Look Who's Talkin'
Oliver Butler (EP 21: What It Means About) - Oliver Butler (Director) Broadway: WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME (2019 Tony Award nomination for Best Play); Off-Broadway: collaborations with Will Eno including the first NYC revival of THOM PAIN (Signature Theater, starring Michael C. Hall) and THE OPEN HOUSE (Signature Theater, Lortel Best Play, Obie Award); world premiere of Jordan Harrison’s THE AMATEURS (Vineyard Theater). Regional: THE WHISTLEBLOWER (Denver Center), THOM PAIN (Geffen Playhouse, starring Rainn Wilson), LEGACY (Williamstown), BAD JEWS (Long Wharf), AN OPENING IN TIME (Hartford). International: TIMESHARE (Australia). He is a Sundance Institute Fellow and a Bill Foeller Fellow. Oliver is Co-Artistic Director of The Debate Society, productions include THE LIGHT YEARS (Playwrights Horizons), JACUZZI (Ars Nova), BLOOD PLAY (Bushwick Starr), BUDDY COP 2 (Ontological), CAPE DISAPPOINTMENT (PS122), and 4 other TDS plays.
Ty Defoe (EP 20: Story Nurturer) - Ty Defoe (Giizhig) is from the Oneida and Ojibwe Nations. He is an interdisciplinary-hyphenated artist, activist, writer, cultural worker, and shape-shifter. As a two-spirit person Tyaspires to an integral approach to artistic projects, social justice, indigeneity, and environmentalism. Ty gained recognition in many circles around the world including a Grammy Award for his work on “Come to Me Great Mystery.” Ty’s global cultural arts highlights are: the Millennium celebration in Cairo, Egypt with the Call for Peace Drum and Dance Company; Turkey for the Ankara International Music Festival, and Festival of World Cultures in Dubai. Ty’s frequents his own community where he learned to hoop dance, eagle dance, and play a variety of wooden flutes. Ty is always a guest artist at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C. and NYC. Awards include: NEA/NEFA for reconstructing and indigenizing, Drum is Thunder, Flute is Wind, First American in the Arts Outstanding Performance Award, First Americans in the Arts Scholarship Award, an Indigenous Heritage Festival Award: this award is given to artists who have made a major positive impact on indigenous people and rights of the world, a Robert Rauschenberg Artist in Residence, 2016-2018 Olga J. and G. Roland Denison visiting artist Professorship of Native American Studies at Central Michigan University, 2016-2017 Institute of the American Indian Arts Visiting Artist, 2017 Jonathan Larson Award winner creating book and lyrics on “Clouds Are Pillows for the Moon (w/ composer Tidtaya Sinutoke at Yale Institute for Musical Theatre; ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop), Hart Island Requiem (The Civilians R&D Group), Crossing Borders (CAP 21), Red Pine (Native Voices at the Autry; IAIA of Santa Fe), The Way They Lived (Co-collaboration w Micharne Cloughley and The Civilians at the Met Museum), writer on Ajijaak on Turtle Island (Ibex Puppetry at La MaMa Theater, NYC, Lied Center for the Performing Arts, NE). Ty is a co-founder of Indigenous Direction (w/ Larissa FastHorse). His writing publications can be viewed in the Pitkin Review, Woody Guthrie Anthology, the Thorny Locust Magazine, and Howl Round. He has received degrees from CalArts, Goddard College, NYU’s Tisch. A Theater Communications Group Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Fellow alumni and an artEquity facilitator. He appeared on Netflix show, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt as Young Anthony Black Elk and recently made his Broadway debut in Young Jean Lee’s Straight White Men directed by Anna Shapiro. He lives in NYC and loves the color clear. He | Him | They | We | Us tydefoe.com
Leida "Lady Sol" Garcia (EP 19: The Equity Up Rock) - Leida “Lady Sol” Garcia is a proud Mexican-American street dance
professional, mother, wife and Chicago native who is globally recognized as a teaching artist, creative director, and manager. She is a proud Founding member of Chicago's pioneer Hip-Hip arts education organization, Kuumba Lynx (1997). Lady Sol is directly responsible for bringing Chicago's footwork/juke dance culture to the mainstream through her former dance ensemble project, FootworKINGz who performed with Missy Elliott and Madonna. She is a self-proclaimed “Professor of Practice” who has taught Afro-Caribbean dance fusion guest workshops at Harvard University, Columbia College, Stanford University, and University of
Chicago. She has served as a teaching artist with Urban Gateways since 2005. Her dance works have graced platforms directly with music giants Damian Marley, Wyclef Jean, Busta Rhymes, Cham, Elephant Man, and Dancehall pioneer Lady Patra. Her newest work in progress, "Lady Sol's Dance Diary" is an autobiographical, Hip-Hop theater show that humorously explores music industry politics, cross-cultural identity, and the growing pains of uncovering self-love. Bob Marley ah say, "Those who feel
it, know it!"
Elgin Bokari Smith (EP 18: CommUNITY Calling: A Flashpoint for Representation) -
Elgin Bokari T. Smith, aka "L O Kari", is a Chicago based DJ, Activist, Visual and Performing Artist from St. Louis, Missouri. Born in 1987, L O Kari was heavily influenced by the soulful sounds of RnB, Jazz, Hip Hop, Gospel, and Alternative Rock. While attending Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in St. Louis, Elgin discovered that he had an ear for music and began creating music on piano and guitar while adding his unique flavor. Now known as L O Kari, Elgin has performed domestically and abroad - ranging from New York, St. Louis, Ohio, Seattle, South Korea, Japan, and all over the Chicago land area. He has shared stages with the likes of Bone Thugs and Harmony, Ruby Ibarra, The Terra Godz, Saba, Da Brat, Clark Airlines, Mega Ran, Bop Alloy, No Name Gypsy, DJ Esco, Young Chop, Lil Crazed, Rebel Diaz, Twista, and Chingy… just to name a few. His style is very smooth and transformative. Blending mixes of Hip hop, RnB, Electronic, Trap and EDM. Some of his influences include Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Nujabes, Linkin Park, Joe Hisaishi, LORN, and Prince. What is most notable about his style is his ability to adapt to the vibe of the audience he's serving. Elgin also gives back to his community as a Teaching Artist, Program Director of Free Write Arts & Literacy, and President of the activist and artist collective, Elephant Rebellion. Elgin also is the co-creator of Pocket Con the comic book convention that celebrates characters of color.
Quanice Floyd (EP 17: Shaking Foundations for a New Paradigm) - Quanice G. Floyd is a renaissance woman who wears many capes. Born and raised in NYC, she has spent over a decade in Washington, DC where she has received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Music Education from Howard University and Kent State University respectively. Her passion for arts administration led her to pursue her second Master’s degree in Arts Management at American University and is currently a doctoral student at Drexel University. Quanice is currently the Director of Learning and Leadership Development at the National Guild for Community Arts Education. She is also the Founder & Director of the Arts Administrators of Color (AAC) Network, an organization committed to empowering artists and arts administrators by advocating for access, diversity, inclusion, and equity in the arts in the DC and Baltimore metropolitan areas. She also serves as a co-host of the AAC Network's podcast, Art Accordingly, which interrogates systemic and institutional issues of oppression and inequity within the arts administration field. For the past decade, she has been a public-school music educator where she taught elementary school general music, chorus, band, and orchestra. Quanice also serves as a board member for two DC arts organizations, and is an alumna of the National Guild for Community Arts Education's Leadership Institute, ArtEquity's Racial Facilitator Cohort, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s Music Educators and Arts Administrators Academy, 4.0 Schools' Essentials Program, and the Arts Education Collaborative’s Leadership Academy. In 2018, Quanice received the Americans for the Arts' American Express Emerging Leader Award.
Thomas Cabaniss (EP 16: Striving for Harmony) - Thomas Cabaniss is a composer and teaching artist who writes for opera, theater, dance, film, and the concert stage. He is composer-in-residence and host for Carnegie Hall’s LinkUp program, and he leads the Lullaby Project and other songwriting workshops for the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall – serving healthcare, correctional and community settings. He has written over thirty scores for theaters across the country, various works for orchestra, choral, chamber music and an opera based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s The Sandman. He has been on the faculty of The Juilliard School for 20 years, and he is a member of ASCAP.
Cecily O'Neill (EP 15: The Process of Drama) - Cecily is a writer, dramaturg and the author of several influential books on drama education, including "Drama Structures", "Dorothy Heathcote: Essential Writings on Education and Drama" and "Drama Worlds", which has recently been translated into Korean and Chinese. Cecily is an Associate Professor Emerita at The Ohio State University and an Honorary Fellow of the University of Winchester. She has been Resident Dramaturg for New York University’s annual series New Plays for Young Audiences since 2008. In 2016 she founded the performance and publishing venture 2TimeTheatre. Her adaptation of Dorothy Parker’s short stories had its off-Broadway premiere at the Players Theatre New York in 2015.
Jean Johnstone (EP 14: The Artistry of Social Equity) - Jean Johnstone is the Executive Director of Teaching Artists Guild, a national organization dedicated to strengthening the field of teaching artistry. She was Interim Director of the Alliance for Arts Learning Leadership of the Bay Area, and founding Director of Applied Theater Action Initiative, which developed and ran international multimedia programs for youth, programs for artists transitioning from homelessness, and incarcerated youth. Jean studied at The Moscow Art Theater and spent several years teaching drama and directing in Hong Kong. She sits on the Policy Council for the California Alliance for Arts Education, and is a board member of the Francophone School. She holds a graduate certificate and bachelor's degree in Theater Arts from University of California, Santa Cruz, and certificates from the Moscow Art Theater and Eugene O’Neill Theater Center.
Shawn Ginwright (EP 13: Soul Rebel) - Shawn Ginwright is a leading national expert on African American youth, youth activism, and youth development. He is an Associate Professor of Education in the Africana Studies Department and Senior Research Associate for the Cesar Chavez Institute for Public Policy at San Francisco State University. In 1989, Dr. Ginwright founded Leadership Excellence Inc. an innovative youth development agency located in Oakland, California that trains African American youth to address pressing social and community problems. In 2002 he also created the Research Collaborative on Youth Activism, a network of scholars activist who study, advocate and support youth organizing efforts around the country. He is the Co-Founder of Flourish Agenda, a social impact company that supports schools and community organizations with building well-being and healthy school climates. He is the author of “Hope and Healing in Urban Education: How Activists and Teachers are Reclaiming Matters of the Heart”, “Black in School- Afrocentric Reform, Black Youth and the Promise of Hip-Hop Culture” and co-editor of” Beyond Resistance!: Youth Resistance and Community Change: New Democratic Possibilities for Practice and Policy for America's Youth” and in 2010 he published “Black Youth Rising, Activism and Radical Healing in Urban America”.
Edie Demas (EP 10: The Sphere of Cultural Responsibility) - Edie joined the JBFC as Executive Director in May 2014. Prior to JBFC, Edie collaborated with the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills and was Director of Education at NYC’s New Victory Theater for ten seasons. While under her direction, the theater’s education programs were honored with the Americans for the Arts annual award for Arts Education and Demas herself received a BAXten award for her work with teaching artists and young audiences. Edie holds an MA and PhD from New York University’s Program in Educational Theatre where she was a member of the adjunct faculty from 1990 - 2010. Recent initiatives created at the JBFC include Creative Culture: Fellowships, Residencies, and Production Partnerships for Filmmakers, JBFCKids, and In Performance at the JBFC: Deconstructing the Beatles, a series of multi-media music lectures currently being distributed by Abramorama.
Skyler Sullivan (EP 9: The Choice of No Bounds) - This actor, director, and educator, originally from Hartford, CT, started off studying music and theatre at Emerson College, where he earned his B.F.A. After meeting mime, Tony Montanaro, his path changed to physical theatre. His love of storytelling and circus landed him with the San Francisco Mime Troupe, and he trained at the SF Circus Center. He has worked with such companies as Big Apple Circus Clown Care, Bread and Puppet, Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and the American Mime Theatre. When he is not performing, he can be found teaching at: The New Victory Theatre, The La Jolla Playhouse, Fern St. Circus, The Old Globe, The Sitka Fine Arts Camp, and running the education and outreach department of Diversionary Theatre. Skyler is also a clown doctor healing sick kids and their families with Healthy Humor, and will be a clown in residence at Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in CT in August. He is most happy working with kids and community members, using the arts to heal, express, and change how they experience the world. He holds an MFA from Brooklyn College.
Lauren Jost (EP 7: Theater as Human Education) - Lauren is a theatre artist and arts educator in New York. She is the Artistic Director of Spellbound Theatre, New York’s award-winning theatre exclusively for the very young. Lauren can occasionally be found performing as a storyteller and puppeteer, but spends most of her time directing and producing Spellbound’s public, school, and national touring theater productions for children ages 0-5. Additionally, Lauren works as a Master Teaching Artist in schools, libraries and community centers around New York with organizations such as The New Victory Theater, Lifetime Arts, and New York University. Lauren is also a mom to J. and L., whose imaginations are her daily inspiration.
Sobha Kavanakudiyil (EP 3: Fierce Search) - A professor of Educational Theatre at The City College of New York, Sobha has been an Arts Education Consultant for many organizations in and around New York City including The Apollo Theater, The Center for Arts Education, Urban Arts Partnership, and The New Victory Theater. In October of 2016, Sobha she was a featured Keynote at the New Orleans Theatre in Our Schools Conference. She is on the Board of Directors as a Vice Chair for the New York City Arts in Education Roundtable where she also is Co-Chair for the Face to Face Conference, Board of Directors as National Programming Director for the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, and on the Board of Directors for the Association of Teaching Artists. She has been a presenter at many conferences both in New York State and Nationally, including the National AATE Conference, Face to Face Conference in New York City, NYU Applied Theatre and Pedagogy Conference and the NYU Teaching Artist Forum to name a few. Sobha has a strong commitment to quality and accessible arts education for all. She earned her B.A. in Communications from Fordham University and her M.A. in Educational Theatre from NYU. For more information please go to
James Miles (EP 1: Fresh Professor) - Executive Director of Seattle-based Arts Corps, and Master Teaching Artist, James has worked in arts education for nearly 20 years. Formerly the Director of Education at Urban Arts Partnership, James has also facilitated workshops and designed curriculum for the New Victory Theater, Roundabout Theatre, Disney Theatrical Group, Theatre for a New Audience, Center of Arts Education, BAX, Brooklyn Arts, Council, Opening Act, and(Out)Laws & Justice. James has taught a myriad of courses at NYU, ranging from Acting and Directing to EdTech and Special Education. He is on the board of directors for the Association of Teaching Artists and the Teaching Artist Journal. A graduate of Morehouse College and Brandeis University, James has presented at SXSWedu, NYU's IMPACT Festival, Creative Tech Week, EdTech Europe, Google Educator Bootcamp, Face to Face Conference, Geek Street Festival, NY Tech MeetUp, Civic Hall, and has provided Professional Development to teachers across the country. His work has been covered by Pie News, New Profit, Complex Magazine, NPR, CBS, US Department of Education, and ASCD. James is a former accountant, model, and actor. He can be frequently found on Twitter, as @fresh_professor, writing about arts education, educational policy, and academic inequity.
Penelope McCourty (EP 5: Giving Space) - Penelope McCourty has 20+ years’ experience as a facilitator of creative process and community sharing through the art forms of dance and performance. She has worked artistically and administratively with several locally and nationally known dance companies and community arts organizations. As a performer, she has worked with local and touring companies including Marlies Yearby’s Movin’ Spirits Dance Theater, Spoke the Hub Dancing, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, the Shakespeare Theater Company, Stephen Koplowitz and Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group. Her choreographic work has been presented at St. Mark’s Church, Joyce Soho, Chicago’s Links Hall, BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange, DIA NYC, BRIC, DanceSpace, Towson University and San Francisco State University. Penelope received the 2014 NYU/Steinhardt School Exemplary Teaching Artist Award and the Elders Share the Arts Visionary Artist Award for her work as an arts educator. She currently lives in Brooklyn and is the middle and upper school dance teacher at The Berkeley Carroll School in Park Slope. She also teaches residencies and professional development workshops through New Victory Theater, Park Avenue Armory’s Artist Corps, Elders Share the Arts and Madison Square Park.
Signe V. Harriday (EP 6: The Radical Poetry of A Calling) - Signe V. Harriday is a multidisciplinary artist, teacher, trainer, director, activist, and theatre producer. She is Co-founder of MaMa mOsAiC, a women of color theater company whose mission is to evoke positive social change through female centered work that is empowering and entertaining. She is an Associate Company Member of Pillsbury House Theatre. She splits her time between New York and Minnesota as she works to encourage positive social change using the tools of theatre to guide and inform the process. She is a founding member of Million Artist Movement which is a network of artists and activists committed to Black liberation and healing. As a teaching artist she works with a variety of theatres, schools, and community organizations. She has designed and implemented arts curriculum for professional theatres, arts organizations, and school districts. As a director, dramaturg, and collaborator, Signe works with other artists to articulate and develop their vision and artistry. Most recently she directed Cardboard Piano at Park Square Theatre and Slut: The Play at Macalester College in St. Paul. She earned her MFA in Acting at the Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at the American Repertory Theatre at Harvard and Moscow Art Theatre. She also conducts customized leadership and anti-oppression trainings for a wide-range of audiences.