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2019/2020 participating artists include...


Spellbound Theatre Company, led by longtime company member Lauren Sharpe and co-created with Ben Weber and Robert Thaxton-Stevenson; experimental artists who met as instructors at The Wooster Group Summer Institute Marisa Blankier and Christopher-Rashee Stevenson, joined by Perfect City artists Tyler Diaz, Jahmorei Snipes and Tiffany Zorrilla, advised by Aaron Landsman and Oye Group’s Modesto "Flako" Jimenez; director Adrienne Kapstein, with sound & installation designer Bhurin Sead of Blue Man Group; and an Archive Apprentice devising team led by Trusty Sidekick Theater Company members Brit Lenae Gossett and Esteban Rodriguez-Alverio.

Ty Defoe is an artistic advisor to the festival and our host is Marisol Rosa-Shapiro, whose beloved "Pizza Rat" character from 2018 is back by popular demand.

Also new for 2019/2020 are our Archive Apprentices - a small team of NYC teens who will join select UP CLOSE artists in a site-specific devising process. Drawing on their expertise as young New Yorkers, Archive Apprentices will create uniquely engaging archivist characters who will serve as the welcoming stewards of our secret archive space!


 (photos by Biviana Sanchez)

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Bhurin Sead (Installation and Sound Design) is a Queens-based performer, musician, and theater maker exploring interactivity through performance and technology. He has performed and toured with Blue Man Group since 2008 and is a cast member at Astor Place Theater. His recent collaborative work if-then-else (MITU580) explores failure through audience participation. He is a songwriter and guitarist for rock quartet Mortars. Bhurin holds a BS in Human Biology from The University of Texas at Austin and an MFA in Performance and Interactive Media Arts from Brooklyn College.

Christopher-Rashee Stevenson (Deviser, performer) is a writer-director from Baltimore. Was recently seen as a performer in Wilderence's immersive work Elgin Park alongside Drew Petersen. His reworking of Amiri Baraka’s cult classic Dutchman enjoyed a one night only showing at the Wild Project in November and The Tank last February. He is a 2018 alumnus of Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab. Christopher’s work as a director and performer has been featured at The Performing Garage, The Tank, JACK, HERE Arts Center, The Actor’s Studio, American Repertory Theater, Millennium Film Workshop, Lincoln Center Education, LaMaMa, and Eubie Blake Jazz Institute. Stevenson is preparing to helm a loose adaptation for the stage of Octavia E.Butler’s novel Fledgling.


Marisa Blankier (Deviser, director) is a theatre artist and dog owner from Toronto. They are the Program Coordinator and an instructor at The Wooster Group’s experimental youth ensemble, The Summer Institute. Marisa has toured extensively as a Stage Manager and Tour Manager with theatre companies, live podcasts, and bands. Marisa trained at École Internationale de Théâtre Philippe Gaulier, and is a proud alumna of CalArts and Interlochen Arts Academy.

Modesto Flako Jimenez (Project Advisor) is a Bushwick-raised theater director, writer, poet, actor, producer, and educator. ATI & HOLA Award Winner, and profiled by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, Flako is best known for the original productions and three signature festivals – Ghetto Hors D’Oeuvres, One Catches Light, and Oye! Avant-Garde Night! – produced with his company Oye Group. Modesto is also an associated member of the Wooster Group, and the vice president of the board of Brooklyn Poets. Flako has appeared on TEDxBushwick, Comedy Central’sThe Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Favorite: Early Shaker Spirituals (Wooster Group), Last Night At The Palladium (Bushwick Starr/3LD), Yoleros (Bushwick Starr/IATI theater), Conversations Pt.1: How To Make It Black In America (JACK), Take Me Home (3LD/ Incubator Arts Project), Oye For My Dear Brooklyn (The Performing Garage), Furry by William Burke (Bushwick Starr), Samara by Richard Maxwell (SoHo Rep; dir. Sarah Benson). He is the 2016 Princess Grace Award Honorarium in Theater awardee. In 2018, he became the first Dominican-American Lead Artist in The Public Theater Under The Radar Festival with his show Oye For My Dear Brooklyn.

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Aaron Landsman (Project Advisor) is an award-winning playwright, theater artist/performer, and teacher. His work includes site-specific productions in the kinds of places where people perform their lives: homes, offices, buses and meeting rooms, as well as more traditionally staged works. His 2016 work Empathy School/Love Story was the New York Times’ Critic’s Pick and Time Out New York’s Recommended Show. Landsman collaborated with many distinguished artists, including Elevator Repair Service (of which he is a company member), Clarinda Mac Low, Ogemdi Ude, director/dramaturg Mallory Catlett, designer/performer Jim Findlay, filmmaker/composer Brent Green, photographer Paul Shambroom, and others. Landsman’s work has been presented at many important venues and festivals in NYC and nationally, including Abrons Art Center, The Chocolate Factory Theater, EMPAC, and HERE Art Center, as well as internationally. He was a 2017-18 Guggenheim Fellow, 2014-16 Princeton Arts Fellow, and the recent ASU Gammage Residency Artist, as well as a Visiting Associate Professor at Princeton, and a recent finalist for the Alpert Award.


Perfect City is a 20-year art and activism working group created with New York City residents, urban planners, and social justice workers. Instigated in 2016 by Aaron Landsman and housed at Abrons Arts Center on the Lower East Side of New York City, its work includes performances, mapping exercises about belonging and avoidance, roundtable discussions, writing, and research on street harassment and gentrification. The group is supported by an Abrons Arts Center PATHS Social Practice Residency, and has received funding from LMCC's Creative Engagement, The Rubin Foundation, and the Jerome Foundation. Their work has been presented by Abrons Arts Center, Crossing The Line Festival, and The Architectural League, and published in Urban Omnibus and Arts Everywhere.


UP CLOSE 2019 features Perfect City members Tyler Diaz (Deviser, performer), Jahmorei Snipes (Deviser, performer) and Tiffany Zorrilla (Writer, performer).

Jahmorei Snipes (Deviser, performer) is a native New Yorker raised in El Barrio who currently resides in Harlem. In 2018 she graduated from Marymount Manhattan College where she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting with a minor in Political Science. She joined The Youth Channel at Manhattan Neighborhood Network Youth Media Center. During her undergraduate career, she continued to pursue her passion for artistic activism and joined Perfect City in January, 2017. 


Tiffany Zorrilla (Writer, performer) originates from the Dominican Republic. She writes and recites her poetry and has a strong interest in performance art driven by activism. She also loves singing and playing jazz music. She is a founding working group member, developed the performance piece Paint last year, and is working on new material for the Catcalling Project in the coming year. She is a Mellon-Mays scholar at CUNY. 


Tylor Diaz (Researcher) is a musician who focuses on composition and live jazz guitar. After studying at Hunter College, he became a music instructor at Abrons Arts Center. Tylor joined Perfect City in 2016 after attending a public event hosted by Perfect City and seeing how the wide-ranging effects of gentrification are important not only to him and his neighborhood but to all of New York City. As a Perfect City member, Tylor helps lead discussions on the lack of civic engagement and education in schools for the younger generation.

Led by the Artistic Director Lauren Jost, Spellbound Theatre is an award-winning company devoted to creating original, multi-disciplinary performances for very young audiences. We believe that young people deserve sophisticated and innovative art experiences and are constantly inspired by the complex and imaginative world of young children. Spellbound received the American Alliance for Theatre & Education's 2017 Zeta Phi Eta Winifred Ward Outstanding New Children's Theater Company Award, and is a two-time Jim Henson Family Grant recipient and four-time New Victory LabWorks Resident Artist (2015, 2017, 2019, 2020).

Lauren Sharpe (Project lead, performer) is a theater-maker and teaching artist based in Brooklyn. She is an alumna of The New York Neo-Futurists, having written, directed, and performed in their long-running hit show, Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. She also co-created and performed in the company's The Complete and Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O'Neill, Vol. 1. Most recently, Lauren could be seen playing a squirrel in Trusty Sidekick's Scurry at Lincoln Center Education. Film/TV credits include Chicago Med, Boardwalk Empire, Bored to Death, and Law & Order SVU. She teaches with The New Victory Theater, The New York City Ballet, and Spellbound Theatre, and is a pediatric hospital clown with Red Nose Docs.

Ben Weber (Deviser, performer) is a community-based improviser playing in performance, music, and social sculpture whose projects have been seen at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, St. Ann’s Warehouse, Brooklyn Museum, Governors Island, and Children’s Museum of the Arts. He has trained in vocal improvisation with Bobby McFerrin, Rhiannon, and Zuza Gonçalves, leading collaborative sings everywhere from Brooklyn to Sydney to Hamilton, Ontario. Also, Ben regularly shakes it for the interpretive dance game show, Dancify That! As a multi-disciplinary teaching artist, Ben works with The New Victory Theater, Brooklyn Arts Council, Henry Street Settlement, and Brooklyn Arts Exchange, creating engaging lessons for participants ages 1 to 100.

Robert M. Thaxton-Stevenson (Deviser) is a Brooklyn-based theatre-maker and educator. He is passionate about creating collaborative and community-based theatre projects for people of all ages and abilities. Recent performance and devising credits include: DO,WAGER (Atlantic Pacific Theater), The Kavanaugh Files (Verbatim Performance Lab), and Up & Away (with Trusty Sidekick Theater Company).

Ben Weber, Robert M. Thaxton-Stevenson and Lauren Sharpe

Marisa Blankier, Modesto "Flako" Jimenez, Christopher-Rashee Stevenson

Adrienne Kapstein (Project Lead - Writer & Director) is a theatermaker and director specializing in the creation of visually rich, physically adventurous, cross-disciplinary new work. Her original work has been presented internationally in Canada, Scotland, Ireland and Romania. Highlights include: Scurry (Trusty Sidekick, Lincoln Center), Washeteria (Soho Rep), The Emperor’s New Clothes and More Magical Stories (Off Broadway Alliance nominee, Best Family Show, 2019); Every Day Above Ground (PS 122); Fathom (Best Production, Dublin Fringe), Love is Love (Sibiu Theater Festival). Adrienne recently co-wrote, One Starry Night: Out of the Blue, (GrandBoat Culture Co.) an interactive multimedia play for families that is currently on tour in China. (Richard Crawford, director; Steve Cuiffo, magic; Jim Findlay, projection design). From 2012 - 2014, Adrienne was the Associate Director of Movement and Horse Choreography on War Horse (Broadway and National Tour).

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Paul Parkhill (researcher, co-fouder of the public art non-profit Place in History), and Hilary Verni (visual designer)

Peter Musante (Curator, Founding Artistic Producer) is an interdisciplinary artist and educator who makes unique performance-based experiences that transform space and create community. His original works have toured internationally and are created collaboratively with a diverse group of artists – Andrew Schneider (YOUARENOWHERE – OBIE Award, international tour), and Trusty Sidekick Theater Company (Lincoln Center, Park Ave Armory, Abrons Art Center). Also in NYC: Martha Clarke’s Angel Reapers; a canary torsi’s The People To Come; and Blue Man Group (Astor Place Theater). Peter served as 1-on-1 Experience Director for the Lincoln Center Education commission, Up and Away; and co-created the large-scale immersive Brooklyn Navy Yard tour, Private(i). He studied at UCLA and Brooklyn College's Performance & Interactive Media Arts program. He’s also a proud Clinical Skills Trainer for Medical programs across NYC and has the greatest dog in the universe, Palo. 

Sara Morgulis (Associate Artistic Producer) is an award-winning TYA director, producer and educator devoted to creating inclusive theatre for young people. As the Director of Education at New York City Children's Theater, she has written a multi-sensory musical FIVE, and an applied theatre anti-bullying workshop Fair and Square that have performed in over 350 NYC schools and community centers. As a freelance Director, her most recent work includes Please Bring Balloons (NYCCT) written by David Kilpatrick and performed at A.R.T/New York Theatres and University Settlement, and the award-winning Madman at the United Solo Festival last fall. Additionally, she curates theatre, music, and film programming for disabled artists as the Director of Programs at Actionplay, and serves as an Accessibility and Disability Inclusion consultant for arts organizations nationwide.

Bhurin Sead and Adrienne Kapstein

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