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Theatre Philadelphia’s Content + Criticism Cohort



Max Vasapoli

Max Vasapoli, M.Ed. is an Advisor and Adjunct at Drexel, having previously held advisory roles at Penn and UArts. He’s adjudicated dancers across North America for the last ten years, including the Season 8 Finale of Dance Moms. Prior work includes Opera Philadelphia, Cirque du Soliel, and Impact Dance Adjudicators.

Gauri Mangala

Gauri Mangala (she/her) is a first-generation Indian-American queer multi-hyphenate theatre artist and an aspiring grown up. She is drawn to stories that, even in their various levels of fiction-hood, pull out an honest candor about what it means to be human. Gauri is currently a Resident Fellow at Hedgerow Theatre. Follow her on instagram: @hiimgauri

Caity Cook

Caity Cook is a dramaturg, writer, and arts administrator based in Philadelphia, PA. Caity has a focus in new work development and has worked with not-for-profit theatres across the country, including Pig Iron Theatre Company, Manhattan Theatre Club, WP Theater, and Cleveland Play House.

Nora Gair

Nora Gair (she/her) is delighted to be part of this exciting cohort! A director, teaching artist, and intimacy choreographer proudly hailing from the mountains of New Hampshire, her work has been seen all over including Actors Theatre of Louisville, Compōs-it Opera Festival, Shakespeare in the Woods, and the Strides Collective. Alumna: Carnegie Mellon, the Tepper Semester @ Syracuse, and the WST Apprenticeship program.

Kirsten Bowen

Kirsten Bowen is a dramaturg who has written for Broad Street Review, 3Views on Theater, HowlRound Theatre Commons, Breaking Character, and Playwrights Canada Press. She holds an MFA in Dramaturgy from ART/MXAT Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard University and a BA in English and Theatre from Smith College.

Natalie Payán

Natalie is a multi-faceted international Latine artist who is thrilled to be a part of this program! As a new resident, she looks forward to exploring the Philadelphia theatre scene for all it has to offer. Professional credits include directing, acting, costume design and construction, sound design, stage management and more.

Krista Mar

Krista Mar (she/her) is a theatre enthusiast, avid reader, occasional writer, rookie photographer, novice dancer, life long learner, and activist. She seeks to center and amplify voices of the global majority, decolonize frameworks, advocate for justice, and build community. You can follow her theatre adventures on instagram

Carl(os) Roa

Carl(os) Roa [they/them] is an interdisciplinary creator, writer, and performer. An alumni of the Headlong Performance Institute, (os)’ work explores the marginalized within the marginalized, and alternative communities living alternative lives. They are currently the Program Manager for the Painted Bride, and a contributor for HowlRound and American Theatre Magazine.

Mackenzie Raine Kirkman

Raised in North Carolina, Mackenzie got her BA in Theatre and BFA in Creative Writing at the UNCW. From there she went to Miami University where she earned a Masters of Art in Theatre, Performance, and Practice. Mackenzie is a playwright and part of the inaugural Rising Writers cohort at Azuka Theatre. When she’s not writing she can be found at her day job; a preschool theatre teacher (it is as fun as it sounds).

Frank Deane-Schierloh

Frank Deane-Schierloh is a queer theatre artist based in Philly, who has been working in the industry for over a decade. Their experiences both onstage and off have filled them with a love and respect for theatre and a want to champion theaters committed to diversity, experimentation and inclusion.

ISH Muhammad

ISH Muhammad is an emerging Afro-futurist poet and playwright based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. ISH is a member of the Kennedy Center Playwriting Intensive, a PERIPLUS Collective Fellow, an alum of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s Advanced Playwriting program, and a Miranda Family Fellow. The twice cursed sea-hag Sycorax is ISH’s patron saint.


2022 Workshops Include:

  • Philadelphia Theatre in a Historical Context with Free Library of Philadelphia (In-Person) - August 4th

  • Writing for the Press led by Cameron Kelsall (Virtual) - September 8th

  • Navigating Audiences Across Platforms led by Darnelle Radford (Virtual) - October 13th

  • Virtual and Non-Traditional Theatre led by thINKingDANCE (Virtual) - November 3rd

  • Decolonizing Theatre Criticism led by Caseen Gaines (Virtual) - December 1st

Meet the 2022 Facilitator: Renee Lucas Wayne

Renee Lucas Wayne has been a playwright-in-residence for many organizations including The Salvation Army of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Arts in Education (PAEP), the Philadelphia Department of Recreation, and the Rainbow Connection of the Prince Music Theatre. She was a theater critic for the Daily News.

Seeking to create opportunities for artists of color, Renee has collaborated with like-minded women as a member of Black Magic Woman Productions, which developed new theater works, presented contemporary theater, and re-imagined the Classics. Most recently she brought her talents and unique perspective to the staff of The Bridge PHL as a Co-Director.

Writing across genres, Renee's plays include romantic comedies, (“While The Gettin's Good,” “It’s a Man Thing”), dramas (“Angels Unaware”), historical dramas (“Fly Girl,” Ride Mary, Ride!”), and plays for young audiences (“Fairy Tale Court,” “Kisa! Kisa! Kisa!”).


Theatre Philadelphia is pleased to announce our new initiative: the Theatre Philadelphia Content + Criticism Cohort. Funding has been provided by PA Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

It is more important than ever to help audiences understand the power of theatre to offer space for human connection and understanding. As an umbrella organization, Theatre Philadelphia aims to aid in COVID recovery efforts for our sector while expanding our industry’s reach to welcome new partners, collaborators, and audiences.

Through skill training for theatre workers, critical coverage for theatres and donor bases, and new forums for audience engagement, the Theatre Philadelphia Content + Criticism Cohort program will utilize a humanities-based approach to develop avenues of long-term sustainability and connection for all of our constituents. 

The program will select 10 participants, who will join a series of 5 monthly workshops and intensives. Following each workshop, participants will create their own content and writing pieces to submit for feedback from the program’s facilitators. Select content may be shared with producing companies, included on Theatre Philadelphia’s website, or compiled for archival use. Participants will leave the program with a Certificate of Completion, new skills in writing and theatre criticism, and a set of new critical content for their own portfolios. A small stipend will be provided to participants.