Challenging stigma through subversive theatrical productions and intimacy coaching for actors.
Through new plays and reworked classics, drama education and outreach, and intimacy coaching, we ask our patrons to question what we believe and whether those beliefs fuel actions that cause harm to ourselves or others.
Who We Are
Ryan Cupello is a New York City-based actor, director, producer. He holds an MFA from the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University. He holds a Certificate in Acting from the world-renowned Moscow Art Theatre in Russia and has studied at the Ludwik Solski Academy for the Dramatic Arts in Kraków, Poland. He has performed professionally in NYC, Boston, Moscow, and in the National Tours of Fiddler on the Roof and Dirty Dancing. He has produced and directed in Boston, Buffalo, and NYC. He helped create PlayOnline: an online reading series for Soho Shakespeare Company for which he directed a reading of The Tempest starring Jack Wetherall (Showtime’s Queer as Folk).
Ryan is a proud first-generation Brazilian-American and an advocate for immigrant rights. Due to this, he has always worked to help further social change for all people. He has volunteered and raised money for organizations like RAICES, an immigration advocacy group, and QORRN, which provides resources for queer-identifying people living in rural areas of the US. He has created this company to combine his advocacy work with his skills as a producer and artist.
Mara Lee Gilbert
Education Director/Intimacy Coach
Mara Lee Gilbert explores the lines between beauty and the grotesque, seeking to unravel taboos. Much of her work draws on stories of violence, sexual expression and power dynamics in intimate relationships.
She is a New York-based, award-winning actor, filmmaker, writer, and coach. She has a Master's Degree in Forensic Psychology and worked for many years with incarcerated and institutionalized populations. During college, she helped run a three-month drama therapy program with inmates at Bayview Women’s Correctional Facility. As well, she was later tasked with running the first ever drama therapy group inside the notorious Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center for the criminally insane. These experiences strongly influence the focus of empathy in her work.
Besides acting in film and on stage, she has also combined her background with her acting to teach empathy and communication skills to medical professionals and the New York City Police Department.
American society has been built upon oppressive policies that allow certain powers to expand their political, economic, and cultural influence by extorting communities based on their race, religion, gender, sexuality, ability, health, wealth, education, and citizenship. We pledge to institute DEI and Anti-Racist training for our staff and as part of each rehearsal process. We will institute intervention and disruption protocols for harmful moments that may arise from our staff, collaborators, and audience members. We understand that this is an ongoing commitment to re-examining our own prejudices and taking responsibility for our failures as we do this work. We know that theater has the power to educate, inspire, and challenge each of us and are committed to doing the long-overdue, uncomfortable work to dismantle these oppressive systems and create change in the world and within ourselves.
We are committed to supporting communities that have been exploited, silenced, or underrepresented by showcasing their stories, creating a safe space for artists to develop and exhibit their individual voices, and offering intimacy coaching to allow artists to express themselves without exacerbating personal trauma. We pledge to create a leadership team and staff that represents the communities we aim to support.
We pledge to work with multi-disciplined artists and technicians to constantly challenge our understanding of what theater is. We are committed to questioning how we tell stories on stage and experimenting with theatrical forms and performance styles while maintaining high-quality and meaningful storytelling. We will expand our exposure and work beyond the predominant American theater traditions.
We believe theater is a communal experience and that it should be accessible to everyone. Like the groundlings of Shakespeare’s theatre, we encourage the audience to interact with the stories we tell and pledge to shatter the barrier between actor and audience. We are committed to making admission affordable and to engage communities whose stories we amplify.