NATIONAL QUEER THEATER STAFF

Adam Odsess-Rubin (Artistic Director) is a director, playwright, actor, and teaching artist. After performing in a production of The Laramie Project in high school, he found his purpose to create theater that spoke to issues of social justice in the LGBTQ community, which eventually led him to found the National Queer Theater. 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. He also wrote and directed Speechless (Theaterlab), a play exploring HIV narratives in 2018, to sold out audiences. He recently produced the Queer Village Reading Series, made up of four groundbreaking new queer plays tackling issues of asexuality, transgender history, and Middle Eastern criminalization of queer communities.

 

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. adam@nationalqueertheater.org

PJ Johnnie Jr. (Community Programs Coordinator) is a teaching artist, film producer, director, and actor. Off-Broadway: As Much As I Can (Joe’s Pub). He is 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.

James Arthur (Teaching Artist) is an actor, comedian, host, dancer, educator, and writer originally from the SF Bay Area. James received a BA and Graduate Certificate in Theater from the University of California Santa Cruz, where he also served as the Artistic Direct at the Barnstorm Theater company. A former theater Teaching Artist for K-12 and YouthAware Programs Coordinator at New Conservatory Theater Center in San Francisco, with a focus on building foundational theater skills, and empowering youth to find their voice, and strength through their own devised work. James is on a mission to H.E.A.L. (Help, Entertain, Actualize, and Love) the world through storytelling! james@nationalqueertheater.org

Board of Directors

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.
www.andreaprestinario.com

@andreaprestinario

Charles Gershman is a 2018-2019 Dramatists Guild Foundation Playwriting Fellow. His
award-winning play THE WAITING GAME premieres at 59E59 Theaters in February
2019. His solo piece IVANKAPLAY premieres in a workshop production at UNDER St
Marks in 2019. His play FREE & PROUD recently had an acclaimed run in the UK, playing
at Assembly Festival (Edinburgh), Theatre503 (London), and the King’s Head Theatre (Off-
West End, London), where it was nominated for the Amnesty International Freedom of
Expression Award and the SIT-Up Award. His play QUIK-MART, awarded the Chair’s
Award for excellence in dramatic writing at NYU-Tisch in 2018, had a reading at The Lark
in November 2018. Additional honors and awards include: Best Overseas Play Award (2017
Edinburgh Fringe), a Playspace grant (Lark Play Development Center), and the Future
Screenwriters Fellowship (NYU-Tisch). His plays have been produced or developed by The
Lark Play Development Center, The Playwrights’ Center, PlayPenn, the Kennedy Center,
LaMaMa ETC, Primary Stages, FringeNYC, Theatre for the New City, NYU-Tisch School
of the Arts, and The Barrow Group, among others, and have been published by Oberon
Books. He earned an MFA in dramatic writing at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and a BA
in history at Columbia University, and is a regular teaching artist at The New School’s
Eugene Lang College. www.charlesgershman.com

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.

Radhika Rao is an actor, improviser, storyteller, director, writer, and arts
educator/consultant. She has performed theater in the United States and abroad. She has an Ed.D from Harvard Graduate School of Education, and specializes in creating curriculum that integrates theater into diverse learning situations for various populations and organizations. Her work is steeped deeply in respect for life and social justice. Her collaborations include work with American Conservatory Theater, Cutting Ball Theater, Young Audiences of Northern California, Leela Improv, Enacte, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Eth-Noh-Tec Storytelling, Berkeley Repertory Theater, New Conservatory Theatre Center, Larkin St Youth Services, Life Theatre Services, Green Art Workshop, University of San Francisco, Santa Clara University, Samuel Merritt University, Stanford University, and HCL America. More at radhikarao.org.

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.

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