With 6-day weeks, 10 to 12 hour rehearsals and tech, and patriarchal legacies, theater in the U.S. does not center parenthood in its operations.
With so many parents working in theater, this panel will discuss how theatrical processes and organizations would look if they were fully supportive of parents in all stages and structures of parenthood.
Meet the Speakers
Mx. Pucks A'Plenty
Performer & Producer
Mx. Pucks A'Plenty is the Director of Junk in da Trunk, the Michelle Obama of Burlesque, and Seattle's Own Mxtress of Thiccness! This roguish radical is always ready to ride whether it be behind the scenes or on stage. Spreading their black queer magic where ever they go, Pucks is always in control. Pucks is also the founder and co-producer behind the only all performer of color burlesque festival in the Pacific Northwest, What the Funk?! An All BIPOC Burlesque Fest. The Femme Daddy that your mother should have warned you about, Pucks is not only a performer but a producer, stage manager, and themcee for hire with wit and tit to spare. You may have seen them in VHOF (Virtual Burlesque Hall of Fame) this past August. They have performed in several festivals as well including the Buxom Blaze Burlesque Festival, Savannah Burlesque Festival, FIERCE! Queer Performing Arts Festival, Edmonton Burlesque Festival, They/Them Festival, Disabilitease Festival as well as performing in The Body Political in San Francisco, and as a guest performer with Bless Your Heart Burlesque in San Diego and Gritty City Sirens of Tacoma. They are the current Mx. Congeniality of the 2019 Savannah Burlesque Festival.
Development Director, Bushwick Northwest
Ailisa Newhall is a classically trained musician in voice, piano, and choral conducting with performance certificate from the Conservatory of Music and Dance Darius Milhaud. As one of Seattle’s leading session vocalists, Newhall regularly records for video game, film score, and corporate media. As a concert musician, Newhall has performed with many professional choirs and orchestras in the Pacific Northwest and can be heard on over thirty classical albums.
Newhall is passionate about the music community and enjoys working in development for Bushwick Northwest, an organization that delivers literature, music, and songwriting to the Seattle community while building the next generation of musicians and readers. She works with the Womxn in Music Collective, recently producing their first compilation album, and is a founding member and board president of the Mägi Ensemble, a professional Baltic women’s choir that uses the power of music to connect with the community and celebrate cultural heritage through the arts.
When she is not living in the performer and recording artist world, you can find Newhall teaching choir, piano, and guitar at Inglemoor High School. As an award-winning music educator, Newhall is a National Board Certified teacher and is the Commercial Music Chair and Area-Specific Representative for the Washington American Choral Directors Association. In her spare time, she writes folk music, studies accordion, appears as Miss May in the 2021 Accordion Babes Calendar, runs Pinehurst Photography, and looks forward to expanding her videography skills in a new partnership with Ballard Vox.
Faith Bennett Russell
Theatre Artist & Activist
Faith Bennett Russell is a Jamaican-African American, Brooklyn New York native, and a fighter and activist for racial and social justice. An actor, director, teaching artist, choreographer for the past 30-plus years, she has now added the title of playwright after debuting a new work in association with The Drinking Gourd: Black Writers At Work (a collaboration between Seattle’s The Hansberry Project and Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company). She most recently lent her voice to the sci-fi audio play Childfinder by Octavia Butler with Book-It Repertory Theater, and has been working with Seattle Public Theater and ACT Theatre as an actor in their Locally Grown and ACT Local new play series. She has served as the Education Assistant Manager for Village Theatre’s KIDSTAGE program, and the host of the webinar series “Meet The Masters.” Past directorial credits include, *Legally Blonde (Showtunes Theatre Company), *CROWNS (Taproot Theater), In the Heights (Village Theatre KIDSTAGE), and was last seen as an actor on the stage in The 5th Avenue Theatre's Annie.
(*Broadway World Regional Award Nominee; Best Director, Russell)
"One of the Top 5 Seattle-Area Actors” - Jeffrey Totey for CBS Seattle
Past credits include: Twelfth Night, The Odyssey (Seattle Rep’s Public Works); Urinetown (ACT/The 5th Avenue Theatre); Kiss Me, Kate, Grease, Rent (The 5th Avenue Theatre); The 25th Annual...Spelling Bee, The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes, Dreamgirls, My Heart is the Drum (Village Theatre); Big Fish (Taproot Theatre Company); The Lion...and the Wardrobe (Seattle Children’s Theatre); The Little Engine That Could (Storybook Theater). Thanks to God, the Fam, and my crew who’s always there supporting me.
Casting Director & Artistic Associate, Village Theatre
Jes Spencer (she/her) is in her sixth year at Village Theatre and couldn’t be happier to work with the amazing artists in the thriving Seattle theater community. Jessica has worked around the country in arts management, administration, and production for Arts Center Enterprises Inc., Nebraska Theatre Caravan, and locally for Taproot Theatre, Village Theatre, and The Inverse Opera. As a director, Jessica has gratefully worked locally with: Taproot Theatre, ArtsWest, Showtunes!, SecondStory Repertory, KIDSTAGE, and Village Theatre. She is the Co-Curator & Co-Producer of NextStage, along with Dedra Woods, and is deeply passionate in pursuing the answer to the much-needed question “How can you feed an artist’s soul without asking them for more?” Jessica is also an advocate for caregiver support, equity within the arts and harnessing the powerful impact of storytelling within one’s community. As a storyteller she believes that theater creates moments and opportunities for change and transcendence through collective joy, vulnerability, and hope.
Owner & Principal Consultant, Willhelm Consulting
Verhanika Willhelm is an organizational development consultant and executive coach specializing in holistic workplaces and leadership styles to foster health and healing. Prior to her work as a consultant, Verhanika was a stage manager for many Seattle arts organizations and a financial advisor to artists. A recent widow, she lost her husband Andy, a stage hand and active IATSE union member, to colon cancer in October 2019. Her 4 year old, Ronan, loves "The Magic School Bus" and is looking forward to starting “gingergarden” in the fall.
Artistic Director, Reboot Theatre Company
Jasmine Joshua (they/them) is a Seattle writer, producer, actor, and director. They are the Artistic Director of the award-winning Reboot Theatre Company whose mission is to test new interpretations of established works through nontraditional casting and design. Jasmine founded Reboot in 2014 while pregnant with twins and produced the nation's first ever all-female (at the time) production of 1776.
As an actor, Jasmine studied with the Larry Moss Studio and the Groundlings in Los Angeles. They have been seen on the stages of Intiman, Book-It Repertory Theatre, Seattle Musical Theatre, Annex, and Theater Schmeater, among others. Jasmine was the Assistant Director at The 5th Avenue Theatre (dir. Sheryl Kaller), Associate Director at Village Theatre (dir. Hunter Bird), and has directed at Reboot Theatre, Cafe Nordo, Radial Productions, and Twelfth Night Productions. Jasmine has also worked as a gender consultant with The 5th Avenue Theatre, Village Theatre, and ArtsWest. Their solo work BREAD CRUMBS was workshopped at The Scratch in Seattle and premiered at ACT Theatre's Solo Fest in February 2020.
Jasmine graduated magna cum laude from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Jewish Studies. Before moving to Seattle, Jasmine was a theatrical publicist in the Bay Area, managing clients from LORT theaters and Broadway tours to opera, ballet, and a monster truck rally. They are a proud member of the Dramatist Guild and Ring of Keys. www.jasminejoshua.com
Director of Arts Engagement, Seattle Rep
Nabra Nelson is a community organizer and theater creator from Egypt, Nubia, and California. She is also the Director of Arts Engagement at Seattle Rep. As an arts administrator, director, playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist, she works with theaters, universities, and community organizations to create positive change, strengthen community, and amplify under-heard voices through theater. She is a founding company member of Dunya Productions and Heard Space Arts Collective, and is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara.
(Re)Imagine Theater Panel Series
This series brings artists and community leaders together to envision a new theatrical world. Without constraints, what do we want theater to look like? Join the conversation.