Team


STAFF


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ERIC AVILES

TEACHING ARTIST

Eric Aviles is an actor, writer, and teaching artist residing in NYC.  He recently performed a workshop version his one-man show called “Where You From? What You Be About?” a play addressing poverty, gangs and transformation.  Notable work includes PLACAS written by Paul Flores, My Mañana Comes at Marin Theatre Company.  In 2014, he performed in a remount of Borderlands Theatre Maria’s Circular Dance at the first National Latino Theatre Festival “Encuentro” in Los Angeles.  In NYC, he’s performed in the World’s Fair Play Festival a co-production with Queens Theatre and Theatre 167, I Like to Be Here at the New Ohio for Theatre 167.  Other NYC credits include original works; Dance for a Dollar at INTAR, and The Golden Drum Year with Radical Evolution.  In California, Eric wrote and performed In the Beginning accompanied music by five-time Grammy nominee John Santos.  He performed in the world premiere of Oedipus: El Rey written by Luis Alfaro at The Magic Theatre.  Other California acting credits include La Virgen del Tepeyac at El Teatro Campesino, and Teatro Vision in La Victima.  A native of Chicago, Eric has acted in several productions at Steppenwolf, including Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train.  Other Chicago credits include Zootsuit at the Goodman Theater and Love Medicine with Lifeline and Spider Women Theatre.  Eric directed the world premiere Amor Cubano: In a Bottle, a Tube and Small Packet in San Francisco and New York City.  You can see him in the first Puerto Rican Chicago film production, Chicago Boricua

He has over 15 years teaching artist experience working with youth and adults in schools, community centers, and prisons.  He uses drama as a means of liberating the spirit within; advocating for those who feel “voiceless” to reclaim their authentic voice through writing and performance. www.ericaviles.com


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RAQUEL ALMAZAN

TEACHING ARTIST

Raquel Almazan is an actor, writer, director in theatre/film/television productions. As an interdisciplinary artist she holds an M.F.A. in Playwriting from Columbia University – Deans Fellowship recipient. B.F.A. in Theatre from University of Florida/New World School of the Arts Conservatory. Her eclectic career as artist-activist spans original multi-media solo performances, playwriting, new work development and dramaturgy.She is a practitioner of Butoh Dance and creator/teacher of arts programs for youth/adults. Her work has been featured in New York City- including Off-Broadway, throughout the United States and internationally in Greece, Italy, Colombia, Guatemala and Sweden; including several of her plays within her lifelong project on writing bi-lingual plays in dedication to each Latin American country (Latin is America play cycle).www.raquelalmazan.com


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BOB BRASWELL

CO-FOUNDER, CO-EXECUTIVE AND MANAGING DIRECTOR

Bob co-founded People’s Theatre Project and is primarily responsible for its finances, development and marketing. As a teaching artist with the organization, he has worked with residents of Isabella Geriatric Center, and students at Harbor Heights Middle School for recent arrivals to the country. Under his auspices, the organization has grown from an idea on a napkin to a thriving organization bringing the arts to more than 1,200 people at dozens of sites across NYC each year. Braswell began his career in the arts as an actor and approaches administration as an ongoing creative project. As an actor, Braswell made his off-broadway debut in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter at New York Theatre Workshop under the direction of Tony Award winner, Doug Hughes. He has also worked with The Mint Theater, The Actor's Company Theatre (TACT), Cincinnati Playhouse, Baltimore Centerstage, Denver Center Theatre Company, Repertory Theater of St. Louis, Huntington Theatre Company, Fulton Opera House and McCarter Theatre Center. Bob co-starred in the feature film “God Don’t Make the Laws” with Paul Sorvino and with Michael Shannon on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire”. Bob had the pleasure of traveling the country with the Addiction Performance Project as Edmund in A Long Day’s Journey Into Night working with some well known actors including Dianne Wiest and Debra Winger. Bob studied Nonprofit Management at CUNY and theatre at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts and received a BFA from Boston University’s School of Theatre.


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JESSICA CARMONA

TEACHING ARTIST

Jessica is an Award Winning Actress and Playwright of Puerto Rican descent. She is a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where she received her B.F.A in Acting with a focus on the Strasberg Method Acting. Her indie film, “Millie and the Lords” won her the Best Film and Best Actress Award at The People’s Film Festival and the Viva Latino Film Festival as well as an Award for Film Excellence from the International Puerto Rican Heritage Film Festival.  It was also featured at the Georgia Latino Film Festival, Philadelphia Latino Film Festival, Rochester Latino Film Festival and several others. She has performed in the hit show “Platanos and Collard Greens” in the role of “Samana”, as ‘Maddie” in the play Nickled and Dimed” at Blackfriars Theater and has worked with the Rochester Shakespeare Players in Upstate New York. She was also a member of “thedramaloft” theater group which developed original work about the September 11th attacks.

Her play Elvira-The Immigration Play was an official selection of the 2015 NYC Fringe Festival and selected as one of 7 most promising plays, and was further developed and presented at Long Island University, Grand Valley State University and Lehman College. The play is based on the life of real life Immigration Activist Elvira Arellano, as well as interviews with several of her students.

She is a member of SAG-AFTRA, the Off Broadway Alliance, and the United Federation of Teachers.

She has several years of experience working with youth in the area of Arts Education and she is also an Adult ESL Teacher.

Jessica is passionate about social justice, education, community building, her culture and her Faith. She believes in the power Art to transform lives and create positive change in the world.

She recently returned from a summer in the Dominican Republic, where she taught theater to young artists in the village of Cabarete.

She is represented by Emerging Talent Agency, LLC and her website is www.jessicacarmona.com. Jessica is honored to be on Staff with the People’s Theater Project.


 

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RACHEL CASTILLO

TEACHING ARTIST

Rachel Castillo has worked as an actor and teaching artist from Los Angeles to New York for the last ten years. She is passionate about community development through the arts and enjoys working with people of all ages and walks of life. She holds a master's degree in applied theater from CUNY's School of Professional Studies.


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ANGELIQUE CASTRO

TEACHING ARTIST
Angelique graduated with a bachelor's degree in Theater Arts. After her graduation, she was cast in the off broadway tour of Platanos and Collard Greens as the lead, Angelita. Following a successful run thereat, she continued working in off broadway theaters passionately honing her craft. Her most notable role was playing Alice, in the theater adaptation of Closer. Angelique received an amazing opportunity to be a public speaker at Medgar Evers College. There she held a theater integrated workshop through their College Now Program. That moment was pivotal and ignited a complete turn of events for her. That was when she found her true passion as a theater educator. Summer of 2015 was a vital time for her in her field. She worked at the Riverdale Country School as a Creative and Performing Arts Specialist. There she taught Pre-K-4th grade and put together an original musical about the 1950s. Not only was Angelique the director, but she was the technical director, stage manager and choreographer, choreographing dances for over 150 children all in one week's time! It was a life changing summer where she developed many valuable skills, expanding her constantly growing skill set. Angelique is currently in graduate school for Theater Education and is ecstatic to be with the People's Theatre Project as a teaching artist. She is looking forward to sharing her passion through the lens of theater integration and yearns to make an impact in the NYC public schools while instilling a love for theater on our children.

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BAHAR ÇETINSOY

TEACHING ARTIST

Bahar is thrilled to join People's Theatre Project as a teaching artist after her experience as an apprentice with the company. Bahar has worked as an ESL and drama teacher and recently received her MA in Educational Theatre from the City College of New York. She also holds a BA in English as a second language from Anadolu University, Turkey.


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ZAHAIRA CURIEL

TEACHING ARTIST
Zahaira Curiel is a native of New York, born and raised in Washington Heights, with roots planted in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. She is a graduate of Hunter College, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Music. Zahaira is currently in the cast of STAR at the Directors Company and Platanos, Collard Greens and Calallo. When she is not performing, you can find her working with non-profits such as Statement Arts, for which she is a Project Director and People’s Theatre Project, where she has recently taken on the role of Teaching Artist, Executive Assistant and Program Coordinator. Zahaira is also the founder and creator of dessert company: Sassy’s Sweets. Zahaira is honored to be a part of the PTP family, and is grateful to Bob and Mino for believing in her and allowing her to be a part of such a amazing organization!

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ERIKA DICKERSON-DESPENZA

ARTS & SOCIAL JUSTICE PROGRAM MANAGER

Erika Dickerson is a poet, playwright, educator, and activist from Chicago, IL. She has authored two books of poetry Talk Over The Sound (2009) and This Side of Mourning (2010), and curated her own gallery exhibition AKIMBO (2010). She earned her Bachelor of Science in English Secondary Education with a certificate in Gender & Women’s Studies at the University of Madison-Wisconsin. There, she founded The For Colored Girls Project, Madison’s first and only womyn of color theatre ensemble, for which she served as Artistic Director. A 2013 Pushcart Prize nominee, Erika has served as an English, theatre, creative writing, and urban arts instructor for Chicago and and Madison metropolitan area elementary schools, high schools, universities, and community centers as well as primary and secondary schools in Cape Town, South Africa. In 2014, she debuted her one-womyn show, Cult of Blk Bodies at the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison, Wisconsin. Thereafter, Erika went on to pursue a Master of Arts in Christian Education at Dallas Theological Seminary. Currently, she is working on a triad of interdisciplinary theatre pieces: Can’t Hold Water, The Noose is Not a Metaphor and Miner, all of which are intertextual explorations of Black womyn’s historical and ongoing negotiation of belonging in America. When she is not teaching a class or drafting new work, you can find Erika at a play, protest, or in a roundtable discussion crafting new ways to seize liberation for oppressed peoples.


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MARIANA ELDER

TEACHING ARTIST

Mariana Elder's writing has been performed at Vineyard Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, New York Stage and Film, Barrington Stage Company, Theatre for a New City.  She is devoted to arts education in the NYC public schools.


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RACHEL EVANS

TEACHING ARTIST

Rachel Evans is a teaching artist, actress and writer. She has been teaching for various organizations/non profits and theater companies since 2006. Rachel has taught acting, playwriting, devising, improv and more from elementary school to senior citizens. She has taught elders and intergenerational groups through Roots & Branches Theatre company, Elders Share the Arts and as a 2015 SPARC (Seniors Partnering with Artists Citywide) artist-in-residence at a senior center in Canarsie. As an actress, she has worked off-broadway and across the country in various theaters. Her one-woman show, Jew Wish, which she wrote, starred in and produced premiered at the NY International Fringe Festival. Her one-act plays have been performed with Project Rushmore Theatre Company, and Elevator Up Theatre Company. She holds a BA in English and Theatre from Tufts University, and an MA in Applied Theatre from CUNY.


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LULU FOGARTY

TEACHING ARTIST
Lulu Fogarty is a native New Yorker, born and raised in the Village and based in Brooklyn. She is an actress, playwright, activist and teacher, thrilled to be part of the PTP team! She's got a BFA in Acting from Syracuse University and is a founding member of 360 Repertory Theatre Company, aka 360repco. Lulu has performed in NYC, regionally, and around the globe in England, Scotland, Ecuador and Taiwan. She speaks a little bit of Mandarin and is writing an interview-based play about politics, ethnicity and identity in Taiwan. www.lulufogarty.com

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GERMAINNE LEBRON

TEACHING ARTIST
Germainne LeBron is a South Bronx born Actor and City College of New York alumni. He has pursued theatre through his post collegiate years. Some of his credits include (Jon Maran) A Strange and Separate People, (Oscar Wilde) The Importance of Being Earnest and Classics such as Romeo and Juliet, Othello and A Midsummer Nights Dream. Germainne joined The Peoples Theatre Project as an Apprentice Teaching Artist in 2014 Harbor Heights. He then joined the CUNY Creative Arts Team as an Actor Teacher creating and devising anti bullying and abuse workshops for middle to high school students all over NYC. Germainne is beyond thrilled to be invited back to PTP as a Teaching Artist!

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MINO LORA

CO-FOUNDER, CO-EXECUTIVE AND PROGRAM DIRECTOR

Born and raised in the Dominican Republic, Mino has been living and working as an artist, educator, activist and arts administrator in NYC since 2000. People’s Theatre Project is a true passion project for Mino and she takes a hands-on approach to the work. Each of the programs the organization has developed since 2009 began with her in the role of teaching artist. In recognition of her work, NBC Latino recognized Mino as one of 10 Latinos with Heart. She has also been profiled by FoxNews Latino, El Diario, Manhattan Times, Listin Diario, El Nacional and other newspaper and magazine publications in the US and abroad. Mino has participated as a panelist and guest speaker throughout New York City and was the international orator for the Women of Success 2014 conference in Santo Domingo, DR. The American Chamber of Commerce DR honored her with an award for her accomplishments as a Dominican working in the diaspora. Mino received her BA in English Literature and Theatre from Manhattanville College and her MA in Peace Studies and Conflict Transformation from the Graduate Institute.


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DONJA LOVE

TEACHING ARTIST

Donja R. Love is a Philadelphia born and raised Afro-Queer playwright, poet, and filmmaker. His work examines identity by unapologetically dramatizing the multifaceted nuance of Blackness and Queerness - and challenges the white supremacist, heteronormative structures that exist in American culture. He's The Lark's 2016 Van Lier Playwriting Fellow. He’s also the 2011 Philadelphia Adult Grand Slam Poetry Champion, and 2010 recipient of the Life Media Award for Best New Play runner-up (The Dead N---- Poem). His work has been featured in multiple festivals, The Advocate, Glaad, NBC, and many other publications.  He's the co-host of Broadway Black's podcast Off-Book, which highlights the work of Black artists on and off the Broadway stage. He’s the co-founder of Ademide Theatre Ensemble, which strives to strengthen the African-American theatre experience through provocative works that highlight the quality of Black theater; and The Each-Other Project, an organization that helps build community and provide visibility, through art and advocacy, for GBTQ People of Color, (www.TheEachOtherProject.com). Selected stage-plays include: The Dead N--- Poem (New Dramatists Resident Playwright Semi-finalist), and Sugar In Our Wounds. Selected film work: Modern Day Black Gay (web series), I Hate New York (web series), and The Space Between (short film).


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TARA MOONEY

TEACHING ARTIST

Tara Mooney, MA has facilitated PTP's Circle Up! program since 2011. She is a seasoned performer, teaching artist, certified circusyoga facilitator& long time activist. As a practitioner of Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed techniques, whom she studied with at the Brecht Forum in NYC, she’s presented his work throughout New England and was a delegate to the Festival of the Oppressed in Toronto, Canada where she co-created and performed with Class Acts Theater Troupe, part of United For a Fair Economy. She has designed and run art and social change based programs all over the northeast, most notably the Expressive Arts Therapy Program at Victory Programs, Inc. in Boston and "Arts from the Heart" at PS 188 in NYC. In addition, she has performed or taught with The Faux Real Theater Company, Hospital Audiences, Free Arts NYC, Counseling in the Schools National Network, HERE Arts Center, Scribble Arts Workshop, and with the after school programs at Bread & Yoga and Muscota New School. She is one half of the performance duo "Sisters of the House of Mercy" that creates original work exploring women's oppression and it's relationship to mental illness. Tara holds a Master's in Expressive Arts Therapy and a Bachelor's in Interdisciplinary Studies: Eco-Feminism, Psychology & Theater.


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KAT PENA

TEACHING ARTIST

Kat Peña has played roles from Anton Chekhov to singing Stephen Schwartz's music on stage. Her recent credits include Lyuba Ranevsky in The Cherry Orchard, Charlie in H.O.M.E. , Witch 1 in Shakespeare's Macbeth, Abri in the short film Abri's Story, and a few other short films. As a graduate of The City College of New York, she has costume designed a handful of shows. She is currently working on multiple projects, producing a Shakespeare miniseries, and is excited to be teaching social justice theater with the People's Theatre Project partnering with NYC Public High Schools. She continues to work alongside artists from her alma mater who share her desire to motivate and inspire audiences as well as creating original content that matters.


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OMAR PEREZ

TEACHING ARTIST

Omar Perez has worked as an actor for the last 15 years. During that time he has worked as a company member of the internationally recognized Pregones Theater. Other stage credits include DC7 The Roberto Clemente Story, Man of La Mancha, Spinning into Butter, and Singing wid a sword (winner of the Audience Favorite Award at 2009 Fringe Festival). His film credits include Shut up and do it (screened at the 2007 NYILFF, and CinemaFest in Puerto Rico) Broken Hearts (screened at 2007 LALIFF), and Evergreen (screened at 2009 LILIFF). He is also a former company trainee of the American Mime Theater.  Though he continues to work as an actor, Omar is now cultivating a career in Directing. Recent projects include 3 is Enough, an international collaborative project between Pregones Theater (Bronx) Sering (Belguim) and Tswepa (South Africa), and Name and Blame Inc. a new work by Ricardo Perez- Gonzalez.  As a Teaching artist, Omar has worked with populations that include: grades 2-12, Inmates at Rikers Island, Residents in domestic shelters, and Seniors (Life Long Learners).


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CHANNIE WAITES

TEACHING ARTIST

Channie Waites is a performing artist, director, facilitator, educator and program consultant. She has worked and collaborated with youth, senior citizens and social justice leadership programs in the United States, Rwanda and South Africa. She has toured and performed professionally within the United States and abroad. She is currently performing a one-person adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel If Beale Street Could Talk, produced my Young Audiences New York and Harlem Stage. Channie has received several honors and acknowledgements for her audiobook narrations including most recently, This Is The Rope. Channie has been co-program director for The International Theater and Literacy Project (ITLP) –Rwanda for the last four years. In Rwanda she has co-directed I Am! My Power!, Release and Pressure!, Love Is…, What Hate Does and Making Peace In Old Village, original plays devised by youth at the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village and the Rwinkwavu Community Learning Center in Rwanda. Channie has worked for the August Wilson Monologue Competition, People’s Theatre Project, WNYC, and The Phyllis Rose Dance Company. She is an actor and program consultant with Only Make Believe, a not for profit organization that brings interactive theatre to children in hospital and health facilities. She was also co-founder of Capacity Arts, a theatre collective that created highly interactive historical dramas and developed tailored leadership workshops to lift up untold stories, build empathy across dividing lines, and deepen participants’ analysis of historical and present day conditions. Channie has a M.A. in Applied Theatre from the School of Professional Studies-CUNY and has a B.A. in Theatre from Penn State University.


UPTOWN ACTION LEADERSHIP TEAM


The Uptown Action Leadership Team (UALT) is a representative body of community members who are active and engaged participants of the Uptown Action program. The volunteer group makes recommendations to and works in collaboration with People’s Theatre Project staff around the activities, participation, outreach and fundraising initiatives of the Uptown Action program.

MARY ANDERSON
LYANA FERNANDEZ
ESDRAS SANTANA
RISHAUNA ZUMBERG
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