BETWEEN WORLDS

   
Playwright
Cecilia Nadal is founder and Executive Director of Gitana Productions. Since 1997 she has provided the creative vision for all programming including theater, musical and educational investments. When a student at Saint Louis University she started the Black Renaissance Players during the 1960’s and wrote three plays for the company that were performed at the Ethical Society now The Sheldon. She chose to pursue a career in law, social work and sociology but returned to her passion when she founded Gitana in 1996 merging all of her interests into the Gitana mission. After 47 years, she was inspired to write “Between Worlds: An American Journey” for three reasons. First, resident playwright Lee Patton Chiles needed to attend to challenges as a new grandmother. Second, policy changes and cuts in the arts compelled her to take up the challenge since her costs met the budget! Third, 2016 happened! This has been a daunting but very satisfying challenge she has taken on for the love of the work and it importance to community. At the age of 67 she believes that no matter our age we should always strive to contribute and meet our challenges with enthusiasm and a love for continued learning!  

Director/Choreographer

Vivian Anderson Watt, Co-Director and Choreographer, Educator, Actress, Dancer, Writer, is a native St. Louisan who trained under Katherine Dunham, Norman Davis, Lenwoo Morris, Archie Savage, and Tommi Gomez in East St. Louis where she worked as Theater assistant/Arts in Education Director at SIUE. She has taught classes for the Dunham Seminar, Lula Washington Dance, Judi Best Dance Academy, Marla Gibbs Academy of Dance, Wren Academy, COCA Arts Institute, Riverside Regional Dance, C.H.I.P.S. (Community Health In Partnership) every Performing Arts Magnet school in St. Louis and at such landmark sites as the historic Inner City Cultural Center in Los Angeles; creating choreography for the 1987 Olympics in Los Angeles. Vivian has been associated with Gitana since 1997 working with such greats as Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, Melba Moore, China National Orchestra, Brazilian Virginia Rodriguez, and Japanese Violinist Aska Kaneko, not to mention being dance coordinator for Gitana’s Global Education through the Arts program. Gitana’s production “Complacency of Silence: Darfur” in which she acts and choreographs was nominated for 5 Kevin Kline Awards. Vivian Anderson Watt
Music Director
Aska Kaneko, Music Director, Aska was a child protégé who began violin and piano at the age of four. As a teenager she was invited to participate in an international quartet competition for young musicians in London in which she won the grand prize. In the 1990’s Aska released her first album and was the music director for the Asian Fantasy Orchestra. In 1998 Aska was awarded a Bessie Composition Award . Gitana has collaborated with Aska over a number of years and she is one of our favorite composers and musicians much of the music you will hear in this performance is original work by Aska Kaneko with collaboration with Dawn Weber, trumpeter; Phillip Graves, pianist and Christian Oncken, Electronic instrumentalist.  
Actors
Garrett Bergfeld is honored to be a part of “Black & Blue”. In recent years his appearances on stage have been infrequent but felt this particular work to be important & meaningful. In the past Garrett was often seen in Shakespearean roles such as Hamlet, Macbeth, Iago, & Petruchio. In real life Garrett is an Associate Professor of Physiology at Webster University.
 
Greg Matzker has been part of the theatre community for over 30 years. His first professional performance was at the historic Goldenrod Showboat. He also spent 10 years singing for the St. Louis Symphony. Over the last couple of years he has been seen gracing the stage with St. Louis Winter Opera. Some may remember him from his roles as Charlie with The St. Louis Black Reps production of Purlie. Or Larry in Mr. Marmalade with WEPG. Greg has also appeared on the stage with The Uppity Theatre Company, Unity Theatre Ensemble and The Muny. In his younger days Greg was an accomplished dancer and was awarded Midwest swing Champion on ’89. Still working as a choreographer he has choreographed for many local schools and theatre around the Midwest. He is a private voices teacher and was the founder of Marble Stage Theatre. Greg is presently enjoying his first year of marriage.
 
Jessica Alvarado expressed a genuine flare for performing so her mother enrolled her in Janet’s Ballet Dance Studio, a local dance school in Brooklyn. At 17, Jessica decided to enroll at TVI Actor’s Studio in Manhattan where she began taking classes honing her skills. Her multi-cultural background helped her earn spot with Between the Lines Production Company to star in their Audelco Award winning Off-Broadway play called Platanos and Collard Greens. In 2008, Jessica’s dedication and commitment earned her the Sonny Rollins Award for Outstanding Performance. The highest level of recognition one could earn as a member of Between the Lines Production Company. Her recent credits include: “The Vagina Monologues” by Eve Ensler, “8” by Dustin Lance Black, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf” by Ntozake Shange. Jessica is an original cast member of NEW WORLD and was a lead actress in SOY YO! (I AM ME). Jessica Alvarado
 
Andrea Purnell is very proud to be making her first appearance with Gitana Productions. She is a native of St. Louis, Missouri having also lived in Los Angeles California where she pursued her love for the arts. Her acting credits include theater, commercials, industrial films, and movies. Andrea has performed with the San Diego Repertory Theatre, St. Louis Black Rep, New Line Theatre, New Jewish Theatre and as Roxane in St. Louis Shakespeare Company’s Cyrano De Bergerac. Her international credits include a performance in Lyon, France with La’HorsDe where she depicted an American citizen from Pruitt Igoe. Andrea was also featured in the award winning film "Pennies for The Boatman” by Mario Farewell and was a cast member in the Ghana, West Africa staging. Andrea holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies from Fontbonne University.  Jessica Alvarado
 
Richard Cohen has been an actor since 1970 performing in diverse roles including Gratiano in the Merchant of Venice, Renfield in Dracula, Harold in Boys in the Band, The Logician in Rhinocerous and Dr. McNarry in Compulsion. He also played Yang Sun in The Good Woman of Setzuan. Richard is a wonderful character actor and is gifted with his ability to be funny. In addition to his love of theater Richard is a dedicated volunteer helping others to overcome mental health issues through coaching and drama. Jessica Alvarado
 
Joel Beard has been acting for 5 years and is elated to make his return to Gitana . His debut with Gitana was two years ago in the production of BLACK AND BLUE, a play to raise awareness of the racial and social injustice that plagues our country and sparked a nation-wide outcry starting in Ferguson and was cast for a larger role in the 2016 remount of that production. Later in 2016 he was a part of “Every 28 Hours” one minute play festival which discusses the same subject matter.  In retrospect of those two shows and a few others it seems that I have a calling to do productions that are intended to address and/or raise awareness of social issues. I hope that this production is a catalyst in bringing about healing, comfort and solutions to the various biases that many of us may have due to our diverse backgrounds. Jessica Alvarado
 
Serroge Watt is a lifelong member of the local theater and regional hip hop community. Raised on the stage and in front of the screen, he has enjoyed success in the past working with the St.Louis Black Rep, AFL-CIO, and receiving  the Riverfront Times Best Hip Hop band award. Always an eternal student his ultimate love is for family and adventure. Ashay. Jessica Alvarado
Dancers
Spencer Collins is a dancer and actor from Jefferson City, Mo, where he began his training that progressed to include training at the Missouri Contemporary Ballet in Columbia, Missouri. At age 21 Spencer moved to St. Louis where he joined Ashleyliane Dance Company for their eight season. Spencer's also danced with Consuming Kinetics Dance Company and has done numerous performances throughout the State of Missouri. Spencer's also taught and choreographed for dance studios, a production of "Anything Goes", and for the collegiate dance team at Missouri Valley College. Spencer is currently based in St. Louis, training and working on various projects. Jessica Alvarado
 
Lamisha Jones, (Mime), has worked as a mime for 15 years. This passion for mime was ignited by her desire to serve God through the expression of music and lift the burdens of people through her art form. LaMisha learned at an early age her unique and intense facial expression could move mountains and visually get a message across any platform. She acknowledges God for constantly choosing her as a vessel to deliver his message through mime in her teaching and ministry. LaMisha demonstrates her gift of mime through dance and acting on stage in theater productions, concerts and mime tours. She has worked with K&K Mime and several other mime dancers across the world. She is a career level foster parent and creative director of the youth at The Worship Center Saint Louis. Jessica Alvarado
 
Mary Hardcastle is delighted to be a part of this production. A native of Saint Louis, she has been performing since she was a young girl with community theater groups around the Saint Louis area. In high school, she was a part of the Artist-in-Training Program with Opera Theater of Saint Louis. She attended Millikin University and received her Bachelor of Music degree in 2015. She has recently worked with A Call to Conscience on their production of “Justice Too Long Delayed: A Celebration of a Letter from Birmingham Jail,” Family Musical Theater on their production of “The Little Mermaid,” and That Uppity Theatre Company on their Briefs Festival. Jessica Alvarado
 
Ruth Zerface's love of dance began at age three when she started with ballet and tap lessons. In her teens she was selected to be a member of the St. Charles Ballet Co.  Her favorite performance was when she got to dance the Arabian with the person who would later become her husband. After they got married, her husband spent 20 years in the Air Force, and dance was put on hold. In 2001, she tackled learning clog dancing, instead of just sitting and watching her daughter learn. She has been a member of the MO River Cloggers since 2001 and is currently the teacher for the group.  Clogging is very versatile and can be done to just about any genre of music. Ruth absolutely loves clogging! Some of her favorite shows are dancing at nursing homes, and bringing a little joy and a smile to their faces. Jessica Alvarado
 
Marquece Lomax, born in Saint Louis Missouri Marquece, is a dancer, singer, actor, artist, and writer. He started entertaining in high-school at Central Visual Performing Arts. Raymond Parks and Susan Morgan were his dance teachers. He also attended Alexander Ballet for private ballet classes, pantomime and more. His dancing ability and other talents have led to performances with such legends as Stevie Wonder & Shaka Chan, Judith Hill and Twitch. Before going to Los Angeles, California Raymond Parks started a tap club and choose Marquece to be the captain. His team won first place at the "Teen Talent Showcase" at the "Fabulous Fox." He got the chance to audition in front of Nick Cannon, and was blessed to be his #1 pick. Marquece filmed with Nick in LA and is going to be in an upcoming TV show on BET (Black Entertainment Television). Jessica Alvarado
 
Student Interns in Global Education through the Arts

Aurora Kenner

Daja McAfee

Jacob Holmes

Amya Strickland

Omari Damous
 
Technical Team
Tim Poertner, Set/Lights/Sound, Professor - Theatre School of Arts, Media, and Communications at Lindenwood University. Tim has collaborated with Gitana on a number of projects including BLACK AND BLUE, MY HEART IS ALWAYS SHAKING AND COMPLACENCY OF SILENCE: DARFUR which was nominated for a Kevin Kline Award for set design and lighting. Tim has 24 years of experience working with all aspects of theater technology. Aska Kaneko
 
Michele Siler, Costumes - returns to Gitana where she has designed costumes for Black and Blue, Faultlines, Eye on the Sparrow and My Heart is Always Shaking. Recent credits include Never the Sinner, Intimate Apparel, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Whipping Man and Shlemiel, The First (St. Louis Theatre Circle Nominee), for New Jewish Theatre, The Heir Apparent (St. Louis Theatre Circle Nominee), Hamlet, Coriolanus, The Tempest  for St. Louis Shakespeare, A Human Being Died That Night, Der Kus, Bashir Lazhar, The Death of Atahualpa (Kevin Kline Award nominee), Woyzeck, Helver’s Night, for Upstream Theatre, Blithe Spirit (St. Louis Theatre Circle Nominee) and Waiting for Godot for St. Louis Actors’ Studio.  
 
Daniel Johnson is a versatile and gifted multi-instrumentalist, music director, producer, composer, arranger and vocalist from St. Louis, MO who performs and tours with many local, national, and international artists. Phillip’s mission is to touch and inspire the lives of people through love, leadership, and music. He is a proud graduate of the St. Louis Public Schools and Webster University; with a Bachelors of Music degree in Jazz Studies with an emphasis in Music Technology. Phillip has toured and performed with many local, national, and international artists including Phil Perry, Lynne Fiddmont, Angela Winbush, Antonique Smith, Brian Owens, Andre Delano, Russell Gunn, Julie Dexter, Farshid Etniko, Theo Peoples, Charles Glenn, Bosman Twins, Anita Jackson, Denise Thimes, Tim Cunningham, and Grammy nominated artists N’Dambi, Eric Roberson, and Anthony David.