Apr 22, 2017

Coffeehouse Chronicles #141: Dzieci Theatre’s 20th Anniversary

Michal Gamily – Series Director
Arthur Adair
Educational Outreach

a black arrow pointing downward

Panelists: Dr. Carolina Franco, Reverend Renee House, John Osburn, Robert Prichard
with Matt Mitler, Yvonne Brechbuhler, Ryan Castalia, & Golan

Performances by: Megan Bones, Yvonne Brechbuhler, Ryan Castalia, Felicity Doyle, Golan, Jesse Hathaway, Chris Krivanek & Matt Mitler

Special Guest Performers: John Norman (Dzieci Ensemble 2001-2013, currently serving as company choral director),
Zachary Koval (Dzieci Ensemble 2010-2013), CJ Louverture (Dzieci Ensemble 2017-?)

Megan Bones (Ensemble 2007) graduated from Saint Olaf College with a BA in Theatre and Political Science. She formed The Gremlin Theatre Company, in Minneapolis, dedicated to creating new works of theatre, and also taught dance and performed professionally in The Flying Foot Forum. She left the Mini-Apple for the Big-Apple and was cast in a variety of shows including the first national tour of The Music Man (Ethel) and the national tour of Crazy For You, as well as Two Gentleman of Verona (Julia), Birds on a Wire (Louise Cobb), and Our Country’s Good (Liz Morden/William Faddy). Megan’s been a core member of Dzieci for the past ten years, and it has been a life changing experience for her. Striving towards personal transformation through theatre and works of service has helped fill a space left empty from her days in mainstream theatre. She is grateful to be a part of this amazingly diverse, talented and dedicated group.

Yvonne Brechbuhler (Ensemble 1997) was born and raised in Basel, Switzerland, where she worked as a kindergarten teacher before moving to New York in 1994 to pursue a career in theatre. She was a member of The Irondale Theater Ensemble, utilizing improvisational theatre and group-building skills to work with high-risk teenagers in schools and prisons and has been in charge of the afterschool program at a Waldorf preschool. Along with Matt Mitler, she created and co- taught a series of theater classes for girls 7-12 called BEING!, utilizing text from Shakespeare, and is currently teaching music classes at a Montessori preschool. Yvonne is dreaming of a theatrical program that will bring Dzieci’s basic wisdom into children’s lives. Yvonne is also a certified Feldenkrais practitioner and the proud mother of two beautiful girls, Yona and Ora.

Ryan Castalia (Ensemble 2013), a native of the Sonoran Desert, studied drama at UCLA, focusing on Poor Theatre and mildly anarchic behavior. During this time he began experimenting with Shakespeare and ritualism, and co-founded the group, The Free Theatre. Following a seizure of post-collegiate wanderlust, which included a stay in Poland and a feverish performance tour of the American wilderness, Ryan arrived in New York City. An evolving need for space, compassionate connection, while maintaining a rigorous artistic practice, led him to Dzieci. Here he has touched on new shades of work, qualities of gentle light, sharpened sight, and expansive effort, and has begun applying shape to a chaotic lifestyle. In Dzieci, he has found himself vigorously challenged, deeply grateful, and still endlessly curious.

Felicity Doyle (Ensemble 2014), an L.A. transplant, grew up playing classical flute. She studied Physical Acting at Boston University, receiving a B.F.A. in Theatre Arts, with a minor in French. In Los Angeles, she was a founding member of Cowboys and Indians Theatre, performing “Wolf Girls” at the inaugural Hollywood Fringe Festival, as well as filming sketch comedy with SMBC Theater, and recording an EP with her band Hôtel. Felicity first heard of Dzieci through her mother, who performed mime with Mr. Mitler in the mid 1970’s. For this former Angeleno, New York is as much a process as a destination. Working with Dzieci allows for a deep grounding amidst all the chaos, and provides tools for questioning both her creative and personal interactions in life.

Golan (Ensemble 2007) graduated from Queens College in 1997, with an interdisciplinary degree in Liberal Arts. Since then, he has successfully computerized his family’s small business, which he continues to run to this day. Golan came to Dzieci by way of clown studies with The NY Goofs and Jef Johnson, and attributes his affinity for this work to an ongoing pursuit of understanding the human condition through clown. Now, after 10 years with Dzieci, Golan continues to find support exploring this theme in his ongoing work with the company, while ironically also pursuing his CPA accounting degree. Golan feels blessed by this opportunity, which always touches a deeper chord and stirs his soul, and very grateful for it.

Jesse Hathaway (Ensemble 2007) was born and reared in the fertile concrete valleys of Los Angeles. He left California for the confines of New York City to attend the Experimental Theatre Wing at NYU, where he discovered Grotowski, clowning, physical theatre, the Roy Hart vocal technique, and graduated with a BFA in Theatre. He is an initiated priest of the orisha Obatala in the Afro-Cuban Lukumi religion and a Tatá in the the Afro-Brazilian tradition of Quimbanda, and works as an artist, storyteller, herbalist and diviner. Drawn to ritual studies and inspired by structures and methodology from both ancient and extant traditions, he has worked with Dzieci for the past decade, drawing upon a deep need to integrate the spiritual with the practical.

Chris Krivanek (Ensemble 2016) spent most of his life in Ohio before moving out to the Hudson Valley to grow vegetables. While there, an incessant interest in meditation, psychology, biology, and spiritual philosophy left him with a desire to move past personal energetic impediments and towards a more vital state of being. Paratheatrical ritual seemed to offer a chance to fulfill this wish, and in 2015, after witnessing Dzieci’s Fools Mass in Kingston, he immersed himself in the company’s practice at their annual Marathon workshop later that winter. He has stuck around ever since. Chris has chosen to return to farming after giving city life a shot, but will still be able to work with this amazing group of people with the added benefit of treating them to fresh produce and enticing herbal concoctions.

Matt Mitler was initially trained in Humanistic and Existential Psychology, before discovering the healing potential of theatre. He considers his therapeutic study with such masters as R.D. Laing and Carl Rogers to be equal to his theatrical study with Jerzy Grotowski and Eugenio Barba. Combining these two pursuits, he began to lead workshops in a variety of settings including Hutchings Psychiatric Center (NY); The Association for Humanistic Psychology; The National Theatre School of Sweden; The Institute for Clergy Excellence; The Parliament for the World’s Religions; and the graduate school of The University of Psychology of Warsaw, where his essay, Art and Therapy was published in the anthology, New Directions in Psychotherapy. Matt has been director of Dzieci Theatre|Service & Art since its inception in 1997. He and Dzieci are featured in the book, Working on the Inside: The Spiritual Life Through the Eyes of Actors by Retta Blaney, and profiled in The Encyclopedia of Religion, under Performance Theatre.

Wendy Carolina Franco, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist. She has had teaching, research, and clinical experience in trauma, addictions, minority and immigrant psychology. Clinically, her practice entails integrating psychoanalytic, and embodied approaches, with innovative and evidence based interventions. Dr. Franco brings a multifaceted interest in minority psychology and has presented nationally on her work with Latinx families. She is grateful for the opportunity to be part of this celebration and discuss how her experience in Dzieci (Ensemble 2000-2003) has influenced her interests and clinical practice.

Renee House received her M. Div. degree from New Brunswick Theological Seminary and holds the Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary. She served on the faculty of New Brunswick Theological Seminary for twenty-five years in a variety of roles, including Professor of Practical Theology and Interim Dean, where she was responsible for anointing Dzieci The Helen Studdiford Kleis Visiting Artist from 2008-2009. Rev. House presently serves as the Pastor of the Old Dutch Church in Kingston, NY. As a minister in the RCA, Renee has been blessed to engage in ministry throughout the U.S. and in local congregations. She is a writer, poet, singer, wife, step-mom, and grandmother to three rambunctious kids. Renee’s passion is ministry. Her conviction is that the Spirit of God is restless, powerful and free, always laboring to surprise us with grace beyond belief, and prompting dreams beyond imagining!

John Osburn teaches Theater Studies and Dramatic Literature at NYU and directs a program in the Cooper Union engineering school that uses audience-centered approaches to professional development. Eclectic and boundary-crossing in his interests, he has been an arts journalist, a director and a dramaturg, taught at Vassar College and the New School, and is the author of osburnt.com, a performing arts blog. His work has appeared inTheatre Studies, Modern Drama, American Journalism, International Journal for the Semiotics of Law, Journal of Business Strategy, Dance Critics Association News, High Performance, ARTLines, The Nation, and in daily and weekly newspapers. He holds a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from NYU.

Robert Prichard co-founded the performance space, Surf Reality’s House of Urban Savages and ran it from 1993 to 2003. Surf Reality continues to exist and present, including productions of  Radical Vaudeville at the Bowery Poetry Club, and 64: A Vaudeville of the Mind at One Armed Red in DUMBO, with many of these extravaganzas including Dzieci shenanigans onstage. He’s also known for his work in the 80’s TROMA cult films, The Toxic Avenger and The Class of Nuke ‘Em High. Mr. Prichard and Mr. Mitler have been friends and cultural vigilantes together since High School, engaging in a whirlwind of escapades, from street mime in Washington DC, to creative therapeutic interactions in hospitals in France, to climbing the pyramids at Giza. In the late 80’s, Prichard and Mitler formed The Movie of the Month Club, creating insanely improvised cult videos, including Dick and Jane Drop Acid and Die and I Was a Teenage Bride of Christ. They followed this with the comedy, Macbeth: King of Scoutland, and in 1994, the award-winning independent film, Cracking Up. In 2015, Rob Co-Founded community free-form internet station, Radio Free Brooklyn, which in a continuation of their creative co-conspiracy, currently presents Mitler’s, Sunday Night Noir, a serialization of his novel, Kaufman’s Holiday. Rob also has his own programs on RFB: Bushwick Garage Wednesdays at midnight and Brooklyn Bandstand every Thursday.

Coffeehouse Chronicles


Coffeehouse Chronicles is an educational performance series exploring the history of Off-Off-Broadway. Part artist-portrait, part history lesson, and part community forum, Coffeehouse Chronicles take an intimate look at the development of downtown theatre, from the 1960s’ “Coffeehouse Theatres” through today.

Special Event