Writer/Producer, Sarah Shourd, is a journalist, playwright and UC Berkeley Visiting Scholar based in Oakland, CA. She spent 410 days in solitary confinement from 2009 to 2010 while being held as a political hostage by the Iranian government. For the last five years, her work has been centered on storytelling about and advocacy for the 100,000 people in the US being subjected to the cruelty and overuse of solitary confinement every day. To this end, Shourd has traveled the United States as a public speaker as well as written and reported extensively on criminal justice issues, including: The Box, a play that will premiere at Z Space in San Francisco in July of 2016; an anthology, Hell Is a Very Small Place: Voices from Solitary Confinement (New Press, 2016); and numerous articles for such outlets as The Daily Beast, The New York Times, Mother Jones, CNN, San Francisco Chronicle, Salon, Huffington Post, Reuters and more. Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt published her memoir, A Sliver of Light: Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran, in 2011. More information at sarahshourd.com.
Director, Michael John Garcés, is the artistic director of Cornerstone Theater Company in Los Angeles. Previous directing credits in San Francisco include Wrestling Jerusalem by Aaron Davidman (Intersection for the Arts), red, black and GREEN: a bluesand the break/s by Marc Bamuthi Joseph (Yerba Buena Center for the Arts), Cornerstone’s touring production of California: The Tempest by Alison Carey (Z Space) and Placas by Paul Flores. Other recent directing credits include Urban Rez by Larissa FastHorse and Plumas Negras by Juliette Carrillo (Cornerstone), Seven Spots on the Sun by Martín Zimmerman (The Theatre @ Boston Court) and Lights Rise on Grace by Chad Bekim (Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company). Michael is a recipient of the Rockwood Arts and Culture Fellowship, the Princess Grace Statue, and the Alan Schneider Director Award. He is a company member at Woolly Mammoth and a proud alumnus of New Dramatists.
Production Manager, Jack Beuttler is a Bay Area native who studied philosophy at UC Berkeley. Some companies he’s designed for include Dance Theatre of San Francisco, ODC/School, Lorraine Hansburry Theatre, Post:Ballet, LEVYdance, Lamplighters Music Theater, LINES BFA and Training Programs and is a recipient with GERALDCASELDANCE of the 2015 Lighting Artists in Dance Grant. He has also worked for ODC/Dance and Theater, Oakland Ballet, Margaret Jenkins Dance Company, Hope Mohr Dance, Composers Inc., Fluid Hug-Hug, REDCAT and others as a Production Manager, Stage Manager and Technical Director. He’s the Production Manager for the Sun Valley Summer Symphony in Idaho and a freelance designer in San Francisco, where he continues to be a Giants fan from before they were good.
Community Impact Coordinator, Nora Dye is delighted to use her extensive political organizing and event coordination experience to engage community support for The Box. Long active around human rights and queer liberation, Nora believes that works like The Box are instrumental in bringing about the kind of systemic change that will end mass incarceration and help create a world we all want to live in. Nora lives collectively in Oakland and is a Program Coordinator at Cycles of Change, a youth bike education organization.
Carlos Aguirre has been performing as an actor and hiphop artist in the Bay Area for over 18 years. He most recently appeared in The Magic Theatre’s 2012 world premiere of Luis Alfarro’s Bruja, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre’s Day of Absence and Strange Angels Theatre Company’s Hunter’s Point. Carlos has also appeared in The Magic Theatre’s 2011 production of Lily’s Revenge, and the 2010 world premiere of Oedipus El Rey. He appears regularly with world-renowned theatre company Campo Santo including the 2009 world premiere of Fuku Americanus based on the Pulitzer Prize winning The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, in which he also composed/compiled the entire musical soundtrack and the March 2007 production of A Place to Stand from the writings of Jimmy Santiago Baca and Ntozake Shange. Carlos shares his experience by teaching at various schools and at-risk environments throughout the Bay Area. His work has helped many different students from various backgrounds gain skills to better express themselves.
Michael J. Asberry is honored to be in this production of The Box. He most recently performed with the Sacramento Theater Company (Driving Miss Daisy)where he was also in The Whipping Man and Master Harold… and the boys. Other productions include Romeo and Juliet with the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Landless with AlterTheater, Fences with Marin Theatre Company; Seven Guitars (Artists Repertory Theatre – Portland, OR); The Best of PlayGround Festival; Day of Absence, Fabulation and King Hedley II (Lorraine Hansberry Theatre); Superior Donuts (TheatreWorks) and Satellites (Aurora Theatre). Film/Television appearances include San Andreas, Chasing Rodriguez, Trauma (NBC) and Nash Bridges (CBS). Voiceover credits include Clorox, Pixar Animation and Electronic Arts. Michael is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association.
Gabby Battista is thrilled to be making her debut performance at Z Space. She was a recent company member of the San Francisco Neofuturists, and mounted an original piece: Those Days are Impossible To Remember. Out of SF she has worked with Davis Shakespeare Ensemble, North Coast Repertory Theatre, and Det andet Scenarie in Copenhagen. Gabby is a graduate of the Theatre and Dance Department at San Francisco State University. She to wants thank Sarah for this opportunity, her family for their incredible support, and everyone for coming to see this very important production.
Chris Herbie Holland is a NYC based activist, actor, organizer and co-leader of the activist collective Artists 4 Change NYC. He has worked regionally at theatres such as Northern Stage and Nantucket Theatre Workshop as well as locally with NYTW, The National Black Theatre and The Lark. Over the past 2 years Chris has protested in Ferguson, MO, organized guerrilla dialogues for This is Our Youth (Broadway) andHands Up! (NBT) along with a teach-in and night of curated art at NBT. Chris remains a core facilitator for the curriculum Freedom in the Time of Ferguson, a community building arts curriculum that seeks to inform students about systemic racism, police brutality, the school-to-prison pipeline and mass incarceration while providing them with artistic tools to better transform their communities. BA, Dartmouth College. 2019 MFA NYU Acting Candidate. Black Lives Matter.
Manuel Fernandez is excited to be performing in this production, a subject, near and dear to his heart. Manuel has acted in short films, various Theater Plays, commercials. He is an author and avid dancer. He is currently working on a One Man Play about his life.
J Jha – I have been imprisoned all my life and enslaved to a structure I never signed for. No one asked me if I agreed to it, they just tortured me because my voice was not strong enough to say STOP. This is my humble effort to add to the voices from The BOX – both in and out of our minds. www.pankajkjha.com #Translivesmatter
Steven Anthony Jones is the artistic director of the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, the premiere African American theatre company in the San Francisco Bay Area. Most recently, he directed Philip Kan Gotanda’s After the War Blues for the UC Berkeley Dept. of Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies. He has worked professionally on stage, television and in film for 37 years. He has performed in the works of Wilson, (Charles) Fuller, Fugard, Stoppard, Gotonda, Becket, Pinter, Moliere, Shakespeare, Chekhov and others. He was in the original cast of A Soldier’s Play produced by the Negro Ensemble Company, which won an Obie Award for ensemble acting and the Pulitzer Prize for best drama. He performed, taught and directed at the American Conservatory Theater for 22 years as a member of the core acting company. His many film and television credits include two seasons of Midnight Caller and a recurring role on the NBC series Trauma. Mr. Jones received his early theatre training at Karamu House in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. He is a graduate of Yankton College in South Dakota. Other experience includes the Cleveland Playhouse, Berkeley Rep, San Jose Rep, and San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, among others.
Valerie Weak’s recent work includes Lady Capulet in San Francisco Shakespeare Festival’s Romeo and Juliet and Maya in the world premiere of Disclosure for Those Women Productions. Valerie has acted with many Bay Area theaters, including CenterREP, Shotgun Players, and Word for Word. A few favorite roles: Toby Belch in Twelfth Night for Impact, the title role in Macbeth for Women’s Will, the Bay Area’s now disbanded all-female Shakespeare company, and Lisa in indie film The Snake, presented by Patton Oswalt at SXSW. She trained at Skidmore College with Anne Bogart and the SITI Company, holds a BA in Theatre Arts from UCLA and is a member of Actor’s Equity and Theatre Bay Area. www.valerieweak.com
Clive Worsley is the Director of Artistic Learning at the California Shakespeare Theater. As an award winning actor he has appeared on such Bay Area stages as Berkeley Repertory Theatre, California Shakespeare Theatre, Central Works, Magic Theater, Marin Theater Company, SF Playhouse, Shotgun Players, TheatreFirst, TheatreWorks, Town Hall Theater and many more.
He sits on the Advisory Council of the U.C. Theater, and the board of directors of Notes4Hope, a non-profit that produces live music events to benefit Breast Cancer treatment and prevention.
A member of the fundraising board for The Box, he has been enthusiastically involved in this project since 2014 and is honored to be part of this amazing team of artists and advocates.
Stage Manager, Bert van Aalsburg began his career in there in the mid-70s. He later became TD with the Red Barn Theater in Saugatuck, Michigan. In 1987 he moved to California to work with the Great American Melodrama, in San Luis Obispo and for the following ten years he worked for the Lorraine Hansberry Theater. in San Francisco. Notable productions include the premieres of “Stones in His Pockets” at Magic Theatre and “Mission Magic Mystery Show” with Culture Clash. The list also includes ”Sarome Kyu Kyu no Dan” with Theatre of Yugen and “The Thomashefsky’s” at SF Symphony. Interspersed amid these projects, Bert keeps busy with other sides of theatre; as a technical director, a lighting designer, an award winning scenic designer. Not least is his work as an active member of Actors’ Equity.
Sound Designer/Composer, Jon Bernson, is a San Francisco musician, interdisciplinary playwright and multimedia artist who has released more than twenty albums and scored / sound designed several dozen plays and films. Recent work includes original soundtracks for Rajiv Joseph’s Gruesome Playground Injuries (Tides Theatre), Alicia’s Miracle by Octavio Solis (StoryWorks) and his own plays, North by Inferno (Flight Deck) and Distant Future Symposium (de Young Museum). Music from his band Exray’s was featured in David Fincher’s Academy-Award winning film, The Social Network. Bernson was a 2015 Artist-in- Residence at the de Young museum in San Francisco and is a four-year resident playwright at Playwrights Foundation. Beautification Machine, a sound sculpture collaboration with Andy Diaz Hope, opened at the Catharine Clark Gallery in 2014, was presented by Miami Project and then acquired by the Nevada Museum of Art, where it is currently on exhibition through the end of 2016. Sound Affects, another recent sound installation at the Sonos Studio in Los Angeles, is the result of an multimedia collaboration between Bernson and the Oakland band tUnE-yArDs, Berlin-based video artist Jem the Misfit and a group of architects and designers from P-a- t-t- e-r- n-s.
Properties Designer, Devon LaBelle, is a multidisciplinary artist with emphasis on vivid visual and special effects components. In eight short seasons she has fueled over 70 Bay Area productions with the physical artifacts that make them work. Devon is a Resident Artist with Crowded Fire Theater. She is thankful for her continued work with Shotgun Players. Check out her blog to see what she makes: . Love to Sam, Jo, and Roscoe.
Costume Designer, Anna R. Oliver: Empty Nesters (Z Bellow), Red, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Pillow Man, Fraulein Else, Magic Fire (The Berkeley Repertory Theatre); Pygmalion, Candida, Man and Superman, Restoration Comedy, Nicholas Nickelby (California Shakespeare Theatre); Water by the Spoonful and Time Stands Still (Theatre Works); The Strindberg Cycle (Cutting Ball Theatre); The Constant Wife, The House of Mirth, and The Guardsman (ACT); World premier of Jeffrey Hatcher’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Iphigenia in Aulis, Major Barbara (San Jose Repertory); Dear Master, Saint Joan, John Gabriel Borkman and others (Aurora); Her work has also been seen at The Welsh National Opera, The Seattle Repertory Theatre, The Old Globe, The McCarter, B.A.M., San Francisco Opera, The New York City Opera, The Canadian Opera Company, and the Boston Lyric Opera. Awards: 2006 Helen Hayes award nomination, Garland award, Craig Noel awards, Bay Area Theatre Critic Circle and Dean Goodman awards. Anna earned MFA from Yale School of Drama, 1992.
Choreographer, Stacey Printz, Artistic Director of Printz Dance Project (PDP) graduated Cum Laude from UC Irvine with degrees in sociology and dance. She has taught at Alonzo King’s LINES Dance Center in SF for 14 years, and is on staff at A.C.T (American Conservatory Theatre -MFA program). Printz has taught classes across the U.S. including: New York (Broadway Dance Center, NYU, Peridance), Memphis, Los Angeles (UCLA, El Camino College), Utah, Kentucky, Idaho, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and more. Internationally, she has taught in Curacao, Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, Russia, Lithuania, Ireland and Italy. Her company has performed in San Francisco for 14 years, and has toured across the nation and internationally in Russia, Lithuania, Ireland, the Virgin Islands and Mexico. Printz also collaborates on multi-genre, performing arts pieces choreographing: Aaron Davidman’s, “Wrestling Jerusalem” and YBCA’s Director of Performing Arts, Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s internationally recognized works, “Scourge”, “The Break/s”, “Red, Black & Green: A Blues”, and is currently working on his newest project “Peh-lo-tah” which will premiere in 2016 at YBCA. Printzdance.org (Photo by Lois Greenfield)
Scenic Designer, Sean Riley, has a 20-year career combining suspension, kinetic movement, and design with performance. Through scenic design, rigging design, and mechanical design, often in concert with each other, he creates unique environments for time based art. Concentrating his design for performance on site-specific and non-traditional work Riley has created installations in collaboration with a wide spectrum of artists in different genres around the world. Being known for his bold and often surprising use of space and for large scale movement, Riley’s installations commonly reflect his lifelong obsessions with gravity, architecture, and Newtonian physics.
Lighting Designer, Allen Willner, is an award winning lighting designer for theater, dance and music. Awards and nominations include: 3 Isadora Duncan Dance Awards for the lighting design of inkBoat’s “Line Between”, “Heaven’s Radio” and Deborah Slater’s ” Private Life”. Nominations for Isadora Duncan Dance Awards for the Visual Designs of Erika Chong Shuch’s “51802” and inkBoat’s “Cockroach”. 2013 TBA Award Lighting Design Nomination for Theater of Yugen’s “This Lingering Life”. Bay Area Critics Circle Lighting Design Nomination for The Shotgun Players “Eurydice” and “God’s Ear”, 2012 Broadway World Lighting and Set Design Nomination for Symmetry Theater’s “Patience Worth”. Lighting Artists in Dance Awards for inkBoat’s “Line Between” , Erika Chong Shuch’s “Sitting in a Circle”, Laura Arrington and Jesse Hewitt’s “Adult.” And Scott Wells, Amy Seiwert and Shinichi Iova-Koga’s “Take this Dance and Shove it!”
Impact Coordinator, Nora Dye, is delighted to use her extensive political organizing and event coordination experience to engage community support for The Box. Long active around human rights and queer liberation, Nora believes that works like The Box are instrumental in bringing about the kind of systemic change that will end mass incarceration and help create a world we all want to live in. Nora lives collectively in Oakland and is a Program Coordinator at Cycles of Change, a youth bike education organization.