For as long as I can remember, I’ve worked in the performing arts. I grew up playing in local community theater, speech team, and even ventriloquism (yes, really). When it came time to head to college, my family trekked me from the Midwest cross-country in a minivan with a mattress strapped to the roof to attend acting conservatory in New York City.
After graduation, my friends and I weren’t finding roles that reflected who we were, so I wrote plays for us to perform. All the while, I curated art parties in my Williamsburg loft. Filled with music, spoken word, bouffon, visual artists, puppetry, and short films, these gatherings often floated into the wee hours.
Curating and writing birthed my own theater company, terraNOVA Collective. We presented world-class performers, like Taylor Mac, W. Kamau Bell, Nilaja Sun, Erin Markey, Christen Clifford, Red Bastard, Maya Azucena, Emily DeCola, Nellie Tinder, Victoria Libertore, Joseph Keckler, Corn Mo, and The Bengsons.
Concurrently, I served as Season Producer for The Ensemble Studio Theatre, where I produced Tony, Pulitzer, and Obie award winners and nominees like David Auburn, José Rivera, and Robert Askins.
I discovered digital and multi-platform storytelling while developing my play FEEDER: A Love Story. Through this process, I expanded theater beyond the stage. I took storytelling to the streets and created NY_Hearts, a love story shared over a mobile app in site-specific locations.
In recent years, I’ve landed back in the Midwest in the great mitten state as Programming & Operations Manager for the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, a 21-day gathering that offers 200+ events presenting music, dance, contemporary circus, public radio shows, comedy, film, spectacle, street arts, and family entertainment. Notable artists include Melissa Etheridge, Flaco Navaja, Jazzmeia Horn, Sona Jobarteh, Scott Silven, Alsarah and the Nubatones, Postmodern Jukebox, Kate McIntosh, Cirque Alfonse, Polyglot Theatre, Acrobuffos, Juan Martinez, Mary Mattingly.
I envision a more unified world through art, culture, and the humanities. Access and inclusion are no longer issues. Disabilities, ethnicities, and beliefs do not separate us. They excite us. Differences spur us to ask questions and understand our shared humanity holistically and lovingly. Wisdom and generosity replace misunderstanding and greed. I attempt to lift up people from all walks and inspire the next generation of artists and patrons to view the world through a lens that embraces and stimulates humankind. I meet the audience where they are and bring life-altering art to their doorsteps.
I’ve written about digital, investigative, interactive, and immersive theater for many publications and was an editor for The Civilians’ Extended Play. I also have helped create multi-platform digital social impact campaigns for Lina Srivastava.
In my spare time, I enjoy traveling with my wife, exploring the world with my daughters, and whipping up tasty meals.
MULTI-PLATFORM AND SITE-SPECIFIC PLAYS
July 2012 – Present
One Muse Presents, The Brick Theater
Part walking tour, part love story, NY_Hearts offers people a new way to discover NYC by stepping into the characters’ shoes. Set in four different NYC neighborhoods, participants enjoy food, drinks and other surprises from local businesses, which are integrated into an audio story shared over mobile devices. Supporting story extensions of the audio story include character websites, online character vlogs, original music, and visual art.
The first part of NY_Hearts launched in the Lower East Side as part of the Game Play Festival by The Brick Theater in July 2012. Part two in Park Slope, Brooklyn ran April 19 – June 16, 2013.
“Truly new. It inspired fierce conversation, threw you into interesting situations with other people, and forced every participant to be both a passive observer and to take an active role.”
FEEDER: A LOVE STORY
MARCH 2011, terraNOVA Collective
Feeder: A Love Story shared the relationship of Jesse and Noel. Like thousands of other couples, they met online, fell in love, and got married. Noel and Jesse delved into the fringe lifestyle of feederism and opened themselves to an extraordinary world of passion, love, and food. But what happens when one partner outgrows the other?
terraNOVA Collective presented this transmedia theatrical event that incorporated live video from a web camera and computer on stage, Internet vlogging, and written blogs that engaged the audience before and after the play. The production was presented through HEREstay, HERE’s curated rental program, which provides artists with subsidized space and equipment, as well as technical and administrative support.
Online elements for Feeder: A Love Story
Michael Roderick, BROADWAYWORLD.COM
“Rarely in the theatre does a piece come out that causes one to be so engaged in every moment that time seems to stand still, yet such is the case with this piece masterfully directed by José Zayas.”
Anna Hayman, NEW YORK THEATRE REVIEW
“Feeder: A Love Story…is provocative in the truest sense of the word. It provokes thought about body types and behaviors, contemplation about private and public life in our internet-glutted world, guilt about one’s own compulsions, surprising sympathy for an alien world view, and awe for its extraordinary creativity.”