Arena Stage Announces New Virtual Classes For Winter Season

Arena's virtual series expands with family creativity workshops, classes for theater lovers, masterclasses and Voices of Now Mead Ensemble.

By: Dec. 15, 2020

Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater announces its lineup of Winter classes featuring classes catered to families, theater lovers, students, adults and emerging theater artists. The Voices of Now Mead Ensemble for young artists will begin this winter, meeting virtually to contribute to a new original film. Just in time for the holidays, this robust line of programming has something for everyone and makes the perfect unique gift for the theater lover in your family.

"We are finding that people of all ages are responding with joy and energy to our virtual classes. There are so many ways to be engaged in these programs - whether you are a theater lover or a theater practitioner, there is something for you," shares Director of Community Engagement and Senior Artistic Advisor Anita Maynard-Losh.

Arena is excited to debut two new categories of classes: Family Creativity Workshops and Classes for Theater Lovers.

Family Creativity Workshops are designed to connect family members through the means of theatrical games, visual art and imagination. These classes are led by Arena's Director of Education, Ashley Forman and friends. These exhilarating classes are the perfect opportunity for families to engage and explore creative expression and collaboration.

In addition, fellow theatergoers can join together for an Insider Lecture Series led by long-time Arena Stage expert collaborators, including Choreographer Parker Esse, Properties Director Jenn Sheetz and Costume Director Joseph Salasovich. These 90-minute intimate conversations will give participants a behind-the-scenes look into the offstage work that helps create the productions seen onstage. This entertaining, interactive series will explore areas not often seen by patrons, including a look inside the prop shop and an up-close view of some of the most iconic costumes that have graced Arena's stages. Participants will walk away with a new perspective on the wonderful performances they have experienced.

From the comfort of their home, participants can make connections with fellow theater lovers through an 8-week drama book club. Led by Arena's Literary Manager Naysan Mojgani and School Programs Manager Rebecca Campana, these in-depth sessions are designed for theatergoers looking to broaden their knowledge, deepen their skills and share their opinions by delving into the texts of contemporary American plays. Participants will read four plays and watch streamed versions of the works followed by lively group discussions on both versions.

The success of virtual offerings has allowed Arena to engage and respond to audiences in the Washington, D.C-metropolitan region, nationally and internationally. Arena's online engagement has increased by more than 900%.

"This is an absolutely juicy group of classes - a great range of theatrical experiences that are available to young, old, experienced and novices. A silver lining of being forced to work remotely has been the ability to share Arena's intensive teaching artists with people near and far, and to work with artists in a different way online while still maintaining the hallmark of high touch and personalized experiences like no other organization," explains Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith. "Theater lovers, students of theater, students of life, creatives honing their craft - there is an ideal class for each of you."

The newly announced masterclass workshops will focus on acting, choreography, directing, lighting design, playwriting and stage management. Geared for adults, each class meets twice for two-hour sessions on Wednesday and Friday. In a setting of no more than 10 - 16 people per class, it is an exciting opportunity for the public to foster creativity and connect with experts in the field.

A past participant shared their experience, "The pandemic has had me depressed about creating, but this workshop truly put a spark back in my system."

Featured masterclass instructors include dynamic artists Parker Esse, Seema Sueko, Franchelle Stewart Dorn, Christi B. Spann, Xavier Pierce, Jacqueline E. Lawton, Eduardo Machado and Nehal Joshi.

Arena's Winter class series continues with newly created classes for youth, grades 4 - 8. Courses meet once a week for eight weeks and include hip-hop dance and sign and song with Brandon Glass, fashion design with Jamila Madyun, acting for the camera with Mauricio Pita and mini musical writing with Wes Braver and Rebecca Campana. These stimulating and enriching classes allow students to learn fundamental techniques all while having fun.

The Voices of Now Mead Ensemble returns in February to provide a vital theatrical platform for young artists to use their personal experiences to investigate the world around them and pose questions integral to their communities. For the 2020/21 Season, the Voices of Now Mead Ensemble will virtually train young artists in the Voices of Now devising process and introduce them to the work and techniques of other notable companies that devise theater and film. The ensemble meets once a week from February to May. The prestigious program for young artists will perform and contribute to an original, autobiographical feature film that will be presented globally next spring and summer.

Additional information and registration details on these programs can be found below and here.


Family Creativity Workshops
Create and play as a team in these interactive drama workshops designed for families. Using theater games, visual art and imagination, family members will build connections while they explore what makes their family unique. Led by Ashley Forman, Arena's Director of Education, these workshops are open to participants ages 5 to adult. Though the workshops are virtual, family members should be in the same physical space. Classes will be held on February 20 and Saturday, March 13 from 10:30 - 11:30 a.m. Each class is $30 per family/$25 for member and Southwest neighbor discounts. Space is limited. To register and learn more, visit here.

Classes for Theater Lovers
Insider Lecture Series
Get a peek into the offstage work that helps create the magic seen onstage. Led by long-time Arena Stage collaborators, you will see examples of their work, hear stories about the people they have worked with and have a chance to ask questions in this 90-minute insider glimpse. This class is open to everyone but is designed specifically for theatergoers that are interested in learning more about the process of making theater. Each class is $30/$25 member and Southwest neighbor discounts. To register and learn more, visit here.

February 6 from 10:30 a.m. - Noon
Bit by Bit, Putting Steps Together: Inside the Choreographer's Process with Parker Esse
Join Parker Esse, Helen Hayes Award-Winning Choreographer, as he embarks on a creative discussion of his choreographic process. Having choreographed 13 productions at Arena Stage, Parker's choreography has been tailor fit and adapted to exciting design challenges and creative discoveries with each production. The class will take an in-depth look at the collaboration between director, music director, costume designer, set designer, lighting designer and sound designer and the role they play in shaping Parker's choreography for a production, spanning from the first creative team production meeting to the opening night performance. Creating choreography is a complex, thrilling journey breathing dynamic storytelling into musical theater. Parker is eager to share behind-the-scenes choreographic stories from past productions along with answering any questions from participants.

February 20 from 10:30 a.m. - Noon
Prop Culture: The Oddities and Adventures Backstage with Jenn Sheetz
Enjoy a morning chat with Jenn Sheetz, Arena Stage Properties Director, as she gives a virtual "tour" of the prop shop and storage spaces. Learn about the staff in the prop shop and the extraordinary skills they bring to each project. She will be highlighting specific props that will be displayed: showing their first concept from the script, describing how they are found or built, ending with their final design onstage. Stories about a dead goat (Sylvia), tiger sofa that breathes, gutting a large fish, kitchen destruction, blood rig hidden in a chair, rolling cigars, real animals and many more! Jenn will share not only props she built as the Properties Director, but also as the Properties Assistant when she first ran shows at Arena. There will be a Q&A at the end, so bring your prop questions!

March 6 from 10:30 a.m. - Noon
Dressing to Impress: Costuming the Leading Ladies of Arena Stage with Joseph Salasovich
Spend a morning with Joseph Salasovich, Arena Stage Costume Director, reminiscing about the performances at Arena Stage through the lens of costumes. Participants will learn about the process of bringing the garments to life on the stage and celebrate the fantastic designers and skilled artisans in the costume shops.a??Joseph will look at the marvelous creations made specifically for principal female characters in the plays and musicals presented in the Fichandler, the Kreeger and the Kogod over the past 20 years. The class will see the entire journey of a costume - from the first read of a script to the final bow on closing night - and learn about the team that keeps all these fabulous actors dressed to impress. Bring all your questions. Joseph will answer those and more as we have open discussion about hats, wigs, corsets, petticoats, dresses, gowns, boots, shoes and accessories and how they support character and storytelling.a??

Drama Book Club: Reading and Watching Contemporary Plays with Naysan Mojgani and Rebecca Campana
Join other theater lovers to read, watch and delve more deeply into four contemporary American plays. Participants will explore the context of the play on the page and in performance, analyzing artistic choices, themes and character and discussing their discoveries.a??Facilitated by Arena Stage Literary Manager Naysan Mojgani and School Programs Manager Rebecca Campana, participants will engage with the work and each other in lively, structured weekly sessions. List of plays will be provided in January 2021. Participants will furnish their own copies of the plays and pay any associated streaming fees. Classes run from February 4 - March 25, 2021 and meet every Thursday from 6 - 7:30 p.m. The 8-week class is $250/$200 member and Southwest neighbor discounts. To register and learn more, visit here.

Masterclass Workshops
Arena Stage's popular masterclass workshops return with eight virtual classes, exploring theater in a variety of forms. Masterclasses are for adults (ages 18 and up). Masterclasses are interactive opportunities to learn more about an aspect of theater and participate in related activities. Each class will meet twice for two-hour sessions on Wednesday and Friday via Zoom in an intimate setting of 10 - 16 people per class. Each class is $70/$60 member and Southwest neighbor discounts. To register and learn more, visit here.

February 3 and 5, 2021 from 5 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Choreography with Parker Esse
For: Emerging choreographers or anyone interested in the process of choreography
Description: Have you ever wondered what it takes to choreograph a musical? How do they do it? Where do they get their ideas? Where do they start in creating choreography? From Agnes DeMille to Andy Blankenbuehler, this behind-the-scenes look will explore the process and styles of choreography and what it means to be a choreographer.
Preparation: Participants will have an opportunity to create choreography and should be dressed to move.

Parker Esse is a multi-award-winning and story-driven director/choreographer. After performing regionally, in national tours, and as a featured performer on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning Fosse, he began collaborating exclusively on multiple regional and Broadway shows as associate director/choreographer, including Broadway's Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Award nominated Finian's Rainbow and A Tale of Two Cities, as well as five-star studded NY City Center Encores! productions. Parker has directed/choreographed for numerous NYC, regional and international theatres and is an eight-time Helen Hayes Nominee for Best Choreography, winning for Arena Stage's Oklahoma!, The Pajama Game starring Donna McKechnie and Anything Goes starring Corbin Bleu. Most recently, last fall DC saw Parker's Helen Hayes nominated choreography for the record-breaking hit show Disney's Newsies (Arena Stage).

February 10 and 12, 2021 from 5 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Directing Snapshot: The Heiress with Seema Sueko
For: Beginning directors or adults with a love of theater
Description: This snapshot of stage directing is for beginning directors and other interested adults. The only prerequisite is a love of theater. The first session will focus on the components and skills of directing. Seema will take us through her process, from first idea to opening night, using her 2019 Arena Stage production of The Heiress as the example. Homework after the first session will be to write first rehearsal remarks for a hypothetical play that you would like to direct. Students will share those remarks and talk about the play you selected in the second session of this class.
Optional Preparation: If you wish to read The Heiress before this class, you may purchase the script here.

Seema Sueko grew up in Honolulu, surrounded by the political passion, groan-worthy humor and inventiveness of her Pakistani father and a Japanese American mother who could read people in an instant, but was more interested in kindness than judgement. Their influence can be found in large and small ways in all of Seema's work as a theater director and arts leader who directs stage, film, consensus organizing, research and development projects and productions for theaters, think tanks and the community. Seema recently directed the film Veterans Day 2020 for Atlantic Council and Arena Stage. She served as Deputy Artistic Director of Arena Stage from 2016 - 2020, where she created thea??Theater Artists Marketplace,a??brought playwrights and policy leaders together at thea??Power Play Summit, spearheaded the Artistic Director Intensive and directed productions of Smart People, The Price, The Heiress and Right to be Forgotten. Prior, she was Associate Artistic Director at Pasadena Playhouse and Executive Artistic Director of Mo`olelo Performing Arts Company, which she co-founded in San Diego. She has directed and acted at theaters across the U.S. including Denver Center, Ford's Theatre, Pasadena Playhouse, People's Light, The Old Globe, Yale Rep, 5th Avenue Theatre, Native Voices and Mo`olelo, among others. Her work has been recognized by the Chicago Jeff Awards, NAACP San Diego, American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Asian Pacific American Friends of the Theater, San Diego Craig Noel Awards and the California State Assembly. Seema serves on the Executive Board of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and was recently named a finalist for the SDCF Zelda Fichandler Award.

February 17 and 19, 2021 from 5 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Acting: Audition Preparation with Franchelle Stewart Dorn
For: Actors of all experience levels
Description: You've got 20 seconds! That's right: the decision to hire is generally made within the first 20 seconds. a??Make the most of that time in an audition setting. a??Bring in your favorite audition piece (classical or contemporary) to rework, or something completely new. Your selection should be no longer than two minutes and age appropriate. We'll go through the steps to making you a better and more compelling actor and hopefully have some fun.
Preparation: A favorite or new audition piece, no longer than 2 minutes and age appropriate

Franchelle Stewart Dorn has been an actress for more than 40 years having played leading roles at Shakespeare Theatre Company, Arena Stage, The American Conservatory Theater, Yale Repertory Theater, Long Wharf, Great Lakes Theater Company, Cleveland Playhouse, Arizona State Theatre, Chautauqua Theatre, Guthrie Theater and at both The State, ZACH and Austin Shakespeare Theaters in Austin. She spent the 2014 season at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and spring 2015 Off-Broadway in 'Tis a Pity She's a Whore. Dorn has also been seen on Law and Order and in such films as Die Hard with a Vengeance, Chances Are and Raise the Titanic. She can be seen on one of PBS' longest-running series, Literary Visions. She fondly remembers her role as "Dr. Rita Madison" on NBC's Another World. Dorn has been nominated for seven Helen Hayes Awards and has been the recipient of three. She has also won the Austin Critics' Circle Award for her performances in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Mrs. Warren's Profession and The Edge of Peace. She has more than 400 voice-overs and on-camera appearances to her credit. Dorn received her acting training at the Yale School of Drama. She has been named both an Academy Distinguished Teacher and Regents' Outstanding Teacher. She is also a past recipient of the College of Fine Arts' Outstanding Teacher award.

February 24 and 26, 2021 from 5 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Playwriting: Writing Dialogue with Eduardo Machado
For: Anyone who wants to write a play, TV pilot or screenplay
Description: Join playwright Eduardo Machado for a writing workshop on developing your dramatic voice and style through exploration of characters, dramatic needs, using sense memory, emotional recall and other theatrical and psychological techniques. Exercises will be given, and you will write during the class time. You do not need to bring already written material to the class - all you need is to bring an idea, a notebook and a pen.
Preparation: Bring a notebook and pen.

Eduardo Machado was born in Cuba and came to the United States when he was nine. He is the author of over 40 plays, including The Cook, Havana is Waiting, The Modern Ladies of Guanabacoa, Fabiola, Broken Eggs and Stevie Wants to Play the Blues. His plays have been produced at Seattle Repertory, The Goodman, Hartford Stage, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Mark Taper Forum, Long Wharf, Hampstead Theatre in London, The Cherry Lane Theatre, Theater for the New City and Repertorio Español, among many others. He was formerly artistic director of INTAR Theatre in NY and has been a Professor of Playwriting at NYU Tisch and Columbia. He is the co-author of Tastes Like Cuba: An Exile's Hunger for Home and his plays are published by Samuel French and TCG.

March 3 and 5, 2021 from 5 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Stage Management: Solving Puzzles with Christi B. Spann
For: Anyone interested in a fun, participatory way to learn about stage management skills
Description: Have you ever wondered who runs the day-to-day operations of a show from the first day of rehearsal to the last curtain call of the closing performance? If you guessed "the director," then you should take this cIass. The actual answer is: "the stage manager." The stage manager serves as the show's air traffic controller and specializes in solving problems of all shapes and sizes. This class will incorporate puzzles to teach you some stage management skills. It's open to anyone who loves operations, structure and games. All you need to bring is your curiosity and observation skills.
Preparation: None

Christi B. Spann has 20 years of professional theater experience. She's been working as a stage manager in DC since 2011. Favorite Arena Stage productions include A Raisin in the Sun, A Thousand Splendid Suns and Hold These Truths. She previously spent 12 seasons on the stage management staff at the Denver Center Theatre Company and has also worked with The Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona, MN and Virginia Repertory Theatre in Richmond, VA. She resides in Southwest DC with her husband and cat and is passing the pandemic days working remotely for a healthcare agency.

March 10 and 12, 2021 from 5 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Lighting: The Heart, The Mind and Lighting Design with Xavier Pierce
For: Anyone interested in learning about lighting design
Description: In this workshop we will investigate the fundamentals of lighting design. We will use our emotional experience as human beings to investigate the qualities of light: intensity, color, direction and movement. All lighting designers use those qualities of light to curate powerful lighting compositions on the theatrical stage. We will also investigate how to develop artistic taste and emotional intelligence.
Preparation: None

Xavier Pierce's professional lighting design credits include: White Noise (The Public Theater); How to Catch Creation, Othello, Shakespeare in Love (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Native Gardens, Harvey, Blithe Spirit (Guthrie Theater); Camp David (Alley Theatre) 4 Woman (Seattle Repertory Theatre); Smart People, Native Gardens (Arena Stage); The Roommate (Steppenwolf); Pride and Prejudice, Angels in America Part 1 & 2 (St. Louis Rep); Fun Home, How to Catch Creation (Baltimore Center Stage); Little Girl Blue (George Street Playhouse); Yours Unfaithfully, A Day by the Sea (Mint Theatre NYC); Misery (Cincinnati Playhouse); Noises Off (Syracuse Stage); Fences (Long Wharf Theatre, McCarter Theatre); Peter and the Starcatcher, 4000 Miles, The Mountaintop, Detroit '67 (PlayMakers Repertory Company); My General Tubman, Two Trains Running (Arden Theatre); Outside Mulingar (Arizona Theatre Company); The Piano Lesson (Olney Theatre Center); Othello (A.R.T.); Fly (Florida Studio Theatre); Common Enemy, Red (Triad Stage); A Raisin in the Sun, Thousand Pines (Westport Country Playhouse); Two Trains Running (Two River Theater Company); Everybody, The Glass Menagerie, Black Odyssey, Fences (California Shakespeare Theater); Hamlet, Pippin (Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre); Pipeline, A Wonderful Life, Tuesdays with Morrie (Indiana Repertory Theatre); Hypeman, The FRE (The Flea). Xavier lit Urban Bush Woman Dance Theatre's Hair and Other Stories. Upcoming projects include American Prophet directed by Charles Randolph Wright at Arena Stage and Fat Ham directed by Morgan Greene at The Wilma Theatre. Currently, Xavier is the Artist in Residence at Carolina Coastal University. He holds an MFA from New York University, Tisch School of the Arts.

March 17 and 19, 2021 from 5 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Playwriting: How to Write a Monologue with Jacqueline E. Lawton
For: Anyone who wants to write or tell a story
Description: In this monologue writing workshop, we will explore the concept of a monologue, character development, storytelling and a distinctive voice. We will use our own life experiences to create the backstory, motivation, story and diction. We will write and share our work during class. You do not need to bring already written material to the class. All you need is to bring is a cherished object that you can show and something to write with. This class is for anyone who wants to write or tell a story.
Preparation: Bring a cherished object that was given to you. Read Elinor Fuchs' "A Visit to a Small Planet," Suzan-Lori Parks' "Advice to Young Playwrights," and José Rivera's "36 Assumptions about Playwriting." These documents will be emailed to participants prior to the workshop.

Jacqueline E. Lawton is a playwright, dramaturg, producer and advocate for access, equity, diversity and inclusion in the American Theater.a??Her produced plays include:a?? Blood-bound and Tongue-tied; The Hampton Years; Intelligence; Mad Breed; and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. She received her MFA in Playwriting from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a James A. Michener Fellow. Shea??is a 2012 TCG Young Leaders of Color award recipient and an alum of National New Play Network (NNPN) Playwright Alum, Arena Stage's Playwrights' Arena and Center Stage's Playwrights Collective. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Dramatic Art at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a dramaturg for PlayMakers Repertory Company. She is also the Dramatist Guild's Regional Representative for North Carolina.

March 24 and 26, 2021 from 5 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Acting: Script Analysis for Scene Work with Nehal Joshi
For: Actors of all levels. Participants may perform or observe.
Description: A playwright makes a play in the same way a cartographer creates a map. The goal is to make sure you can always figure out where you are. In this masterclass workshop, we will explore some techniques to follow the playwright's map in order to bring out your best performance as an actor. If you wish to perform in the class, please prepare either a monologue or a song excerpt. Pieces should be no more than 3 minutes long. Most importantly, please have an electronic copy of your piece or lyrics to your song that we can share, either in advance or day of. This class is for all levels and feedback will be tailored to your level.
Preparation: Participants who want to perform need to prepare a monologue or song no more than 3 minutes long. Memorization is preferred. Performers should have read and be familiar with the play or musical their piece is from.

Nehal Joshi considers Arena Stage one of his artistic homes. He has appeared in five productions at Arena, most memorably as Ali Hakim in Oklahoma! and Amir in Disgraced. He was born and raised in Northern Virginia and has appeared onstage at several local theaters. He has appeared on Broadway in All My Sons, School of Rock, Threepenny Opera, Gettin' the Band Back Together and Les Misérables (Original Revival Cast). His Off-Broadway credits include Falling for Eve, Working (2008 revision) and Grand Hotel (Encores!). Regionally, he has worked at Actor's Theatre of Louisville, Goodman Theatre, Dallas Theater Center, La Jolla Playhouse, Huntington Theater and The Kennedy Center among others. His film/TV credits include The Wire (HBO), Blackout (BET), Law & Order: SVU (NBC) and Search Party (TBS). He is the voice of the Worgen Vendors on the hit video game World of Warcraft: Cataclysm.

Virtual Winter Classes for Youth
Write the next hit musical. Get ready for your close-up or get up and dance! Online classes at Arena Stage allow young people to try something new or explore a favorite artform more deeply. No experience is required. Classes are one hour and meet once a week for eight weeks via Zoom. Classes range from $120 - $145. Zoom links are emailed to registered participants. To register and learn more, visit here.

Mondays: February 1 - March 26 from 3:30 - 4:30 p.m.
Acting for the Camera for with Mauricio Pita
Grades 6 - 8
This class will explore the fundamentals of acting technique and learn how to apply them when performing on camera. In addition to developing their performance skills, we will practice using technical tools such camera angles, lighting, and editing to enhance a performance and tell a compelling story.
Cost: $120
Class size limit: 12
*Note: No class on Monday, February 15 (Presidents Day)
Final class on Friday, March 26 (in lieu of Presidents Day)

Tuesdays: February 2 - March 23, 2021 from 3:30 - 4:30 p.m.
Hip-Hop Dance with Brandon Glass
Grades 4 - 5
A class filled with music, movement and inclusion that welcomes young dancers to study the hip-hop dance genre. We will stretch our knowledge and understanding of hip-hop dance, using different fundamentals and exciting combinations to push the limits of the mind and body! In this class we believe in encouraging each other with positive intentions and productive practice.
Cost: $120
Class size limit: 16

Wednesdays: February 3 - March 24 from 3:30 - 4:30 p.m.
Fashion Design with Jamila Madyun
Grades 4 - 5
Learn how to sketch like a fashion designer! We will start with developing mood boards that showcase the inspiration behind a unique fashion line. We will learn how to use a croquis (the quick, sketchy drawings of live models that designers use), create flat sketches, and add detail and design to our creations. Cost: $145 (includes a $25 materials/USPS postage fee)
Class size limit: 12

Thursdays: February 4 - March 25 from 3:30 - 4:30 p.m.
Mini Musical with Wes Braver and Rebecca Campana
Grades 5 - 8
The next hit musical is about to be written! Learn to tell a story with songs and scenes. Guided by a professional composer/lyricist and a professional director, we will work together to write and perform a short, one-of-a-kind musical for Zoom.a??Family and friends are invited to a reading of the musical on the last day of class.
Cost: $120
Class size limit: 12

Fridays: February 5 - March 26 from 3:30 - 4:30 p.m.
Sign and Song with Brandon Glass
Grades 6 - 8
Explore your love of movement and expand your knowledge by learning a second language. Sign & Song is a space to learn your favorite songs in American Sign Language. The class will focus on vocabulary, language structure and even some of the culture of Deaf people in America, while we learn to express the emotion, meaning and purpose in music. Join Brandon as we journey through movement, music, language and laughs, signing our favorite songs and learning ASL!
Cost: $120
Class size limit: 12

Wes Braver is a composer, lyricist and playwright from Washington, D.C. His musical Medusa (co-written w/ Rachel Dean) was presented in concert at Lincoln Center in 2019 and is in development with commercial producers. Past work includes Hear No Evil in the Year 2090, and Galapago; a song cycle, Space Cases; and METADATA, an electro-pop concept album about Edward Snowden (available on Spotify/iTunes). He wrote the songs for the musical film Chatsworth, which premiered at HBO's New York Latino Film Festival, and the score for the film "Youth," which premiered at SXSW in 2019. His songs have been featured at the Kennedy Center, Barrington Stage and the Laurie Beechman Theater, and his music has been featured in a number of films, dance performances and with the Broken Box Mime Company. Wes holds a BA in music from Colorado College and an MFA from NYU Tisch's Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.

Rebecca Campana is in her 17th season in Arena Stage's Community Engagement Division, where she is the school programs manager, co-camp director and a teaching artist. She manages the D.C. Ticket Partnership, the theater's ticket program for D.C. public and public charter schools, teaching workshops in dozens of D.C. schools each season. She edits the theater's study guides and curriculum connections. She also directs and devises theater for social change for Arena's Voices of Now program both locally and internationally. Rebecca is an annual guest artist at the University of Notre Dame, specializing in teaching how to write 10-minute plays. She holds a dual honors BA in English literature and journalism from St. Bonaventure University. She begins her masters in writing (fiction) at Johns Hopkins University in 2021.

Brandon Glass has danced for performing artists, at NBA games and for companies both in the U.S. and abroad. He has been a coach, teacher and choreographer for eight years in the competitive dance industry and for musical theater, working with programs such as Red Branch Theatre. While obtaining his degree in deaf studies, Brandon also trained in the dance department at Towson University. He has recently been touring with Marvel Universe Live as a stuntman bringing his acrobatic and acting skills to the forefront. Brandon is sure to create a fun, and educational setting for his students to feel welcome and confident.

Jamila Madyun took her first sewing class at age eight and quickly grasped the new skill. Once she realized her artistry could become more than just a hobby, she pursued it as her career. Jamila received her BFA in fashion design from The Savannah College of Art and Design. She then moved to New York to work alongside designer Tracy Reese's Technical Design Team. In 2014, Jamila returned to her hometown of Ft. Washington, MD and founded Stitched With Style, a sewing studio located in Capitol Heights, MD specializing in the development of aspiring designers and sewing enthusiasts. Stitched With Style has provided over 1000 hours of sewing courses to underserved youth and adults of all skill levels. She has also been the fashion instructor at Camp Arena Stage. Jamila can be found on Instagram @jmilamila @stitchedwithstyle or on her website

Mauricio Pita was born in Caracas, Venezuela and is currently Arena Stage's community programs manager. Previously he was GALA Hispanic Theater's director of education where he led the Paso Nuevo Youth Performance Group. In addition, Mauricio has worked as an educator for Young Playwrights Theatre, as a performer and educator for Superhero Clubhouse and The Society of Educational Arts (Teatro SEA) in New York City and has worked extensively as a performer with NYC Spanish Repertory Theatre, INTAR, Astoria Performing Arts Center (APAC), The Kennedy Center, The Director's Company and Studio Theatre. He was part of the artistic team for multiple devised theater productions at Columbia University and is a graduate of the Acting Program at Marymount Manhattan College and the Shakespeare Conservatory for Actors at Yale University.

The Voices of Now Mead Ensemble is a prestigious program for dedicated young artists, performers, writers and activists in grades 7 - 11. The ensemble will provide artists a fun and engaging environment in which to write, perform and share the stories that have shaped their lives and their world. For the 2020/21 Season, the Mead Ensemble will train via Zoom in the Voices of Now devising process and will be introduced to the work and techniques of other notable companies that devise original theater and film.

The Mead Ensemble will perform in and contribute to an original, autobiographical feature film that will be presented globally via our Arena Stage website as well as international film festivals in June of 2021. The film will be the combined work of 10 ensembles. Space is limited. Previous performance experience is not required. Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. starting February 6 and ending May 22, 2021. To register and learn more, visit here.

Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director Molly Smith and Executive Producer Edgar Dobie, is a national center dedicated to American voices and artists. Arena Stage produces plays of all that is passionate, profound, deep and dangerous in the American spirit, and presents diverse and ground-breaking work from some of the best artists around the country. Arena Stage is committed to commissioning and developing new plays and impacting the lives of over 10,000 students annually through its work in community engagement. Now in its eighth decade, Arena Stage serves a diverse annual audience of more than 300,000.