photo by Tammy Shell

As a young child I would gaze in awe of my grandmother and the village elders of the rich fertile farmlands of Nandi Hills, Kenya as they spun stories of the great legends and fools of our tribe. While I understood little of their tales and the language they spoke, Kalenjin, I was utterly consumed by the musicality of their voices with its sudden peaks and drops in volume, their bold majestic gestures and expressive faces dimly light by the coal fire that was set beside them.

I did not know that in observing these stories a seed had been planted in my being. A love of storytelling; the very root of theater and performance began to take form. This seed would continue to grow and blossom in my years while being nurtured by my mother Rose Ali, educators and many others that I have encountered throughout my life.

In early May 2013, planning only for a two week trip, I took a leap from South Africa to the city of Pittsburgh as a guest director commissioned by the August Wilson Center for African American Culture. What followed was a short vacation to New York City where found myself irrevocably in love with the chaotic kaleidoscope that is New York. I kept finding reasons to extend my stay, at first by weeks and months before finally committing to live in New York in 2015. It has been six years now since I arrived in New York, where I have been working primarily as a director, community organizer and arts administrator most notably at the Public Theater and The New Group. I have guest directed and lectured at Yale University, NYU, Brooklyn College and Princeton University. I have given presentations of my work as a New Frontier Fellow at the Sundance Institute Lab in Utah, Royal National Theater in London and most recently received a grant for $80 000 towards my VR film Atomu from POV/PBS Spark. This fall will mark my regional theater directorial debut at Pittsburgh Public Theatre followed by a world premiere of Karen Zacharias’ The Copper Children at Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) in 2020. 

March 2019 marked my Off-Broadway directorial debut where I helmed Yaël Farber’s Mies Julie with Classic Stage Company.

As an interdisciplinary artist, producer and arts administrator; my role is to serve as a creative leader in a collaborative artistic process. I commit to creating  the optimum conditions for the development and or deepening of an artistic project.  My leadership role is therefore fine tuned to the needs and constraints of each endeavor.

My commitment to working with an open heart at the intersection of humanitarianism and performance coupled with my deep fascination for developing rich interdisciplinary work has seen artistic collaborations with a wide array  of individuals including dancers, visual artists, hair-braiders, refugees, and dancers among many more.

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