The Bonfire Makers

gather. create. transform.

COLLECTIVE MEMBERS

TIERRA ALLEN  is a theatermaker, teaching artist, facilitator, educator, youth worker, and activist living in Occupied Huichin/Oakland, California. She has performed with the Black Choreographers Festival, Dance Brigade’s Dance Mission D.I.R.T. (Dance in Revolt(ing) Times) Festival, the Life is Living Festival, TheatreFIRST, Magic Theatre, New Conservatory Theatre Centre, Broadway by the Bay, Bay Area Children’s Theatre, Berkeley Playhouse, Bay Area Musicals, the One Minute Play Festival at Z Space, and more. She won an Isadora Duncan "Izzie" Dance Award for Outstanding Achievement in Company Performance for her role as Babygirl in  An OPEN LOVE LETTER to Black Fathers: A Choreopoem  and earned nominations from Theatre Bay Area and the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle for her role as Napoleon in  The Farm  at TheatreFIRST. She has directed or choreographed at PlayGround, Playwrights Foundation, and TheatreFIRST and is a 2018-2019 YBCA Creative Ecosystem Fellow in Collective Safety.  As Artistic Engagement Manager at Cal Shakes and Community Discussion Coordinator at TheatreFIRST, Tierra curates diverse programs that bridge theater and activism and leverage performance as a site for healing, critical consciousness-raising, and community-building. She is also an advisor for We Rise, a cultural production project dedicated to nourishing imaginations in service of collective liberation. She has worked as a teaching artist and facilitator for social justice at Alameda County Juvenile Hall, Allen Temple Arms, Oakland International High School, Mount Eden High School, Skyline High School, Oakland School of the Arts, Boston’s City on a Hill Public Charter School, and more. She’s tutored community members from ages 5 to 65.  She is now a core organizer with the newly-launched Transformative Justice Initiative to address sexual and identity-based violence in the Bay Area theater community. She is part of the 13-member Coalition of Black Women Professional Theatre Makers who organized against antiblackness and rape culture perpetuated by Marin Theatre Company’s production of  Thomas and Sally . Her activism has also included consent education and sexual assault prevention; supporting survivors of domestic violence; counter-recruitment against the military’s targeting of Black and brown youth; education and empowerment of low-income girls of color; alternatives to displacement, homelessness, and the housing crisis; defunding police terrorism; and protecting the West Berkeley Shellmound.  Tierra’s development as an artist-activist has been supported by residencies with Lxs Hociconxs Lab and Paul Dresher Ensemble; organizing training with artEquity and Urban Bush Women Summer Leadership Institute; and many seasons of “pulling weeds and planting seeds” with the grassroots adult freedom school Liberation Spring. She holds a B.A. in Theater & Dance with concentrations in Black Studies and English from Amherst College, where she graduated  magna cum laude  and earned the David Kirp ‘65 Stonewall Prize, which recognized her thesis as a work of exceptional intellectual and artistic merit pertaining to the LGBTQI experience.

TIERRA ALLEN is a theatermaker, teaching artist, facilitator, educator, youth worker, and activist living in Occupied Huichin/Oakland, California. She has performed with the Black Choreographers Festival, Dance Brigade’s Dance Mission D.I.R.T. (Dance in Revolt(ing) Times) Festival, the Life is Living Festival, TheatreFIRST, Magic Theatre, New Conservatory Theatre Centre, Broadway by the Bay, Bay Area Children’s Theatre, Berkeley Playhouse, Bay Area Musicals, the One Minute Play Festival at Z Space, and more. She won an Isadora Duncan "Izzie" Dance Award for Outstanding Achievement in Company Performance for her role as Babygirl in An OPEN LOVE LETTER to Black Fathers: A Choreopoem and earned nominations from Theatre Bay Area and the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle for her role as Napoleon in The Farm at TheatreFIRST. She has directed or choreographed at PlayGround, Playwrights Foundation, and TheatreFIRST and is a 2018-2019 YBCA Creative Ecosystem Fellow in Collective Safety.

As Artistic Engagement Manager at Cal Shakes and Community Discussion Coordinator at TheatreFIRST, Tierra curates diverse programs that bridge theater and activism and leverage performance as a site for healing, critical consciousness-raising, and community-building. She is also an advisor for We Rise, a cultural production project dedicated to nourishing imaginations in service of collective liberation. She has worked as a teaching artist and facilitator for social justice at Alameda County Juvenile Hall, Allen Temple Arms, Oakland International High School, Mount Eden High School, Skyline High School, Oakland School of the Arts, Boston’s City on a Hill Public Charter School, and more. She’s tutored community members from ages 5 to 65.

She is now a core organizer with the newly-launched Transformative Justice Initiative to address sexual and identity-based violence in the Bay Area theater community. She is part of the 13-member Coalition of Black Women Professional Theatre Makers who organized against antiblackness and rape culture perpetuated by Marin Theatre Company’s production of Thomas and Sally. Her activism has also included consent education and sexual assault prevention; supporting survivors of domestic violence; counter-recruitment against the military’s targeting of Black and brown youth; education and empowerment of low-income girls of color; alternatives to displacement, homelessness, and the housing crisis; defunding police terrorism; and protecting the West Berkeley Shellmound.

Tierra’s development as an artist-activist has been supported by residencies with Lxs Hociconxs Lab and Paul Dresher Ensemble; organizing training with artEquity and Urban Bush Women Summer Leadership Institute; and many seasons of “pulling weeds and planting seeds” with the grassroots adult freedom school Liberation Spring. She holds a B.A. in Theater & Dance with concentrations in Black Studies and English from Amherst College, where she graduated magna cum laude and earned the David Kirp ‘65 Stonewall Prize, which recognized her thesis as a work of exceptional intellectual and artistic merit pertaining to the LGBTQI experience.

SONIA DECKER  is a theatre artist and drama therapist from the East Bay. She has worked with EchoTheatreSuitcase Project, Christine Marie and Artists, The Breadbox, Berkeley Rep, Theater Lunatico, BrickaBrack, Bread and Puppet Theater, and many more. She has worked with young people for over 10 years. She currently works as a family therapist. Sonia believes in the transformative power of theatre and strives to work at all times towards collective liberation. Sonia holds a B.F.A in Theatre Arts―Performance from Boston University and an M.A. in Counseling Psychology, with a focus in Drama Therapy, from the California Institute of Integral Studies.

SONIA DECKER is a theatre artist and drama therapist from the East Bay. She has worked with EchoTheatreSuitcase Project, Christine Marie and Artists, The Breadbox, Berkeley Rep, Theater Lunatico, BrickaBrack, Bread and Puppet Theater, and many more. She has worked with young people for over 10 years. She currently works as a family therapist. Sonia believes in the transformative power of theatre and strives to work at all times towards collective liberation. Sonia holds a B.F.A in Theatre Arts―Performance from Boston University and an M.A. in Counseling Psychology, with a focus in Drama Therapy, from the California Institute of Integral Studies.

MAURICE ANDRÉ SAN-CHEZ  is a company member of The Bonfire Makers and has a B.F.A. in Music Theatre from the University of Texas, El Paso. André is a teaching artist with Bay Area Children’s Theater, Berkeley Playhouse, and New Conservatory Theatre Center and has been working with youth since 2008―assistant directing, vocal coaching, workshopping, inspiring, and nurturing children’s love for the arts. Recent credits include  James and the Giant Peach  (with a tour to Shanghai, China in partnership with the Shanghai Children's Art Theatre),  5 Little Monkeys , and  Knuffle Bunny  with Bay Area Children’s Theatre;  Carrie the Musical  with Ray of Light Theatre;  Hairspray  and  The Wiz  with Berkeley Playhouse; and as various characters for the Youth Aware Educational Theatre program at New Conservatory Theatre Center. André's passion lies in doing theatre for social justice.

MAURICE ANDRÉ SAN-CHEZ is a company member of The Bonfire Makers and has a B.F.A. in Music Theatre from the University of Texas, El Paso. André is a teaching artist with Bay Area Children’s Theater, Berkeley Playhouse, and New Conservatory Theatre Center and has been working with youth since 2008―assistant directing, vocal coaching, workshopping, inspiring, and nurturing children’s love for the arts. Recent credits include James and the Giant Peach (with a tour to Shanghai, China in partnership with the Shanghai Children's Art Theatre), 5 Little Monkeys, and Knuffle Bunny with Bay Area Children’s Theatre; Carrie the Musical with Ray of Light Theatre; Hairspray and The Wiz with Berkeley Playhouse; and as various characters for the Youth Aware Educational Theatre program at New Conservatory Theatre Center. André's passion lies in doing theatre for social justice.

SANGO TAJIMA  is an Oakland-based artist who grew up internationally in the U.S, Japan, Tanzania, Trinidad & Tobago, and Thailand. She is a collaborator of The Bonfire Makers, co-founder of a new producing ensemble Dirty Hands, and Associate Artist of Ragged Wing Ensemble. After receiving a B.F.A in Acting from the University of Michigan, she moved to the Bay to serve as the Artistic Direction Apprentice at Magic Theatre. There she assistant directed shows under Loretta Greco, Meredith McDonough, and Jon Tracy. As an actor she’s worked on various productions with Campo Santo, Cutting Ball Theater, Berkeley Rep, Impact Theatre, Shotgun Players, Ragged Wing Ensemble, Bay Area Children's Theatre, and New Conservatory Theatre Center. Recent roles include Tori in Shotgun Players’  Women Laughing Alone with Salad,  Rosaura in Cutting Ball Theater’s  Life is a Dream , Philipa in Impact Theatre’s Year of the Rooster, and Becky Lou in Campo Santo/ACT’s  Holy Crime: Rock N Roll and Sam Shepard . Sango can currently be seen in the role of Myrrha and others in the Berkeley Rep/ Guthrie joint production of  Metamorphoses.

SANGO TAJIMA is an Oakland-based artist who grew up internationally in the U.S, Japan, Tanzania, Trinidad & Tobago, and Thailand. She is a collaborator of The Bonfire Makers, co-founder of a new producing ensemble Dirty Hands, and Associate Artist of Ragged Wing Ensemble. After receiving a B.F.A in Acting from the University of Michigan, she moved to the Bay to serve as the Artistic Direction Apprentice at Magic Theatre. There she assistant directed shows under Loretta Greco, Meredith McDonough, and Jon Tracy. As an actor she’s worked on various productions with Campo Santo, Cutting Ball Theater, Berkeley Rep, Impact Theatre, Shotgun Players, Ragged Wing Ensemble, Bay Area Children's Theatre, and New Conservatory Theatre Center. Recent roles include Tori in Shotgun Players’ Women Laughing Alone with Salad, Rosaura in Cutting Ball Theater’s Life is a Dream, Philipa in Impact Theatre’s Year of the Rooster, and Becky Lou in Campo Santo/ACT’s Holy Crime: Rock N Roll and Sam Shepard. Sango can currently be seen in the role of Myrrha and others in the Berkeley Rep/ Guthrie joint production of Metamorphoses.

ALEX VAN GILS  is a composer and bassist whose music is influenced by his love of classical music and jazz, and especially by his practice and study of Tibetan Buddhism under Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he studied composition with Professors Allen Anderson and Stephen Anderson. His piano solo  Something Electric  was the 2011 winner of the Emil and Ruth Beyer Composition Award, presented by the National Federation of Music Clubs. His orchestra work "cosmic dancer, blade of fire" was awarded the UC Davis Symphony Composition Award in 2013. Van Gils currently studies composition at the University of California, Davis, with Kurt Rohde. His dissertation work includes a new concerto for improvising saxophone written for Andrew Van Tassel and Dave Möschler's Awesöme Orchestra Collective.

ALEX VAN GILS is a composer and bassist whose music is influenced by his love of classical music and jazz, and especially by his practice and study of Tibetan Buddhism under Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he studied composition with Professors Allen Anderson and Stephen Anderson. His piano solo Something Electric was the 2011 winner of the Emil and Ruth Beyer Composition Award, presented by the National Federation of Music Clubs. His orchestra work "cosmic dancer, blade of fire" was awarded the UC Davis Symphony Composition Award in 2013. Van Gils currently studies composition at the University of California, Davis, with Kurt Rohde. His dissertation work includes a new concerto for improvising saxophone written for Andrew Van Tassel and Dave Möschler's Awesöme Orchestra Collective.

COLLABORATING ARTISTS

MELISSA KAITLYN CARTER  is an actor-musician based in Brooklyn, NY. She continues to create interview based work; she’s currently working on her debut album, which includes recorded interviews. She also sings with the folk pop band, The Long Run. Previous Credits:  Noel: A Brooklyn Christmas Story  (Stages on the Sound),  Treasure Island ( Berkeley Rep),  Hundred Days  (Z Space),  Blood Wedding  &  Crumble: Lay Me Down Justin Timberlake  (The Breadbox),  Owners of Nothing  (Transient Theater),  Romeo + Juliet  &  To Kill A Mockingbird  (New Repertory Theatre). When Melissa isn't making music or theatre, she teaches yoga, voice, and ukulele. BFA Acting: Boston University.  www.melissakaitlyncarter.com

MELISSA KAITLYN CARTER is an actor-musician based in Brooklyn, NY. She continues to create interview based work; she’s currently working on her debut album, which includes recorded interviews. She also sings with the folk pop band, The Long Run. Previous Credits: Noel: A Brooklyn Christmas Story (Stages on the Sound), Treasure Island (Berkeley Rep), Hundred Days (Z Space), Blood Wedding & Crumble: Lay Me Down Justin Timberlake (The Breadbox), Owners of Nothing (Transient Theater), Romeo + Juliet & To Kill A Mockingbird (New Repertory Theatre). When Melissa isn't making music or theatre, she teaches yoga, voice, and ukulele. BFA Acting: Boston University. www.melissakaitlyncarter.com


PHIL WONG  is an actor, musician, comedian, and teaching artist from Oakland. He is a proud graduate of Oberlin College, a Resident Artist with SF Shakes, and received his physical theatre training at the Accademia dell' Arte in Arezzo, Italy. Phil has been a part of the Bay Area theatre scene since he was a teen and is working every day to make his art more relevant, conscientious, and empathetic.

PHIL WONG is an actor, musician, comedian, and teaching artist from Oakland. He is a proud graduate of Oberlin College, a Resident Artist with SF Shakes, and received his physical theatre training at the Accademia dell' Arte in Arezzo, Italy. Phil has been a part of the Bay Area theatre scene since he was a teen and is working every day to make his art more relevant, conscientious, and empathetic.