On the Cusp : PERFORMERS
(in order of appearance)
Enama, Playing God, eyebrow (The Gas Heart)
Enama is a poet, artist, event planner, & a newly graduated actor from ChiArts. They have been professionally acting for the last 3 years, and has been performing on stage since they could talk. As an aspiring fight director and staged intimacy choreographer, Enama is looking forward to expanding their experience and finishing up their gap year so they can continue studying stage combat and staged intimacy! This is her first show with NON:op, and they are thrilled to be making their debut with On The Cusp! She has previously performed with Court Theatre, ETA Creative Arts, CYS, Second City & Goodman Theatre.
Arlene Malinowski, speaker (Tongues), mouth (The Gas Heart)
As actor, playwright, and teaching artist, Arlene views her solo work as an artistic extension of the social justice work she has been committed to for the last 30 years. She has toured work across the US and internationally. Arlene is recipient of Fellowship at University Illinois Chicago Department of Disability in the Arts. Finalist in the New Plays From the Heartland, semi-finalist the O’Neill and Blue Ink Award. Nominated for LA Theater Ovations, LA Garland Award. As an actor she has worked in film, television and theater. She is a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists where she developed and teaches the Solo/Story curriculum. She is touring with Little Bit Not Normal, a solo play intended to create dialogue around the subject of mental illness.
Steve Butters, percussion (Tongues, The Gas Heart)
Steve Butters joined the faculty of Elgin Community College in the fall of 2002 as percussion instructor and director of the ECC Steel Bands. He is also active as a freelance percussionist in the Chicago area, specializing in the steel pan. Steve has premiered numerous works for solo percussion and has performed throughout the United States and Europe. He performs regularly with Pan Chicago, Tradewinds, PanGo, Tropicale and Steel Express. He has recorded for the Opus One, Einstein and Drag City labels.
Kao Ra Zen, opener (Cascando), eye (The Gas Heart)
Kao Ra Zen, born Kenya Fulton, hails from Chicago, Illinois. Much of Kao’s art practice includes creative writing, spoken word, music, video directing, and performance art, though he has also participated in projects with drawing, painting, acting, modeling, and dance. He has curated events and performed at many prominent Chicago venues including Symphony Center, Links Hall, Dank Haus, Subterranean, Alhambra Palace, and Elastic Arts. He has performed and exhibited in Germany, performed at an Open Mic in Guatemala, and helped to install solar panels in El Salvador. In 2020, Kao released his first official music video, “Morning in America”, a controversial work that was twice removed from YouTube, and directed the debut music video, “Killing in the Name of Love” for longtime friend and creative collaborator, Dodo Mafioso. Following the murder of George Floyd, Kao teamed up with another Chicago Hip-Hop stalwart, Ness The God, to release the music video, “I’m Tired”. He is currently recording his solo debut album, ‘TIME of the SIGNS’, for indie Hip-Hop label, Culture Power 45 and working on music with his performance art/music troupe, The Ungovernables, for an EP tentatively titled: “SUMMER of LOVE”. Kao has been commissioned by NON:op to create a response to L’sGA.
Michael Herzovi, voice (Cascando)
Michael Herzovi is busy these days. His current projects include narrating the Interesting Fun, and Random Animal Facts audiobook series, voicing the ASL storybook Calvin Can’t Fly, and an upcoming appearance on Apple TV next year. In 2020 he appeared as part of Tellin’ Tales Theatre’s Hands Up: Police, and made his television debut as “Richard Pearish” on Fox TV’s neXt. He is an ensemble member of Tellin’ Tales Theatre, performing with them since 2006, and performed dozens of podcasts with Small Fish Radio Theatre. He can be heard in Counterbalance, Hayden and her Family, Code of the Freaks, and other documentaries. He has performed with Here, Chicago, Is This a Thing, Write Club, NON:op, Anytime/Anywhere, You’re Being Ridiculous, and others. His writing, acting, and voiceovers are at www.michaelherzovi.com
Andy Slater, nose (The Gas Heart)
Andy Slater is a Chicago based media artist and disability advocate. Founder of the Society of Visually Impaired Sound Artists and director of the Sound as Sight accessible field recording project, his current work features the sounds of antiquated assistive technology, field recordings, spatial audio design for virtual and augmented reality, video games, and film. Andy has a Masters in Sound Arts and Industries from Northwestern University and a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has performed and exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, University of Chicago, Contemporary Jewish Museum San Francisco, Ian Potter Museum of Art Melbourne, Australia, Critical Distance Toronto, Flux Factory New York City, Art Institute of Chicago, Experimental Sound Studio, and others. Andy was a 2018 3Arts/Bodies of Work fellow at the university of Illinois Chicago and High Concept Labs artist in residence 2016-2020.
Deirdre Harrison, ear (The Gas Heart)
Deirdre grew up in Puerto Rico, Canada and across the US, and is a US/Eire dual national. After graduating from Yale and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, she performed in many regional and London theaters including the West End, and in various tv, radio and film productions. Favorite roles: Ava Coo, Phyllis Nagy’s The Strip and Rose in Howard Korder’s The Lights at The Royal Court; Jackie-O in Wendy McLeod’s The House of Yes at The Gate; Evie in Ellen McGloghlin’s Tongue of a Bird at the Almeida. US: Big Dance Theater at Cucaracha and Classic Stage Co., New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, Portland Stage, The Goodman. Film: Gangs of New York, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shining Through (also Warner Brothers’ soundtrack). She is Athena on Pete Townsend’s Psychoderelict. In 2014, with Kyle Gregory Price, she co-founded The Lucky Trikes, a literacy chamber band. With NON:op Deirdre has co-staged Preissing’s SUS: The Long Thin Wire and Thunder: Perfect Mind and made Lee Godie: French Impressionist at Intuit.
Kyle Price, neck/Madeleine, Madeleine (The Gas Heart)
Kyle Gregory Price is a critically acclaimed, genre-fluid composer, percussionist, turntablist, and stop-motion animator raised in a one stop-light town in upstate New York. Following college and a decade in the punk, noise, and new music scenes on the east coast, he moved to Chicago in 2010 to expand his collaborative community and opportunities for composing, performing and creating. He has worked with numerous local artists such as Ben Lamar Gay, Mabel Kwan, and Sara Zalek and organizations including Third Coast Percussion, the Merce Cunningham Dance Troupe, NON:op Open Opera Works, and Theatre Y among others. Kyle has performed at the MCA, Art Institute of Chicago, The Newberry, Thirsty Ears Festival and in Experimental Sound Studio’s 2018 Oscillations solo and Florasonic Series with Stephan Moore. Most recently his compositions have been heard at Access Contemporary Music’s Sound of Silent Film Festival and Sonic Walkabout. In 2014 Kyle co-founded, with Deirdre Harrison, the intergenerational literacy chamber band The Lucky Trikes, who have recorded two albums at ESS.
Michelle Kranicke, choreographer (The Gas Heart)
Michelle Kranicke is the artistic director of Zephyr and co-director of SITE/less performance space. She has received a number of awards and commissions for her choreography and curatorial practice from institutions including, Djerassi Artist Ranch, Yaddo, Defibrillator Gallery, Links Hall, the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and the Chicago Dancemakers Forum. In 2019 Michelle was named one of the “50 People Who Really Perform for Chicago” by New City. In 2017 she was named one of Chicago’s Top 5 Choreographers and her 2016 aMID Festival was named Best Dance Festival of the year. Michelle’s writing has been published by the Journal of Dance Education and in two volumes of Bridge, NFP.
Molly Fe Strom, the gas heart/gentleman dancer (The Gas Heart)
Molly Strom graduated from Columbia College Chicago Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Dance concentrating in pedagogy and performance. She has trained with Robert McKee from Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, Emily Stein, Paige Cunningham, Dardi McGinley and Joanna Rosenthal-Read. She performed in works by Rachel Vogeney, Kaitlyn Dessoffy, Lydia Feuerhelm, Mags Bouffard, Lisa Gonzales, Debra Levasseur-Lottman, Teena Marie Custer, Fara Tolno, Cattywampus Dance, and in a restaging of Charles Weidman’s “Lynch Town” under the direction of Gail Corbin. In 2014 she started working as a company member of Zephyr Dance. Alongside performing, Molly teaches dance at Dovetail Studios among other Chicagoland area dance studios. She is certified in Cecchetti Teacher Grade I. In summer of 2014, Molly traveled to Barcelona, Spain to teach dance to young children and work with local artists including Nadine Gerspacher, Emilo Gutierrez and Bene Carrat. Molly has also taught dance as part of an arts integration program at Pulaski International School of Chicago.
Owen Ruff, violin (The Gas Heart)
Owen Ruff is a violinist based in Chicago, IL. He earned a Bachelor of Music degree from The University of Texas at Austin as a student of Brian Lewis and a Master of Music degree from Northwestern University as a student of Blair Milton. After graduating, he was a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. He has a deep passion for chamber music, described by the Chicago Classical Review as having “fine poise and largely polished proficiency” in a quartet setting. In his free time, he enjoys composing, gaming, and making spreadsheets about drag queens.
Oli Harris, cello (The Gas Heart)
A child of Cleveland, OH, and a descendant of enslaved Africans in the Caribbean and the American South, experimental sound artist and activist, Oli Harris, is a cellist, improviser, composer, and visual artist whose work is rooted in their Black American and Latinx heritage, Afrofuturism, and queerness. With a deep commitment to social justice, Oli creates and interprets works that embody principles of radical honesty, self-love, and equity. They are enthusiastic about collaborating across genres and mediums and have played alongside dancers, visual artists, actors, and singer-songwriters, including regular collaborations with their brother, writer Bernard E. P. Harris.
Jennifer Woodrum, clarinet (The Gas Heart)
A “gutsy” performer (Elliot Mandel), her recording with Fifth House Ensemble of Mason Bates’ Red River, earned Jennifer the unofficial title the “Queen of Swing” (David Abrams). Jennifer has been on faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Carthage College and Trinity College. She is currently a Student Navigator with the Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative. Jennifer is ABD for a DMA in Clarinet Performance with a Cognate in Music Education at Northwestern University. Her research topics have centered on improvisation and creativity in higher education music curriculum design and recital repertoire for the clarinet by underrepresented composers. She plans to complete her degree in the Winter of 2022. Jennifer lives in Evanston with her husband, two children and two dogs.
Chris Misch-Bloxdorf, trombone (The Gas Heart)
Currently based in Chicago, Chris Misch-Bloxdorf is a musician, composer/arranger, producer, beat maker and educator whose unique musical identity comes from a belief that genre should be a fluid concept that draws influence from an imaginative array of artists and cultures. His first artistic project was released in December 2015 under the title circles in unison featuring a ten piece chamber jazz ensemble. In 2017 he was fortunate enough to be a recipient of the Herb-Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award. Since this initial release Chris has been a sought after composer and arranger working with artists such as Broadway singer Shoshana Bean, jazz saxophonist Loren Stillman, rapper Milo and many others. Currently he is faculty of General Music and Trombone at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music where he teaches part time in the city of Milwaukee, WI.
Christophe Preissing, composer, artistic director
Christophe has a 30-year practice in sound, intermedia, and music composition with fellowships and support from the Pritzker Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Meet the Composer, American Music Center, Beloit College, Indiana University‘s Latin American Music Center, VCCA/VCCA France, Ragdale, Millay Colony, PLAYA, Djerassi, and Atlantic Center for the Arts. Recent works and productions include HPSCHD@50, 50th Anniversary Festival of John Cage/Lejaren Hiller’s HPSCHD (2020); incidental music for Tristan Tzara’s The Gas Heart (2020); Music for Samuel Beckett’s radio play, Cascando (2018, 2021); is SI ng, a performance with artist Matt Bodett at Victory Gardens (2017); sound for Journeying La Divina Commedia, the University of Notre Dame’s adaptation of Dante’s Divine Comedia (2016); the opera-installation Thunder, Perfect Mind (2015); and sound installations SUS: the long thin wire (Harold Washington Public Library, 2017), Street Sheets (National Museum of Mexican Art, Columbia University, NY, 2017), and Blood Lines: remembering the 1919 Chicago race riot (Augustana Lutheran Church, 2019). In response to the political, cultural, and social shifts taking place in 2020, he and NON:op have been focused on facilitating radical access, experimentation, and creativity across communities while working collectively towards a more just society. Currently all of his online, participatory, and interactive projects enable and facilitate individual and group agency in the creative process.
Theo Economides, creative technology
Theo Economides is a techno-creative enabler. With over three decades’ experience in the TV and radio, higher education, telecommunications, and legal environments plus a lifetime of musical and theatrical performing, he brings an unconventional blend of expertise to telling stories through technology-enabled performances.
Theo works for the law firm, Vedder Price, as an AV Multimedia engineer. His degrees are in electrical engineering from Texas A&M University, but he is also a videographer, accomplished pianist, singer, instrumental and vocal conductor and educator. A musician since the age of eight years, he also teaches private voice and piano students, is a ten+ year member of Chicago’s “Too Hot to Handel” choir.