Performing and Teaching Artist, Music
Ghanian Kwame Ansah-Brew is a Master Drummer, Dancer, and Actor who has performed numerous times at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Smithsonian Institution, the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts and other venues as well as arts festivals throughout the United Kwame is also the Founder and Artistic Director of the Fritete African Drum and Dance Ensemble, featuring the authentic African rhythms and dances of antiquity.
Associate Artist, Theatre & Drama
Gary Baker is an actor, singer, teaching artist, and theatre technician. Originally from Florida, he earned his Bachelors degree in Theatre Performance and has been very active in the theatre scene ever since. Gary has worked with different theatres and organizations as a children's theatre/musical theatre instructor, choreographer, actor and outreach program coordinator. He has also worked as a technician, building sets and running lights and sound. Gary recently moved to the NOVA/DC area to pursue more opportunities in theatre and cannot be more excited to be part of InterAct Story Theatre. Other opportunities he has taken advantage of include: becoming part of the Comedy Pigs Improv Troupe in Frederick, MD, acting for the Scena Theatre and working on a few television and film projects.
Valerie Bayne Carroll
Teaching Artist, Drama
Valerie Bayne Carroll has a BFA in Theater from Boston University. In addition to her work with InterAct Story Theatre, Val is a Master Artist with the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning through the Arts; has presented workshops for the Kennedy Center; and has taught classes for Imagination State and the arts-based Lucy School.
Gwendolyn Briley Strand
Performing Artist, Drama
Gwendolyn Briley-Strand is an accomplished actor with numerous stage and screen credits. She is known for her portrayals of Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and Rosa Parks. In 1991 and 1992, Gwen was invited to bring the character of Harriet Tubman to the White House for the 4th of July celebration. Gwen has been touring her one-woman show "Harriet Tubman: The Chosen One", since 1993. The Chosen One has been presented at the J.F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC, The Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington DC, The Sewall-Belmont House and Museum on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, The Friends of Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum in Catonsville MD, Portsmouth Museum in Portsmouth VA, Colonial Williamsburg VA, and The New York State Museum in Albany NY. Harriet Tubman: The Chosen One was a featured event in the grand opening of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, OH, August 2004. Harriet Tubman – Move or Die was received with rave reviews at The Maryland Humanities Council Chautauqua 2000 and The New Hampshire Humanities Council Chautauqua 2004. Gwen received her Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from Fordham University in New York, and is a member of the Actor's Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild, and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artist.
Performances: Harriet Tubman: The Chosen One
Associate Artist, Theatre and Drama
Bio coming soon!
Teaching Artist, Music
In her native Argentina, Cecilia Esquivel studied at the National Conservatory of Music. Cecilia holds a BA in Music Performance from the University of Maryland, where she studied jazz under Ronnie Wells and Ron Elliston. She also holds an MSW degree from the Catholic University of America. In her performances and workshops, she combines her knowledge of music and social work to reach individuals with a variety of learning styles, educational challenges and emotional difficulties. As a member of Cantaré, Cecilia performs Latin American music for audiences of all ages in schools, libraries, festivals and major public venues. She also teaches workshops and residencies. In addition, Cecilia is very active in the Washington area music scene. She performs both as a soloist and with ensembles, and does studio work as a singer, arranger and recording producer.
Associate Artist, Theatre, Drama & Music
Anna Jackson is a 2009 graduate of UNC School of the Arts where she received a BM in Vocal Performance. While in school, she performed the roles of Susanna (The Marriage of FIgaro), Flaminia (Il mondo della luna), Waitress (Fortune's Favorites), and numerous ensemble roles with Piedmont Opera Theatre. She also performed Amy (Little Women), Poucette (Manon), and Mrs. Nordstrom (A Little Night Music) with Colorado College Vocal Arts Symposium. Since returning to the DC area, Anna has been seen in Treemonisha and The Gondoliers (Washington Savoyards), Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-Long Blog (Landless Theatre), and 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Workhouse Arts Center). She has also performed with Studio 3 Children's Theatre in Schoolhouse Rock Live, Miss Electricity, and Rapunzel, and has been on staff with Creative Kids as a teaching artist for the past few years.
Multimedia & Audiovisual Arts, Technology Advisor
Aisha Jordan is a freelance Multimedia Producer & Technical Advisor for organizations seeking to creatively integrate technology into their projects. A Virginia native and self-described "A/V Kid", she holds a Bachelor of Arts in Television Production from Howard University and has worked for several years in the Audiovisual, Design and IT industries. When not busy advising, she collaborates to produce web videos, supports local filmmakers & writes short features
Lenore Blank Kelner
Lenore Blank Kelner is an author, educator, educational consultant, keynote speaker and teaching and theatre artist. Lenore has presented her work in all 50 states and abroad and has been a presenter with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for 29 years. She was a Master Artist for the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning through the Arts for 25 years. Lenore is the author of The Creative Classroom (15th printing) and co-authored with Rosalind Flynn, A Dramatic Approach to Reading Comprehension (Heinemann, 2006, 5th printing). Lenore was awarded the 2004 Creative Drama Award from the American Alliance for Theatre and Education. In addition to conducting staff development residencies through InterAct Story Theatre, Lenore also works widely through her own company, Lenore Blank Kelner & Company and is the Director of the Creative Kids afterschool Drama Program.
Teaching Artist, Music
Nancy Krebs started her professional acting career in 1975 with The Tender Trap at the Garland Dinner Theatre in Columbia, Maryland. From there, she was part of the ensemble that won an Emmy Award for the PBS television series, ONCE UPON A TOWN in 1976. She has performed in film, television, radio and on the stage continuously since the mid-seventies. She has worked in summer stock and regional theatre, notably at Center Stage in Baltimore and Alaska Repertory Theatre, traveling all over the state of Alaska before joining InterAct Story Theatre in 1982. Currently, in addition to being a company member of InterAct Story Theatre, she teaches voice production and musical theatre at the Baltimore School for the Arts, is a certified Lessac Instructor (voice), and runs her own studio, THE VOICEWORKS. She has served as the Vocal/Dialect coach for several professional and university productions in the Baltimore/Washington area, as well as serving as the Musical Director/Vocal Coach for all productions in the theatre department at the School for the Arts.
Performing Artist, Drama and Storytelling
Marian Licha is an actor/storyteller. She has performed at Arena Stage, Round House Theatre, at The Capital Fringe Festival and in New York theatres. She has performed her storytelling program “A Magical Journey into Latin America” at The Kennedy Center, The National Theatre, The Capital Children’s Museum, The Museum of American History, schools and libraries in the Washington, D.C. area. She has been a guest at the "New York’s Kids" radio show in NYC.
Performing and Teaching Artist, Storytelling and Drama
Diane Macklin is a professional storyteller, actress, and educator. She uses storytelling as a way to break down cultural barriers and unite people of all backgrounds. Her motto is “Making a Difference, One Story at a Time.” Diane is a teller of original stories and folk tales from Africa, the Americas, and other parts of the globe. The stories she tells are centered around hope, peace, justice, and wisdom. Her background in education, Multiple Intelligences, diversity, and conflict resolution are infused into all performances, workshops, and residencies. Diane has earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Vassar College and a Master of Arts in Teaching Middle School English (Grades 5-9) from Simmons College. She has appeared on National Public Radio and Washington Storyteller’s Theatre Speak Easy. She also works with various organizations committed to arts and education: Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning, Imagination Stage, and InterAct Story Theatre.
Associate Artist, Theatre and Drama
Jack Novak is an actor, writer, and teacher, recently transplanted to the DC area from Chicago. In Chicago, he studied Mime and worked with The Mime Company, creating and performing an extensive repertoire, as well as the adaptation "Mime Orpheus". He is also an ensemble member of the Filament Theatre Ensemble--credits include "From the Circle", (Director/Storyteller), "Orpheus: Featuring DJ Puzzle as Fate" (Bouffon), and "Alice and Me!" (Adapter/Actor)--an interactive adaptation of the Alice in Wonderland novels. He has studied mask and clown from Giovanni Fusetti, Jon Sherman, and Omen Sade; and studied improvisation at Second City and The Annoyance. Since moving to DC he has taught theatre arts classes for Imagination Stage and Signature Theatre, and has appeared with a number of local theatre companies. He can currently be seen improvising with Commonwealth--one of Washington Improv Theater's house teams. Jack holds a degree in Theatre from Northwestern University.
General Director/Performing & Teaching Artist, Drama, Creative Opera
Ali Oliver-Krueger is a teaching artist, director, actor, classical singer and writer/composer. As a teaching artist and arts education professional, Ali has worked with schools, opera companies, and arts organizations throughout the country, and is a residency artist with The Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning through the Arts and the John F. Kennedy Center Education Department's DC Partnership Schools Initiative Community Program. Ali’s work as a teaching artist is rooted in creative drama and in creative opera, an emerging form of creative drama in which music and drama are fused together to tell stories and express thoughts, ideas and feelings. She is a frequent presenter at conferences on arts education and arts integration, and conducts professional development workshops and residencies on linking drama and music with content curricula. Ali is a proud member of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, and is co-chair of the organization's Professional Theatre Network. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland with her husband Peter and two fiercely fluffy dogs who are legends in their own minds.
Performing and Teaching Artist, Music
Tom Teasley, described in the Washington Post as “a percussionist in the widest and most exuberant sense of the word,” maintains a unique career as a solo percussionist, composer and collaborator. A 2010 and 2011 Helen Hayes Theater Award recipient for outstanding sound design, Tom tours frequently throughout the world performing and presenting clinics for the instrument companies he endorses including Yamaha, Vic Firth, Sabian, Remo, Latin Percussion and others. A three-time recipient of a Fulbright-Hayes grant for performances in the Middle East, Tom collaborated with indigenous musicians and gave historic performances in Saudi Arabia, the West Bank and Jerusalem. He has recently returned from Iraq as a cultural envoy for the U.S. State Department where he collaborated with Iraqi musicians from all over the country. He has been an artist-in-residence at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and has collaborated with the National Symphony as both a soloist and composer. As an international collaborator he has performed by invitation in Europe and South America. Tom earned the 2006 Artist-of-the-year award from Young Audiences of Virginia for his creative and educational presentations. His seven CDs have been greeted with international airplay and acclaim. He has been the subject of feature articles in both “Modern Drummer” and “Drum!” magazines.
Teaching and Performing Artist, Puppetry
Penny Russell has worked as a writer, director and performer with the Blue Sky Puppet Theatre since 1994. She performs with Good Life Theatre, with whom she just completed a three year run at Wolf Trap, and sings with the Swing Set Trio and the Roland Cumberland Orchestra. Past performing credits include Bread and Puppet Theater, The Other Opera Company, Adventure Theatre and The Puppet Company at Glen Echo. Penny has worked as a director and performer for Seize the Day: Mixed Abilities Performance, Quest 4 Arts, Camp Jabberwocky on Martha's Vineyard, Camp Tulgey Wood on Nantucket, and the Iona Community in Scotland. In addition to teaching and performing with InterAct Story Theatre, Penny is a teaching artist with the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning through the Arts and with ArtsStream.
Teaching Artist, Drama and Puppetry
Judy Thibault Klevins is a drama educator who has directed more than 300 plays and projects with people who range in age from six to ninety-two. Judy previously served as Arlington’s Arts Education Specialist. As a theater, language arts teacher, and coach, her students won awards for performing original shows and the Wakefield Athletic Boosters designated her as Coach of the Year. One of the arts partnerships she helped start is the Helen Hayes Award winning Signature in the Schools program. Additional Arlington honors include Notable Achievement in the Arts and Person of Vision awards. Currently a Kennedy Center Teaching Artist, Judy has led workshops and seminars in 55 cities in 32 states. Judy creates, directs and performs readings at theatres, hospitals and other venues and developed Swapping Stories, an intergenerational, intercultural, storytelling project that teaches literacy and empathy through the power of personal narratives.
Programs: Swapping Stories Parent-Child-Workshop
Associate Artist, Education Outreach
Emily Townsend has worked as a teaching artist throughout the Washington metropolitan region, for organizations ranging from the Sitar Arts Center to the Shakespeare Theatre Company, where she also spent a season interning in the Education Department. Also a passionate musician, she has spent the last several years singing with some of the leading symphonic choirs in the area, and has performed with world-class conductors and orchestras both in Washington and internationally. Emily completed her graduate studies at the University of Maryland, College Park in Theatre History and Performance Studies, specializing in historical Shakespearean performance.
Teaching Artist, Dance and Movement
MARIA INES TRIPODI began working with children while living in San Francisco where she earned her Motessori Teaching Certificate. She holds a BA in Performance and Language Arts and a Masters in Teaching from Bennington College. Currently Maria works as a teaching artist for different arts organizations in the area, such as Wolf Trap Institute, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, InterAct Story Theatre, summers at Levine School of Music and others. Maria is a graduate of the Teaching Artist Institute, a program established by the Maryland Arts Counsel, Arts Education in Maryland Schools (AEMS), and Young Audiences of Maryland. Having grown up both in Washington DC and Argentina, Maria has had the opportunity to work with many diverse communities. She is a native speaker and conducts classes in both English and Spanish. Because she began dancing as an adult, Maria pays close attention to creating an enriching movement experience for both the young and novice dancer. Her goal is to continue writing curriculum that will enhance and support both the arts and education to a wide group of people.