Gabriel Faith Howard (Sometimes) comes from a background in ballet and modern dance, and has over the years expanded his repertoire to include classical and physical theater, stage combat and circus arts. He is an ensemble member with Imaginez Ensemblez and a deviser/performer in Imaginez’ flagship touring show Take Flight. He is also an ensemble member and resident fight director with Cave Painting Theater in Chicago. Gabriel was a girl who grew up to be a man and as such is thrilled to join Living Canvas in this exploration of gender identity in [Trans]formation. In this show and in the rest of his life, Gabriel is on a mission to create and discover ridiculous, beautiful, and viscerally effective stories.
Ronen Kohn (Ezekiel, co-deviser) is thrilled to be returning to the Living Canvas ensemble after last appearing as a cast member in Rain (2011). Between then and now, Ronen has founded and fronted the trock band Time Crash, releasing a full album, Regeneration(2014), and an EP, The Empty (2016). You can follow Ronen’s ongoing gender quest in the weekly YouTube vlog, Now Ze Hir. Ronen is a graduate of Northwestern University’s theatre program. Continued love to my partners and my family.
Lily Jean (Kelly) is all about embracing weirdness and has been working as a performer of all things slightly left of up since returning to Chicago in 2014. They are ecstatic to be joining The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company in the creation of [Trans]formation. As a company member with Movement Revolution Dance Crew, Modet Dance Collective, and Gorilla Tango Burlesque, their work is interdisciplinary and explorative. Lily will be modeling for The Rational Dress Society in December and debuting new choreography with The Coincidentals in January 2017. Their choreography has also been featured by Ascendance Dance Company, Beast Women, and Heels Over Head at iO Theater. Lily regularly performs burlesque under the stage name Jean Wildest.
Chase Nuerge (Zhey) is very excited to participate in ems first Living Canvas show and is so grateful to have been a part of this amazing cast. Em is a recent graduate of Oberlin College’s theater program and is enjoying joining the theater scene in Chicago. Previous roles include Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Kay in Balm in Gilead, Edith in Blithe Spirit, and ensemble cast member in Love and Information. Em also draws blood and takes care of children (not at the same time), and finds ems combination of career choices hilarious. “Gender non-conforming orchid” is a phrase from the rehearsal process that em identifies with greatly.
Ben Polson (Diamond) is your average Actor/ Director/ Mathematician/ Musician. Zhe has been exploring jobs and Chicago for about a year now. After extensive research, zhe has determined that life is as exactly as complicated as people have been implying. Ben experiments with queer performance art while loving every moment of all theatre and performance art opportunities. Zhe is still pretty lost as to what zhe wants to do when zhe grows up. Some recent ideas are things revolving around making math less scary, making jobs more accessible to queer folks, and running away to join a circus. In the meantime, Ben will continue spending zher time hanging out with queer folks, tutoring math, missing the east coast, and perpetually trying to get zher personal projects off the ground. Feel free to say hi to zhim after the show and ask zhim about the time zhe worked as a Pelican. As for theatre credits Ben works as a Zombie at Room Escape Adventures Chicago; has been Captain Hook in a site-specific, devised version of Peter Pan; and Andie, a trans woman in a choose your own adventure queer play about emotional abuse from friends called Complacency by Jimmy Lovett. Enjoy all that is magic and learn to love and love to learn another day.
Kevin Sparrow (Meteorologist, co-deviser) is a writer, performer, and curator of live and time-based work. They utilize text to create performances, performance to create text, and both to create responses that provoke inquiry and participation. They have performed solo work at SAIC, Tritriangle, DANK Haus, and others, and collaborative work at the Art Institute, MCA, and Northwestern University. Kevin is Literary Manager for Nothing Without a Company and an ensemble member of Vaudezilla! Burlesque and Productions.
Lindsey Weiss (understudy) is a sophomore at Northwestern University studying theatre and gender & sexuality studies. Even as a wee understudy, they’re so excited to be working on their first Chicago show! At Northwestern, they serve as Design Technical Director for Lipstick Theatre, the student organization dedicated to mounting intersectional feminist work, and are currently producing Body Awareness by Annie Baker. Other interests include Halloween, burlesque, internet memes, pasta, and having a chill time with the boys. 😎
[Trans]formation Production Team
Gaby Labotka (director, co-choreographer, co-deviser) is an actor, director, storyteller, choreographer, and more living and working in the city of Chicago. Most recently she was the fight choreographer for Battleaxe Betty presented by ATC’s CORE Series, and she directed, curated, and hosted Fight Night: Valkyries for Nothing Special Productions. She has assistant directed for the House Theatre of Chicago (The Rose and the Rime, The Crownless King, the Magnificents) and Mary -Arrchie Theatre Co (Geography of a Horse Dreamer); directed for play festivals hosted by Indie Boots, Nothing Special Productions, Otherworld Theatre Company, Hobo Junction, and Mary-Arrchie; and directed The Living Canvas: Rain in 2011. Gaby graduated from Illinois State University with degrees in acting and directing with the honor of Exceptional Merit in the Arts and recently attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. Love and gratitude to family and friends, Bill, and everyone who supported and contributed to this project. Check out more: https://www.facebook.com/GabyLabotka.Theatre/ Keep smiling.
Marisa Allison (costume designer) is a costume designer, embroidery artist, and activist in Chicago. Some of their favorite costume design credits include Mementos Mori with Manual Cinema, The Terrible with New Colony, Animals Commit Suicide with First Floor Theater, and working with The Hypocrites as wardrobe supervisor for All Our Tragic. Current projects include a design collaboration with ALEXA GRAE, and production design for Rite of Spring as a part of American Theater Company’s CORE Residency. They will be attending Jane Addam’s School of Social Work in the fall of 2017 to continue their education as an activist and advocate of marginalized youth.
Brittany Meyer (scenic designer) is an interior, brand, production, event and scenic designer with an BA in interior architecture from FSU. You can see their work at the A&A Ballet, Joffrey Academy, and Red Frog Events. Outside of design, Brittany runs a body positive, queer, stand up comedy show called ‘Strip Joker’ at Uptown Underground every month. For more info, check out their website – BrittanyMeyerDoesThat.com.
Chris Owens (projections designer) hails from the great state of Nebraska, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in the arts of theatre, journalism, and media from Doane College. Since then, Chris has interned at Actors Theatre of Louisville, New York Stage and Film, assistant directed at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, and toured internationally as a video technician with Pilobolus Dance Theater. Chris currently resides in Chicago where he works as a freelance director, video designer, and stage technician. Chicago credits include: Don’t Look (Something Marvelous), My American Cousin (Silk Road Rising), Katrina: The Mother-in-Law of them all (Interrobang), Them (Pursuit Productions), Crime Scene: The Next Chapter (Collaboraction), and Thinking Caps (Strangeloop).
Sarah Putts (sound designer) is excited to be working with Living Canvas and Nothing without a Company to bring to life this important story. Her recent credits include Grizzly Mama at Rivendell Ensemble Theatre, The Way She Spoke with Greenhouse Theatre, Dryland at Rivendell Ensemble Theatre, The New Sincerity with Theater Wit, Beautiful Autistic with Chicago Dramatists Theatre, assistant design on Jeeves at Sea with First Folio Theatre, assistant designed Marvin’s Room with Shattered Globe Theatre, Merchant of Venice (Heart of America Shakespeare Festival), King Lear (Heart of America Shakespeare Festival), Freedom Rider (Crossroads Theatre), Merchant of Venice (Heart of America Shakespeare Festival), Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (Unicorn Theatre), Violet (Spinning Tree Theatre), Hamlet & Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead (Kansas City Actors Theatre), and Afflicted: Daughters of Salem –World Premier(Coterie Theatre). Coming up: Rutherford’s Travels with Pegasus Theatres, and the Director’s Haven Play Fest with the Haven Theatre Company.
Michael J. Sanow (Technical Director) is excited to be building the set for (Trans)formation, his first for Nothing Without A Company and The Living Canvas. He’s built sets for the Mary-Arrchie Theatre (where he is a company member), The Apollo Theater (Game of Thrones: A Musical Parody), Tympanic Theatre, BoHo Theatre, Cole Theatre, Pavement Group, and Sinnerman Theatre Companies, as well as many other Chicago storefront theatres. He’s excited to be building the sets for Underscore Theatre Company in November and the Comrades Theatre Company in January. He’s an Executive Producer of the TV pilot Cowl Girl, and the ongoing web series Under Covers, both produced through Arrow & Key Productions. He’s co-owner with Carlo Lorenzo Garcia of SFC Productions, Ltd., and is the sole owner of the Michael J. Sanow Casting Agency. He’s Executive Producer/Casting Director of the TV pilot, Fatty, A Raven’s Cry, Touching Evil, and The Humbler (all currently in pre-production) and several music videos, feature films, short films, and web series. He is currently serving his 22nd year in the active duty military and eyeballing retirement at some point during the next 8 years. Most recently, he appeared as Monroe in the short independent film, Mothers of God, and as the bartender in the music video, I Dream I Die, and is set to appear as an orderly in the short film White Shoes Black Water (which he’s also executive producing and has commenced filming) which stars Joel Murray, Jim O’Heir, Austin Pendleton, Rusty Schwimmer, David Pasquesi, Austin O’Brien, Tim O’Malley, James VanOsdol, Rich Cotovsky, Preston Tate, Jr., Simeon Henderson, Greg Hollimon, Carlo Garcia, Nick Mikula, Jessie Prez, Andrew Saenz, Nelson Rodriguez, Zach Livingston, Torey Adkins, Cole Earnest, Mickey O’Sullivan, Tori Titmas, Guy Van Swearingen, Robyn Coffin, Carmen Molina, Stephen Walker, Will Clinger, William Bullion, John Wilson, Lane Flores, Celeste Burns, Dillon Kelleher, Kasia Januszewski, the band On the Off Chance, and there’s a good chance if you’re reading this, you’ll be in it, too. He’s also appeared as a human prop on Chicago PD, as well as the movies Contagion and Transformers 3. He’s a proud member of SAG-AFTRA. Additionally, he’s getting ready to launch The Asylum, (weekly live programming every day of the week beginning January 2017) which is a sanctuary for performances of improv, standup comedy, one person shows, and original musical performers in order to afford up and comers an opportunity to share their art with the world. Details coming soon. Enjoy the show.
Veronica Bustoz (stage manager) is honored to be a part of [Trans]formation! This marks her first production with both companies. Her previous credits include stage managing World Builders at First Floor Theatre and assistant stage managing Death and Harry Houdini, The Hammer Trinity, and The Last Defender at The House Theatre of Chicago. She is a proud member of ALTA and the recent recipient of a Grand Award in stage management. Veronica would like to thank the cast, Gaby, and Charlie for being such a wonderful group of humans; her family for being supportive, and The Pentagon and her Life Commissioner for always keeping her sane.
Avi Roque (co-deviser) is a multi-disciplinary artist, and a proud Latinx and genderqueer/gender non-conforming/trans individual who is constantly exploring discovery of self through creating and devising their own work whilst also breathing life into the words of others on the stages of Chicago. As an actor they have worked with theatres such as Goodman and Lookingglass, as well as Collaboraction & First Floor Theatre, where they also happen to be a company member. Earlier this year they worked with Writer’s Theatre and The Chicago Inclusion Project on a beautiful reading of Saint Joan by George Bernard Shaw. As a new up and coming solo performer they have been seen at Salonathon, fundraising events for Pride Films & Plays and Sappho’s Salon. Recently, Avi had a chance to record an original piece of theirs for a local podcast for queer and allied artists titled ‘Speaking Of…’. Avi received acting/theatre training from California State University, Fullerton and is represented by Paonessa Talent Agency. Lastly, they are extremely grateful for being one of the devisors for [Trans]formation…”If there was anything I could change in the world world, it would be, it would be…to see you for you & me for me, you you you, me me me…Invisible no more, visibility is key.” You can learn more about Avi and their whereabouts at aviroque.com.
Darling Squire (co-choreographer, co-deviser) is a Chicago Native but has roots in Atlanta where they started their dance training. They attended North Springs Charter School of the performing arts where they got training in ballet, modern, jazz and African. They began dancing professionally right out of high school and in that time (from 2008 to 2011) they worked with many great choreographers. The highlights were working with Bubba Carr (choreography/artistic director to Cher for 12yrs and counting), Rhonda Henriksen (soloist with Hubbard Street and Twyla Tharp), Tracy Vogt (former Philadanco dancer), Hinton Battle (the Original Scarecrow from the broadway production of The Wiz) and Lauri Stallings (Hubbard Street soloist and founder/artistic director of gloATL). They moved back to Chicago the summer of 2011 to start their company Suna Dance — a collaborative artist group — and had their first performance in November of 2011. They are a freelance dancer/choreographer in the city and have worked with The Fly Honeys of the The Inconvenience and various other dance troops and companies around the city.
Charlie Hano (assistant director) is a freelance casting professional in the city of Chicago. They’ve worked with Oak Park Theatre Festival, Promethean Theatre, Victory Gardens, and many more. Recently they became the Administrative Coordinator at No Stakes Theater Project. They graduated from Columbia College with a BA in Theatre in 2014. As always, all my love to Mom, Dad, and Patrick.
Anna Rose Ii-Epstein (co-producer) is honored to be working with The Living Canvas for the first time. She has directed, performed, or produced over 25 new plays with Nothing Without a Company, where she is the co-artistic director and a proud founding member. She originally hails from Houston, TX where she attended The High School for the Performing Arts for acting. She fell in love with Chicago while attending the National High School Institute Cherub program at Northwestern and soon after attended DePaul Theater School and Columbia College Chicago, where she received her BFA in acting with a minor in directing. Anna Rose has worked with other company’s such as The Goodman, Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens Theater, Mary-Arrchie Theatre CO, The Inconvenience, Pride Films and Plays, Silent Theatre Company, Nothing Special Productions, About Face Theatre, The LIVINGroom and Windy City Performing Arts whome she sang in choir with for 5 years. Her new passion is video and her short film Sweet, won runner up and best director at Chicago’s 48 Hour Film Project in 2015. Check out more at IiEpstein.com
Pete Guither (co-producer) loves the collaborative process and is excited to be collaborating with Nothing Without a Company and all the passionate people involved in this projection. Pete is the artistic director of The Living Canvas (TheLivingCanvas.com) telling compelling stories with performers’ bodies clothed with the textures of projected images. He recently retired as assistant dean of the College of Fine Arts at Illinois State University, where he served for 27 years and also taught arts management. Pete is a theatre photographer, a fine art photographer, a piano player, a drug policy expert, and hosts New York theatre tours for students and adults. He has a Master of Fine Arts in performing arts management from Brooklyn College and a degree in theatre from Cornell College.