Announcing the 2020/2021 TYA/USA Emerging Leader in TYA Fellows

In an effort to foster the professional growth of artists, practitioners, and emerging leaders in the field of Theatre of Young Audiences, TYA/USA is thrilled to announce the 5 recipients of the TYA/USA Emerging Leader in TYA Fellowship.

The 2020/2021 TYA/USA Emerging Leader in TYA Fellows. Clockwise from bottom left: Brodrick Ryans, Terrence Brunn, Rebecca Gerrard, Danysha Ligon, and Fran Sillau.

The 2020/2021 TYA/USA Fellows will connect with each other and industry leaders, engage in innovative practice, exchange ideas, and virtually explore the TYA landscape. While the fellowship typically includes a travel experience, the program will be transformed to adapt to the current challenges we face due to the pandemic. The evolution of this fellowship initiative continues TYA/USA’s commitment to leadership development in the TYA field.

Introducing the 2020/2021 Emerging Leader in TYA Fellows

The 2020 Emerging Leader in TYA Fellows Terrence Brunn, Rebecca Gerrard, Danysha Ligon, Brodrick Ryans, and Fran Sillau will each complete an individual research project by virtually connecting with TYA theatres and institutions across the country; receive mentorship and leadership development from the TYA/USA Staff and Board throughout the year; and participate in regular cohort meetings to discuss issues in the field.

“We are so inspired by the passion and leadership of the 2020/2021 Fellows. While they were selected back in March, we put a hold on the program as we faced the challenges presented by the pandemic this year. We are thrilled to continue this program, and find new ways to support these five individuals in their development and exploration,” said TYA/USA Executive Director Jonathan Shmidt Chapman. “We plan to continue to invest in our fellowship programming, cultivating the next generation of TYA leadership and field innovation. We hope their research and creative development will significantly impact both their own practice and the field at large through their future leadership.”

"We are so inspired by the passion and leadership of the 2020/2021 Fellows. While they were selected back in March, we put a hold on the program while as faced the challenges presented by the pandemic this year. We are thrilled to continue this program, and find new ways to support these five individuals in their development and exploration."

—  TYA/USA Executive Director Jonathan Shmidt Chapman

TYA/USA Fellowships are designed to offer dynamic opportunities for growth, discovery and exchange to practitioners in the field of Theatre for Young Audiences.

This year, we’re also honored to offer the Cole White Samuel Fellowship as part of the Emerging Leader in TYA Fellowship opportunity. Supported by Cole’s family and community in his loving memory, The Cole White Samuel Fellowship supports an artist with a disability in the Emerging Leader Fellowship program. This year’s recipient is Fran Sillau. Cole’s family remarked, “Cole enjoyed going to the theatre so much but was limited to certain productions due to his disability. Through this opportunity, Cole’s memory can live on through the arts and support a person with a disability to discover their hopes and dreams.”

For more information, visit TYA/USA’s website.

Meet the 2020/2021 Emerging Leader in TYA Fellows

A native of St. Thomas, USVI, Terrence Brunn is an arts administrator and designer with a B.A. in Business Management from the University of Miami. Terrence is the program coordinator for Miami Theater Center, facilitating artistic and education programs for young people. Prior to MTC, Terrence worked with Miami Light Project, a not-for-profit organization that presents live performances by celebrated dance, music, visual and theater artists. Terrence currently resides in Miami and enjoys traveling when not working.

Rebecca Gerrard is a Scottish trained contemporary theatre maker now based in New York City. With a background in devised, experimental theatre and live performance, Rebecca Gerrard now predominantly creates work for young audiences. Rebecca believes that the process of devising and the aesthetics of live art and avant garde theatre are the ideal building blocks for making immersive, interactive, high-quality sophisticated work for young people. Over the past 10 years Rebecca Gerrard has worked with companies and artists that have pushed the possibilities of theatre for young audiences, namely Starcatchers and Katy Wilson in the UK as well as NYC-based companies Spellbound and Trusty Sidekick. Since moving to NYC in 2016, Rebecca has made and performed her first puppet show The Naughty Penguin in schools, daycares, community centres and theatre venues across NYC. Rebecca has also collaborated as a key deviser on Spellbound’s main stage shows The World Inside Me, Shakespeare’s Stars and performed in Spellbound’s Wink in both NYC and Miami.

Danysha Ligon is a teaching artist currently based in Northeast Mississippi. She spends the majority of her time teaching at Noxubee County High School in Macon, Mississippi, where she is now directing their spring musical. Upon graduating from Valdosta State University with her BFA in Theatre Performance, she has been devising new theatre works for young audiences. One of which is an adaptation of the children’s book, “Mixed! A Colorful Story,”! And another being a creative drama storytelling and animal science workshop called, “The Brown Recluse & His Friends.” You can see her Haitian-American influence in her productions that are filled with color, music, and zest! Her experiences as a Haitian-American woman have devoted her artistic endeavors to shining a light on culture, inclusion, and diversity. She hopes to spread the love of storytelling and pay homage to those who came before her and leave much for those that will go after her. She believes theatre is a driving force that aids creativity and understanding in a world when we need it most. Her goal is to make that accessible to as many young artists as possible. She hopes to use her experiences and training from TYA to inspire, educate, and empower the next generation of young artists.

Brodrick Santeze Ryans (he/him) is an actor, creator and educator. He is currently the Education Coordinator for Arts Based Learning and Community Engagement at Seattle Children’s Theatre. Brodrick was raised in Alabama, and worked in higher education administration before joining Missoula Children’s Theatre’s touring company. On tour he saw the Pacific Northwest and found joy in bringing theatre to underserved communities, which ignited a passion for working with young people. Brodrick is motivated and excited to bridge the gap between POC communities and educational theatre.

Fran Sillau serves as the Accessibility Coordinator at The Omaha Theater Company (The Rose), where he organizes educational opportunities for students with disabilities and ensures that every individual who passes through the doors of The Rose can access all programing equally. He also directs mainstage productions at the Rose, and some of his credits include Shrek: The Musical TYA, Go, Dog, Go!, and Hanna’s Suitcase. Mr. Sillau is also a writer. He recently co-wrote the book (with EllaRose Chary) of The Doll Maler’s Gift. Sillau also served as co-producer of the project, which had its world premiere in February of 2019. The Omaha World Herald said “Families should flock to this one.” Sillau serves as Executive Artistic Director of Circle Theatre, a company dedicated to creating theater that includes artists with disabilities. ( Circle Theatre has produced several TYA plays. Under Sillau’s leadership, the Circle co-commissioned My Broken Doll, a play based on the life of holocaust survivor Beatrice Karp, adapted by Ernie Nolan, and Over the River, a play about friendship by Ellen Struve. Both plays recently toured the state of Nebraska. In December of 2016, Sillau directed a regional premiere of A Charlie Brown Christmas. This particular production incorporated American Sign Language, Shadow Interpreting, Audio Description, as well as actors with various physical and developmental disabilities. Sillau is currently developing a new play based on Leley Orr’s The People on the Corner and Jimmy Hawkins’s It’s a Wonderful Life for Kids. Sillau is a former Aurand Harris Fellowship recipient and a former winner of The Access Grant from The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He served as a Teaching Artist Fellow for VSA: The International Association for Arts and Disability and is a frequent contractor for The Kennedy Center. He holds an MFA in Directing and Inclusion from Goddard College.