The Harlem School of the Arts is a historic institution founded in 1964 by internationally acclaimed concert soprano Dorothy Maynor. It's mission is to "enrich the lives of young people and their families through world-class training in and exposure to the arts across multiple disciplines in an environment that emphasizes rigorous training, stimulates creativity, builds self-confidence, and adds a dimension of beauty to their lives." For over 60 years it has exceedingly met this mission, situating itself as a vanguard of arts education. Currently, the school is transitioning to become a world-class performing arts institution, which has the capacity to produce events for audiences and with artists of all ages.
Interfest was produced to herald HSA's expanding goals. Chris Myers, a former HSA alum and current artist-in-residence, partnered with three theater makers and friends: Kristen Adele Calhoun, Zekeya (Nikki) Monique, and Stephanie Rolland. Together, they created Interfest as a response to the current challenges facing marginalized groups and their allies within the arts community and beyond. Interfest invites audiences to engage with each other despite differences in hopes of strengthening the resolve of communities while keeping things irresistibly fun. Inspired by Toni Cade Bambara’s vision that “the artist’s job is to make the revolution irresistible” the unique event aims to disrupt the formal festival experience.
Kristen Adele Calhoun (Producer)
Kristen Adele Calhoun is the Producing Manager of The Billie Holiday Theatre and RestorationART. Kristen previously served as the founding Program Director of Arts in a Changing America and as a consultant for the Arts & Culture portfolio of the Ford Foundation. She is currently co-writing Canfield Drive, a play about Ferguson, Missouri under the commission of 651 Arts in Brooklyn and The St. Louis Black Repertory Theatre. As an actress, writer, and organizer, her work exists at the intersection of activism and challenging the status quo. A native of Dallas, Texas, she is a graduate of the University of North Texas and the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. www.kristenadele.net
Zakeya "Nikki" Monique (Producer)
Zakeya Monique (Nikki) is a Bronx-bred marketer, theatre diversifier, community engagement producer and most importantly, an active advocate for blackness and its liberation. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from NYU Tisch in Dramatic Writing with a concentration in playwrighting and a Masters of Science in Interactive and Direct Marketing from Mercy College. You can always find her behind the scenes making sure we have a seat at the table, even if it's a self-brought folding chair.
Chris Myers (Producer)
Chris Myers is an actor, writer, producer, and teaching artist. He is proudly a 5th generation New Yorker and attended the Harlem School of the Arts, LaGuardia High School, and The Juilliard School. He’s worked at New York’s leading off-Broadway theaters, won an Obie Award in 2014 for his performance in “An Octoroon”, and can be seen in Netflix’s upcoming “She’s Gotta Have It Series” from Spike Lee. As a writer/producer, he has created two short films and one half-hour pilot, "GUAP," which was successfully crowdfunded on Kickstarter for over $23,000. His dream audience member is you. www.chrismyersinc.com
Stephanie Rolland (Producer)
Stephanie Rolland is a producer based in Baltimore, MD where she is the Artistic Administrator for Baltimore Center Stage. She is a member of Theater Communication Group (TCG)’s inaugural Rising Leaders of Color cohort, TCG’s National Awards Committee and the League of Resident Theater’s Diversity Committee. She holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MFA in Theater Management from Yale School of Drama. Her work as an artist is fueled by connection, experimentation and laughter. She finds her joy in bringing multi-faceted, swirling, human universes together in space to make magic.
Zora Howard (Co-Producer)
Zora Howard is a Harlem-bred multidisciplinary creator and performer. Her work with filmmaker Lisa Russell to turn her original poem “Biracial Hair” into a short film won an Emmy for Outstanding Advanced Media Interactivity in 2009. Since then, her work, both as a performer and writer, has been showcased on HBO, TV One, PBS, and NBC. On stage, her performance art has given her the opportunity to perform at such venues in New York as the Apollo Theater, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, as well as internationally. She is a graduate of Yale University and University of California, San Diego. www.zoramakes.com
Charly Simpson (Co-Producer)
Charly Evon Simpson is a playwright, performer, and teacher. Her plays include Scratching the Surface, Jump, Hottentotted, While We Wait, and others. She is a member of the 2017 Working Farm at SPACE on Ryder Farm and is a former member of Ensemble Studio Theatre’s Youngblood, Pipeline Theatre Company’s PlayLab, and Fresh Ground Pepper’s PlayGround PlayGroup. She is currently an adjunct lecturer at Hunter College and an engager at The Engaging Educator. She is a former yoga teacher and health coach. BA: Brown. MSt: Oxford. MFA: Hunter College. www.charlyevonsimpson.com
Tora Nogami Alexander (Production Intern)
Tora Alexander is a recent Fordham University graduate. She is a performer and director who is interested in bringing diverse voices and stories into the world. She has passion for education and art that engages communities. She is so excited to be a part of interfest. Thanks to the whole team. www.toraalexander.com
AriDy Nox (Production Intern)
AriDy Nox is a second year graduate student at NYU, studying to get her Master's in Musical Theater Writing. She is a graduate of Spelman College, where she majored in Comparative Women Studies with a Concentration in New Media. Her theatrical works includeThe Dream Collectors, a one-act play produced in Ocean Springs for a showcase of local talent; Lost and Found, a site specific one-act created to be performed in The Black Chronicles II an art exhibition centered around photographs of black people in Victorian Era England; and At The River’s Edge a twenty-minute operatta following twins who travel to the realm of the Gods that was produced at NYU for a series of small readings. She is also a producer of the award-winning documentary Flawless Feminism, an exploration of feminism in the wake of Beyonce, a member of the People of Color Roundtable at the Musical Theater Factory, and is currently interning at Lincoln Center’s LCT3 theater.