Five College Theater Alumnae of Color Residency

Please join us as Five College Theatre Alumnae of Color in Residency return to campuses for residencies, showcase and panel discussions where they will actively address questions of race, racism, and social justice. Both events are free and open to the public. For more information, visit the Five College Theater Program.

  • Five College Theater Alumnae of Color Showcase: Thursday, Sept. 28, 7:30 p.m., Kirby Theater, Amherst College
  • Theater Alumnae of Color Panel: “Theater in These Times”: Friday, Sept. 29, 5 p.m., Kirby Theater, Amherst College. Followed by reception and meet-and-greet for Five College students

Performing artists of color who have graduated from Five College campuses will return to the consortium to work with students in residencies, offer the public a demonstration of their work and participate in a panel discussion. Organized by the theater department chairs of the campuses, the residency, showcase and panel discussion are designed to feature accomplished alumnae from each of the Five Colleges presenting the work of artists who are deeply engaged not only with theater-making but also with issues of social justice.

Featured alumnae artists include Lisa Biggs, Amherst ’93; Kunsang Kelden, Hampshire ’09; Sueann Leung, Mount Holyoke ’10; Nia Witherspoon, Smith ’05; and Dawn Monique Williams, UMass MFA ’11.

The aim of the events is to facilitate discussions of race and gender across multiple disciplines and institutions and to connect students to alumnae whose work is activist, visionary and inspiring.

Featured Alumnae Artists:

Lisa Biggs, Amherst ’93

Performing Artist, Playwright and Scholar

Lisa Biggs

Lisa Biggs, a 1993 graduate of Amherst College, is a performing artist and performance scholar. Building on her diverse experiences as an artist and activist, Lisa's current scholarship stands at the intersection of performance studies, Black studies, women and gender studies, anthropology and law. Since 1993, she has developed and toured original performance works to venues across the United States, including Cultural Odyssey, Links Hall, Baltimore Theatre Project, Joe's Movement Emporium, the National Black Theatre Festival, Dance Place, and the National Hip-Hop Theatre Festival.

Kunsang Kelden, Hampshire ’09

Theater and Social Change Practitioner

Kunsang Kelden

Kunsang Kelden, a 2009 graduate of Hampshire College, is a longtime activist in the Tibetan Freedom Movement and producer of programs highlighting Tibetan, Mongolian and Kalmyk arts and culture. She is a co-founder and contributor of the blog project Lhakar Diaries and has been part of a core team behind the first and second Gatherings for Tibetans of Mixed Parentage which took place in London in June 2014 and Zurich in June 2015.

Sueann Leung, Mount Holyoke ’10

Costume Designer

Sueann Leung, Mount Holyoke ’10

Sueann Leung, MHC '10 is a New York-based costume designer and stylist. She has worked with Broadway designers Paul Tazewell, Ann Roth, and Clint Ramos as well as fashion stylist Patti Wilson. She was on Santo Loquasto’s Tony Award-winning design team for Broadway’s Hello, Dolly! She was the costume designer for BKPI (Brooklyn Private Investigators), a groundbreaking web series with a creative team and cast of predominantly queer women of color, which premiered at LA Film Festival, Frameline, and Outfest this summer.

She has also costume designed for new media projects such as the viral short Ghost in the Shell PSA, which has garnered over one million views. She started her career as the Costume Director and Resident Costume Designer of Opera Roanoke and had her Off-Broadway debut designing Christopher Gabriel Núñez’s The Surgeon and Her Daughters at Cherry Lane Theatre. Her design credits include Opera Roanoke’s Guilio Cesare, Abduction, La Cenerentola; Luminarium Dance's Agonia, Sleeprunner; Blue Flamingo's Mother Love, The Stronger; Montclair State University’s Il Giovedì Grasso; Hewitt School’s The Imaginary Invalid, Once Upon a Mattress, The Cripple of Inishmaan, Pirates of Penzance, Peter and the Starcatcher. She has been featured in a number of fashion columns, most notably The Wall Street Journal. She is interested in costume design as a means to explore identity and expression.

Nia Witherspoon, Smith ’05

Director, Vocalist and Sound Designer

Nia Witherspoon

Nia Ostrow Witherspoon, a 2005 graduate of Smith College, is a multidisciplinary artist investigating the metaphysics of black liberation, desire and diaspora. Working primarily in the media of theater/performance, vocal and sound composition, and creative scholarship, Witherspoon’s work has traveled both nationally and internationally. As a performer, Witherspoon is co-founder of the ceremonial music collective SoliRose, a world-premiere cast member of Sharon Bridgforth’s River See, and has been a featured vocalist in the work of Cherríe Moraga.

Dawn Monique Williams, UMass MFA ’11

Director

Dawn Monique Williams

Theater director Dawn Monique Williams earned her MFA from UMass in 2011. In 2016, she was awarded a Princess Grace Foundation Award in theater, which she used to support her 2017 production of The Merry Wives of Windsor at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF). From 2014-2016 Williams was in residence at OSF on a Leadership U Grant, serving as the Phil Killian Directing Fellow at there in 2013. Prior to that, she was a 2011 Directing Fellow of the Drama League of New York, one of four directors selected for the fall Directors’ Project.