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Speaker Bios

LUIS ALFARO is a playwright who divides his life between working in regional theatre and community-based art throughout the United States. He recently finished his six-season tenure as the playwright-in-residence at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He teaches at the University of Southern California. Luis is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and was recently awarded the PEN America/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award for a Master
American Dramatist, The United States Artist Fellowship, and the Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellowship. His plays include Mojada, Delano, Electricidad, Oedipus El Rey and Body of Faith. Before this all went down, he had a pretty good run at The Magic Theatre, St. Louis Repertory Theatre, and two seasons in a row at The Public Theatre in New York.

DANIELA ATIENCIA is a Latinx-Canadian theatre artist born and raised in Colombia. She graduated with Honours and received a BFA in Theatre Performance from SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts. She returned to Colombia to work at a community radio station, producing audio content for marginalized areas of the Colombian armed conflict. Desiring further artistic growth, she moved to the UK where she graduated with Distinction and acquired her MFA in Theatre Directing from The University of Essex’s East 15 Acting School. During her time in England, she co-founded her own international theatre company, Fingers Crossed, and produced her first professional devised piece, Central (Story) Line which received rave reviews at the Camden Fringe Festival. Daniela is a bilingual director, dramaturg, and deviser who vigorously seeks international collaborations with interdisciplinary artists. Her work has been seen in Colombia, Lithuania, Canada, England, and Denmark. She is currently based in Vancouver, B.C. working with internationally acclaimed theatre companies including Rumble, Touchstone Theatre, Neworld Theatre, Playwrights Theatre Centre, rice & beans theatre, The Arts Club, and Electric Company. 


MATTIE BARBER-BOCKELMAN is the programs and productions manager at CultureHub, an art and technology center in New York City. Based at La MaMa, Mattie’s work spans producing, curating, acting, directing, marketing, grant writing, and most recently, hosting their online performance series, Downtown Variety. Mattie’s performance credits include The Trojan Women with the Great Jones Repertory Company at La MaMa, Timbuktu, USA with Sleeping Weazel at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, and The Birds with Juncture Theatre in Florence, South Carolina. She has also performed at the Park Avenue Armory, Theater for the New City, WOW Café, Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, and Triskelion Arts. She has trained with Double Edge Theatre, LAByrinth Theatre, Michael Chekhov School, Strasberg Institute, and La MaMa Umbria’s Symposium on Theater for Social Change and Community Engagement with Belarus Free Theatre. She studied Theatre and Human Rights at Connecticut College where she received awards for Theater and Activism and Feminist Collective Action.  

ANNE BOGART is one of the three Co-Artistic Director of SITI Company, which she founded with Japanese director Tadashi Suzuki in 1992. She is a Professor at Columbia University where she runs the Graduate Directing Program. Works with SITIinclude Persians, Steel Hammer, A Rite, Café Variations, Trojan Women, American Document, Antigone, Under Construction, Freshwater, Who Do You Think You Are, Radio Macbeth, Hotel Cassiopeia, Death and the Ploughman, La Dispute, Score, bobrauschenbergamerica, Room, War of the Worlds, Cabin Pressure, War of the Worlds: The Radio Play, Alice’s Adventures, Culture of Desire, Bob, Going, Going, Gone, Small Lives/Big Dreams, The Medium, Noel Coward’s Hay Fever and Private Lives, August Strindberg’s Miss Julie, and Charles Mee’s Orestes. She is the author of five books: A Director Prepares, The Viewpoints Book, And Then, You Act, Conversations with Anne, and What’s the Story.


ANNE CATTANEO is the dramaturg of Lincoln Center Theater and the creator and head of the Tony Award Honor nominated Lincoln Center Theater Directors’ Lab.  A three-term past president of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, she is the recipient of LMDA’s first Lessing Award for lifetime achievement of dramaturgy. She has worked widely as a dramaturg on classical plays with directors such as Bartlett Sher, Robert Wilson, Adrian Hall, Jack O’Brien, Robert Falls, Mark Lamos, and JoAnne Akalaitis.  As the director of the Playworks Program at the Phoenix Theater during the late 1970s, she commissioned and developed plays by Wendy Wasserstein (ISN'T IT ROMANTIC) Mustapha Matura (MEETINGS) and Christopher Durang (BEYOND THERAPY). For the Acting Company, she created two projects: ORCHARDS (published by Knopf and Broadway Play Publishing) which presented seven Chekhov stories adapted for the stage by Maria Irene Fornes, Spalding Gray, John Guare, David Mamet, Wendy Wasserstein, Michael Weller, and Samm-Art Williams, and LOVE’S FIRE (published by William Morrow) responses to Shakespeare sonnets by Eric Bogosian, William Finn, John Guare, Tony Kushner, Marsha Norman, Ntozake Shange, and Wendy Wasserstein. Her own translations of 20th Century German playwrights include Brecht's GALILEO (Goodman Theater 1986 starring Brian Dennehy) and Botho Strauss' BIG AND LITTLE (Phoenix production starring Barbara Barrie, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.) She is currently on the faculty at Juilliard. In July 2011, she was awarded the Margo Jones Medal given annually to a “citizen of the theater who has demonstrated a significant impact, understanding, and affirmation of the craft of playwriting, with a lifetime commitment to the encouragement of the living theatre everywhere.”

SHELDON EPPS was Artistic Director of the renowned Pasadena Playhouse for two decades. Currently, he continues to serve The Playhouse as Artistic Director Emeritus.  He has also served as Artistic Advisor for Theatre Under The Stars in Houston.   Prior to that, he was Associate Artistic Director of the Old Globe Theatre.  Mr. Epps has directed numerous plays and musicals at many of the country’s major theatres including the Roundabout, Manhattan Theatre Club, the Guthrie, Playwrights Horizons, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Arena Stage, Ford’s Theatre and the Goodman Theatre.  He conceived and directed the highly acclaimed musicals Play On! and Blues In the Night, which both received Tony Award nominations on Broadway.  Blues…. was nominated as Best Musical for the prestigious Olivier Award in London.  He also Co-Directed the Tony-nominated production of Baby It's You!  Mr. Epps also has had a busy career as a television director helming episodes of shows such as Frasier, Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond, Girlfriends, and many others.   He is a longtime board member of the Society of Directors and Choreographers, and is the Chair of the SDC Foundation Board of Trustees.  Recently he received the prestigious Alumni Achievement Award from his alma mater Carnegie Mellon University.

GIANNA FORMICONE was born in Italy and, in 2006, she completed a Master's degree in foreign languages and a BA in Cultural Management in Modena. After spending a year as an Erasmus student in Germany where she gained experience as an assistant director at a number of theatres in Augsburg, she took a year off to travel in different countries which enriched her from a personal, cultural and linguistic perspective. In 2012, Gianna directed her first theatre play in Augsburg: Vater Mutter Geisterbahn by Martin Heckmanns. In the Bavarian city, she directed contemporary plays with a critical perspective on society, such as Oleanna by David Mamet or Kaspar Häuser Meer by Felizia Zeller and also Art by Yasmina Reeza, a clever comedy centered on the notion that our own point of view is a universal one. Gianna has been working on projects based on songs, poems or short texts written by contemporary writers or 20th Century authors like Bertolt Brecht or Wolfgang Biermann. In 2017, she worked on the theatre project Das Brot des Volkes which involved the participation of teenagers from 16 countries all over the world. Her international contacts are the result of a number of residencies and international workshops where she was invited, including Toronto Directors Lab North, Los Angeles Directors Lab West, Carrara and Italy IUGTE. The most recent one was with Dario Fo and Jacopo Fo in Umbria/Italy. She is now living and freelancing in Germany, and she is always looking for new challenges, international and interdisciplinary projects. Formicone is open to critiques and new inputs coming from different cultures.


JESSICA HANNA is a Los Angeles based Director & Producer and Artist in Residence at Thymele Arts. She is a member of The Kilroys, an activist artists group working for gender parity in the American Theatre. And she is a Regional Coordinator for Statera Arts Mentorship Program. She Co-Founded Bootleg Theater and was it's Producing & Managing Director for 12 years. Her focus has been on new work development. Directing credits include: Lisa Dring's DEATH PLAY at Circle X Theatre, NO HOMO, at Hollywood Fringe, New York Fringe and Atwater Village Theatres. World premieres of FOUR CHORDS AND A GUN by John Ross BowIe, I CARRY YOUR HEART by Georgette Kelly, THE WILLOWS by Kerri-Ann McCalla and BLUE GOLD & BUTTERFLIES by Stephanie Batiste, all at Bootleg Theater. PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT, the musical, at Celebration Theatre (Winner 2019 Ovation Award Best Production of a Musical, 7 Nominations including Best Director). Guest director at CalState University Long Beach, Occidental College, CalArts and CalPoly Pomona. Summer 2019 taught ensemble techniques & directed A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM for Make Trouble in Wilmington, NC. Produced two plays by Kirsten Vangsness at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. And Directed Michelle Kholos Brooks’ HOSTAGE at Adobe Rose Theatre in Santa Fe, NM. Recent: Co-directed Justin Sayre’s RAVENSWOOD MANOR at Celebration Theater. Directed workshop of Sarah Tufts’ ABIGAIL for Inkwell Theatre and POLAROID STORIES at CalPoly Pomona. 

ANN JAMES has an extensive career in theatre education. As an internationally certified educator, she has had the opportunity to teach on 4 continents. Her stage directing career has allowed her to work on premier stages of the American Theatre such as Steppenwolf, Hartford Stage, The Alley, and The Goodman. With over 100 directing credits and in addition to owning China's only registered Expat theatre, DreamWeaver Productions, she is now devoted to making both stage and screen safe places for People of Color to practice their craft.  To that end, Ms. James looks forward to pursuing America's first doctoral degree in Intimacy Direction for People of Color and will begin an MFA in Performance Pedagogy at Loyola Marymount University in fall 2020 which will focus on intimacy work that uplifts people of color.

LAURA KARLIN is a choreographer, teacher and advocate for empowering people of all ages and abilities through dance. She founded Invertigo Dance Theatre in 2007, and she has created over 40 works for the company, combining whimsy with intense physicality to tell nuanced stories from multiple perspectives.  Laura’s work has been presented at venues such as the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Broad Stage and the Ford Amphitheatre, and she is a Grand Prize Winner of the McCallum Theatre Choreography Festival. Invertigo brings dance to a diverse population through their Invert/ED education program and their Dancing Through Parkinson’s classes.  Laura is a founder and lead teaching artist for Dancing Through Parkinson’s and Storytelling Through Movement, and she believes dance is for everybody and every body.

SCARLETT KIM is a Seoul-born, LA-based director, artist, and curator. Scarlett creates performances and experiences across media, platforms, and borders. She is Co-Director of The Mortuary, a curatorial initiative, and laboratory for unclassifiable practices in life and art, and Programs & Projects Manager of CultureHub LA, a global art + technology community. Her work has recently been presented at Prague Quadrennial, Automata, Thomas Mann House, Pasadena Museum of California Art, Heidi Duckler Dance, Chilean National Council of Culture & the Arts, The Offing, La MaMa Umbria Next Generation Residency. Scarlett is currently an ACTIVATE Arts Delegate Fellow with Arts for LA. She also works as a translator and cultural liaison across Korea and the U.S. MFA Directing, CalArts.


LAUREL LAWSON found that dance combines her lifelong loves of athleticism and art, and makes work which draw on liminality and synthesistic myth. As engineer and artist, her practice includes both traditional choreography and novel ways of extending and creating art through technology and design. Also a member of Full Radius Dance since 2004 and the disabled artists’ collective Kinetic Light, she choreographs, teaches, and performs in NYC, Atlanta, and around the world. Beyond the studio, Laurelis an activist, an award-winning product designer and speaker, and a member of the USA Women’s Sled Hockey team. Laurel Lawson is a 2019-20 Dance/USA Artist Fellow. Dance/USA Fellowships to Artists is made possible with generous funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

AVIVIT SHAKED is a theater director, playwright, and group facilitator of community theater, She is also the Founder and Managing Director of “INSTED-ISRAEL” a directors lab designed to bring together young theater directors from around the world in a week-long experience of research, art, and discourse in Israel.  She graduated with an MFA in Directing from the Theater Arts Department at Tel-Aviv University, and believes theater can be the bridge between different perspectives, worlds. and generations.

MAKIKO SHIBUYA is a Japanese theater director who has been doing dual-life between Tokyo and Boston/NYC/Brisbane. SDC associate member(U.S), MEAA(Australia) member, Director's Lab2019 member. SDCF Observer for a Broadway musical "Allegiance." From doing an assistant director of an immersive theater"Peter Pan"(Artistic Dir.Randy Weiner/Dir.Allegra Libonati), she wanted to create an immersive musical. She created an original musical "KAGUYA-the Moon Princess" based on Japanese oldest folktale and showcased at Boston, premiered in Tokyo as an immersive musical. She create&directed a 30mins Street Musical show at the street beside a world-famous Shibuya crossing in Tokyo. Telly Leung broadcasted to the world! She was supposed to direct Japan premier of Pasek&Paul's "Edges," but it couldn't happen because of COVID19. While she was taking MA at Emerson College, she worked at ArtsEmerson, did an internship at A.R.T and was PA for "Waitress" on Broadway. Very excited with being on Howlround as she was worked at the same office before!

CARLY D. WECKSTEIN is a theatre director, sex educator, intimacy director, and facilitator living in Los Angeles. She creates at the intersections of theatre, community, healing, sexuality, and art as activation She founded and directs at The Illyrian Players, a feminist ensemble for theatre artists, and works as an intimacy director for theatre companies and universities, including UCLA's School of Theatre. She also works for Art With Impact, as a workshop facilitator and mental health advocate on college campuses. Carly is a passionate supporter of artists and actors, championing communication and consent as an essential part of the creative process.

SABRA WILLIAMS has received international acclaim for her work as an actor, host and co-founder of The Actors' Gang Prison Project, including being named by President Obama a, “Champion of Change” in 2016, and being honored with a British Empire Medal for services to the Arts & Prison Reform by Queen Elizabeth in 2018. Sabra is co-founder of Creative Acts, a Social Justice initiative that uses the Arts as the tool for transformation. Creative Acts has Civic Engagement programs in juvenile facilities and a new Virtual Reality Arts Reentry program in adult maximum security prisons, for people returning after life sentences. Sabra is a Visiting Lecturer at UCLA and a Bellagio Rockefeller Resident Fellow. She is currently a member of The Independent Shakespeare Company, LA ensemble.

LAURIE WOOLERY is a director, playwright, citizen artist who works at theaters across the country including The Public Theater, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Yale Repertory, Trinity Repertory, Goodman Theatre, Cornerstone Theater Company, and South Coast Repertory. Projects include the world premiere of Mary Kathryn Nagle’s Manahatta at both Yale Repertory and Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the world premiere musical of As You Like It co-created with Shaina Taub for the Public Theater. Laurie develops new work with diverse communities ranging from incarcerated women to residents of a Kansas town devastated by a tornado. She creates site-specific work ranging from a working sawmill in Eureka to the banks of the Los Angeles River. Currently, Laurie is the Director of Public Works at The Public Theater, a program that seeks to engage the people of New York by making them creators and not just spectators. Working with partner organizations in all 5 boroughs, Public Works invites members of diverse communities to join in the creation of ambitious works of participatory theater. Laurie is the former Associate Artistic Director of Cornerstone Theater Company and Conservatory Director at South Coast Repertory.  Laurie is a founding member of The Sol Project and a 2020 United States Artist recipient.

DIANA WYENN is a Los Angeles-based theater and opera director, choreographer, and dramaturg, as well as a curator of contemporary performance and community organizer. She has recently worked with the LA Philharmonic, Walt Disney Company, Lincoln Center, LA Opera, Center Theater Group, CAP UCLA, Ford Theatres, REDCAT, Pomona College, Occidental College, Moving Arts, and more. In addition to her freelance work, she is the co-founder of Plain Wood Productions, Artistic Director of TIOH Arts & Culture at Temple Israel of Hollywood, and volunteers as a member of Vice President Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Corps and producing steering committee member of Directors Lab West. Diana also recently jumped back on stage to create and perform Blood/Sugar, an award-winning autobiographical solo performance illuminating, embodying, and challenging the global diabetes epidemic. Her work has been supported by the California Arts Council, National Arts and Disability Center, Center for Cultural Innovation, and more. She received a BFA in Drama with Honors from New York University and is a proud associate member of SDC.

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