Special thanks to our Talkback Panelists for generously responding to the live performances:
Anita Maynard-Losh, Dani Stoller, and Isaiah M. Wooden
Artistic Directors & Collaborators
- Nathan Beary Blustein
- Jessica Wu
- Brian Austin
- Alan Cameron
- Patrick Donoughe
- Shino Frances
- Alyssa Gomez
- Miya Hamashige
- Dan Kazemi
- Arielle Moore
- Eli O’Brien
- Sarah Pollock
- Ko Tanaka
Anita Maynard-Losh is the Director of Community Engagement/Senior Artistic Advisor at Arena Stage. She leads the theater’s education and outreach programs; she also serves on the Artistic Team and works on Arena Stage’s mainstage productions in a number of artistic capacities. Now in her 17th season at Arena Stage, Anita directed the world premiere of Our War as part of the National Civil War Project and has been an associate director on several productions. Anita trained and taught at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, was on the faculty at Webster University in St. Louis, and was the associate artistic director of Perseverance Theater in Juneau, Alaska where she directed 18 mainstage productions.
Anita traveled extensively with the artist-in-schools program in Alaska, working primarily with indigenous populations in traditional villages. The Alaska Native-inspired production of Macbeth that Anita conceived and directed was performed in English and Tlingit at the National Museum of the American Indian as part of the Shakespeare in Washington Festival. Her essay about the project was published in Weyward Macbeth: Intersections of Race and Performance, Palgrave MacMillan. Anita has taught and directed at Georgetown University and Virginia Commonwealth University. She has been dialect coach and text director for numerous productions at Arena Stage, and has coached dialects for the Kennedy Center, the Washington National Opera and for the Broadway revival of Ragtime. Anita has been a director/deviser for Voices of Now, specifically working in DC with ensembles of grieving teenagers in partnership with the Wendt Center for Loss and Healing , and was part of the teams that took the Voices of Now program to India (2012 and 2014), Croatia (2015 and 2018) and Bosnia-Herzogovina (2018).
Dani Stoller is a DC-based actor and playwright, originally from Brooklyn, New York. Her play Easy Women Smoking Loose Cigarettes had its world premiere at the Tony Award winning Signature Theatre in 2019. Past acting credits include: Olney Theatre Center: The Crucible, The Diary of Anne Frank, Annie, The Humans. Folger Theatre: As You Like It, Midsummer, District Merchants (World Premiere) Studio Theatre: Carrie the Musical, Invisible Man Keegan Theatre: Dogfight, Airness, Hair 1st Stage: The Italian American Reconciliation, Blithe Spirit, The Good Counselor, Bat Boy (Helen Hayes Nomination: Best Supporting Actress in a Musical) Education: BFA Ithaca College. More about Dani Stoller.
Isaiah M. Wooden
Isaiah M. Wooden, PhD, is a director-dramaturg, critic, and assistant professor of theater arts at Brandeis University. He has published widely on 20th and 21st century African American art and drama in both scholarly and popular venues, including The Black Scholar, Journal of American Drama and Theatre, Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, Modern Drama, PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art, Performing Ethos, Theater, Theatre Journal, and Theatre Topics.
Wooden is currently at work on a monograph that explores the interplay of race and time in contemporary Black expressive culture and co-edited Tarell Alvin McCraney: Theater, Performance, and Collaboration (Northwestern UP, 2020). As a director, he has staged new and canonical works in both the US and abroad, including plays by Eisa Davis, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Lynn Nottage, Robert O'Hara, and Nilaja Sun. Recent dramaturgy projects include: Native Son by Nambi E. Kelley and the world premiere of Les Deux Noirs: Notes on Notes of a Native Son by Psalmayene 24 at Mosaic Theater Company. Wooden enjoys teaching a range of courses in the history, theory, and practice of theater.
Nathan Beary Blustein (he/him/his) is a Professorial Lecturer and Music Director in the American University Theatre/Musical Theatre Program. At AU, productions include Too Much Unhappy, Miss You Like Hell, The Boy Detective Fails, How to Succeed in Business…, Carrie, Pippin, Assassins, and Little Women. Last year, Nathan received his PhD in Music Theory from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. His dissertation, titled “Through Arrangements of Shadows…,” examines reprises in four musicals by Stephen Sondheim. In keeping with quoting Sondheim lyrics as often as possible, his essay “Was it Ever Real?…” is forthcoming in Putting it Together: Analyzing Musicals. His everlasting gratitude goes to Professor Wu for embarking on this adventure together.
Brad Austin is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science in film in video production. He currently operates a small film studio with The Fredericktowne Players in Frederick, Maryland. He also makes short films under the name Black Fox Pictures with Trevor Roberts and his group Falling Squares.
Patrick Donoughe (Assistant Stage Manager) is a junior at American University majoring in communications, legal institutions, economics, and government (CLEG) and theatre arts. This is his first experience as a stage manager, and he is excited that it is a virtual one. Other productions at American University include The Boy Detective Fails (Fenton), Miss You Like Hell (Motel Clerk) and Little Shop of Horrors (Orin). Thanks to Denise, Derrick, Forrest, and Hines.
Alyssa is an NYC born, bred and based actor, singer, director and video editor. She is also the founder and artistic director of Co-Op Productions, a virtual production company dedicated to developing and creating art by, for, and with BIPOC artists. Co-Op Productions has produced work for Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Portland Center Stage, Courageous Cadence and Starfish Greathearts. Keep an eye out for their upcoming virtual collaborations on the University of Illinois at Chicago’s The Crucible and Cardinal Stage’s upcoming production of Adam Gwon’s Ordinary Days. Alyssa was last seen originating the role of “Ceci” in the world premiere of ¡Americano! at the Phoenix Theatre Company. Tour: Motown the Musical. Regional: In the Heights (Portland Center Stage, Milwaukee Rep, Seattle Rep, Cincinnati Playhouse, Musical Theatre West), Rent (Ivoryton Playhouse), American Idiot (Roxy Regional). Thank you Jess, Dan, Nathan and these incredible students for their work! #ChangingtheNarrative #OurArtOurWay @co_opproductions
Dan is a New York-based composer, director, orchestrator and music director and has pivoted towards sound editing and mixing for digital content. Recent projects include Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol (original music, foley) and Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash (direction/music direction) at Milwaukee Rep and Actors Theatre of Louisville. His recent musical direction credits include Hedwig and the Angry Inch, A Christmas Carol, Nunsense, West Side Story, Murder for Two, Man of La Mancha and Dreamgirls (Milwaukee Rep) and In the Heights (MKERep, Seattle Rep, CPIP). In Philadelphia, Dan musically directed Lizzie (Barrymore Award), Herringbone (Barrymore Nom) and orchestrated the world premieres of Field Hockey Hot(Barrymore Nom) and Tulipomania. Dan's music has been performed at Lincoln Center’s American Songbook Series, SDC’s Mr. Abbott Awards, Le Cirque de Demain, Ballet Fleming and in the 213 collective's Untitled Project #213. Dan is also the composer of a new musical, The Tapioca Miracle.
I am a 21-year-old senior majoring in film and media arts with minors in psychology and business and entertainment. I was born and raised in Rhode Island but I hope to move out to Los Angeles to be a writer and director of feature films. I have been involved in filmmaking since making funny videos with my friends in early high school. I have written and directed my own short film as well as worked on independently produced tv shows, productions for Delta Kappa Alpha cinematic arts fraternity and the school's student TV station ATV.
Ko Tanaka is a Japanese composer, conductor, and musical theater writer based in NYC. He has written and produced music for more than 15 works of theatre in Japan and the U.S.
After several years of composing for a Japanese game company, Ko decided to become a musical theater composer/writer and released and performed his first original musical The Monster in Nagoya, Japan. After he moved to the US he studied Broadway composing and lyrics writing with Michael Wartofsky and Tony-Award winner Bill Elliott, and conducting with Peter Cokkinias and Grammy Award-Winner Eric Stern.
Ko is the composer for Poupelle of Chimney Town, a new musical based on the bestselling Japanese picture book. The musical will open in Japan in 2021, and New York in 2022. He has been a first-class member of the Dramatists Guild of America since 2019.
Jessica Wu is an award-winning NYC-based playwright, director, songwriter, dramaturg, and actor-in-a-past-life. Her performance credits include the Broadway revivals of Miss Saigon and A Chorus Line, and she has crossed the US in a half-dozen National Tours, performed at Shakespeare in the Park, Radio City Music Hall, NYC Opera, Lincoln Center, with numerous Regional theatres, and in late-night sketches with Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert. Jessica has written a number of short-films and theatrical works, including two full-length musicals. You, Me, I, We has won several development awards (including The National Asian Artists Project’s Discover: New Musicals Series) and was a Finalist for Live & In Color’s Development Retreat, as well as a semi-finalist for The National Alliance of Musical Theatre’s O’Neill Conference. Upcoming is Poupelle of Chimney Town, a new-musical based upon the best-selling Japanese picture book of the same name. It is slated to debut in Tokyo, Japan Fall 2021 and the following 2022 season Off-Broadway in NYC. Jessica spent several years in Non-Profit Arts Leadership as an Associate Artistic Director and, in 2019, she founded Inspirate Creative Consulting and Development, a practice dedicated to providing clients with purposeful creative coaching and open-hearted, collaborative development sessions for works in-process. See more at jessica-wu.com.
Alan Cameron is currently a junior at American University studying film and media studies with a minor in business and entertainment. Upon graduation, Alan plans to further his education with an MFA in film at one of the nation's top programs. He plans on using this momentum and experience to follow his dream of becoming a high caliber film/tv director/editor.
Shino Frances (she/her, they/them) is an NYC based international artist who passionately believes anything can be accomplished by getting to know your instrument and learning how to play it. She identifies as a performer/storyteller, which often includes labels such as: actress, singer, dancer, stage manager, musician, director, production manager, mentor, and coach, just to name a few. Shino is currently creating mostly from home. A fun quarantine credit to enjoy: Improv singer/puppeteer for Namastay at Home Festival. More clips @shinofrances on IG/FB/Twitter. Upcoming: Collaborative musician on The Quarantine Mixtape Vol I, scheduled for streaming release Jan. 2021.
Miya Hamashige is a senior from Santa Fe, NM studying musical theatre and anthropology. She has been involved in a number of productions at AU including Pippin (Player), Senior Dance Capstone 2018, The Women (Nancy), and she was involved in the American University Dance Company 2020 where she worked with Tatiana Desardouin. This spring she will be involved in a new and upcoming work, Too Much Unhappy (Con) by Aaron Posner. She would like to congratulate all the graduating seniors for their hard work on this production and she would like to give a special thanks to Rebecca Bailey for inviting her to be a part of this project! It has been an honor for her to be a small part of this larger production with the people she started her AU journey with!
Arielle Moore is a third year theatre major and communications minor from Philadelphia, PA. Though this is her first time stage managing a show, she’s been part of many other AU productions such as The Women, Shared Space, and Hamletmachine.
Sarah is a senior musical theatre major at AU. Though she is graduating in fall 2021, she is happy to be involved with her classmates' capstone!