jakub | April 13, 2024

AMERICAN THEATRE | 6 Theatre Workers You Should Know

Our newest edition spotlights theatre workers in the Atlanta area. If you would like to recommend a theatre artist (from anywhere) for a future Role Call, fill out our open Google Form here.

Amanda Washington (she/her)

Amanda Washington
Amanda Washington.

Profession: Director, intimacy choreographer
Hometown: Stonecrest, Ga.
Current home: Atlanta
Known for: At Actor’s Express, where she is an associate artistic director as well as a National New Play Network producer-in-residence, Washington has directed Dominique Morrisseau’s Sunset Baby and Erika Dickerson-Dispenza’s cullud wattah. She is also assistant faculty at Theatrical Intimacy Education and a part-time assistant professor in Kennesaw State University’s Department of Theatre and Performance Studies.
What’s next: Washington directed Trouble in Mind at the Warehouse Theatre in Greenville, S.C., which runs through April 14, and over the summer will direct Pearl Cleage’s Blues for an Alabama Sky at Actor’s Express, which she thinks of as a homecoming show, because she worked on the play as an undergraduate and as a graduate student.
What makes her special: “One thing that makes Amanda and her work so special is how she thinks poetically about any given piece of work,” said Freddie Ashley, artistic director of Actor’s Express. “Her imagination is extraordinary, and she backs it up with a really skillful ability to zero in on the truth of a moment. Her joy and spirit infuse every second of her work.”
From the start: What does community care in theatre look like? Washington makes a list: “Setting up community agreements at the start of the design/rehearsal process. Asking how people best receive information and following through with that form of communication. Accepting that schedules need to shift sometimes because life happens. It also means connecting with surrounding groups and seeing how theatre can support those people, nurturing those connections. Community care also means thinking about how an audience member will experience this show. From the moment they arrive to the moment they leave, were their needs met? If not, does something in the company’s structure need to be adjusted?”

Bridget McCarthy (she/they)

Bridget McCarthy
Bridget McCarthy.

Profession: Actor, producer, engagement director
Home state: Michigan
Current home: Atlanta
Known for: McCarthy performed primarily in musical theatre prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. Then, in 2020, she co-founded the Atlanta Artist Relief Fund to help out-of-work artists get access to food, housing, financial assistance, and other services. They realized that what they were doing was social work, and that most social workers weren’t equipped to address the specific needs of artists. She enrolled in graduate school to get a Master’s in Clinical Health Counseling to fill the gaps. They have since been training a cohort of 20 mental health coordinators who will be ready to work in theatre, as well as on television and film sets, with a focus on harm production in creative practice.
What’s next: McCarthy hopes to increase her fluency in Spanish so she can start offering drama therapy services in that language as well as English. She is also devising a script with five theatremakers in recovery, and workshopping her second solo show about her time as a clown for Christ. She is also working on a hammer dulcimer arrangement of Beauty and the Beast.
What makes her special: Brian Wittenberg, an actor, director, and acting coach, called McCarthy “someone who brings an immense amount of care and joy into the room. They are warm and welcoming and command a room without making anyone else feel less than. Having them by my side as intimacy coordinator when I directed a challenging piece allowed both myself and the other artists in the room a sense of ease and comfort. It’s rare that an artist can do that in the first few minutes of being in the room, but that is the presence Bridget brings with them wherever they go.”
Advice for younger theatremakers: “Find the people who are stoked when you enter the room,” said Bridget. “Learn how to handle conflict: It is the cornerstone of collaboration, and we can’t claim collaboration as a superpower if we aren’t skilling up in conflict. When all else fails, follow curiosity.”

Keith Arthur Bolden (he/him)

Keith Arthur Bolden
Keith Arthur Bolden.

Profession: Actor, director, theatre professor
Hometown: Los Angeles
Current home: Atlanta
Known for: A respected performer and producer onstage and onscreen, he’s acted and directed locally at Alliance Theatre, Georgia Incarceration Project, Horizon Theatre, and True Colors Theatre, and nationally at American Stage and the Black Rep. He has seamlessly transitioned to working in the city’s booming film industry, appearing in Till, Gridiron Grind, and the short film The Inventor: The Garrett Morgan Story. As a professor at Spelman College, he is committed to bringing the best possible performances out of his students, helping them to fully embrace themselves so that they can fully accept their characters.
What’s next: He’s got some secret projects in the works.
What makes him special: “Keith is the kind of artist you want in every room because he is the kind of person you want in your life,” said Tinashe Kajese Bolden, co-artistic director of the Alliance (and Keith’s wife). “Keith has an insatiable appetite for genuine connection and leads every relationship to its most authentic expression because he is unafraid to be vulnerable. His depth of curiosity for what is possible while empowering those around him entices his collaborators to play big and dream without shame! To know Keith, to create with him or experience a class with him, is to experience freedom of expression with the most trusted ally.”
Keep your eyes open: Bolden recounted some great advice he got from a fellow director. “Eric J. Little told me, you don’t have the right answer as a director, you just have to approve the right answer. It’s more collaborative in spirit than most directors give themselves room for. I want actors to come in the room with ideas. I have a vision, but I can be influenced; my eyes can be opened.”

Kira Rockwell (she/her)

Kira Rockwell
Kira Rockwell.

Profession: Playwright
Hometown: Somewhere in central Texas
Current home: Atlanta
Known for: Rockwell is a playwright who taps into her sometimes traumatic Texas upbringing and find a place of belonging in the Pentecostal church, exploring the intersection of religion, sexuality, gender, and politics through theatre. The first play in her Deconstruction Plays trilogy, or “holy trinity,” as she calls it, is Oh to be Pure Again, which received its world premiere in Atlanta at Actor’s Express, directed by Kate Bergrstrom. The play unpacks the spiritual conflict, desire, and rebellion that emerges from growing up in purity culture.
What’s next: Rockwell is developing two more plays for her “holy trinity.” Wicked Bitter Beast(s) is about a prodigal daughter on the run from her pastoral family “and the literal Hellmouth/Hell House she must fight her way through to face her demons, especially the one looking back in the mirror.” And Holy Chicken Sandwich is a comedy set in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant, where 100 people camp out to win a year of free large combos. As the night unfolds, it’s clear there’s a fox in the chicken coop, and Jade, the quietly queer store manager, must find the source of anarchy before the flock devolves into utter chaos. Holy Chicken Sandwich will have a workshop and four-day run in Boston with Moonbox Productions’ New Works Festival this June, directed by Cassie Chapados.
What makes her special: “Encountering Kira Rockwell’s work for the first time felt like someone had created a portal into a dusty, unseen corner of my soul,” said actor Bethany Anne Lind (Ozark, Reprisal). “Her ability to write uncynically on the world of evangelicalism is incredibly specific while hitting something so universally true to the human soul. I can’t wait to see this young playwright’s work consistently in theatres around the country before long.”
Advice for younger theatremakers: “A creative career is more akin to farming than climbing any ladder,” Rockwell said. “Tend to your soil, the harvest season will come, and make sure to rest your fields in the winter.”

Marium Khalid (she/her)

Marium Khalid
Marium Khalid.

Profession: Director, producer, writer, storyteller
Hometown: Born in England, though ethnically Kashmiri and Pakistani; a “third culture” kid, she lived in 10 cities before moving to New Jersey
Current home: Atlanta
Known for: Khalid is a multidisciplinary artist with a unique global perspective and radical empathy to any creative space she enters. She is the founder and artistic director of Sky Creature Productions, through which she experiments with blurring the lines between film and theatre. She has collaborated with several Atlanta arts institutions, including Atlanta Contemporary, the Goat Farm Arts Center, the Object Group and 7 Stages. Prior to Sky Creature, she ran Saia Arts, through which she created the immersive Rua | Wülf, a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, and the Civil War play Terminus.
What’s next: She is currently working on a screenplay and immersive piece inspired by the life of one of her mother’s friends who dreamt of being a famous singer but died young. She is also adapting the children’s book Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH for the stage, a project inspired by the birth of her son. “His opinion is the only one that matters now. I want to tell him stories,” said Khalid.
What makes her special: “Marium is the kind of artist that takes in all of the unheard shadows of a given subject while in the creation process,” said Heidi S. Howard, 7 Stages. “She listens, embraces, connects, and responds deeply with grace. She is compassionate and urgent while creating space for artists and audiences to take a journey of action within our community. In our experience, the work results in a ripple effect far beyond expectation, and therefore offers hope for our future.”
More, more, more: “I was speaking with a friend about AI and the panic during the writers’ strike,” Khalid said. “He said this is the first time in human history where brown and Black people will have the support to develop their work at the same rate white people have been able to. Brown and Black bodies have been doing it for them, and now AI will be able to do it for us. You have to work harder, prove yourself more, and I never considered a reality where we would have support.”

Trevor Perry (they/them)

Trevor Perry
Trevor Perry.

Profession: Actor and singer
Hometown: Roxboro, N.C.
Known for: A dynamic singer and performer known for tackling a wide range of roles onstage, Perry has played everyone from Stew in Passing Strange at Theatrical Outfit last year to Pythio in Head Over Heels at Actor’s Express in 2019. Blurring the lines of gender, Perry plays roles written for women, men, and non-binary folks onstage. Recently they performed in an all-Black version of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare at Atlanta’s Shakespeare Tavern. They also help other musical theatre talents by offering audition coaching, singing lessons, and other professional services through their company Gigged & Favored.
What’s next: Perry recently finished callbacks for the West Coast premieres of A Strange Loop and & Juliet. They are currently gearing up to work on new material.
What makes them special: “Trevor Perry is unapologetic, brazen, bold, and courageous as an artist,” raved Thomas W. Jones III, director and producer. “These traits complement their extraordinary talent. They are ebullient, generous, and just a helluva lot of fun to have in the room.”
The chance to shine: What would Perry like to see more of? “Inclusion, inclusion, inclusion!” he said without hesitation. “So many great artists never get the chance to shine! Theatre is for everybody.”

Support American Theatre: a just and thriving theatre ecology begins with information for all. Please join us in this mission by making a donation to our publisher, Theatre Communications Group. When you support American Theatre magazine and TCG, you support a long legacy of quality nonprofit arts journalism. Click here to make your fully tax-deductible donation today!

Source link