StageCraft 2024


A 4.5-month Vocational/Theater Arts fellowship program, StageCraft engages five greater Rochester BIPOC individuals, ages 18 – 29, with opportunities to acquire and apply skill sets needed for success in the non‐ performance side of theater. Participating fellows receive generous stipends and gain practical skills in front‐of‐house, back‐of‐house, creative, curatorial, and administrative activities and responsibilities. Guided by Artistic Director Gary DeWitt Marshall and four mentors, the fellowship’s capstone project is producing two staged readings of Karen Culley’s Monologues on Clarissa Street.

Monologues on Clarissa Street: Staged Readings

Karen Culley’s play recreates special times in the lives of African Americans that made Clarissa Street in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s “magical.” Various characters’ monologues venture back to a time and place in Rochester, NY, where the days were long but the nights were longer, where people were jazz, and community was the tempo.

Writers & Books,
740 University Avenue, Rochester
August 10 @ EST 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm
FREE – $20.00 | Reserve your tickets HERE

15th Annual Sankofa Theatre Festival, MuCCC
142 Atlantic Avenue, Rochester
August 25 @ EST 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Tickets & Information 

Program Partners: Blackfriars Theatre and Geva Theatre

Program Funders: William and Sheila Konar Foundation; Rodney Hatch Family Fund, Rochester Area Community Foundation; Sankofa Theatre Festival 

Gary DeWitt Marshall, StageCraft’s originator and Artistic Director, is an award-winning director and stage, film and television actor, currently a full-time Theatre Instructor at the College of Charleston and Director-in-Residence at the Queen Street Play House, Charleston, SC. His recognitions include, among many others, Outstanding Achievement in Direction and the J. Richard Mahlstedt Directing Award from the Theatre Association of NY State in 2019; Outstanding Achievement in Direction: “Twelve Dollars,” from the Eastern States Theatre Association in 2017; and Best Featured Actor: Willie Malopa, “Master Harold and the Boys,”, in 2011. An alumnus of Rochester’s Edison Career & Technology High School, Gary earned a BA from Hobart & William Smith Colleges and an MAT in Theatre Education from the University of South Carolina.

Yakira Capri Coleman is a Rochester born and raised actress, singer, songwriter, and poet. She has performed in multiple shows, notably, Ragtime, Newsies, and Bring It On at the Jewish Community Center; Once on this Island, Smokey Joe’s Cafe, Beehive: The 60’s Musical, Dreamgirls, and Beautiful at Blackfriars Theatre; TYKES’ productions of Llama Llama Red Pajama and Giraffes Can’t Dance;  RIT/National Technical institute for the Deaf’s production of In The Heights (2022); and festivals, including the 2022 Rochester Puerto Rican Fest. She also works at Eastridge High School’s Vocal Performance After School Program.

Ky’Johnna Jamison is a writer and filmmaker from upstate New York. An artist who has trained in multiple disciplines, her ultimate goal is to work in Film & Theater, merging her passions for storytelling and queer advocacy to address systemic issues of inequality and oppression. A particular focus is creating positive media depictions of BIPOC and queer narratives. As part of her artistic journey, she has participated in several programs, including the 2023 Geva Theatre Summer Academy program. In March 2024, Ky’Johnna’s short sci-fi script ”Ouroboros” was selected for the Under the Eclipse: Youth Playwriting Festival, and debuted at the Rochester Museum & Science Center.

Nefantee Mayers of Rochester, NY, is a recent graduate of Niagara University’s theater program as the first Black woman to graduate with a directing specialization. At NU, she stage managed Decisions Heights, by Meridith Dayna Levy; participated in the university’s Short Play Festival; and directed Brain Sucking, a short play by Stephen Bittrich, and Megan Mostyn-Brown’s Girl. She also served as assistant director for Jane Austen’s: Christmas at Pemberley and Branden Jacibs-Jenkins’ Everybody. Additional professional credits include stage managing Chicago and Sweet Charity at Rochester’s OFC Creations Theatre Center.

E.B. Okung is a Rochester born teaching artist, director, and improviser. They are currently a resident instructor and performer at The Focus Theater in downtown Rochester’s historic Sibley Building. They can be found performing up and down the East Coast with their improv team Ants to Gods. E.B. was pleased to assistant direct Cabaret at Blackfriars Theatre in spring 2024, and looks forward to working on Dot next season.

Shyhiem Rodriguez

Doug Curry is a native New Yorker, born in Harlem and raised in the Bronx. A 1974 graduate of Carnegie-Mellon University, he is a poet, writer, radio host, and actor. Since 1982, he has been the voice and radio host of “Blacks & Blues with Doug Curry,” heard online and on terrestrial radio in Western and Central New York, as well as in the international blues capital of Chicago, Illinois. Doug has voiced film and audio books and appeared in a variety of dramatic roles onstage and remotely for local theater entities, including, among others, Blackfriars Theatre and its Hourglass Reading Service, the Bronze Collective, the Off-Monroe Players, the Penfield Players, and Rochester Institute of Technology’s NTID. He currently serves as Vice President of Just Poets, an award-winning literary group based in Rochester. Doug has been an automotive sales professional since 1987.

Andrea Daszkiewicz is a TANYS award-winning actor who loves all things theater. She currently serves as President Elect for the Penfield Players, and was last seen on stage as Lydia Languish in RCP’s Irish Program production of The Rivals. In addition to Stagecraft this summer, she is stage managing Crow City Theatre’s production of Night of the Living Dead Live. Andrea is excited to do whatever she can to help others learn more about and get involved in Rochester’s theater community, a beautiful, diverse group of talented, friendly, and wonderful humans.

Kat Rina Davis is a multi-talented American actress born and raised in Rochester, NY. Wife, mother, playwright, director, and CEO of Kat Rina Productions, she advocates for autism awareness and published the children’s book Have You Seen My Birthday? She is the 2010 TANYS award recipient for the stage plays The Sunshine Boys and You Shouldn’t Have Told, and was the 2015 Roc Awards Best Actress winner. First bitten by the acting bug in 2009, Kat has since performed in a host of stage plays, short films, and web series, including, among others, The Renaissance of Nia: One Woman’s Quest Toward Emotional Wellness, a monologue stage play by Kat Rina Davis; Surely Goodness and Mercy, by Chisa Hutchinson, performed at Blackfriars Theatre; Dominique Morisseau’s Detroit ‘67, performed at Blackfriars; These Streets Don’t Love You Like I Do, a feature film from Sunmoonrising Films; and Nicole Backus’ In The Light, a YouTube web series. In spring 2024, Kat directed a staged reading of Christina Anderson’s the ripple, the wave that carried me home at Blackfriar’s Hourglass series.

Reuben J. Tapp, MS, is an arts professional with expertise in producing, directing, and acting on stage and in voice-over. He specializes in Black theater and process drama, which includes theater of the oppressed and playback theater.  Aside from his personal performances, he has played a collaborative role in establishing the Bronze Collective, a Rochester-based African American arts collective, and a key role in sustaining the Sankofa Theatre Festival, now in its 15th year. Reuben has continued to expand his artistic footprint by lending his voice to commercials, audiobooks, podcasts, and live performances. Learn more here and here.

Guest Panelists
Shelli Boone, Rachel DeGuzman, Crystin Gilmore, Danny Johnson, Ty-Gabriel Jones, Alison Meyers, Henry Clay Middleton, Claudia Nolan, and Rachel Wyche