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About Us

Dipankar Mukherjee

Dipankar Mukherjee is a professional director originally from Calcutta, India. He brings with him international experience and intensive training in both classical literature and directing. He was one of the founding members of a professional theater company in Madras, India and has administrative experience in both India and the United States. In India, he has directed plays in English, Hindi, Bengali and other Indian languages and taken his work to the streets of India to create socially relevant work. He is the Artistic Director of Pangea World Theater. Dipankar is on several non-profit boards such as the Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, Center for Arts Criticism and the Irwin Andrew and Porter Foundation and Partners for Womens Equality He also serves on the National Steering Committee of the Asian American Theater Project, and South Asian Thater Arts Movement. Dipankar has been on multiple panels for the National Endowment of the Arts Panel, Minnesota State Arts Board Presentation grants as well as on think tanks convened by the Ford Foundation and Theater Communications Group. His credits include Procession, The Birthday Party, Twelfth Night, The Millionairess, Look Back in Anger, Five Finger Exercise, The Glass Menagerie, and The Little Clay Cart. At the Young Vic in London, he worked in the production of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons. In the United States, he worked with the South African playwright, Athol Fugard in his production of Playland at the Alliance Theater in Atlanta.

In 1992 he was invited to be the Resident Director at the Guthrie Theater where he worked in the productions of Nagamandala, Othello, A Woman of No Importance, The Rover, The Broken Jug and K- Impressions of the Trial. He has directed Mother Courage at the Guthrie Theater and Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun produced by the Nevada Arts Council. In the Twin Cities, he has directed at Theater Mu, Teatro Latino, Teatro del Pueblo, Mizna, Katha Dance Theater, Theater and worked with many independent performance -art artists. He was invited to New World Theater to direct Nagamandala in 1999 and returned there to direct in their 2050 program. Dipankar has worked extensively with dancers to create cross-cultural work using his knowledge of Kalaripayattu, an Indian martial arts form as well as a director. He creates movement based theater performances in Pangea World Theater, bringing together text and movement in plays such as Osiris, Ajax, Rashomon, The Inner World and Conference of the Birds. Dipankar has worked extensively with Praxis International in Duluth and Advocates of Human Rights to create performances and workshops on domestic violence that are created to impact systems change in the legislation in the U.S. He has been the recipient of many research and study grants that have aided in his study of movement, martial arts and choreography techniques. Dipankar has been awarded the Twin Cities International Citizens Award in 2001 by the Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul for contributions in the area of human rights and international co-operation as well as an Excellence for the Arts Award by the Council of Asian Pacific Minnesotans in. He was honored by the Indian Association of Minnesota with an Arts Achievement Award and was a keynote speaker at their event. Dipankar recently received the Bush Leadership award to train with non-violence and peace methodologies at the local, national and international level. He was nominated and invited to speak at the Salzburg Global Seminar, an international forum for Arts activism and human rights.

 

Meena Natarajan

Meena Natarajan is the Executive and Literary Director of Pangea World Theater and a professional playwright. She is committed to creating an international ensemble of actors, writers and designers in Pangea and bringing exciting classical and contemporary literature from all over the world to the Twin Cities. She was instrumental in founding and leading a theater company in India.

As a playwright, her scripts have been professionally produced in India and the United States. She has created, written and performed in mainstage and street theater pieces in India raising issues such as social injustice, corruption and dowry deaths. She has guided the theater’s growth and vision since its founding in 1995. In the U.S., she adapted Farid Ud-din Attar’s 12th century poem Conference of the Birds into a dramatic script for Pangea World Theater’s inaugural production in 1996. She adapted The Inner World based on two-thousand year old Tamil poems of love and war produced in 1998. Her most recent production was In the Mirror, a satire on the media written with the Pangea World Theater ensemble that premiered in Spring 2005.

She recently directed Draw Two Circles, a performance art piece created for the Naked Stages Program at Intermedia Arts. She wrote Osiris in 2004, a play based on The Egyptian Book of the Dead and the myth of Isis and Osiris. Other plays she has written include Rashomon and Bearing Witness with writer Luu Pham and Partitions based on the anti-Sikh violence of 1984 and the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947. She wrote Shadowlines which was commissioned by the Minnesota Advocates of Human Rights and dealt with the bias against immigrants, Prayers for the Future which was commissioned by Amnesty International and performed at their annual meeting in Minneapolis in May 2000 and dealt with war and refugees and Silent Children with David Mura, which dealt with child labor. Her play Without My Country was selected to be read at the Women Playwrights International conference in Greece in October 2000.

She has received a Many Voices Cultural Collaboration Grant from the Playwrights Center in Minneapolis, a Minnesota State Arts Board Career Opportunity Grant in 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 and an Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant in 2004. She received a TCG Extended Collaboration grant in 2004 to work on a new play about the experience of migrations during partition. Meena is the past President (2000-2003) of Women Playwrights International, an organization that promotes the work of women playwrights all over the world. She serves in the Steering Committee and Board of Directors of the Network of Ensemble Theaters and also serves in the advisory committee of SAATH, a South Asian American Theater collective in Boston, Massachsetts. She was recently invited in the capacity of a delegate and observer to the Asian Women Director’s Festival in India in 2002 by the Ford Foundation. She has been awarded the Twin Cities International Citizens Award in 2001 and an Excellence in the Arts Award by the Council of Asian Pacific Minnesotans.

 

Emmanuel Ortiz

EMMANUEL ORTIZ

Emmanuel Ortiz is a Latino writer and community organizer. He has many years of administrative experience mostly in University and non-profit settings, and most recently worked at the Chicano and Latino Studies and the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota. He recently returned to Minneapolis after a seven year absence.

He is a founding member of Palabristas: Latin@ Wordslingers, a Latina/o poets collective based in Minnesota, and the founder and organizer of Guerrilla Wordfare, bringing together artists of color to address issues of socio-political importance in our communities. He has authored two books of poetry: The Word Is a Machete: Post-Pocho/Puerto Rican Poems of the Personal and Political (Pocho Rican Press, 2003), and Brown unLike Me: Poems From The Second Layer Of Our Skin (Calaca Press, 2008). He received the Verve Grant for spoken word poets in 2005. His writing has appeared in numerous publications and he has performed his work across the country. In his spare time, he loves futbol, guacamole, and naps.

 

Aida Shahghasemi

AIDA SHAHGHASEMI

Aida was born in Tehran, Iran. She immigrated to the United States in the summer of 2000. While attending the University of Minnesota for anthropology and psychology, she researched restrictions on public performance of female classical vocalists in Iran. This led her to establish the student organization, Iran’s House of Art, as a platform for the presentation of alternative perspectives on Iranian art and society and create opportunities in which Iranian artists could present and promote their work in the Twin Cities. Aida completed her master’s degree at New York University in Art and Public Policy and furthered her study of Iranian art and society through creating a curriculum for a course called Iran’s Arts Activism. It has been an informative course about history of art in Iran and how creativity and society have affected each other interchangeably.

Aida has had the opportunity to work with truly amazing artists, as a Persian classical vocalist, percussionist, songwriter, and music consultant for theatrical productions. In Iran, she learned the Persian classical vocal repertoire from Madame Parissa, and Daf, the Kurdish frame drum, from Amir Samadi. Being a teaching artist with organizations such as Sing for Hope, based in NYC, she has learned immensely about bringing the arts to under-resourced schools as a tool for communicating social and domestic issues. She truly believes that creativity is a key element in the growth and character development of our youth and must be seriously invested in. Through her perspective, the essence of humanity is to understand our individual character and capabilities, and apply it effectively to something bigger than ourselves, may it be our community, our family, our neighborhood, or our nation.

 

Julia Malmgren

Educated at Eastern Michigan University, Julia Malmgren has 25 years experience in managing the accounting needs of nonprofit organizations ($500,000 to $4,200,000 budget size).  She has worked in the theater arts, the health, and community needs areas.  She has expertise in all areas of accounting from general accounting tasks through financial statements and audit facilitation.  In addition, she is experienced in grant management for foundations, corporations, and governmental entities.

Areas of expertise include payroll and related tax filings, general bookkeeping, bank account reconciliation, accounts payable and receivable management, cost center analysis and reporting, financial statement preparation and analysis, and year-end reporting.

 

AndreaAssaf_StaffPage

Andrea Assaf

  • National Coordinator, Institute for Directing & Ensemble Creation
  • E-mail: art2action@earthlink.net
  • Telephone: 612-822-0015

Andrea Assaf is a performer, writer, director, & cultural organizer.  The founder of Art2Action, she has a Masters degree in Performance Studies and a BFA in Acting, both from NYU.  She is the former Artistic Director of New WORLD Theater (2004-09), and Program Associate for Animating Democracy (2001-04).  She has taught Acting technique, Voice and Creative Movement in New York, Boston, and Washington DC.

Her performance work ranges from original, interdisciplinary solo and collaborative productions, to spoken word.

Recent  directing and new works include:  breaking letter(s) by Suheir Hammad (NWT, 2008); Shekadii Walaalo (Sister-Story), a community collaboration with the Walaalo! Somali Sisters Collective (2008); Womb-Words, Thirsting by Lenelle Moise (2007); and Parang Sabil by Kinding Sindaw at the first National Asian American Theater Festival (NYC, 2007).  In 2005-06, Andrea toured to Mexico, the U.S., Nicaragua and Canada with Mujeres en Ritual Danza-Teatro, in Fronteras Desviadas / Deviant Borders, which she wrote/co-created (supported by a grant from Contacto Cultural).  In 2003, her solo show, Globalicities, was featured in the New York International Fringe Festival.

As a spoken word artist, Andrea has performed her newest series, Eleven Reflections on September , at the Centro Cultural Tijuana (Mexico, 2010), the Zero Budget Festival in Wroclaw, Poland (Grotowski Institute, 2009); and the Bowery Poetry Club in NYC (2007).   Andrea was a featured poet at the People’s Poetry Gathering in 2003, and at Blue Stockings Women’s Bookstore in NYC.  She has performed live on WBAI’s Radio Tahrir: Voices of the Arab/Muslim Community, twice.  In 2002, she was a winner in the Urbana Queer Slam in NYC.

Andrea is a recipient of a 2010 Princess Grace Theater Fellowship, and the Gant Gaither Theater Award.  As a Princess Grace Directing Fellow, she will be an Artist-in-Residence at Pangea World Theater for the 2010-11 season.  Andrea has also received a 2010 Creation Fund through the National Performance Network (NPN), with the support of Pangea World Theater, El Centro Su Teatro, and the Esperanza Center.  In 2007, Andrea was awarded a residency at the Hedgebrook, for “women authoring change.”  Andrea serves on the National Steering Committee of the CAATA (Consortium of Asian American Theaters & Artists).  She is a member of Alternate ROOTS, and RAWI (Radius of Arab American Writers).

 

J. Otis Powell!

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Pangea World Theater illuminates the human condition, celebrates cultural differences,
and promotes human rights by creating and presenting international, multi-disciplinary theater.