Very few of the members of the Poetic Justice Theatre Ensemble (PJTE) are professional actors. We are artist-activists from the community. We are students, parents, educators and workers. We are concerned citizens who commit to making a difference using interactive theatre.
Poetic Justice Theatre Ensemble 2016-2017
(Front row from left) Karim Santiago, Eileen Herrling (Company Manager), Hannah Bahls, Aba Kiser, Rosaletta Curry
(Middle row) Charlie Perez, Zhaleh Almaee, Johnny Colden, Michael Hindes, Helen Curry, Marc Weinblatt
(Back row) Gary Lilly, Samantha Hiatt, Richard Sloane, Kelly Grace
Hannah is a student at Port Townsend high school, and an avid bicyclist, reader, and cooker of Indian food. She was drawn to Poetic Justice Theater because of her interest in manifesting social change with respect, compassion, and enthusiasm. She has studied Playback Theatre and Theatre of the Oppressed with Marc at Jefferson Community School and is eager to deepen her knowledge as an Ensemble member this season. In the future, she would like to become a journalist on international humanitarian issues. Hannah was raised in Port Townsend, but hopes that she will someday live in Guatemala.
Youth activist Johnny Colden loves his northwest home. An actor/activist with the Ensemble since 2011 he is inspired by the way interactive theater changes peoples’ lives. Johnny comes from a mediation/conflict resolution background and has lead weeklong Nonviolent Communication workshops with adults, worked with youth labeled as gang members, and role-played Marshall Rosenberg’s wife right in front of him! He currently works in the Juvenile Justice field and has worked with at-risk youth for several years.
Born and raised in the Port Townsend area, Rosaletta has been living in London England for the past two years where she recently completed her MA in Acting at Drama Centre London. She loves traveling and immersing herself in new cultures. She has worked and studied, in Ireland, Russia, Greece, Italy and France and hopes the list will keep growing! Determined to help build a better world through acceptance, communication, and respect for all, Rosaletta is thrilled to merge her love of acting with her passion for social justice giving voice to those who are not heard and bringing people together through shared story.
Helen Curry grew up surrounded by the music, beauty, and conflict of South Africa. She started working as an activist against apartheid as a teen. Helen graduated from the University of Cape Town, did a postgraduate intensive in acting, and gained drama teacher’s certification through Trinity College London. She has been an educator for the past thirty years, and is one of the founders of Sunfield Waldorf School, where she continues to teach. For two decades she has enjoyed creating and directing youth theater. Helen loves traditional and ethnic music, dance and singing, which she weaves into her theater productions. She is passionate about the power of theater to educate, inspire social awareness, and awaken self discovery.
Kelly, a parent of three, has been an activist since her teens. She found her political voice at a young age as an anti-war protester and advocate for youth as a peer counselor for drug addicted teens. Her passion for heath and spirituality, especially gentle birth, bodywork, shamanism, and lactation counseling has spurred lengthly trips abroad and alternative paths to education.Driven by her willingness to be vulnerable, an ability to thrive in groups, and a courageousness to emerge as a new theatre artist, she has found a place with Poetic Justice Theatre Ensemble that allows all of her interests and experiences to share the stage.
Michael is an active practitioner and student of compassionate listening, music, and other positive approaches to personal growth for social change. He has lived on the Olympic Peninsula since 2004 though his previous career in the mainframe computer industry spanned geography from San Francisco to Boulder and from Mexico City to Hong Kong. As a teen Michael formed and led a group playing big band jazz and Dixieland music. He now focuses on playing banjo and acts as a dedicated Playback musician. With an appetite for the experience and contribution of performance art, Michael joined PJTE in 2014. He is committed to discovering new ways to make a difference and have a ball doing it!
Eileen Herrling (Company Manager)
Eileen lives by her strong belief in personal growth and the power to change. A retired mental health counselor, she has worked with youth and families for much of her life both in private practice and as a volunteer. In 2015 Eileen organized a Legislative Theatre Youth Empowerment Project in Port Angeles, WA with Marc Weinblatt. A life-long community activist, she is passionate about animal welfare, sustainable gardening, and women’s rights. Committed to working for social justice and equality, she is delighted to bring her well-honed people and organizational skills to PJTE as Company Manager and to Mandala Center for Change as an Administrative Assistant.
Abakis (a.k.a. Aba Kiser) is a multidisciplinary artist/activist with a passion for using music and performance to create authentic participatory spaces. Originally from Virginia, Aba migrated to Washington State seeking artistic collaborators at Evergreen State College and the School for Designing a Society in Champaign-Urbana, IL. While living in Brooklyn, NY she participated in vaudevillian clowning projects, and in 2014 released her first full-length album “I’m One Too”. Abakis enjoys collaborating across cultural divides and creating structures for individuals to express themselves authentically. She hopes to deepen this work with PJTE. She happily lives with her partner and thirteen other people on ten acres just outside of Port Townsend.
A returning actor-activist with the Ensemble, Gary Copeland Lilley is a prolific writer who first came to the northwest peninsula to teach a poetry workshop at the Port Townsend Writers Conference in 2008, and stayed. He has taught creative writing or served as poet-in-residence at various community programs, as well at the Jefferson Community School. He is a military veteran, US Submarine Force, and a long-time activist. As an award winning writer, his themes have included poetry of witness and persona poems. Gary was captivated by Theatre of the Oppressed while protesting at the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, GA, and literally jumped at his first opportunity to become a troupe member of the Poetic Justice Theater Ensemble. He is doing jumping jacks now.
Charlie does not like writing an autobiography. Same way he does not like injustice, suffering, and pain. His fate brought him to finish a degree in Occupational Therapy which he now uses to help older adults and elders live a better life. He believes that every individual deserves a chance no matter what race, color, religion, gender, and different-ability this person possesses. This is why he is passionate about being part of Poetic Justice. If happiness could be painted in a picture, this would be him laying in a fine white sand, with waves of clear aquamarine water, underneath the sunny shades of coconut trees similar to those Google image search results of the Philippines, the country where he is proud to come from.
Karim is a bilingual Mexican-American, building a new family and life in Port Townsend. His nature to help and look after others wellness has led him to be an Assistant Manager at the Boiler Room – a youth driven coffee house and community center, Poetic Justice Theatre Ensemble member, and one of the founders of the Artist Collective in Port Townsend with his friends. Although working limits his time, he loves to learn, teach, watch movies, listen to music and play guitar.
After several years away, Richard returned to PJTE in 2014. He has long been committed to issues of social justice including animal rights, environmentalism, and race. He has been a caregiver for people of all ages for over 30 years. Born and raised in Washington state, he has dedicated a lifetime of love and care working with families in the Port Townsend area the last 17 years. A skilled photographer and writer, Richard brings a sense of playfulness, presence and humility to his work as an artist, care provider, and agent of social change.
Zhaleh Almaee Weinblatt
Zhaleh is a theatre activist, Playback Theatre practitioner/trainer, and cultural organizer. She is Co-Director of the Mandala Center for Change and has been with the Ensemble since 2010. She grew up in the Deep South navigating her proud Middle Eastern heritage alongside the embedded racial tensions of the region. She is a dedicated parent, a passionate performer and singer, and a skilled facilitator driven by a deep belief in people’s inherent capacity to see the humanity in each other and to change. She applies theatre arts and spiritual activism to deepen personal awareness and fuel social action.
Founder of the Mandala Center for Change and the Poetic Justice Theatre Ensemble, Marc has been a professional educator, theatre director, activist, and workshop facilitator since 1980. He has been actively combining Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) and Playback Theatre since the early 1990’s. Marc is an internationally recognized leader in the use of Augusto Boal’s renowned TO and has trained thousands in the use of the techniques across the U.S. and around the world, from Afghanistan to South Africa. Marc has worked with communities ranging from police to homeless youth, grassroots organizers and laborers to University deans and brings a deep sense of spirit and humanity into social justice work. Marc is also the father of three beautiful boys – Shae, Orion, and Darius.