Five College theater alumnae of color return to campuses for residencies, showcase and panel discussion

Five College Theater Alumnae of Color Showcase
Thursday, Sept. 28, 7:30 p.m., Kirby Theater, Amherst College
Free and open to public 

Theater Alumnae of Color Panel: “Theater in These Times”
Friday, Sept. 29, 5 p.m., Kirby Theater, Amherst College
Followed by reception and meet-and-greet for Five College students
Free and open to the public

Performing artists of color who have graduated from Five College campuses will return to the consortium to work with students in residencies, offer the public a demonstration of their work and participate in a panel discussion. Organized by the theater department chairs of the campuses, the residency, showcase and panel discussion are designed to feature accomplished alumnae from each of the Five Colleges presenting the work of artists who are deeply engaged not only with theater-making but also with issues of social justice.  

The aim of the events is to facilitate discussions of race and gender across multiple disciplines and institutions, and to connect students to alumnae whose work is activist, visionary and inspiring. It will feature: Lisa Biggs, Amherst ’93; Kunsang Kelden, Hampshire ’09; Sueann Leung, Mount Holyoke ’10; Nia Witherspoon, Smith ’05; and Dawn Monique Williams, UMass MFA ’11.

Directions to Amherst College’s Kirby Theater.

Alumnae biographies

Lisa Biggs, a 1993 graduate of Amherst College, is a performing artist and performance scholar. Building off her diverse experiences as an artist and activist, Lisa's current scholarship stands at the intersection of performance studies, Black studies, women and gender studies, anthropology and law. Since 1993, she has developed and toured original performance works to venues across the United States, including Cultural Odyssey, Links Hall, Baltimore Theatre Project, Joe's Movement Emporium, the National Black Theatre Festival, Dance Place, and the National Hip Hop Theatre Festival

Kunsang Kelden, a 2009 graduate of Hampshire College, is a longtime activist in the Tibetan Freedom Movement and producer of programs highlighting Tibetan, Mongolian and Kalmyk arts and culture. She is a co-founder and contributor of the blog project Lhakar Diaries and has been part of a core team behind the first and second Gatherings for Tibetans of Mixed Parentage which took place in London in June, 2014 and Zurich in June, 2015. 

Sueann Leung, who graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 2010, is a New York-based costume designer for theater, opera and dance. She recently had her Off Broadway debut designing Christopher Gabriel Núñez's The Surgeon and Her Daughters for Mentor Project 2016 at Cherry Lane Theater. She is currently the resident costume designer for Hewitt School and has served as the Costume Director of Opera Roanoke for Giulio Cesare, Abduction, and La Cenerentola. Leung has been featured in a number of fashion columns, most notably in The Wall Street Journal

Nia Ostrow Witherspoon, a 2005 graduate of Smith College, is a multidisciplinary artist investigating the metaphysics of black liberation, desire and diaspora. Working primarily in the media of theater/performance, vocal and sound composition, and creative scholarship, Witherspoon’s work has traveled both nationally and internationally. As a performer, Witherspoon is co-founder of the ceremonial music collective SoliRose, a world-premiere cast member of Sharon Bridgforth’s River See, and has been a featured vocalist in the work of Cherríe Moraga. 

Theater director Dawn Monique Williams earned her MFA from UMass in 2011. In 2016, she was awarded a Princess Grace Foundation Award in theater, which she used to support her 2017 production of The Merry Wives of Windsor at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF). From 2014-2016 Williams was in residence at OSF on a Leadership U Grant, serving as the Phil Killian Directing Fellow at there in 2013.  Prior to that, she was a 2011 Directing Fellow of the Drama League of New York, one of four directors selected for the fall Directors’ Project.