Steven is a co-founder and member of UNIVERSES, where he has served as a playwright, actor and director since 1995. His playwright and acting credits include AFRICANTIC; americUS; UNISON; PARTY PEOPLE; AMERIVILLE; The Denver Project; One Shot in Lotus Position; BLUE SUITE; SLANGUAGE; RHYTHMICITY; THE RIDE; and The Comedy of Errors (Oregon Shakespeare Festival). Directing credits include PASSOVER by Antoinette Nwandu, SWOPERA (Carpetbag Theatre), Metamorphoses by Mary Zimmerman, Will Powers’ THE SEVEN (University of Iowa), THE ARCHITECTURE OF LOSS (Assistant Director) and Alfred Jarry’s UBU: Enchained (Poland). Awards and affiliations include the 2015 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award (Theatre); Oregon Shakespeare Festival Acting Company (2012-present); U.S. Cultural Ambassador with the U.S. State Department for Jazz at Lincoln Center Rhythm Road Tour (2008); Theatre Communications Group; Theatre National Directors Award (2002); National Theater Artist Residency Program Award (2002-2004 and 1999-2001); Peter Zeisler Award (2008); BRIO Awards (Bronx Recognizes Its Own — Performance, 1998 and 2002); Van Lier Fellowship (New Dramatists); The Point CDC (co-founder), and New York Theatre Workshop Usual Suspects. His publications include UNIVERSES’ The Revolution will be Live! (2020 release through Theatre Communications Group Books); SLANGUAGE in The Fire This Time; BLUE SUITE (Goodman Theatre’s Festival Latino); PARTY PEOPLE (Manifesto Anthology); and he has been featured on the covers of American Theatre Magazine (2004) and The Source (2000). Steven is a member of the Actors’ Equity Association and holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in Theatre from Bard College.
Mildred is a board member of the National Performance Network and co-founder and member of UNIVERSES—where she has served as a playwright, actor and director since 1995. Her playwright and acting credits include AFRICANTIC; americUS; UNISON; PARTY PEOPLE; AMERIVILLE; The Denver Project; One Shot in Lotus Position; BLUE SUITE; RHYTHMICITY; SLANGUAGE; THE RIDE; The Merry Wives of Windsor; The Comedy of Errors; The Unfortunates; and Alfred Jarry’s UBU: Enchained. Musical direction credits include SWOPERA. Awards and affiliations include the 2015 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award (Theatre); Oregon Shakespeare Festival Acting Company (2012-present); U.S. Cultural Ambassador with the U.S. State Department for Jazz at Lincoln Center Rhythm Road Tour (2008); Theatre Communications Group; Theatre National Directors Award (2002); National Theater Artist Residency Program Award (2002-2004 and 1999-2001); New York Theatre Workshop Usual Suspects; the Career Advancement Fellowship from the Ford Foundation through the Pregones/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater (2006); the Peter Zeisler Award (2008); and former board member of the Network of Ensemble Theaters. Her publications include UNIVERSES’ The Revolution will be Live! (2020 release through Theatre Communications Group Books); SLANGUAGE in The Fire This Time; BLUE SUITE (Goodman Theatre’s Festival Latino); PARTY PEOPLE (Manifesto Anthology); and she has been featured on the covers of American Theatre Magazine (2004) and The Source (2000). She is a member of the Dramatist Guild and Actors’ Equity Association, and holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in Literature and Language from Bard College.
Gamal is a poet, playwright, composer and co-founder of Universes theatre ensemble, originally based out of New York. Gamal’s theatrical writing credits include The Last Word, God Took Away His Poem, The Black Mann Act Trail of Jack Johnson, The Wall, The Ride (Universes), Slanguage (Universes), Ameriville (Universes) and Let Bygones Be, featured at the Actors Theatre of Louisville’s 34th Humana Festival of New American Plays Ten-Minute Play series. Commissions include Slanguage (New York Theater Workshop, 1999), United States History Cycle 2008 (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Ameriville (Actors Theater of Louisville, 2009) and americUS (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, 2020). Published works include Writers Corp Teacher Anthology, (City Lights Books, 2009); The Fire This Time: African American Plays for the 21st Century; and Humana Festival: The Complete Plays (2003, 2009, 2010).
Asia is a creator from Detroit, Mich., who is excited to be making her Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park debut! Asia obtained her Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Acting from Western Michigan University and went on to join the acting company at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (UNISON, Shakespeare in Love). She has been blessed to be able to create and perform new, diverse work. Uninterested in keeping the same stories and experiences on stage, she is passionate about bringing new work and new experiences into the American theatre. As a theatre and visual arts teacher, Asia aims to use her influence to help usher in a new generation of fresh, original voices to audiences and present theatre collaborations that will continue to shape the American theatre that reflect our reality in the vibrant colors of our time. She dedicates her performance to the amazing humans that she calls her family. You can find her on Instagram at @AsiaMayMark.
Universes is a national theatre company dedicated to the creation, development, production, touring, community engagement and educational dissemination of new theatrical and performance works for the stage. It supports artists within and outside of its core company to foster artistic excellence in American theatre. Its core company consists of a revolving and evolving set of multi-disciplined writers and performers who fuse poetry, theatre, music and dance to bring American voices to life through moving, challenging and entertaining theatrical works. Led by its Founders/Artistic Directors, Steven Sapp and Mildred Ruiz-Sapp, the core group of writers breaks the bounds of traditional theatre, building on Universes' aesthetic and unique brand, to invite/challenge old and new generations of theatre crafters, as well as theatregoers and newcomers, to envision a new American theatre. Founded in The Bronx, New York, in 1995, the original members of Universes came together in the urban poetry and music scene of the late 1990s, quickly moving through the “downtown” performance scene to build a home for themselves in American theatre. In their 24 years, they have taken their original pieces around the world, electrifying crowds and sparking conversation about just what it means to be an American citizen: right here and right now.
Joan’s work as a director has taken her from coast to coast with productions in New York and Los Angeles and as far as the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland. With a focus on new play development, Joan is also a long-time dramaturg, most recently working with Universes for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s production of Unison. She is also the founder and a resident director/dramaturg for the Activate: Midwest New Play Festival. Joan has served as literary consultant to several regional theatres and on a number of feature films. She is author of six books and over a dozen book chapters and journal articles that examine the creative process of playwrights and directors with specific focus on the work of August Wilson. She also serves as Chair of the Department of Theatre at Western Michigan University.
Misha’s previous Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park designs include Cincinnati King, Mr. Joy, Venus in Fur and Sex With Strangers. He has also worked at Arena Stage, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Baltimore Center Stage, Children’s Theatre Company, Cleveland Play House, The Kennedy Center, Milwaukee Shakespeare, Olney Theatre Center, Opera Lafayette, Opera Royal Versailles, Pasadena Playhouse, Filarmónica de Jalisco, Portland Center Stage, Round House Theatre, Seattle Rep, Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center, Signature Theatre, Skylight Music Theatre, Studio Theatre, Syracuse Stage, Theater J, Wilma Theater and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, among many other companies in the United States and abroad. Misha is a recipient of the 2013 Helen Hayes Award and a company member at Woolly Mammoth in Washington. He is a graduate of the St. Petersburg Theatre Arts Academy and serves as professor and department head of Master’s in Fine Arts in Design at the University of Maryland. For more information visit mishakachman.com.
Mike is a Chicago-based lighting designer and ensemble member with A Red Orchid Theatre. His off-Broadway credits include shows with Primary Stages, 59E59 and Cherry Lane Theatre. National tour credits include The Nightman Cometh: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Regional and Chicago credits include Goodman Theatre (Santaland Diaries), Court Theatre (Belle of Amherst, King Hedley II), McCarter Theatre (Simpatico), Huntington Theatre Company (Come Back, Little Sheba), Lookingglass Theatre, Olney Theatre Center, Cardinal Stage, Detroit Public Theatre, Timeline, A Red Orchid Theatre, The Hypocrites, The House Theatre and others. Concert lighting design credits for artists are as varied as Clipping, Lea Salonga, Chicago Sinfonietta and Pete Townshend. Mike is the lecturer of Lighting Design at University of Chicago and a consultant on theatrical renovations. He is a recipient of Chicago’s Jeff Award, L.A.’s Ovation Award and San Diego’s Craig Noel Award. Mike is a member of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 2 and United Scenic Artists 829. Visit MikeDurst.com for more information.