Katherine Craft (Artistic Director)
BA in Theatre from Austin College, MA in Applied Drama from Goldsmiths College, University of London. Worked as a theatre teacher, teaching artist and administrator for theatre education companies in Austin, Dallas, Chicago and London such as Clean Break, Barrel of Monkeys, Promise House, 826 Chicago, the Unicorn Theatre, Dougherty Arts Center, SafePlace and Theatre Action Project. Program Specialist for No Kidding:Straight Talk from Teen Parents at YouthLaunch. Over 15 years experience as an actor, writer, director and theatre maker.
Michelle Dahlenburg (Artistic Director)
Michelle is a performer, applied theatre practitioner, and graduate of the MFA in Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities program at UT Austin. She facilitates workshops and classes in jails, prisons, museums, community centers, public schools, and universities. Michelle first worked with incarcerated women as a teaching artist in jails in Chicago for Still Point Theatre Collective. For her MFA thesis project she created and facilitated “The Ghosts of Waller Creek,” which used site-specific performance workshops to facilitate public participation in the redevelopment of an abandoned urban creek area in Austin. She recently led a workshop for National Endowment for the Arts Your Town: Rural Design Institute, using the arts to help Mart, Texas residents imagine new uses for empty lots in their area. Michelle currently teaches Creative Drama at Texas State University, and is a teaching artist for Theatre Action Project, a performer/teaching artist for the Paramount Theater’s Story Wranglers/Literacy to Life program, and a story producer for Mortified Austin.
Blanca Caldas (Workshop Facilitator)
Blanca worked as an ESL/EFL teacher for 11 years in Peru, her home country. Parallel to her education career, she studied theater at a non-profit art association for 3 years and performed for her own theater company founded with her former classmates for a couple of years in Lima, Peru. She obtained a M.Ed. in Bilingual education at Boise State University where she co-founded of Literacy sin Fronteras initiative, project that aimed at closing the achievement gap among Latino ELL students through biliteracy camps. Currently, Ms. Caldas is a doctoral student and the Spanish Proficiency support coordinator at the Bilingual/Bicultural education program at the University of Texas at Austin. Her love for both Theater and Education are combined in her research interests and future dissertation: the use of Theater of the Oppressed in the preparation of future Bilingual teachers.
Olivia Jimenez (Workshop Facilitator)
Olivia Jimenez joined Conspire as a facilitator in early 2012. She holds a BA in Theatre, with emphasis in Applied Theatre, from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles where she trained as a performer, applied theater facilitator and educator. While attending USC, she participated in several student films and theatrical productions. She also helped facilitate theatre, art and movement workshops with homeless and in-recovery women. Additionally, she co-created bilingual theatre pieces with immigrants rights workers, at-risk and previously incarcerated youth and their mothers. Outside of theatre, Olivia is a yoga teacher, amateur chef, dance party instigator, animal lover, adventure enthusiast, and a teller of [mostly bad] jokes.
Lauren Johnson (Conspire Alum, Guest Blogger)
A native born Austinite, has studied Business Communication at the University of Phoenix. Currently a stay at home mom of three boys ages 7,4,and 2. She has appeared in two episodes of Friday Night Lights‘ final season as an extra. Goal : To change the world, one drop in a huge bucket at a time.
Meg Booker (Workshop Facilitator, Program Development)
BA in Theatre Studies from Yale, MFA in Performance as Public Practice from the University of Texas at Austin, Faculty Member and Company Manager for the Isadora Duncan Dance Foundation in New York City, Isadora Duncan dancer, yoga instructor, modern dance instructor at University of Texas, Yale and Texas State University; teaching artist for companies such as Truth Be Told, Children’s Aid Society, Second Youth Theatre Company, and Dance Discovery of Austin.
Jessie Hillman (Assistant Workshop Facilitator)
BA in Cultural Anthropology from Reed College. Wrote undergraduate thesis on the process and impact of Theatre for Development, critiquing the congruity of this global movement’s principles and practice through a focus on the application of Theatre of the Oppressed techniques in Sri Lanka. Volunteered as a workshop assistant for Resolana, a community-based non-profit organization that provides rehabilitative creativity classes to incarcerated women in Dallas.
Timeca M. Seretti (Guest Artist)
Born in Gary, Indiana, I always dreamed of being an actress. After a stint in the US Navy, I realized that Acting was my passion. I got my first taste of the theatre, when my mother played the role of Ruth Younger in Lorraine Hansberry’s classic play “A Raisin in the Sun”. I decided to enroll in Indiana University as a theatre major. Where I showcased my versatility with roles like the little boy Alex in The velveteen Rabbit, Stella in Light up the sky, The Nurse in Medea and the princess in The Princess and the Pea. I worked on my first feature film as a stand-in, “Losing Isiah” where I got to meet and watch my idol Halle Berry work. If I hadn’t been bitten by the bug already seeing Halle doing her thang made me know this was it! In 2001, I visited Austin and I fell in love with it’s laid back, keep Austin weird attitude, where independent filmmaking was making a bid to become the New Hollywood. My very first role was in Showtime’s “Going to California”, since then I have booked numerous commercials, print ads, and short films. Most recently I was seen in Friday Night Lights season 4 premiere as Angry Parent Annette. I formed Wild Child Entertainment, an entertainment company to develop and produce independent films that enlighten, encourage and enrich the lives of women. I recently wrote a short film entitled “Drama” on the subject of childhood bullying. It has been the 2010 Official Selection of the Reel Women SXSW Showcase, The Arizona Black Film Showcase, And the BAM (Black Arts Movement) Festival. And it took home the prize of audience award for the Reel Women SXSW Showcase. I am currently producing a pilot titled “Vinyl” that I co-created, and am in the midst of writing several projects to be produced for the screen and stage. When not working on projects I love yoga, cooking, singing karaoke, traveling, and spending time with my husband Julio and family.
La Tasha Stephens (Guest Artist)
La Tasha is a Brooklyn native who received her MFA in Acting from the University of Texas at Austin, and her BA in Theatre Acting/Directing from Binghamton University. She has performed in numerous productions both for UT and various companies in Austin, playing ‘Voice of the People’ in Cambiare’s Orestes, ‘Zephyr’ in Secondhand Theatre’s re:Psyche, ‘Bottom” in UT’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and ‘Nina’ in UT’s The Idiot, among many others. She is also a writer and solo performer – her one woman show I’m not a writer but I got a story to tell… has been produced at Hyde Park Theatre for its annual Frontera Fest, the University of Texas, and the Travis County Jail. She also wrote The 7, a play about growing up in Brooklyn on the 7 line. Conspire Theatre awarded her the first annual Guest Artist of the Year Award, in honor of her remarkable artistry and engagement with the women in the PRIDE program at the Travis County Jail. La Tasha is currently at work on several other performance and writing projects. Look for her in L.A., where she will pursuing film and theatre opportunities.
Sarah Saltwick (Guest Artist)
Sarah is a playwriting Michener Fellow at the University of Texas in Austin. A graduate from Hampshire College, she’s been fortunate enough to call Austin her home for most of her life. Recently, she traveled to Valdez Alaska for a reading of her play She Creatures during the Last Frontier Theater Conference. Her play Low Hanging Stars was part of America Rising Series at Bristol Riverside Theatre as well as the Shrewd Production Summer Reading Series. Her play Cecilia was nominated for Best New Play 2008 by Austin Critic’s Table and was created for ASW’s out of ink festival. She’s written plays inspired by video games, love affairs with inanimate objects, guacamole, Dolly Parton and more. She has worked at coffeshops, Trader Joes, Hartford Stage, with high school creative writers and most recently as a booking agent at Holden & Arts Associates. If she wasn’t working with words and actors, she’d be working with food.
Shirene Garcia (Workshop Facilitator)
A native born Austinite, Shirene earned her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin after transferring from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where she studied environmental science and education. Previously, Shirene has worked with youth in a variety of settings, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas as a caseworker for youth and their mentors, Southwest Key as a caseworker for youth on probation, The Oaks Treatment Center providing direct care for youth in a residential treatment facility, and at Northwest Montessori House of Children as a teacher for pre-school children. Shirene enjoys a variety of creative pursuits, hiking and bicycling, and volunteers for organizations such as The Yellow Bike Project, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Conspire Theatre.