Araceli Arroyo has been a teaching artist at Free Street Theater for five years. She first began at Free Street when she was seventeen years old during Free Street’s Summer program and then continued on to join the Mad Joy Ensemble. During her time with Mad Joy she co-wrote and performed Eternal Return which went on tour in Germany and Poland. Araceli Arroyo is a teaching artist in the Pulaski Park Kids Program and in Chicago Public Schools. She holds a B. A. from Columbia College Chicago in Fiction Writing.
Gio Gonzalez is an artist and actor. Through Free Street Theater he has performed in numerous plays including Sub-Prime Youth, To Kill a Teenager: Seven Sins of the Juvenile Mind and Abe’s in a Bad way, which was given Chicago Reader’s “Best Play I Saw By Mistake” Award. He has worked with Sam Porretta, Collaboraction’s Creative Director, and Ashley Winston, an Arts Educator, as Assistant Director for Free Street Theater’s 2011 production, “You’ve Ain’t Seen This.”
Shanel Jackson is a performer, director and educator based in Oakland, California. Currently, she a drama teacher at Manzanita Seed Elementary School and the High Priestess and director of the Amazon Priestess Tribe, a group of artists that create ritual and community performances. She recently completed her M.A. in Counseling Psychology/Expressive Arts Therapy from the California Institute of Integral Studies in 2008. Since then, she has used theater as expressive arts therapy at several community organizations in Oakland including Learning for Life and the Berkley Yoga Studio. Her work primarily consists of audience-driven performances and working in forms such as Theater of the Oppressed and protest theater. Before moving to Oakland in 2005, Shanel was a lead artist and director at Free Street Theater in Chicago where she taught and directed original performances created by a youth ensemble. In 2004, Shanel received her B.A. in Interdisciplinary Arts from Columbia College.
Coya Paz is a poet, director, and lip gloss connoisseur who was raised in Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Brazil before moving permanently to the United States in 1987. Coya is a proud co-founder of Proyecto Latina and the director in residence for the Poetry Performance Incubator at the Guild Complex. She cofounded Teatro Luna in 2000, and served as co-Artistic Director until 2009. Recent projects include: The Americans, based on conversations with 200 people in 10 states; Fa$hion, an adaptation of Anna Cora Mowatt’s play Fashion; Nation of Cowards, a multi-sited performance piece about interracial dialogue; Tour Guides; and Machos, which won the 2008 Non-Equity Jeff Awards for Best New Work and Outstanding Ensemble. Coya is an Assistant Professor in The Theatre School at DePaul University, and holds a PhD in Performance Studies at Northwestern University. She is a regular commentator on race, media and pop culture for Vocalo.org (89.5) and has published several articles on Latina performance, Latina/o identities, and public violence. Coya’s artistic work has been profiled in The New York Times, American Theater Magazine, Theater Journal, and the Chicago Tribune, among others. She has been a featured reader at dozens of poetry events including: Proyecto Latina, Paper Machete, Palabra Pura, and Revolving Door. Coya was named one of UR Magazine’s 30 Under 30 (when she was under 30!), a GO-NYC Magazine 100 Women We Love, and received a Trailblazer Award for her service to LGBTQ communities. Most recently, she has been awarded 3Arts Residency at Ragdale. Above all, she believes in the power of performance and poetry to build community towards social change.