organization focusing on work force development and sector improvement in theatre across New England. Dawn is originally from Buffalo, NY, where she received a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Buffalo. She went on to study playwrighting at Boston University and directs for regional theatres such as The Front Porch Arts Collective, WAM Theatre, The Nora Theatre, Greater Boston Stage Company, SpeakEasy Stage Company, Bad Habit Productions, Fresh Ink Theatre and Lyric Stage Company. More recently, she served as the Director of Performing Arts at the Boston Center for the Arts.

Dominic Taylor

DOMINIC TAYLOR is a writer-director and scholar of African-American theater and whose work has been seen across the country. He most recently completed a Sloan Foundation Commission for Ensemble Studio Theatre for his play Biology of the Surface. He converted this play into the ZOOM play Cell Surface that was part of the Black Lives, Black Words Festival. His essay Don’t Call African American Theatre Black Theatre: It’s Like Calling a Dog a Cat was published by the Massachusetts Review in September 2019. Taylor is an alumnus member of New Dramatists. He received his bachelor’s and master of fine arts degree from Brown University. He is a member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, the Dramatists Guild. At present, he is the Acting Department Chair of Theater at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.

Kirsten Volness

KIRSTEN VOLNESS Smart, transcendent, and immersive, Kirsten Volness’ emotive soundscapes integrate electronics and modern composition techniques with jazz and pop influences. “Irresistible” (San Francisco Chronicle) and “nothing short of gorgeous.” (New York Arts), each of her compositions reveals “an exquisite sound world” (New Classic LA) inspired by nature, myth, spirituality, and environmental and sociopolitical issues. With commissions from the World Future Council Foundation, ASCAP/SEAMUS, BMI Foundation, and The American Opera Project, Volness received MacColl Johnson and RISCA Fellowships. She holds composition degrees from the Universities of Michigan and Minnesota, and is Visiting Assistant Professor at Reed College.

Craig Watson

CRAIG WATSON is the author of eleven books of poetry, most recently Sleepwalking with Orpheus (Shearsman Books, 2011) and Secret Histories (Burning Deck, 2007). He has worked in the performing arts at Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, corporate arts, literary arts, and emergency services, among other oddly chosen vocations.

VERONICA ANASTASIO WISEMAN is an actress, educator and television producer. Currently, her work focuses on building community collaborations to create performance and production opportunities for youth on local stages and cable access channels.