Our 2017-18 Fellows
Mike Anyanwu is a Director in the National Troupe/National Theatre of Nigeria. He holds a B.A. (Hons.) Second Class Upper Division Degree in Theatre Arts (University of Calabar), Master of Fine Art (MFA) Theatre Arts (University of Calabar); M.Sc. Mass Communication (University of Lagos); LL.B (Hons.) University of Lagos, BL (Nigeria Law School) and enrolled as a Barrister & Solicitor in the Supreme Court of Nigeria. His works in the National Theatre/Troupe include Song of the Gods (1992), New Frontiers (1993), Erinma (1994), The Contest (2001/2010), The River Between (2013), Eriri (2014), lfenkili (2015), Shakara (2015), Akrifa (2015) and Murna (2016). He has been on performance tours/conferences to Japan, China, Egypt, London, Dubai, South Africa and Serbia. He is a member of the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP), Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Write Local Play Global (WLPG), Arterial Network, International Theatre for Young Audiences Research Network (ITYARN).
Dr Jenna Ashton is Founder and Creative Director of arts and heritage organisation Digital Women’s Archive North CIC (DWAN). Her work specifically concerns global feminisms and women’s movements in relation to creative resistance through arts, heritage and participatory practices. Her research specialisms include digital feminisms, alongside digital futures in arts, archives, museums and galleries. Additionally she works on feminist curatorial and archival practices. She is editor of two-volume international publication “Feminism and Museums: Intervention, Disruption and Change” (September 2017, MuseumsEtc). DWAN is co-creating a digital space that will function as an archive, educational resource and alternative media outlet, supporting the connectivity, campaigns and creative cultural resistance of feminist practitioners and organisations. Jenna’s current positions also include Impact and Engagement Manager in Research and Knowledge Exchange at Manchester Metropolitan University and Honorary Research Fellow of Sociology in the School of Social Sciences, The University of Manchester. She sits on the Trustee Boards of Victoria Baths and Delia Derbyshire Day.
Marika Constantino is an artist who has participated in significant exhibitions in the Philippines and abroad. As a freelance writer, she contributes to a number of globally distributed publications. She shares her various experiences in the art practice to a wider audience as an educator. As an extension of her art practice, she also works as an independent curator and researcher. Her early exposure to art and her boundless fascination for the creative process resulted with a degree from the UP College of Architecture to further studies at the UP College of Fine Arts, with Art History as her major. Constantino is continually striving to strike the balance between the cerebral, conceptual and experiential aspects of art with life in general which fuels her fervent passion for artistic endeavors. Aside from her individual art practice, much of her time is devoted to co-directing the programs and activities of 98B COLLABoratory and coordinating the undertakings of the First United Building Community Museum in Escolta, Manila.
Eona Craig (Twitter: @eona_e) is an experienced arts and education professional and Chartered Manager, with an MA in Education (Effective Leadership and Management), a BA in Dramatic Studies and a successful 30-year record of working in the creative industries, with a focus on cultural regeneration, creative enterprise and inclusive educational development. Eona has worked in the independent arts sector, with public bodies, in the private sector and in higher education. She has a specific interest in researching and understanding how the arts and creative endeavour can positively influence and enhance the lives of marginalised learners. Eona is a Fellow of the RSA (Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) and is a Director of Life Changes (Trustee) Limited. She is also Director of Articulate (Scotland) Limited, co-owning a thriving retail business around her award-winning design of The Articulate Gallery. In January 2017, she founded the Articulate Cultural Trust and Hub and accepted a Trustee role with Fearless Femme, a community interest company that prioritises mental health support for young women and girls. Eona is also a research affiliate with Policy Scribe, Liz Thomas Associates and Consilium Research and a member of the Glasgow Flourish Leadership Programme with Glasgow Chamber of Commerce.
Chris Creegan is Chief Executive of the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability. He was previously Director of Corporate Affairs and Deputy Director of Qualitative Research at NatCen Social Research. Chris has written widely on equality and social justice issues. Chris has a long record of involvement in public life. He is currently Chair of Trustees at SAMH, the Scottish Association of Mental Health and was Chair of Trustees at Scottish Adoption from 2008-2015. Chris is a keen runner with Edinburgh AC and writes a personal current affairs blog which can be found at www.chriscreegan.com and on Twitter @Chris_Creegan
Luis Felipe Ferra, from Mexico City is studying his second master's degree in Arts and Cultural Management at the University of Melbourne. In 2009 he concluded the Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication by Universidad Iberoamericana (UIA). Two years later he finished his master's degree in Humanities in the Helenic Cultural Institute. That same year, along with producer Valeria Estefan, they both founded Polytropos, a boutique Cultural Film House to promote cultural contents in Mexico. Through this platform he has been able to perform as a Cultural Manager creating cultural tours, coaching musicians, designing music albums, presenting or holding lectures at universities, music festivals, public organizations and cultural institutions, writing for newspapers and magazines, producing music contents for the film and television industries, and sometimes even as an artist manager. In 2015, he received the national Mexican scholarship FONCA-CONACYT for studies abroad in the Cultural Management realm.
Dr. Abdulkarim Ekzayez is a Syrian medical doctor and an epidemiologist. He graduated in 2010 from Aleppo University in Syria with Advanced Surgery Training at Munster University in Germany. When the Syrian conflict broke out, he was resident neurosurgeon in Aleppo but swiftly moved to provide surgery assistance in field hospitals in north-west Syria. With the situation worsening in the war, he joined Save the Children International to lead their efforts in public health and immunization. He was selected for the prestigious Chevening scholarship and has studied a Master of Epidemiology at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Dr. Abdulkarim is a regular contributor to several medical and civil society institutions in Syria. He is a trustee member of two Syrian NGOs, and he is also a talented poet.
Mahtab Farid is an Iranian-born American journalist, linguist, educator and public diplomacy strategist with background in communication and international relations. For over a decade, Farid covered the conflicts in the Middle East and reported on US policy in the region for Voice of America and for USI News, which she founded. She served in Afghanistan as a public diplomacy officer with the US Department of State. Embedded with NATO troops in Forward Operating Bases of Ghazni and Bagram, Farid facilitated conflict resolutions, cultural initiatives, and trained over 90 Afghan journalists including women to help Afghans tell their stories. Upon return from Afghanistan, she joined Georgetown University as a Boren Scholar and taught language and culture at Defense Language Institute. Farid is the recipient of US Department of State Expeditionary Service Award for her service in Afghanistan. Her dream is to solve global conflicts with communication and culture.
Described as the ‘High Priestess of Harmony,’ whose writing has ‘enjoyed exceptional public approbation,’ Xenia Hanusiak is a festival director, writer, scholar, opera singer and cultural diplomat. Committed to the exchange of ideas through culture she has contributed to every Australian festival, Aarhus Festival, Banff Festival of Arts, Next Wave Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music Festival, Kennedy Center, Singapore Arts Festival, Beijing Music Festival, and the MODAFE Festival. With a PhD in Literature and multiple degrees in music she has held positions at Columbia University, Melbourne University, National University of Singapore, and Beijing University. Her collection of essays and commentaries can be read across the globe from The Australian to The South China Post, The Boston Globe, The New York Times, Music and Literature, The Log Journal and La Scena Musicale. Xenia has held diplomatic postings including most recently as Manager of Cultural Affairs, Australian Consulate (New York).
Ann Henderson is Assistant Secretary at the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) and Secretary to the STUC Women’s Committee. Her responsibilities include government and parliamentary liaison. STUC is an umbrella organisation, with 37 Trade Unions and 20 Trades Union Councils, representing over 560,000 members and their families, from all sectors and communities in Scotland. Prior to joining the STUC in 2007, Ann worked in the Scottish Parliament as a researcher, with a labour and women’s movement background. Ann worked and was an active trade unionist in the rail industry for a number of years, including as a station staff member and a train driver. Recent public appointments included: Passenger View Scotland, representing rail passenger interests, and the Women’s National Commission prior to its closure in 2010. Ann lives in Edinburgh.
Ellen Heyward is a multilingual professional with diverse experience in international cultural cooperation, including designing and delivering projects, analysing and developing public policies, creating multilingual communication strategies, and coordinating international events. Educated in Melbourne, Beijing and Paris, she has worked with UNESCO, federal and state-level government cultural agencies, private arts foundations, cultural NGOs and arts festivals in France, Mozambique and Brazil. For the past ten years, she has maintained a particular professional and academic focus on the international dimension of the Brazilian cultural sector; most recently, she coordinated the Cultural Program for the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. A dual Australian/British citizen, Ellen is currently based in Rio de Janeiro.
Consuelo Hidalgo is currently working as the Cultural Director at the Ecuador – United States Binational Center in Guayaquil, Ecuador. In 2012 founded “Arts Leap” which developed community-based partnerships, as a means of building the audience required to ensure high-quality arts learning for young people. Before that, she worked for 4 years as cultural promoter at the Guayaquil Symphony Orchestra, in charge of educational and audience development programs. She developed multiple cultural projects that pursued the integration of people with fewer resources in to the arts scene. In 2008, she participated in the U.S Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts International Cultural Exchange Program. In 2012 finished her Arts Management Summer International Fellowship at the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. In March 2016 participated in the Executive Program in Fundraising for the Performing Arts, held at the “Accademia Teatro alla Scala” in Milan, Italy. Also awarded as one of the 12 global fellows in the International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA) Congress held in New York City in January 2017.
Mikael Löfgren is a writer and human rights activist, cultural critic and lecturer. He has previously been editor at the cultural magazine Ord & Bild and at Swedish Television. Mikael has also worked as university lecturer in Cultural Studies and as dramaturge at Unga Klara theatre, Stockholm. He is currently teaching at Kulturverkstan, a higher vocational training programme for international cultural managers. He is also active as a freelance critic and cultural journalist in the daily Dagens Nyheter. Mikael has published books on various topics: postmodernism, football, Ship to Gaza, the labour market, the global justice movement, digitisation and copyright. His most recent books are No exceptions. The creation of value in small and mid-sized galleries of contemporary art (2015), Perspectives on Cultural Leadership and Narratives by Cultural Change Makers (the last two books are co-edited together with Karin Dalborg 2016). He has five children and lives on an island outside Gothenburg.
Douglas Lonie, Senior Consultant, BOP Consulting http://bop.co.uk/people/douglaslonie Linked In, Twitter: @douglaslonie. Douglas has over 12 years’ experience working in the academic, third and private sectors researching the effects of culture on people and society. He has particular expertise in cultural participation and health and wellbeing, children and young people’s engagement with culture, and culture and sustainable development. Since joining BOP Consulting in 2014 Dougie’s projects have included an evaluation of the British Council’s Culture and Development programme, data analysis for UNESCO’s 2017 Global Report on international cultural policy, and evaluations for Liverpool Biennial, BALTIC, Creative Scotland and the British Film Institute, amongst others. Dougie has an MA in Social Research and a PhD in Medical Sociology from the University of Glasgow where he studied links between music and health across a 20-year longitudinal sample. His work on the social impact of culture has been published in a number of journals and publications and he has presented his work at over 30 international conferences.
Natalia Mallo is a Latin-American multi-artist and cultural entrepreneur born in Argentina and based in Sao Paulo, Brazil. She has 20 years of professional experience developing projects in the fields of music, performing arts and interdisciplinary practices. She is a skilled composer, dramaturge, performer, teacher, director, curator and creative producer. Her artistic concerns address the intersection of languages and art forms in projects that touch upon the politics of diversity. She also acts as consultant for cultural organizations, governmental instances and third sector. Currently her focus lies on the development of international collaborations to work in the intersection of art, education and society.
Puneeta Roy is a media professional working in Film & Television for over 30 years. Her interest in theatre led her to conducting workshops with young people using theatre as a tool for self-exploration and transformation. A deep interest in healing drew her towards Expressive Arts Therapy, as a toolkit ideal for exploring creative self-expression.As Founder Trustee of The Yuva Ekta Foundation, her vision of Equity & Social Justice translated into the creation of several platforms, through which under-privileged young people share experiences with their more fortunate peers, and learn from each other. She sees tremendous potential in young people as agents of positive social change. The Yuva Ekta Foundation has performed original plays in Glasgow during the Tin Forest International Youth Festival (2014) and the Home Away Festival (2017), at the invitation of the National Theatre of Scotland. Puneeta dreams of setting up a Global Youth Citizenship Network that would span countries across the planet.
Jane Saren is a native of Edinburgh; she has lived elsewhere in the UK including some formative years in Liverpool, working for Social Services in a community development role. Her professional interests encompass public policy, particularly health & social care; good governance; communications; and transformative innovation. Jane established a public affairs company prior to Scottish devolution and is the author, with James McCormick, of ‘The Politics of Scottish Labour’s Heartlands’ in Hassan (ed) 2004. She is currently employed part-time in a charity which works broadly to promote social inclusion. Jane is an Associate of the International Futures Forum and Trustee of a grant-giving charity. Within the current somewhat febrile climate of public discourse and political activity, Jane welcomes her involvement as a Global Cultural Fellow as a timely opportunity to explore the power of artistic expression to communicate emotion, challenge ideas of ‘otherness’, and foster a sense of human connection.
Nik Shahrifulnizam Bin Che Rahim is a chef and entrepreneur who have been actively involved in activism and volunteerism in Malaysia since 2013. Nik has devoted his skills, knowledge, time and energy to help the urban poor by cooking and serving the unfortunates on Sunday evenings under the Dapur Jalanan Kuala Lumpur (DJKL). The soup kitchen runs by the youth and university students in collaboration with a communal space called Kelab Bangsar Utama (KBU). Besides charity and social work, Nik also actively involved in political activities through BERSIH2.0 or The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections. Nik was an assistant to Hishamuddin Rais, a committee member of the 2016 BERSIH5 rally and a renowned political activist and blogger in Malaysia. Nik Shahrifulnizam was also a volunteer in the BERSIH team which observed the elections of the Sarawak state in Borneo in the same year.
Solomiya Shpak is PhD Student at George Mason University School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs. Her primary areas of research include transition economics, labor policy and political economy. Prior to coming to George Mason University, Solomiya received her MA in Economic Analysis from Kyiv School of Economics and MA in International Economics from Ivan Franko National University in Lviv. Currently she works on the wide range of projects on Ukraine including firm productivity, oligarch ownership and political connections, and the impact of internal displacement on labor markets in receiving regions. She has recently co-authored a paper “The motherhood wage penalty in times of transition" published in Journal of Comparative Economics and worked as a consultant at the World Bank and IFPRI.
Roy Choudhury Shubham works at the India Foundation for the Arts as Programme Executive, Arts Practice developing and monitoring arts projects. Additionally, he leads the IFA archive project. He has a Masters degree in Film Studies from Jadavpur University and Research Training Programme from Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta. He has worked with the Department of Film Studies, The Media Lab and the School of Media, Communication and Culture, Jadavpur University, in various capacities. He has taught film & media studies in educational institutes in India and Bangladesh. Shubham has worked with television channels and ad agencies. He has been closely associated to TENT art space and has acted in a few films. He has contributed to a number of books, journals and newspapers. He has special interest in archiving, sound studies, cinema and new media technology.
Ariel Stolier is Producing Director of Paseo La Plaza (www.paseolaplaza.com.ar), a leading performing arts center in Buenos Aires, Argentina and a Director at Grupo La Plaza. More than 650,000 people attend its productions every year at 4 theaters, 6 alternative spaces and on tour. Previously he held artistic and management roles in the United States at Theater Communications Group and at Manhattan Theater Group, amongst others. He holds a degree in Public Relations and Communications from UADE University and received a Fulbright/National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship to pursue graduate training in Arts Management in the United States. He is a professor at the Masters Programme in Cultural and Creative Administration at UBA/Universidad de Buenos Aires, and a visiting lecturer at UNC/Universidad Nacional de Córdoba. He is also Editorial Director of ACC / Administración Cultura Creatividad (www.revistaacc.econ.uba.ar), an academic magazine devoted to covering the arts management sector in Latin America, published by Universidad de Buenos Aires.
Lola Ulugova (Lolisanam) founded and directed Tajik Bio-Cultural Initiatives, a NGO dedicated to Tajik arts and environmental issues. In 2013, she wrote and produced the nation's first 3D animation film, designed to promote awareness of environmental issues among children. Previously, she produced several cultural DVDs archiving Tajik dance and biocultural diversity; was a Field Production Manager on the documentary Buzkashi! By Najeeb Mirza (Canada); from 1999-2005 was the manager of Gurminj Museumin Dushanbe, an important museum of musical instruments; has been involved in the administration of multiple government and NGO research projects and publications in Tajikistan; and has been the organizer of several major art exhibitions. She holds a Masters degree from the University of Turin, Italy and an undergraduate degree in Russian Language and Literature. She has been Arts and Culture Program Coordinator at Open Society Institute (OSIAF) Tajikistan since 2014. She co-produced "After the Curtain" along with Emelie Mahdavian (USA).
Arno Vinkovic was born in Zagreb, Croatia. Completed degrees: MA in Philosophy and Sociology and MA in Political Science (University of Zagreb) Study visits: University College London and Bauhaus University. Currently employed as a Project Manager in the Open Media Group (NGO). Worked as a Project Manager Assistant in Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Expert Advisor on Statistical Analysis and Research, and has completed Blue Book Traineeship in the European Commission (EASME). He is the Founder and Creative Director of the FPZG Drama Group (Drama group of the University of Zagreb) and DG DRAMA (Drama group of the European Commission Trainees). He has written and directed 7 award-winning plays and received 5 awards for different scripts and for the overall contribution to humanities and social sciences. Arno has worked as an Assistant Director in numerous theatres in Croatia and Germany. He thinks politics is the ultimate performance art.
Ten of our fellows have dual appointments with Georgetown’s Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics.
Faisal Abu Alhayjaa, the youngest of ten, was born in the Jenin Refugee Camp in Palestine. Faisal participated in UN summer camps when he was a child, which is where he was first introduced to theater. Faisal realized his passion for theater after watching the documentary Arna’s Children, directed by Juliano Mer-Khamis. When Juliano opened an acting school as part of the Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp, Faisal became one of the first students to join. After graduating, he served a resident artist in Freedom Theatre for the next five years and taught the next generation of acting school students. During his residency, he also traveled to many countries on behalf of Freedom Theatre, meeting artists and representing Palestine, including to Georgetown University as part of the US tour of Athol Fugard’s The Island. In 2012, he joined Red Noses International as a clown to bring laughter into children’s hospitals across the West Bank where he found and experienced the power of laughter. Faisal founded his own company “Palestinian Laughter Liberation” (PLL), the first clown and physical comedy company in Palestine. Their philosophy is “laugh about it and you can change it.”
Reem Alsayyah was born in Damascus, Syria as the third of eight children. She studied networking engineering at the University, and in 2012, with only three exams left until graduation, Reem was forced to flee Damascus and was unable to complete her degree. The War in Syria forced Reem and her family to cross the border into Jordan and to take on a new name: “refugee”. In Amman, she worked as a secretary and an interpreter. She also volunteered at UNISEF and on many projects supporting refugees (primarily children and women). Her first experience in theater was when she participated the workshop and performance of Syria: The Trojan Women. Although the cast was denied visas to perform at Georgetown University and Columbia University in 2014, she still participated and shared her story via Skype from Amman. The cast has performed the play in Switzerland and the UK (under its new name The Queens of Syria) in a critically-celebrated tour that included stops at the Young Vic and Edinburgh, and she has had the opportunity to share how the war impacted her life with thousands of audience members. She served as the lead coordinator for an Arabic version of Oliver by Lionel Bart, performed by children refugees from Syria, Iraq, Jordan, and Palestine. Currently, Reem is studying BIT online at Amity University in the United Kingdom after receiving a scholarship from the European Union and British Council, and hopes to continue to work with refugee children in theater.
Jumana Al-Yasiri was born in Damascus, Syria. She is the daughter of an Iraqi filmmaker and a Syrian-Palestinian actress. As a child, she enjoyed accompanying her mother to rehearsals; this is how she first learned that theater can bring understanding and answers to political and social issues, and that what happens on stage has the power to change the lives and perceptions of both the artist and audience. Jumana has fifteen years of experience designing and implementing residencies, music festivals, theater productions, conferences, grants, and training programs for artists and cultural practitioners. She is a Paris-based performing arts manager, curator, panellist, researcher and translator, working between Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and the United States. In 2015, Jumana was appointed as the Middle East and North Africa Manager at the Sundance Institute Theatre Program, co-leading the development and the implementation of the program’s outreach in the region and beyond. Jumana holds a BA in Theatre Studies from Damascus Higher Institute for Dramatic Arts, and an MA in Comparative Literature from the University Paris VIII. In 2012, she met Arab-American poet and visual artist Etel Adnan, and since then she’s been in conversation with her and researching her work. Currently, she is drafting a script called Restlessness, inspired by this encounter.
Caitlin Nasema Cassidy was born in a suburb of Boston and raised between there and the Arab world. She is the daughter of seven-sea-sailing hippies Tom Cassidy Jr., the eldest of a large Irish Catholic family, and Joan Kelley, the youngest of a Lebanese and Syrian family. Caitlin fell in love with the performing arts early in life, and grew up studying acting, piano, voice, and dance after school. She received her BA from Georgetown in government and Arabic, and was a recipient of the Theatre and Performance Studies Department award for Excellence Across the Performing Arts. Upon graduating from GU, she journeyed to London, where she earned a master’s degree in acting from East 15 and completed a residency at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Caitlin has designed and implemented theatre-based curricula in Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Puerto Rico, served as Language and Culture Fellow with AMIDEAST, and devised performance for UNESCO’s World Theatre Conference as well as India’s International Theatre Festival. Caitlin has performed at Williamstown, Chautauqua, Berkshire Playwright's Lab, Disney World, Lincoln Center, The Lark, and Playwrights Horizons, as well as with Epic Theatre Ensemble, Pig Iron, The Civilians, Synetic, and Noor. She is Co-Artistic Director of LubDub.Theatre Company.
Chankethya “Kethya” Chey was born in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The daughter of political figures, Kethya dreamt of being an ambassador or prime minister, but not a dancer. She began to study classical dance at the age of five, and was part of a tour to Europe at the age of nine. Since then she has never stopped dancing, and has performed with the Cambodia Royal Ballet Troupe touring Europe and Asia. She received a bachelor’s degree in the Faculty of Choreographic Arts from the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh, and a bachelor’s degree in English from the Royal University of Phnom Penh. After thirteen years of dancing and creating pieces that engage both personal and political history, she encountered contemporary dance for the first time by participating in a Southeast Asian dance project called “Realizing Rama.” The experience changed her life. She was intrigued by the freedom, the freshness, and the creativity that arose out of the new dance style. This inspired her to go to UCLA for a three-month choreography and arts management fellowship where she was exposed to different dance forms. She then received a Fulbright scholarship to obtain her MFA at UCLA. She returned to Cambodia in 2014 and became the Artistic Director of Amrita Performing Arts.
Velani Dibba was born in Palo Alto, California to a West African immigrant and a first-generation Polynesian-American. She is the eldest of five children in a family of Muslim, Catholic, Mormon, Methodist, California-liberal, Texas-conservative, Polynesian, Caucasian, Asian, and African heritage, and is exceedingly grateful to this family for teaching her the importance of acceptance. She lived in California for the first ten years of her life before moving to The Gambia in West Africa for three years. During her sophomore year of high school, she studied abroad in Maddaloni, Italy and taught herself Italian while attending school with her host sisters. Throughout these relocations, she developed a passion for learning about different ways of life and an immense appreciation for the cross-cultural communicative power of art. She is currently a Culture and Politics major in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. She serves on the board of Nomadic Theatre, and serves as a director, producer, and stage manager in DC. Velani seeks to create theater that questions our understanding of those who are different from us, and reaches across our erected borders to further our understanding of the universal human experience.
Asif Majid was born outside Baltimore, MD. His mother grew up in Tanzania on the shores of Lake Victoria, and later became an avid gardener and public health expert. His father grew up in northern Pakistan as a poetry enthusiast and budding engineer. As an infant, Asif enjoyed playing pots and pans at his mother's feet, resulting in a lifelong passion for performance that has led him to mosques, schools, churches, cafés, festivals, treetops, concert halls, and community centers. He graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and valedictorian from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where he designed his own major focusing on peace and conflict. Asif then earned an MA with distinction in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University, during which time he devised and assistant directed Generation (Wh)Y: Global Voices on Stage at The Lab. Currently, he is pursuing a practice-based PhD in Anthropology, Media, and Performance at The University of Manchester, for which he is doing an ethnography of devising theater with British Muslim youth. As an educator, Asif has engaged thousands of young people in the United States and abroad through summer programs, Model UN activities, and work at Arena Stage, Seeds of Peace, and Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth, using online and theatrical simulations to develop their understandings of racism, identity, and conflict.
Devika Ranjan is a first-generation Indian-American. Born in Nashik, Maharashtra and raised all over the United States, Devika found her roots in her family as they moved from the mountains, to the prairies, to the shining sea. Her first forays on stage were jugalbandis, entwined performances of Bollywood dance and classic American musical theatre to interpret her identities and cultural crossings. Devika studies Culture and Politics at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service with a self-designed concentration in “Human Rights in Crisis”; during her undergraduate years, she has conducted research on the India-Pakistan and Israel-Palestine borders to understand the nuances of human rights in these zones of exception. She performed in Amrika Chalo (Destination: USA) and Generation (Wh)Y: Global Voices on Stage as part of The Lab’s Myriad Voices Festival. After translating in a medical clinic for refugees in Germany and conducting theatre workshops for women displaced by border violence in Jammu and Kashmir, Devika’s interest in expression and displacement has led her to an interdisciplinary focus on theatre and international migration. In the fall of 2017, Devika plans to read Refugee and Forced Migration Studies at Oxford University as a Marshall Scholar. She will then continue to study theater in the UK.
Manuel Viveros was born in Cali, Colombia. His single mother worked as a teacher in a rural school for over 25 years. His family was part of the Afro-Colombian migration to the cities in search of better living conditions. He grew up dreaming of being a professional soccer player, but theater was the space where he found himself. He studied theater at the Universidad Del Valle, where he was the first Afro-Colombian to star at the Teatro Colón de Bogotá, Colombia’s National Theater. Within seven years, he oversaw the program Jóvenes Creadores del Litoral, through which he opened the first university theater program at the Universidad Del Valle in Buenaventura. He later became the director of that theater program where he promoted the arts in the community and helped young people out of violent communities. He served as the Artistic Director of Corporacion Telon de Chonta in Buenaventura, a space for community leaders to transform the reality of the Afro-Colombian community. He has a Master’s degree in Government from ICESI University, and a specialization in Arts Education (Culture and Citizenship) from the Organization of Ibero-American States.
Gideon Jeph Wabvuta was born in Harare, Zimbabwe, the oldest son of an electronics technician and a former teacher. He grew up in Mbare, a ghetto in Harare, where his love for the arts was born. He grew up with dance and theater around him, but only participated briefly as a writer when he was 16. A few years later he returned to the arts as a performer and writer at a community theater group in Mbare. This strengthened his love for the arts, and led to him enroll at the University of Zimbabwe where he received arts training as an actor and writer. During his time in University, he worked with a Zimbabwean-American organization Almasi Arts as an actor, writer, and director. This resulted in him being invited to the Ojai Playwrights Conference where he wrote and performed his solo show Mbare Dreams. Soon after graduation, he joined Savanna Trust, where he was part of a troop of actors that went around the country performing on issues that include, human rights, gender equality, poverty alleviation, and domestic violence. He is currently living in the US where he is receiving his MFA in Dramatic Writing at the University of Southern California.