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Strawdog Theatre Company Welcomes New Ensemble Members

Strawdog Theatre Company's is pleased to welcome seven new ensemble members for 2020.

Strawdog Theatre Company Welcomes New Ensemble Members

Strawdog Theatre Company's is pleased to welcome seven new ensemble members for 2020, including: Paul Cook, Leah Hummel, Yeaji Kim, Alyssa Maldonado, Karissa Murrell Myers, Manuel Ortiz and Johnard Washington.

Comments Interim Artistic Director Kamille Dawkins, "We are ecstatic to welcome this talented group of theatre makers into the Strawdog family. Each new ensemble member brings something invaluable to the table. Their skill and insight will be a great addition to the team as we work towards the future."


Paul Cook is a Chicago native, and has lived all over the country. He did his undergrad at Marquette University (Milwaukee, WI), and received his MFA in Directing from the University of California, Irvine (UCI). He was invited to join the Ensemble in 2020, after serving as Strawdog's Production Manager from 2019. As a performer, Paul has performed all across the country, as well as overseas. As a director, he has created work in Tennessee, Illinois and California. Prior to joining Strawdog as Production Manager, he served as Production Manager for Pride Films and Plays. Paul is passionate about all kinds of theatre, but classics and musical theatre hold a special place in his heart. As an employee of The Chicago High School for the Arts (ChiArts), he gets to support one of his passions - the push for equity and accessibility in the arts.

Leah Hummel is delighted to be joining the Strawdog family as an ensemble member in 2020, for their 33rd season! Leah is an Illinois native, freelance costume designer and teaching artist. Her Strawdog credits include Barbecue, Pillars of the Community, The Revolutionists and The Effect. Leah has also worked with Raven Theatre Company, The Neo-Futurists and the 13th Floor Entertainment Group. She holds a BFA in Theater Design & Technology from Western Michigan University and will begin her MFA Costume Design program at the University of Texas-Austin in 2021. You can learn more about Leah's work at

Yeaji Kim is a scenic and projections designer based in Chicago. Born and raised in South Korea, she came to the States in 2012 to pursue her MFA in Theatre Design. She enjoys thinking about people's experiences with a story and is particularly interested in visualizing new works. Her recent collaborations in Chicago include Strawdog Theatre Company, Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, Silk Road Rising, The New Colony, Citadel and more. Her work with Strawdog's The Effect was nominated for a 2020 non-Equity Jeff Award for Projections Design. Yeaji is also an illustrator. Her love of combining drawing and video projections has brought her frequent collaborations with a variety of theatre artists in Chicago and New York. Yeaji is excited to join as an ensemble member of Strawdog Theatre Company. For more information, please visit

Alyssa Maldonado originated from the suburbs of Chicago before taking a brief sojourn in Ames, Iowa as she attended Iowa State University to get a B.A. in Performing Arts and Psychology. While there, Alyssa discovered her organizational skills and love of spreadsheets had her well-suited for a career in stage management. She first came to Strawdog for their production of Pillars of the Community and quickly returned for Masque Macabre and The Effect. Being asked officially to join the Ensemble was a goal she was ecstatic to meet during the summer of 2020. Alyssa has also had the pleasure of working with Raven Theater, Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Drury Lane, as well assisting with theater summer camps for Story Theater Company. When not giving line notes or organizing props, you can find her taking road trips to visit friends, sampling Chicago's many burger joints, or wishing she was giving line notes and organizing props. Alyssa strongly believes that if there is a will to do art, there is a way to do art and is so impressed with how this city and especially Strawdog are able to prove that as the world changes.

Karissa Murrell Myers has been Strawdog's Casting Director since 2019 and joined the ensemble in 2020. She is originally from the great state of Idaho and has a MFA in Performance from University of Hawaii at Manoa, a BA in Theatre Arts from Boise State University and is a graduate of The School at Steppenwolf. She has been working professionally in Chicago as an actor, playwright and director since 2015. As a performer, Karissa has worked at Goodman Theatre, Remy Bumppo, The House Theatre of Chicago and Renaissance Theaterworks. Television work includes working on Chicago Med, Chicago PD, Electric Dreams and The Exorcist. Proud member of SAG-AFTRA. Represented by Gray Talent Group. Karissa is excited to continue her work at Strawdog!

Manuel Ortiz (he/him/his) is a Chicago native actor, carpenter, designer and photographer. He received his BFA in Acting at DePaul University. When he is not building and/or performing on stage, you can find him at home joyfully playing with all 15 of his animal friends (yes, he has pictures). As an artist, he has devoted himself to many artistic mediums such as puppeteering, makeup, lighting and more. Working in such a prodigiously diverse community of captivating artists, Manny has grown and hopes to continue to collaborate and cultivate communities of inclusion and equity filled with ardent passion of theater.

Johnard Washington is so excited to be joining the lovely people of Strawdog. His last show was Thirst with the company with a BTAA nomination for Best Featured Actor in a play. Other credits include: Gross Indecency with Promethean theatre; At the Table with Broken Nose theatre (Jeff wins for Best Ensemble and Best Play); A Hedda Gabler; The Skriker; Lear; all with Red Tape Theatre. He completed training at the School of Steppenwolf this past summer. Also a proud member of Red Tape Theatre.

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