NATIONAL QUEER THEATER STAFF
Adam Odsess-Rubin (Artistic Director) is a director, playwright, actor, and teaching artist. At NQT, Odsess-Rubin directed his play DREAMers (NYU), based on interviews with undocumented LGBTQ youth in Queens, NY, for which he received the title ‘Emerging Playwright’ from Theater for the New City and Pint-Sized Plays at The Eagle NYC. He also wrote and directed Speechless (Theaterlab), a play exploring HIV narratives in 2018, to sold out audiences. He produced the Queer Village Reading Series and Criminal Queerness Festival.
Formerly the Education and Community Programs Fellow at the American Conservatory Theater, Odsess-Rubin is now a Masters student at NYU in the Educational Theatre department. His work as an actor, director, and playwright has brought him to The Guthrie, BAM, The Civilians, Theater for the New City, A.C.T., New Conservatory Theater, Faultline Theater, and ArtsEmerson. He has also served as a teaching artist with refugee youth, Israeli and Palestinian teenagers, and taught in juvenile halls. In 2016, Odsess-Rubin served as personal assistant to AIDS Memorial Quilt Founder Cleve Jones, a protégé of Harvey Milk.
He is the recipient of the Charles M. Gilbert Award for Sustained Excellence in the Arts, and received the 21st Century Educator Scholarship two years in a row from NYU. In 2017, he was nominated for Bay Area Theater Critics Circle and Theatre Bay Area awards. His writings on theater and activism have been published by Howlround and The Teaching Artist Journal. BA: UC Santa Cruz MA: NYU Steinhardt. email@example.com
Bri Ng Schwartz (Community Programs Coordinator) is a dramaturg, deviser and facilitator of community engagement programming based in New York. She is the Outreach Associate at Pan Asian Repertory Theatre and is a graduate of DePaul University with a double major in Dramaturgy/Dramatic Criticism & Women's & Gender Studies. She has worked in arts organizations including Free Street Theatre, Victory Gardens Theatre and Dance/NYC. She is the founder & curator of Club 2350: Sex Positivity Showcase & Celebration, a fundraiser and performance event in partnership with Sex Workers Outreach Project Chicago. She is also a graduate of the Women's Media Center's Progressive Girls Voices Program and a former Girl Be Heard directing fellow and company member. Her article "Acknowledging Impact, Regardless of Intent" was published through The HowlRound Commons.
PJ Johnnie Jr. (Teaching Artist) is a teaching artist, film producer, director, and actor. Off-Broadway: As Much As I Can (Joe’s Pub). He has been the Community Programs Coordinator and lead teaching artist at National Queer Theater, where he leads acting classes at SAGE, New Alternatives, and Ali Forney Center. He holds an M.F.A. in Acting from the New School for Drama and a B.A. in Theatre Arts from Grambling State University.
Board of Directors
Charles Gershman is a Midwest-bred queer playwright/screenwriter. He is a Dramatists Guild Foundation Playwriting Fellow, a 2019 Chesley/Bumbalo Playwriting Award winner, and a 2019 Relentless Award Semifinalist. His award-winning play The Waiting Game premiered at 59E59 Theaters in February 2019. His play Free & Proud recently had an acclaimed run in the UK (Edinburgh Fringe, Theatre503), where it was nominated for the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award and the SIT-Up Award and called ‘One of 10 must-see queer shows in town’ (Evening Standard). It is published by Oberon Books (UK).
In the DGF Fellows Program he has been developing an untitled new play about a modern family and their foster teen, with mentorship from Diana Son. Other plays are currently being developed with support from The New Group, the Flea Theater, and the Lark.
Charles earned an MFA in dramatic writing at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2018 and a BA in history at Columbia University. He has been a teaching artist at several colleges, including The New School’s Eugene Lang College, where two of his plays are regularly taught in an undergraduate playwriting class on adaptation.
Keith Butler brings nearly 20 years’ experience as a development professional with some of New York’s most prominent and diverse cultural and social service nonprofits. He is currently the Assistant Vice President, Institutional Advancement for the Museum of the City of New York. In this capacity, Keith oversees all aspects of the Museum’s development efforts in support of individual giving, and has direct responsibility for the generation of major gifts. Keith previously served as Director of Development for the James Beard Foundation, the signature culinary nonprofit and producer of the renowned James Beard Awards, overseeing the creation of a comprehensive fundraising strategy and organizational culture. Keith was Director of Institutional Partnerships for Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), overseeing both the major gifts and institutional giving portfolios for the organization (approximately $4.5 million annually). Additional nonprofit experience includes development roles and leadership with Film Forum, the Cunningham Dance Foundation (formerly the Merce Cunningham Dance Company), Dance Theatre Workshop, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc. He has taught “Development in the Performing Arts” as part of NYU’s Master’s program in Performing Arts Administration, and served as the Fundraising Specialist for Dance Theatre Workshop’s Laboratory in Arts Management. Keith holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance (cum laude) from Boston University and a Master of Arts degree in Performing Arts Administration from New York University.
Morgan Dean is a queer writer, actor, activist, and model. Through their art and through visibility, Morgan hopes to show all communities what queer and non-binary can and does look like. In 2016, Morgan worked for the Hillary for America campaign and vowed after the election to always be proud and visible, even if the face of violence and danger. They continued their political work, helping coordinate social media for Jehmu for DNC and Sister District, as well as volunteering and protesting. In 2018, Morgan realized something was missing in their life. Previously devoted to Musical Theater, Morgan flipped their life around and pursued something they loved but always told themselves they could never do: playwriting. In the past year Morgan’s play THEM has had readings with Broad Views on Broadway, the Summer Fresh Festival, and No Man’s Land Theatre Co. THEM will have its first fully staged premier in September 2019 at The Tank, produced by Honey Dipped Productions. Morgan is a 2018-2019 Artist in Residence with Broad Views on Broadway and a proud member and social media coordinator for Ring of Keys. Morgan graduated with a BFA in Music Theatre, Summa Cum Laude and with Honors, from The Hartt School. Morgan resides in Woodside, Queens with their beautiful and neurotic black cat Ruby.
Stephen Shafer Mazow Managing Director at Z Space, is a writer, theater artist, fundraiser, and activist living in San Francisco and working in program development and strategic initiatives at the intersection of art, science, and social justice. Prior to joining Z Space, Shafer was Senior Grants Manager at the Exploratorium and Director of Institutional Giving and Strategy at American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.). He serves on the organizing committee for Bay Area Writer’s Resist, leads the trans and gender-non-conforming advocacy and empathy project IPFreely, and has helped to establish space-sharing initiatives for performing artists, community-based theater programs, and research and action initiatives to address gender equity in the non-profit theater field. Shafer holds a B.A. in English from Wellesley College and a M.F.A. in English and Creative Writing from Mills College. His work has appeared in the Berkeley Fiction Review, 580 Split, and the zines Found and Brood. In his early days in San Francisco, Shafer performed stand-up and sketch comedy throughout the Bay Area and was a founding member of the comedy troupe, This Side of Butch.
Leigh Fondakowski (playwright/director) was the head writer of The Laramie
Project, co-writer of Laramie: Ten Years Later, and an Emmy Nominated co-
screenwriter for the film adaptation of Laramie with HBO Films. Her other original plays
include, I Think I Like Girls, The People's Temple, SPILL, and her current work-in-
progress, Casa Cushman. Her plays have been produced under her direction at
American Theater Company, Berkeley Repertory Theater, Encore Theater, Ensemble
Studio Theater, The Guthrie Theater, La Jolla Playhouse, Perseverance Theater, Swine
Palace, TimeLine Theater, and Z Space Studio. Awards include The Glickman Award
for Best New Play in the Bay Area (The People’s Temple); Bay Area Critics Circle
nomination for Best Production (I Think I Like Girls); and a Jeff Nomination for Best
Chicago Production (SPILL). Leigh is a 2007 recipient of the NEA/TCG Theatre
Residency Program for Playwrights, a 2009 MacDowell Colony fellow, and a 2018
recipient of The National Endowment of the Arts Residency for Collaborative Teams at
Yaddo. She held a Distinguished Visiting Chair at the University of Minnesota in 2010,
and is the author of the creative non-fiction book, Stories from Jonestown, which she is
currently adapting to film. She teaches and lectures around the country, including New
Orleans Center for Creative Arts, and has been a member of Tectonic Theater Project
since 1995. Leigh was the recipient of a Next Stage Drama League Fellowship in 2018
and was a participant in the Orchard Project’s pilot theater development program
Orchard Project Greenhouse.
Andrea Prestinario (Board Chair) is an award-winning actress, singer, and activist who is NYC-based and Chicago-grown. Regional – Baltimore Center Stage: Fun Home (Alison); Weston Playhouse: Fun Home (Alison), Guys & Dolls (Sarah Brown); Asolo Rep: My Fair Lady (Eliza) dir. Frank Galati; A.C.T. San Francisco: 1776 (Martha) dir. Frank Galati; Paramount Theatre Aurora: RENT (Maureen), My Fair Lady (Eliza); Lyric Opera Chicago: Oklahoma! (Gertie) dir. Gary Griffin; Drury Lane Oakbrook: Gypsy (Louise), Curtains, Sugar, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers; Writers’ Theatre: Oh, Coward!; Boho Theatre Company: Side Show (Violet – Jeff Award, Leading Actress). Solo show – sMOkeyTOWN: The Songs of Smokey Robinson: Laurie Beechman, Mayne Stage Chicago, Feinstein’s/54 Below, Beverly Arts Center Chicago, Metropolis (Arlington Heights) Arts Center. Andrea is a graduate of The School at Steppenwolf and holds a BFA in Musical Theatre and Gender Studies from Ball State University. She is the Co-founder and Executive Director of Ring of Keys, a national network of queer women, trans, and gender non-conforming artists working in the musical theatre industry.