Day 28 – Santa Barbara School of Performing Arts

Jim Sirianni Interview with: Dauri Kennedy and Gary Smith


The Santa Barbara School of Performing Arts— SOPA (pronounced so:pah) originally Big Stage Productions began in 2006. Led by Co-Founder and Artistic Director Dauri Kennedy and her team of Artists in Residence, SOPA has produced at least three full productions each year. In addition, SOPA and its partners continue to provide classes in Vocal Technique, Theatre Arts, Dance, Stage Management, Set Design and many other aspects of a career in the arts for all ages.

SOPA began an exciting new partnership with the Jo Ann Caines Theatre Collective in 2019 with is inaugural production of Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical

The newly formed Jo Ann Caines Theatre Collective led by Gary Smith seeks to carry on the vision of Jo Ann Caines by building community through the arts and by helping to improve self-esteem and team-building skills in all of its participants regardless of social and/ or economic status. In order to produce Matilda the Musical the Collective brought businesses, parents and students from eleven different elementary, junior high, high school and college programs together for a common purpose and vision. 

We are currently working on a production of SCHOOL OF ROCK: The Musical. The show will feature adult and child actors. Because of Covid-19 we have been rehearsing through zoom and have filmed a virtual version of a few scenes. We plan to make a film of the entire show by the end of June so so the actors have a sense of accomplishment and something to show for all of their hard work. 

We have a continued collaboration with InterAct Theatre School and it’s director Natalia Emily Smith is one of our choreographers for our upcoming show. She also choreographed Matilda. 

Your children and teens will love coming to the InterAct Theatre School!

In both our Term-Time Classes and during our Special Summer Camps your child will discover their inner strengths.

Our successful classes in Acting, Singing and Dancing are a superb way to learn new skills and make new friends. Through a shared love of expressive arts, they will gain skills for life. As they immerse themselves in performance, you will see confidence, self-esteem and creativity blossom.

The benefits of our classes for your children and teens are truly wonderful. Improved confidence and creative thinking are the perfect investment to complement their everyday academic school life.

Day 27 – Kieron Barry

Kieron Barry is a playwright born in Stratford-upon-Avon and living in Ventura, California. His sixteen plays have received over 40 professional productions in New York, London, Edinburgh, Canada, South Africa and beyond.

His play Stockwell enjoyed two sell-out runs in London and prompted his nomination for a London Evening Standard Theatre Award alongside Sir Ian McKellen, Kevin Spacey and Sam Mendes. The play was described by The London Times in its five-star review as ‘more gripping than anything else in the London theatre.’

Kieron’s play Numbers, a one-act black comedy set in a girls’ boarding school, was featured in Lucy Kerber’s book 100 Great Plays For Women alongside plays by Oscar Wilde, Tennessee Williams and Euripides. The play was featured in a discussion on women and power at the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain in 2015. 

His play Tomorrow In The Battle has enjoyed three runs in New York where it was described by the New York Times as ‘white-hot passion.’ 

He is published by Samuel French, the world’s oldest theatrical publishers. 

Link to Vice, by Kieron Barry

Kieron Barry interview for Center Stage Theater, Santa Barbara

Tell us about your background. You were born in Stratford-upon-Avon and have ended up living in Ventura as a playwright. What has your artistic path been?

Have I ended up? Already? And yet I still nurture the fond hope of one day standing in the well-lit door of a converted New England farmhouse, a daughter under each arm, watching the snow silently start to fall. 

Until then, though, as you correctly imply, we do have show business. My decision to pursue a career as a playwright was not an entirely conscious one, and indeed ‘playwright’ feels slightly too grand a word for what I am. I note that David Hare styles himself a dramatist, although I can’t work out if this term is more illustrious or less. ‘Playwright’ is a useful expression, though, in that it reminds us that making plays is a craft rather than an art, and as such we should be stored alongside wheelwrights, wainwrights and arguably Dame Joan Plowright.

Quite by accident I had spent a lot of time in theatres as an undergraduate, writing music for plays and comedy revues. I loved the environment, and I felt at home amid theatre folk – loose gangs of rangy outsiders knitted together with fondness and anxiety. 

A series of impulses led me to try writing sketches myself, and then plays. Every single line I wrote for the first few years was wholly without merit, but then in play number four I had a character say, at an impasse in a domestic argument, ‘OK. Well. Look.’ When delivered on stage the line exhilarated me: at last I had worked out how people spoke. After half a decade’s digging, a piece of coal! An ordinary and all but unnoticeable piece of coal, but what a thrill to hold it in my dusty paw at last. 

I still look tenderly to the novel for its peerless ability to convey the inner life, but the bliss of having an actor like Tamsin Greig play a character you have created is a pleasure I wish everyone could experience. Thus I stick with the stage.

You mention I was born in Stratford-upon-Avon. Oddly this is true: I share a hometown and a profession with someone who was both the greatest entertainer and the greatest philosopher in human history. Any comparison between me and Shakespeare beyond the two simple, coinciding facts of origin and occupation would clearly be laughable. It would be like someone who happened to be born in Nevada seeing the Grand Canyon and saying, ‘Yeah; that could be me some day.’

But I still get a small kick from it. 

You write for both theater and film; how is the process or artistic experience different in the two different mediums?

In some ways the two disciplines are similar; the inherent constraints of each are forever perched on your shoulder. And indeed the key constraint is common to both: what is all this going to cost? 

The theatre audience, I have found, is slightly more willing to have her patience taxed. She recognises some effort is required on her part – the play might only meet her halfway. 

Also it’s no coincidence that those who attend the theatre are referred to as an audience (like ‘audio’ this comes from the Latin word audire meaning ‘to hear’) whereas television’s consumers are called viewers. One group uses their ears, the other their eyes. It’s helpful to remember this, even if only to subvert it.

I love directing film and dearly wish to do more of it. The process, particularly if it involves an element of producing as well – which, let’s face it, it always does – is like a cross between organising a wedding and coordinating the search for the body of a missing child. Great and glamorous excitement and then suddenly a swerve into awful, sickening dread. I have a cousin who is a far more successful writer and producer than I am, and I went to watch his TV series being shot to see how the big boys do it. It turns out they do it just like the little boys do: set up the camera in one direction, then take it down set it up in the other. For the film director, the working day is, amid the mess and the make-shift, just a series of problems to be solved, the only constant one being which things can be jettisoned and still leave you with a just-about-complete film. 

But I don’t enjoy directing plays. The rehearsal room feels like a month-long chess match against four opponents. I prefer swanning in here and there as the writer – not exactly an event on a film set – and answering a few affectionate questions from the cast.

I have found the best training for the filmmaker is to watch plays in small theatres. One is forever having to decide where to look on stage and turn one’s head accordingly. This is editing, and all elements of film-making are merely prep for the edit.

For the Festival you have shared your short film Vice. Tell us about the origins of this project; what inspired it?

Desperate to blurt my way into the film world I saw two principal obstacles; zero money and zero knowledge. The first of these was briskly solved by some irresponsibly-approved credit card applications, but the second remained a concern. Despite having watched films all my life I realised I didn’t even know how a camera coped with someone rising from a chair. Do we follow the actor’s head upwards? Does the actor’s head suddenly appear from the bottom of a static shot? Do we merely stay on a wide? This fed back in to the budgetary concerns to prompt a decision – my film should be set in just one room, with actors standing up on a life-or-death basis only. 

But how to make such a chamber piece interesting, let along entertaining? I had to rack my brains for a scenario that would have drama and intrigue but still be shot within the laser-like narrowness of my technical and financial limits. Happily I was able to come up with a zippy little plot that is arguably a poor, rural cousin to Gogol’s The Government Inspector

Once I had a script I was eventually able to place it under the robust nose of Jay O. Sanders, a New York-based actor I had admired since his superb performance in Oliver Stone’s JFK, one of my favourite films. Jay wanted to do it, thank God, and this proved a big enough deal to get everyone else involved. For every second of the shoot I was terrified and hopelessly out of my depth, but I was saved by Keiko Nakahara, an unflappable cinematographer with a discerning eye. Through her lens I saw that even just lingering on the rugged texture of Jay’s face was exhilarating. These were the close-ups that I had spent my theatrical career unconsciously pining for. 

Oddly, when the film is shown in the UK it is considered a drama, and when shown in the US it is considered a comedy. The Americans are wrong, on this if nothing else. 

What is your creative process? When you are writing how do you tackle a new project?

The key requirement for me to produce decent work is fear. I have an acute dread of humiliation and will do almost anything to avoid it, even the filthy, noxious work of writing. 

First I must lay a trap for myself. When the idea for a new project strikes I immediately pick up the phone and book a theatre for a read-through one evening about two months hence. This provides a deadline, plus requires parting with some cash. Both focus the mind, but they are as nothing to then contacting half a dozen actors and asking them to participate. Preferably these will be actors who intimidate me, thereby forming another sharp spur to action.

So I’m trapped. The script must now be written. There is no other way. At this point the top 10% of my intelligence can at last be accessed – in normal life my brain keeps this spitefully locked away. Off I go; scared, feeble and breathless but scribbling away at last. 

Twelve hours before the reading the inside of my head resembles the library at Alexandria the day after its sacking, but miraculously one book has survived – the new script! That first reading, despite such efforts, shall be a painful failure, but after repeating the process a few more times over the next six months something will emerge which may eventually garner sufficient attention to be produced, briefly enjoyed by audiences, then swiftly lost in the wreck of Time once more. Wholly forgotten by civilisation, the sole remaining trace of my self-destructive spree is the awarding of three stars out of five in Time Out London; a flimsy, worthless ribbon of a medal pinned to my now starved and concave chest. 

This is no way to live. 

You have also shared part of the script for one of your plays, The Official Adventures of Kieron & Jade, which ran recently here in Santa Barbara and I understand there is a production planned in Ventura.  Tell us about this script and how it came to be.

In 2015 I at last achieved the long-coveted triple; broken heart, nervous breakdown and midlife crisis. One of the many under-recognised benefits of such a grand slam is the end of embarrassment; when they’re shaving your chest in the ambulance to apply the paddles you note with distant joy that the largeness of your nose is now irrelevant. There are bigger fish to be gutted now.

Such social liberty is good for a writer, although the obvious idea of writing a play about my statistically unremarkable trauma did not occur to me for a long time. For the first few months I was too busy trying to find a way out of bed, and for the next few I could not for the life of me find the sculpture of narrative amid the marble of experience. 

This would have been an easier play to write if my relationship had failed on account of an addiction to cocaine and prostitutes. Remorse becomes a writer, and everyone is primed to believe a guilty confession. But I wasn’t sure whether I had anything to confess or not, and pointing a finger at an absent third party unable to defend themselves is conducive neither to decency nor comedy. For I had come to realise that the play could only be a comedy, and in fact my story demanded very little comedic exaggeration.

In a certain way that play was no more autobiographical than any other play of mine. A play that doesn’t seem to be related to my own life allows me to get away with including any weird, private thought I would normally be too embarrassed to ascribe to myself, whereas I knew with this play that every odd fetish and foible I described would be attached to me forever. So a portion of me remained cautious, even as I turned myself upside down and shook me till the coins fell out. 

And, boringly or not, I was desperate to be fair to everyone involved. When watching the play for the first time I oscillated between fear that I had gone too far and annoyance that I had not gone far enough. That might suggest the balance was about right. 

But it is a strange sensation to hear your own name spoken on stage. That is, if like me you have an unusual one – Johns are presumably used to this. I was lucky, however, that the play had its first run in a part of the world in which not a soul knew me. When we did it in London, though, much of my family was in attendance and it was the closest I’ve ever come to bolting from a theatre at curtain-up. My embarrassment was exactly total, but Keats reminds us that we are at our most human when we blush. As artists we should surely welcome such acute pain.

How have you been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis? What impact has it had on your creative process?

During the lockdown actors and directors are stymied in a creative no man’s land. But for writers there can be no excuses now. The only barrier to creating a masterpiece is the psychological one erected by endless well-wishers reminding you there are currently no barriers to creating a masterpiece. 

I was slightly behind on a rewrite when the virus struck, and so was guiltily grateful for the new luxury of time to catch up. Perversely I then found myself starting work on a new, unbidden play. Like falling in love, one never quite knows when such impulses will arise, nor indeed what their legacy shall prove. But one owes it to one’s heart to follow one’s nose. 

I’m determined to emerge from the crisis better educated than when I entered. I read a play a day, and watch a classic movie. Last week I watched seven Rita Hayworth films. How tragically swift seems the life of a movie star when viewed through the utilitarian retrospection of the binge-watch.

Since you have a production that was planned before the crisis hit, where are you with that show at this point?  

I still really want to do the Jade play (or Official Adventures, surely, if we must shorten it) in Ventura. It shall be seen what’s still standing at the end of all this. The run in Santa Barbara was fun and I was very pleased with how it went. We have two world-class actors – Meeghan Holaway and Richard Sanderson – who as far as I can tell remain keen, so I’m keeping my well-sanitised fingers firmly crossed. 

Do you think this crisis will have a lasting impact on theater?

Not compared to Ibsen. 

But in the short term I fear a massacre of local theatres. At the onset of harsh winters the theatre is generally the first member of the community to start shivering. So I worry about that a lot. Of course we will eventually see a recovery, but what opportunities – for audiences and artists – will be lost in the meantime?

That’s the structural effect. Let’s hope I’m wrong. Regarding the thematic effect, the coronavirus is like US politics: it may very well be an urgent and vital subject but only one genius in a hundred can think of anything original to say about it. Once we’re all back at work, writers, directors and producers must all sign a covenant not to produce any virus-themed projects for five years. Audiences will have no interest whatsoever – until suddenly they do, and then amid some truly awful plays one classic will appear that shall survive the test of time and become The Crucible of the coronavirus. I don’t think it’s going to come from my pen.

Kieron Barry
May 2020


by Kieron Barry 

Scene 1 

A tennis ball bounces across the stage. 

Madam Metaphor This is a play about Addiction and Delusion. 

Mister Metaphor Every recovering heroin addict will tell you the same thing: ‘Heroin is dangerous, it’s expensive, it’ll destroy your health, your looks and your career – now where can I get some?’ 

Madam Metaphor In London in 2004 an ambulance crew was called to a building site where a man had driven a six-inch nail through his foot. No matter how much morphine they gave him, he kept screaming. When they cut away his boot they saw the nail had passed between his toes, missing him completely. 

Mister Metaphor This is a play about Addiction and Delusion. 

They both throw a glorious cloud of glitter into the air. Everything is briefly magical and we hear the first three seconds of Randy Crawford’s ‘Street Life’. Then immediately: 

Scene 2 

The director, Danielle, is intense and academic. She might wear glasses. 

Kieron Because we had an agreement. 

Danielle The agreement was that I would / direct your next play. 

Kieron / direct my next play. Yes. 

Danielle You said you were writing a play about Bill Evans. 

Kieron I was. 

Danielle So what’s this? 

Kieron It’s a play about me and Jade. 

Danielle Where’s the Bill Evans thing? 

Kieron I want to do this now. 

Danielle Don’t get me wrong, what happened with you and Jade, it – 

Kieron Beggars belief? 

Danielle It – 

Kieron Puzzles the will? Makes calamity of so long life? 

Danielle It sucks. 

Kieron What a wordsmith. You should be the one writing this. 

Danielle I don’t think anyone should be writing it, Kieron. 

Kieron I don’t know what else to do. I’m desperate. Since she left me I’ve lost three pounds every week. 

Danielle So write a diet book, but don’t do this. It’s unfair. 

Kieron I’m just trying to understand what happened. I’m not going to say anything negative. 

Danielle You’ve had your heart broken. I’m really sorry. Just have a year of red wine, froyo and Netflix like everyone else. Don’t write about it. 

Kieron I can’t stop writing. 

Danielle Neither could Jeffrey Dahmer, apparently, but that doesn’t mean it’s worth reading. Write about something else. 

Kieron There is no something else. 

Danielle And you’re not going to change the names? 

Kieron Why should I? Did Joan Didion in The Year Of Magical Thinking

Danielle No. 

Kieron Did C. S. Lewis in A Grief Observed

Danielle Yes. 

Kieron That one’s a bad example. 

Danielle Just lightly fictionalise it. Like Betrayal by Harold Pinter. 

Kieron But what difference does it make? Everyone knows Betrayal is about Harold Pinter and / Joan Bakewell. 

Danielle / Joan Bakewell. 

Kieron Right. So he may as well have used the real names. 

Danielle I don’t think you should put Jade in a play. 

Kieron First rule of theatre: if you don’t want to appear in any plays, don’t hang out with any playwrights. 

Danielle I thought the first rule of theatre was always leave them wanting more. 

Kieron Well she did that too. 

Danielle If you really love her, you won’t write it. It’s just your side of the story. 

Kieron She’s written songs about me. 

Danielle They all say nice things. 

Kieron There’s a similar deal in North Korea. Total freedom of speech, just don’t say anything nasty. This is an important principle. 

Danielle It’s not Wikileaks. It’s a 26-year-old who changed her mind. 

Kieron She’s actually 27. 

Danielle It seems I owe you an apology. 

Kieron This is important to me. 

Danielle To you, yes. But look at this. (she brandishes the draft) It’s just a rant. There’s nothing less attractive than a middle-aged man complaining that a younger woman no longer wants to have sex with him. If you want this to be a play it has to have a structure, a narrative thrust, it needs light and shade. 

Kieron It has all of that. Look at the very first scene. We see the Kieron character breaking the news to his best friend Emma. It sets the comic tone of the play and establishes the Emma character who becomes important later. 

Danielle I’m sorry, Kieron, but I don’t want to direct it. 

Kieron Is there anything you like about the script? 

Danielle This is the first play of yours that doesn’t mention the Nazis, so that’s a plus. 

Kieron Can I show you the first scene? 

Danielle You can do what you like, but I’m not directing your play. 

Kieron So that’s a no. 

Danielle That’s a no. 

Kieron I hate to get nasty, Danielle, but might I remind you that under the terms of our contract you’re legally obliged to direct whatever script I hand in to your theatre. 

Danielle You’re really going to force me? 

Kieron I’m really going to force you. 

Danielle Wow! Why would anyone ever split up with you

Kieron Just take a look at the first scene. 

Scene 3 

Emma is no-nonsense. She might chew gum, for example. 

Emma What do you mean, split up? 

Kieron She left me. 

Emma When? 

Kieron About an hour ago. 

Emma What did you do? 

Kieron Nothing. 

Emma That doesn’t sound like you, Bobo. What did she say? 

Kieron She didn’t say anything. 

Emma So how do you know she left you? 

Kieron Because that’s what she said. 

Emma What did she say? 

Kieron She said she was leaving me. 

Emma But why? 

Kieron I don’t know. 

Emma What; she just left? 

Kieron She just left. 

The following sequence is very fast, like that name-guessing riff in the film ‘Ted’. 

Emma ’Cos you couldn’t get it up? 

Kieron No. 

Emma You needed Viagra? 

Kieron No. 

Emma You were impotent? 

Kieron These are all the same thing. No. 

Emma You were sleeping around? 

Kieron No. 

Emma You had sex with her sister? 

Kieron I just said no. 

Emma Her mother? 

Kieron No. 

Emma Your mother. 

Kieron No. 

Emma I give up. Who did you have sex with? 

Kieron I didn’t have sex with anyone. 

And back to normal speed (albeit our faster-than-normal normal speed)… 

Emma You’re right. It’s a mystery. Wait a second: who was she having sex with? 

Kieron No one. 

And back to high speed: 

Emma Her bass player. 

Kieron No. 

Emma Drummer. 

Kieron No. 

Emma Guitarist. 

Kieron No. 

Emma Lead singer. 

Kieron She is the lead singer. 

Emma What else is there? 

Kieron Mandolin player. 

Emma Mandolin player. 

Kieron No. 

Emma Head of record company. 

Kieron No. 

Emma Senior vice-president of A&R. 

Kieron No. 

Emma Vice-president of distribution. 

Kieron We’re not going through the whole organisation, are we? 

Emma Paul McCartney. 

Kieron People split up for reasons other than sex, Emma. 

Emma (as one might fondly address the mentally ill) That’s right, Bobo… 

Kieron We’re so good together. People come up to us all the time – 

Emma I know. 

Kieron – and say – 

Emma Yes, we know. 

Kieron They say / ‘You guys look wonderful together’ – 

Emma / ‘You guys look wonderful together,’ yes. 

Kieron And we always say our children will have / curly hair and little round glasses. 

Emma / Curly hair and little round glasses. Because it combines your visual trademark with hers, yes. 

One of the miscellaneous props is a toy pistol. During the above Emma picks it up and mimes shooting herself in the head in frustration. 

Kieron Yes, I may have mentioned that before. I apologise for boring my best friend with minor details from my life such as joy and love. 

Emma You’re right, I’m sorry; I’m not the only victim here. 

Kieron Not really a victim at all, are you. 

Emma First things first. How are you feeling? 

Kieron And that took… two minutes and eleven seconds. 

Emma (she’s suddenly got it!) She left because you’re racist! 

Kieron I’m not racist

Emma Just a little bit, I mean. (she gestures) 

Kieron (ignoring her) What happens now? I mean: is she coming back? What about all our stuff? (it suddenly strikes him) Who’s going to tell the dog? And how

Emma She really didn’t say anything? 

Kieron No. 

Emma What timing, Bobo! Just when you were at your most self-congratulatory. 

Kieron All I know is – 

Emma That’s hubris, I guess. 

Kieron – it was love at first sight, we were inseparable for three years, then this morning she said she didn’t want to see me again. 

In comes ‘Adventures of Flash on the Wheels of Steel’ by Grandmaster Flash. (‘Yes, but what happened in between..?’ etc.) 

Simultaneously, we see a series of projected photos of Kieron and Jade. Christmas, Disneyland, England, Ireland, LA, gigs, larks and japes, kissing selfies etc. 

Briefly, Munch’s ‘The Scream’. And again. With a cardiac-monitor ‘beep’ amid the music. 

And then The Scream is all there is, and the beep flatlines. 

Scene 4 

The intimidating sounds of prison life. 

Jailer The prisoner to state his name. 

Kieron Are you talking to me? 

Jailer (offended) Say that again? 

Kieron Sorry, that did sound rude. Taxi Driver has killed that phrase for well-intentioned confused people. How can I help? 

Jailer You can help by giving me your goddam name. 

Kieron Absolutely. Kieron Barry. 

Jailer How long you in for? 

Kieron No idea. 

Jailer (peeved) How long was the relationship? 

Kieron So far, three years. 

Jailer Three years means you in for eighteen months. (she’s writing all this down) 

Kieron Eighteen months?! 

Jailer Don’t like it? Tell the judge. 

Kieron There was no judge. I’ve just been instantly transported here by the magic of theatre. 

Jailer What do you want me to do about it? 

Kieron This is a mistake. She’ll be back. 

Jailer Heard it all before. 

Kieron We adore each other. 

Jailer If the governor phones I’ll be sure to let you know. 

Kieron Is there like a parole system? 

Jailer Nope. 

Kieron Time off for good behaviour? Eligible for early release under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement? 

Jailer Turn out your pockets. That’s it. Now empty your subconscious. 

Kieron My what?! 

Jailer On the bench, let’s go. 

Kieron How am I supposed to empty my subconscious? 

Jailer What am I; Buddha? Just put ’em in the envelope as I call ’em off. Hopes. Dreams. Honeymoon destinations. Baby names. 

Now: sexual fantasies. 

Kieron Uh! 

Jailer Come on; hand ’em over. 

Kieron reluctantly complies. 

Jailer (cont’d) (reading them as she receives them) What do we have here?! A fierce, animalistic coupling when she’s still sweaty from beating you at tennis. Taking her from behind on a deserted beach at sunset as her knees sink into the wet sand. What’s this one? 

Kieron Do I have to? 

Jailer You better tell me, boy. 

Kieron (sighs, humiliated) She’s wearing a thick cable-knit Aran sweater and her fond nestling gradually turns to aggressive smothering. 

Jailer What is she saying as you climax? 

Kieron Do I have to tell you? 

Jailer Let’s hear it. 

Kieron ‘Shush, shush, my baby. Don’t cry, don’t cry.’ God this is humiliating. 

Jailer Don’t be embarrassed. No judgement here. 

Kieron Thank God! 

Jailer Just kidding. What a whack-job. Get used to the single life, Buffalo Bill. 

Kieron Welcome to heartbreak. 

Jailer Why are you welcoming me

Kieron No; it’s a kiss-line to the scene. I survey my surroundings, and say ‘Welcome to heartbreak.’ Then you segue to the Kanye West song. It’s quick, it’s neat, it’s appropriate. 

Jailer Appropriate? What; cos you’re in prison – 

Kieron Yeah. 

Jailer – and he’s black? 

Kieron God no! Where’s all this racism stuff coming from?! Play whatever music you like. Honestly. White. Black. Gamelan… 

Jailer What’s Gamelan? 

Kieron It’s like a Javanese percussion orchestra. I love other cultures. In fact I’m sort of an immigrant when you think about it. 

Jailer Get in there, Captain Cashmere. 

Kieron A lot of writers did their best work in prison. 

Jailer Welcome to heartbreak. 

Day 26 – Yulia Maluta

Jim Sirianni interview with Yulia

Yulia Maluta is a professional dance teacher, spiritual teacher and Performing artist. Her backgrounds are inclusive of studying and teaching Performing Arts, Acting, Argentine Tango, Yoga, Latin, Ballroom, Belly dance, Pilates, improvisational and healing movement. Yulia is associated with some of the best dancers in industry, she taught on the ”Cruising with the Stars” with Karina Smirnoff from”Dancing With The Stars” and was featured instructor on ”Malashock thinks you can dance” with Mary Murthy. She is now Internationally traveling instructor and repeat Maestra at World Elba Tango Festival and has taught throughout Hawaii and travelled to Buenos Aires. After years of competing professionally in Ballroom and Latin dance and complete break down in her life, she discovered Tango and a path of spiritual awakening. After going through her own transformation and break throughs, she devoted her life to teaching dance as a spiritual practice. She approaches movement and dance as metaphor of life and self discovery. She integrates different modalities of healing, movement, meditation and awareness together to help people to break free from their limitations to embody self love, communion with life, loved ones and present moment.

She is a channel of Archangels and Galactic council of light that has helped her and others to facilitate living from a new paradigm of 4th and 5th dimensions of the heart and Divine Vision. Yulia is a creative director and producer at her “Transform Through Arts Theater” that produces an annual show “Colors of Love”.in February Her passion is creativity and actualizing divine vision into reality, living an integrated path of healing, awakening and actualization and help others to evolve into their magnificent expression of themselves.

Some videos of Yulia’s dancing and choreography performed at Center Stage:

Yulia performing Pleadian Message to Humanity

Theatrical Argentine Tango performed by Yulia and her student Peter Smith

Performing to a J Lo montage with some of her students

Butterfly Transformation Dance, inspired by Yulia’s personal journey

Yulia and Derrick Curtis perform Swing as part of her Dancing to Freedom show

Performing Argentine Tango Love Remembered with one of her students

Yulia’s Early Years

Yulia Maluta was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia. Her dance career began at age 15 after being inspired by a dance video of Lambada. She turned her focus to learning Latin and later, Ballroom dance. Discovering a natural talent for movement, she caught the eye of Natalie Gorchakova, the internationally renowned dance trainer and choreographer. While studying with Natalie, Yulia herself began to teach children the basics of dance and movement at her local elementary school.

Her Career Beginnings

In 1997, Yulia Maluta moved to Santa Barbara, CA and partnered with David Alvarez at the Santa Barbara Dance Centre. It was here that her professional and competitive dance career sprung forth. David and Yulia expressed a chemistry and style that was in constant demand as they traveled nationally. Some of her performances included TV Channel 3, Santa Barbara Fiesta Festival, Lobero Theatre Bash, John E. Profit Foundation of Art Gala.

Desiring to further her competitive career at that time, Yulia moved to San Diego to dance with Daniel Vasco, a widely recognized dancer and choreographer well known in both the dance field and movie industry. After retiring from competition in 2005, Yulia turned her focus to connection to the dance as a means of self-expression. For the next 3 years she focused on deepening her embodiment of integrated movement and expression.

Major Accomplishments

Her desire to express movement from the heart lead to the creation of the dance show ‘Journey of Love’ with Daniel, a story of love told through Latin Dance: Argentine Tango, Salsa and Rumba that premiered in April, 2009 in San Diego. Yulia’s current focus is on teaching her Dance Passion Connection dance troupe, Argentine Tango, Salsa classes, private lessons and organizing events to provide learning and cultural exchange opportunities with Argentine Tango Masters.

Day 25 – Vickie Scott and Nick Freedson with the UCSB Initiative for New and Reimagined Work

Jim Sirianni interview with Vickie Scott and Nick Freedson

We explore at the past, the present, and the possible!


To encourage and support new and reimagined works while nurturing the next generation of playwrights, directors, choreographers, designers, administrators, and performers.


Initiative for New and Reimagined Work serves the Department of Theater and Dance first and foremost, followed by service to the UCSB campus and greater community. Realizing that our resources (people, funds, equipment and space) have limitations, we will make decisions that extend beyond the functions of the Initiative for New and Reimagined Work based on careful consideration of our production, academic and professional standards.

Through study and practice, the Initiative for New and Reimagined Work supports the mission and commitments of the Department of Theater and Dance at the University of California Santa Barbara by:

  1. Providing a high-quality theater education that connects with the liberal arts foundation and outlook of the campus;
  2. Providing a safe, stimulating environment for the creative expression of ideas as well as the development of independent thinking;
  3. Providing production opportunities for all students (majors and non-majors) as well as the larger community;
  1. Encouraging students to respect and honor all people while working collaboratively within the academic and applied environments;
  2. Supporting visiting artists for performances, lectures, symposia, demonstrations and/or for the campus and larger community;
  3. Recognizing that creative expression is universal;
  4. Enhancing the awareness that creative expression has a connection to all cultures;
  5. Providing an environment that integrates the academic instruction with the practice of production;
  6. Encouraging and providing the resources for students to foster attitudes and practices of professionalism; and
  7. Promoting life-long support and appreciation of the arts.


UCSB’s Initiative for New & Reimagined Work produced a workshop production of Ice Breakers.  Following that workshop production playwright Nick Freedson returned to the script to make revisions based on lessons learned from seeing the script performed.  This new version of the script was performed as a zoom reading for the Festival.  There is a video included of the February workshop production and the new reading.

Ice Breakers by Nick Freedson
Directed by Nichole Zahner
Aaron Arpon – David & Dean
Johnnie Buhrer – Jay & Gale
Sheila Correa – Janet
Sarah Neal – Liz 
Alexandra Singleton – Young Liz & Susie
Hailey Turner – Beth & Jackie

Ice Breakers by Nick Freedson, workshop production Feb. 2020 Studio Theater UCSB

Ice Breakers by Nick Freedson, recent zoom reading of revised script from various socially distanct locations

Vickie J. Scott is a Lighting and Scenic Designer for Dance, Theatre, and Themed Entertainment, and is the Executive Producer for Dramatic Women, founded in 1993 to explore and promote the participation of women in all areas of theatre and to produce original scripts for the theater by Santa Barbara, California based writers.   She is also the Resident Lighting Designer and the Production Coordinator for the Ojai Playwright’s Conference in beautiful Ojai, California and a faculty member in the Department of Theater and Dance at the University of California Santa Barbara, where she teaches lighting design for theater and dance, designs lights and mentors students. Vickie is proud to be the founding producer for the Initiative for New and Reimagined Work.

Nick Freedson is a graduate of UCSB with a B.A in Theatre and Community and is now a member of Skypilot Theatre company. Past performances include Chekov’s “The Cherry Orchard”, “The World of Extreme Happiness” by Frances Cowhig and “Hamlet”, directed by Irwin Appel. One of Nick’s original plays,”This is Not a Drill”, was produced by Skypilot Theatre in their 2018 one act festival and won third place in the stories category in UCSB’s 2020 HFA creativity contest. He is so excited to workshop “Ice Breakers” after it’s first run with New and Reimagined Works and hopes it sparks conversation and thoughts about the importance of empathy, compassion and forgiveness in these troubling times.

Sheila Correa (she/hers) is a junior in UCSB’s BFA Acting Program. She usually spends her time at the beach with friends, or bothering/ throwing things at them from her top bunk. However, she is now spending time inside with her loving family (and home cooked meals)! She is excited to continue creating art through a virtual stage, and to revisit this amazing story with a great cast! Sheila hopes you are all staying safe and thanks you for supporting theater in these times. 

Sara Neal (she/her/hers) is a third year student at UC Santa Barbara in the BFA Acting Program, double minoring in Applied Psychology and Educational Studies. A couple of her most recent credits include Sydney in Black Flag and Rose in Ghost Quartet. She has thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the developmental process of Icebreakers, and she is ecstatic to be a part of Nick’s beautiful play again!

Alexandra Singleton is a junior in the BFA Acting Program at UC Santa Barbara. She competed in Speech and Debate in high school, wherein she qualified for and competed in both the State and National High School Speech and Debate Tournaments all four years. She ranked third in the state of California in Duo Interpretation and was ranked 7th overall in the nation in Humorous Interpretation. She has acted in a number of plays at UC Santa Barbara, including What Martha Did (Martha, Young Woman), The Winter’s Tale (Clown), and the devised works My Role, My Roll (Kat) and Rewrites (Actor 1). She has also studied at the Prague Shakespeare Company’s Summer Intensive Program and performed in their productions of Macbeth (Witch) and Midsummer Night’s Dream (Hermia).

Hailey Turner is a sophomore in the BFA acting program at UCSB and is very excited to be reprising her role as Beth! She grew up performing in community theater and continued to participate in school acting programs throughout junior high and high school. She continued on to train at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Los Angeles and then came back home to earn her Associates in Acting from Santa Barbara City College. She is so happy to have found her home in the theater department at UCSB and is looking forward to the future. 

Nicole Zahner is a 2019 graduate of UCSB with a degree in theater directing. She was delighted to direct this piece for the first time earlier this year with the Initiative for New and Reimagined Works. Seeing the piece performed again in a new manner is invigorating and refreshing. She hopes that we will continue to innovate our theater practices throughout and beyond quarantine and is inspired by the work of fellow artists to further the arts during this time. 

Aaron Arpon is a fourth-year theatre major at UCSB. Helping read new plays is one of his favorite ways to contribute to the world of fresh theatre.

Johnnie Buhrer is a fourth-year communication major who is very excited to be reprising Jay. Other roles include Will Huntang in “How to Summon a Damon” and Alex Spencer in “The White Card.” He hopes everyone is safe, sound, and sanitized. He’d like to thank Zoom for providing the most popular, yet equally awkward way to practice our craft.

Day 24 – Anna Telfer and Jeremy Scharf

Jim Sirianni interview with Anna Telfer and Jeremy Scharf

Anna Telfer and Jeremy Scharf are working actors living in Los Angeles. Anna graduated from Westmont College and Jeremy earned his BFA at UC Santa Barbara. Both were active members of the Santa Barbara theater community.

Anna was last seen in Santa Barbara at Center Stage Theater itself as Laura in The Glass Menagerie in 2018, and before that as Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus at the New Vic. More recently, she played Miss Honey in Matilda the Musical at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center and completed an internship at Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum. She is a member of Lit Moon Theatre Company (in Santa Barbara) and the Actor’s Co-op (in Hollywood).

Jeremy’s first performance in Santa Barbara was at Center Stage in Out of the Box’s 2014 production of Bare: A Rock Opera. He went on to act in a handful of UC Santa Barbara theater productions including  Richard III in Irwin Appel’s The Death of Kings in 2016, an Herr Schultz in Cabaret in 2018. The former earned him Santa Barbara Independent and BroadwayWorld awards.  Los Angeles credits include skating in a Doja Cat music video and starring in the short film Good Head, produced by Haim Saban.

Jeremy and Anna began their creative partnership as post-grads with an adaptation of Thumbelina by Cecelia Raker, first performed at Westmont College’s 2019 Fringe Festival at the Community Arts Workshop. What started as an excuse to do the piece again (this time in Los Angeles) turned into building a bill of eight new plays from eight different playwrights, renting a venue, and publicizing it. This template became @tenminuteplay — a recurring theatre event complete with live music, food, drinks, and eight new plays, each ten minutes in length. Tickets are $10 suggested donation and all are welcome! Although the next festival dates are TBD, @tenminuteplay has been sharing new works on Instagram Live in the meantime. Follow along @tenminuteplay!

Check out @tenminuteplay on Instagram HERE.

Day 23 – Leo Cabranes-Grant & the Latinx Performance Ensemble

Jim Sirianni interview with Leo Cabranes-Grant and Josean Ortiz

Latinx Performance Ensemble (LPE) mission is to promote the Puerto Rican culture and bilingual Latinx theatre in the United States and Latin America; with emphasis on race, social justice, immigration, LGBTQ, and people of color issues. We also seek to develop the skills of Latinx theatre professionals, promoting the creation of new audiences and voices.

Esteban Alicea made his acting debut In La Zapatera Prodigiosa at 8 years of age.   He decided to pursue and education in acting at Mason Gross School of Performing Arts.  Since then he has appeared in over 20 Theatre Productions in his acting career, working with different companies such as Palco Production Company as well as Cisne Production Company.  During his 20 years of acting Esteban has worked with such well respected actors as Gene Montalvo, Miriam Pabon, Rene Monclova, Miriam Colon among many others.Fans will recognize Esteban for the work he did at The Spanish Repertory Theater in New York, NY.  Some of the work included but was not limited to The Blood Wedding, Café con Leche, and Que Viva la Mojiganga.  

Josean Ortiz – Puerto Rican Actor, Director, Theater Producer, Playwright , and Cultural Manager, with 39 years of professional experience in Puerto Rico, Spain, Argentina, Boston, Miami and New York. He studied at the Drama Department of the University of Puerto Rico, and is the Founder & Executive Artistic Director of Latinx Performance Ensemble. He’s also the Development Director at Thalia Spanish Theatre In Queens, New York. His recent works includes: “La golondrina”, “The Riot”, “Thanking Judy”, “The Last Affair”, “Haven”, “Nadie es profeta en su espejo”, “Matiné y noche”, “Tu manera particular de amar”, “Water in the Basement”, “Feeling Our Pulse”, “The Improvement of Life”, “Bola de Nieve”, “La Ceci”, “La última plena que bailó Luberza” , and “DC-7: The Roberto Clemente Story”, among others. Josean is winner of multiple New York’s HOLA Awards (Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors), ACE Awards (Association of Latin Entertainment Critics of New York) & ATI Awards (Associaton of Independent Latin Theatres.of New York).

Alejandro J. Santos Noriega, 20 years old, born in San Juan Puerto Rico. Actor and film making student at Los Angeles Film School. Has participated on different local plays, such as In The Heights, Thoroughly Modern Millie, “Si Hubiera Sabido…”, The Little Prince, between other. His also worked on films such as: White Collar, Angel and other local programs. 

Leo Cabranes-Grant is an award winning scholar, playwright, and poet. He is Professor of Intercultural and Performance Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, at the Departments of Theater and Dance and Spanish and Portuguese. His plays have been performed in Santa Barbara, San Juan (Puerto Rico), Boston, and New York.

Leo Cabranes-Grant & Latinx Performance Ensemble

Reading of Water In The Basement by Leo Cabranes-Grant

Alejandro Santos-Noriega playing Tláloc 

Esteban Alicea playing Nelson Peláez

Josean Ortiz playing Eugenio Ramírez

The Latinx Performance Ensemble, co-founded by Leo Cabranes-Grant and Josean Ortiz, was the original motivation for the writing of the play. 

Day 22 – Mira Oaten

Jim Sirianni interview with Mira Oaten

Mira Oaten is a poet from West Java, Indonesia and learned English through the daily radio through the Australian Broadcasting Commission, allowing it to shape and create her life, the destiny of a dreamer. Mira came to America with her husband and received her Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology at UC Santa Barbara and an additional degree from UCLA. She was a language instructor at the Defense Language Institute when her students were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. She has interest in women’s issues in Moslem countries and has traveled there to study. Such is life.

Below you will find two of Mira’s poems.

A Date in Tehran

by Mira Oaten

I have a date with Captain Sharif
at a tea house in Vali-Asr Avenue
facing a window with a view
of a giant poster of the Supreme Leader
the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeni
rising above the city
eyes raw with fury, bold and defiant
against the infidels.
Here is a world to behold…
I travel alone in a segregated bus
the Iran Paima from Istanbul to Tehran
on my way to Chabahar
a city way in the south
to visit a friend
I spread my fingers show him
my nails all painted red
the bus driver shakes his head
told me about one of his passengers
a woman painted her lips with sunrise color
was taken out of the bus 
at the military outpost outside Tehran
and was flogged as she violated
the virtuous principles of Islam.
Beware the Persian mind
every word has many meanings
the gaze that lingers, the alleys,
the kebab vendors have ears, 
summer flies have have fly-size microphones
The Captain looks me in the eye
pours tea into my cup: “Insya Allah”
a gentle voice worth a memory
a gift of kindness brings me safely home.

Salute to the Vets

by Mira Oaten

In the still of the morning
on the Presidio of Monterey
a flag slides down to half mast 
bearing the news of a young Marine
coming home in deepest peace
draped in U.S. flag.

He holds his world 
alone in solitude
set my mind adrift
to the rage ofar 
and the dark flurry
of mourning in distant Iraq,
and Afghanistan, 
speak of a future
I do not wish to know
watching our boys in uniform
rushing out the classroom
past a teacher’s desk
Into the roar of drones
bursting into a wave of shudder.  

Associate Press splashing in screen 
pictures of young Marines
on patrol pointing rifles
down the road outside Ramadi,
Al Anbar province, Ira

Spring, Summer have gone
the silence in the classroom grows
In the telling where all the promises
carry them and where they end
the fading of their wildest and dearest hope

No longer can the moon kiss lightly
on their faces like lovers do
grieving, it mounts on a moving cloud
crossing the vast empty sky of America

Day 21 – Betsy Woyach/Momentum Dance Company

Jim Sirianni interview with Betsy Woyach

Momentum Dance Company provides quality dance training in a positive, passionate, and nurturing environment. Through competitive performances and unique experiences, our dancers learn essential life skills such as self-esteem, teamwork, responsibility, respect, and accountability. We strive to make the Momentum experience a memorable one that will help mold our students, preparing them to be successful in their personal endeavors.

Who are we….MDC!

Momentum is a boutique dance studio and home of the three time national award winning competitive company. MDC prides itself on intimate sized classes focusing on each dancer’s strengths and goals.  Every dancer is worked with individually to help them achieve ultimate success in their dance training. The Company consists of Three core companies Thrive, Breakthrough, and Competitive Company.

Company members cultivate characteritics such as team work, goal setting, hard work, commitment and dedication.  Competition is a step above a Performance Troupe as the company will be traveling outside of the community to be judged and awarded against other dancers in California.  This is an incredible opportunity for dancers to meet, bond, and be inspired by other dancers, as well as create memories that will last a life time.  Competitions provide dancers with constructive criticism and point out areas dancers can improve upon, outside from what their day-to-day instructors provide them with. It is a fresh perspective on dancing and keeps dancers “on their toes.”  The reward for all the hard work is incomparable.

Betsy Woyach, the founder of Momentum’s  goal for creating Momentum Dance Company was to inspire dancers to reach new levels in their dancing, set goals, build self-esteem, and demonstrate what it means to be part of a team!  It has been Betsy’s life long dream to provide an inspiring new opportunity for dancers.  Momentum has become a safe haven for early artists to hard working trained dancers from Santa Barbara, Carpinteria and Goleta.

check out Momentum Dance Company online!

Betsy Woyach

A dancer, choreographer and master instructor for 17 years, Betsy Ann, is fulfilling her lifelong dream in creating Momentum Dance Company.  She has been trained and competed nationally and internationally in the United States and Canada since the age of 11. She began her dance training in Milwaukee, WI and her competitive career in Oakville, Ontario.  

 She has been trained and danced professionally in Hip Hop, Jazz, Lyrical, Ballet, Tap and Contemporary.  She competed for 9 years before graduating and pursuing her degree in Marketing at the University of Georgia.  While at UGA she founded the first Hip Hop dance program through the school’s Athletic Center and taught for 3 years as the sole Hip Hop Instructor.  During this time Betsy also toured the United States with National Dance Convention/Competition LA Dance Magic, as a choreographer’s assistant.

Upon graduation from UGA, Betsy pursued her professional dance career and moved to Los Angeles, CA.  

While dancing in LA, Betsy added such names as Will Smith, Backstreet Boys and Jamie King to her resume as well as various movies, tv shows and commercials. In 2008, she began an International Dance Workshop and took her teaching to various countries outside of the US including Cayman Islands, Anguilla and Jamaica.  Her teaching credentials landed her a job instructing at one of LA’s prominent dance studio’s International Dance Academy (IDA) in Hollywood. Instructing in Los Angeles was the beginning of dreams coming true for Betsy.  

 Sharing her gift of dance has always been Betsy’s first priority.  Creating Momentum Dance Company has taken that priority to another level and allowed her to share her dream with even more dancers.  She is overwhelmed to provide an opportunity in Santa Barbara for dancers to compete, grow and inspire one another in a safe, nurturing, judge-free environment.  

Day 20 – Hannah Ruth Brothers

Jim Sirianni interview with Hannah Ruth Brothers

Hannah Ruth Brothers has danced on beaches, trails, and subway platforms, and in parking lots and grocery stores, as well as on many stages.  She graduated with High Honors from Marlboro College, VT, with a BA in Dance, focusing mainly on postmodern dance and Contact Improvisation.  Her work has been presented in New England; Orlando, FL; Berkeley, CA; and her hometown of Santa Barbara, CA, where she currently resides.  

For her latest project, which premiered at Center Stage Theater on March 1 of this year, Hannah Ruth joins her brother, cellist Isaiah Brothers, to collaborate on “Weight Cycle”, an entirely improvised work-in-progress for cello and movement.  The piece is inspired by Hannah Ruth’s recent studies with master improvisers Nancy Stark Smith, Mike Vargas, Angie Hauser, and Chris Aiken, and uses a loose framework, or set of guiding ideas, known among improvisers as a “score.”  The score for the piece involves investigating the archetypes of hero and attendant, and attempting to interrupt natural rhythms, find spherical space, coexist without influence, and describe sensation through movement.  In honor of the Digital Arts Festival, sibling duo Hannah Ruth and Isaiah have adapted the piece to their childhood living room for your viewing pleasure.

Also of note

is Hannah Ruth’s ongoing collaboration with dancer and singer songwriter Nicola Gordon.  Together, they go by many names: Goofy Girls, Goofy Guerrilla Girls, and Guerrilla Goofball Girls, to name a few.  Inspired by former Santa Barbarian Matthew Nelson’s daily Guerrilla Dance Practice, the two women joined forces in 2015 and have been sharing their intergenerational zaniness on Facebook and all over Santa Barbara ever since.  Follow Nicola Gordon for an occasional dose of silly, and view the ladies’ latest project, Corona Romp, below.

Corona Romp with Hannah Ruth Brothers and Nicola Gordon

To see more of Hannah Ruth, view her dance films and performance work on Vimeo, or follow her on Instagram: @hannahruthiedancequeenmachine

To see Isaiah in his element, showing off his artful construction skills, visit

Day 19 – Nebula Dance Lab

Jim Sirianni interview with Devyn Duex, the director of Nebula Dance Lab

Nebula Dance Lab is carving out a significant reputation in the art of dance theater, and the results are nothing short of dazzling.” Ninette Paloma, The Santa Barbara Independent Nebula Dance Lab was founded in 2010 under the Artistic Direction of Devyn Duex to provide an incubator for creative art in motion- allowing the professional company of artists in modern and contemporary dance the opportunity to experiment, push boundaries, and create new language in dance through physical exploration. Nebula has quickly garnered the attention of the industry showcasing their work from intimate venues to large theaters, outreach to concerts. Nebula has been invited to showcase their work in the US and Internationally.

As a producer Nebula launched the Indy Award Winning festival,HHII Dance Festival in 2015, at Center Stage Theater, showcasing over 30 works across 3 unique shows highlighting performances by 20 companies and over 100 artists from across the US. HHII Dance Festival expanded in 2016 to include international artists, an electrifying opportunity for the community to experience a broad range of professional dance works all under one roof over a 3 day exhilarating festival format. In 2017 the festival launched the Opening Night program featuring the Apogee Awards honoring excellence in Dance Education, and highlighting youth and pre-professional performances throughout this exciting night of celebration. 2019 Expanded to include Mix & Mingle a bit size evening of dance including a pre-party and post-party, and most recently in 2020 launched Open Spaces featuring live performances during the day in Paseo Nuevo.

We are gratified to give back to the community that supports us through our outreach program, which provides performances and movement workshops, and a Kids Matinee Program at The Lobero Theater busing in students for a live theater experience, thanks in partnership with The Lobero Fund, Santa Barbara Education Foundation, CAPTRUST Community Foundation, Towbes Performing Arts Fund, and the Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation. Approximately 2400-3600 students annually benefit. As we look forward into the 2nd Decade of Dance Lab, Nebula’s Season 2020, we remain focused on strengthening the sustainability of our organization so that we may continue to provide dance arts to the community through our performances, outreach program, and training opportunities.

DEVYN DUEX (Founder/President & Artistic Director), named as one of the Top Women in Business by the Pacific Coast Business Times, has an eclectic background performing extensively in the United States as a dancer/ actress/singer on stage and in film/TV. Devyn has performed with the James Sewell Ballet, Straw Hat Players, The Pittsburgh Playhouse, Cabrillo Music Theater, Buena Vida Productions, Universal Pictures, American Entertainment, Moorhead State University, Cabrillo Music Theater, Skits Outreach Company, and more. With her prior dance company, Universal Dance based in LA, she performed at over 200 events in two years; performing in the US/Internationally. As a choreographer, Devyn has had the opportunity to work with the Pittsburgh Playhouse, Pittsburgh Playhouse Junior, Straw Hat Players, and Fargo Elementary School choreographing for the Theater. Since moving to Santa Barbara in 2003, Devyn has dedicated her energy to modern dance, working with Motion Theater Dance Company, SonneBlauma Danscz Theater, and independent choreographers: Marcos Duran, Heather Shea, and Nicole Helton “As We Are”. Her new work “Release” was debuted in 2008 & 2009 in collaboration with the Fusion Dance Company’s show Intertwine and Daughter of Zion Dance Company’s show Je’ Taime, and reworked in 2012-2013 into a six section piece debuted under Nebula, as its fourth original new work ‘Sand Into Glass’ in 2012 and 2013 to sold out houses. In 2015 she was proud to premiere Nebula’s 9th new original work Push & Pull in collaboration with choreographer Shelby Lynn Joyce,  ‘If Strangers Weren’t Strangers’ a comedic work exploring social interaction, and most recently collaborated to choreograph a scene in Through the Looking Glass. Devyn holds a BA in Theater Arts- Musical Theater from Point Park University and an MBA/MKT degree from the University of Phoenix. She is a member of SAG and AFTRA. Devyn would like to thank her husband Shawn for his continued support, and her two children for their constant examples of movement expression and unconditional love.

Devyn Duex, Founder/President & Artistic Director for Nebula Dance Lab will talk about NDL’s 10 year anniversary celebration, upcoming new work KARANA: Island of the Blue Dolphins, squeaking in the 6th annual HHII Festival at Center Stage Theater right before sheltering at home orders went into place, and what it’s like functioning in the midst of COVID-19. Get a glimpse inside NDL’s unique platform of collaboration and support of emerging artists, and a reflection on their roots beginning at Center Stage Theater.

We have created some new pages on our website to allow the public to watch our most recent performance KAIROS, Celebrating a Decade of Dance Lab which highlighted work from all 9 choreographers over the 10 years, including 1 collaboratively created work. Work will be available on a limited time basis, so visit now. Additionally, HHII Festival 2020 Gallery has been updated, and continue visiting as new content will be rotated for a limited time only. 

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