The event is free but advance tickets are required.
HERE US offers the Denison Community a space to highlight diversity that is present within the complex POC identity. Through various forms of expression, the artists featured in this production will work collaboratively to create a holistic and celebratory image of youth, joy, and vitality. We aim to foster our own collective joy and self-positivity through transformative explorations. And we wish to invite our audiences to be moved along with us.
Hear our voices.
Listen to our stories.
Engage with our exploration.
HERE US Prelude
Introductory poem written and performed by Leela Asd
Vocals by Tehillah
That Black Girl (part one)
Created and performed by Lia Haile, Taylor Trimble, Alexandra Redrick, Zora Whitfield
Written and performed by Shona Nowell
Letter to You
Written and performed by Dayanara Aguirre
Instrumental track by Eeryskies Productions
The Book of Life
Spoken Word written and performed by Yaz Simpson and Farah Farah
with Faith Sutton singing “Keep the Faith,” lyrics by Leela Asd, music by Sharon Udoh
Visual art and spoken word by Kenroyal Kogbara
Written, choreographed, and performed by Bhavana Huliyar & Aditi Singh
Spoken Word written and performed by Farah Farah Music
“Laal Ishq” performed by Arjit Singh
“Kaagada Doniyalli” by Jayanth Kaikini, and performed by Vasuki Vaibhav
“London Thumakda” by Amit Trivedi & Anvita Dutt Guptan, and performed by Labh Janjua, Sonu Kakkar, & Neha Kakkar
That Black Girl (part two)
Created and performed by Lia Haile, Taylor Trimble, Alexandra Redrick, Zora Whitfield
Lovers or Exes
Written and performed by Amelia Jaballah
Written and performed by Kwaku Akuffo, Thomas Coffey, Jaleel Poole
Directed by Faith Sutton
Love in the Human Condition
Written and performed by Daniel Ortiz Sifonte and Farah Farah
Composed, written, and performed by Zora Whitfield
Sincerely, Your Fairy Godmother
Written and performed by Yaz Simpson
That Black Girl (part three)
Created and performed by Lia Haile, Taylor Trimble, Alexandra Redrick, Zora Whitfield
Let Praises Rise
Performed by Tehillah
Jennifer Clancey, Gitu Degefa, Aniaha Ortiz, Stefanie Rodrigues, Sarah Scheuer, Faith Sutton, Thy Trang Hoang Trinh, Sydney Walton, Zora Whitfield
Composed and written by Myron Butler & Levi
Produced by Denison University’s Department of Theatre
- Yasmine Simpson
- Faith Sutton
- Khushi Mohapatra
- Jim Dennen
Original Music and Sound Design
- DJ Krate Digga
Video Projection Designer & Editor
- Chris Faur
- Josh Weckesser
Costume Designer & Wardrobe Consultant
- Rebecca Baygents Turk
- Jim Dennen
- Stage Managers
- Yasmine Simpson
- Katherine Cao
- Khushi Mohapatra
- Kathy Peter
Stage Management Mentor
- Elizabeth Dauterman
- Technical Director
- Andrew Johns
Assistant Technical Director
- Owen Beamer
Audio Recording & Mixing
- Bloom Audio
Music Composition Consultant
- Michael Powell
Poster Art & Design
- Lisa McClymont
- Varun Ramakrishan
- Armaan Tucker
- Cameron Williamson
Light Board Operator
- William Main
Sound Board Operator
- Tommy Clayton
Wardrobe Run Crew
- Caroline Brink
- Alina Mayton
Dayanara Aguirre (writer/performer–Letter to You) is a junior religion major with a concentration in narrative journalism. She is originally from Chicago Illinois and will be performing her first ever original piece. She has been singing and songwriting since she was seven years old. She is excited to perform in HERE US and share the stage with other like minded and talented individuals. Dayanara is looking forward to sharing a piece of herself with the HERE US audience tonight.
Kwaku Akuffo (co-creator/performer–Graduation Complication) is a junior Data Analytics major from Owings Mills, Maryland. A very involved Denisonian, Kwaku is the Varsity Football Manager, is on the Mitchell Center Staff, is a Community Advisor, plays club basketball, and is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity INC. and the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC). “Thank you to all of the facilitators, staff, and everyone behind the scenes for this production! Without them, this production would not be possible.”
Leela Asd (writer/performer–Prelude; writer–The Book of Life) hails from Kenya by way of Grand Rapids, Michigan. She describes herself as “an artist who wishes to teach the world the many complicated ways we tell our stories.” Leela is a writer and poet. Throughout her life, she has enjoyed performing interpretive speech and spoken word. Leela wishes to thank her younger brother, Saffron.
Katherine Cao (Stage Manager) is a senior Chemistry and Theatre major from Chicago, Illinois. Katherine stays very involved in the campus and surrounding community by serving as a Community Health Coach at Licking Memorial Hospital, the Community Service Chair of Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority, and is part of the Multicultural Greek Council at Denison University.
Thomas Coffey (co-creator/performer–Graduation Complication) is a first- year student hailing from Chicago, Illinois. He is thrilled to be making his first appearance on the Denison stage! Thomas is a student assistant in the Center for Black Studies. He would like to send a special thank you to Yaz Simpson, and to the rest of the cast and crew of HERE US. “Special thanks to all artists! This production wouldn’t be the same without you all.”
Farah Farah (writer/performer–The Book of Life, Love in the Human Condition, Becoming), from Columbus, Ohio, is a senior majoring in History and Anthropology/Sociology with a minor in French. On campus, he is involved with the African Student Association, Black Student Union, and the Refugee Advocacy Collective. “I would love to give special thanks to Yaz, as an artist, leader, and person. I admire her ability to organize an incredible experience, and for sharing her talents with us.
Lia Haile (co-creator/performer–That Black Girl) is a sophomore Environmental Studies and Global Health major hailing from Columbus, Ohio. Lia is a part of the doobie show That Black Girl, and she is also a MCSA Intern, an Admissions Docent, and a Global Health Research Assistant. She thanks her friends and co-hosts of That Black Girl.
Bhavana Huliyar (co-creator/choreographer/performer–Becoming) is a junior from Bangalore, India majoring in Biology and Global Health. Bhavana was also part of HERE US in the Spring of 2021. She is also a member of Sazon (Latin Dance group) and stays very active serving as the PR Chair for DISA, treasurer for the Synapse, as a tutor for ARC and Biosphere. She extends her gratitude to Aditi Singh and Farah Hersi.
Amelia Jemela Jallabah (writer/performer–Lovers or Exes) is a junior Political Science major and English minor from Columbus, Ohio. This is Amelia’s first production at Denison University. She keeps busy on campus by being an employee of the Political Science Department.
Kenroyal Kogbara (writer/visual artist/performer–Crown Disciples) is a senior from Global Commerce major and History minor from St. Louis, Missouri. He would like to thank Temi Coker, Yaz, Jim, Faith, and Katherine.
Khushi Punyatoya Mohapatra (Stage Manager) is a sophomore majoring in Economics and Mathematics. She was born in India and lived in Hungary before moving to the US. HERE US has become really close to her heart and she truly values what each artist, facilitator and crew member brings to this production. The tremendous growth in depth and quality seen in every piece over the last few months has been really inspiring and Khushi is excited to see how this production would evolve in the years to come.
Shona Nowell (writer/performer–For You) is a sophomore East Asian Studies major and English Creative Writing minor from Columbus, Ohio. No stranger to the creative process, Shona was in her high school’s slam club and on the poetry team. She, along with fellow cast member Zora Whitfield, was a part of the Ohio State’s Young Writer’s Workshop in 2017. She is a two-time published author, stating that “Most of my writing is calm and calculated rather than emotionally driven. The easiest topic for me to write about is love.” She would like to thank Yaz Simpson for encouraging her to join HERE US. “She was set on me getting in and speaking my peace. I would also like to thank Michael Saxon, my past English teacher, confidant, and now friend who inspired me to keep a pen close to my heart.”
Jaleel Poole (co-creator/performer–Graduation Complication) is a senior Biology and Global Health major and Black Studies minor from Chicago, Illinois. Thisis his first performance experience at Denison.Jaleel is a member of the Black Student Union and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. He would like to thank Yaz, Faith, Jim, Kwaku, Thomas, and DJ Krate!
Alexandra Redrick (co-creator/performer–That Black Girl) is a sophomore, Communication major from Baltimore, Maryland. She is a member of Burpees, is a Denison Docent, and is a part of That Black Girl Podcast. “Thank you so much, Yaz, for putting together such an amazing production. Thank you to my co-hosts of That Black Girl for being the best people I could ask to perform with.”
Daniel Ortiz Sifonte (writer/performer–Love in the Human Condition), class of 2024, is a native of Columbus, Ohio studying Global Health. He is excited to be making his first appearance at Denison, and he serves on campus as a Community Advisor. “Thanks to all the performers and people who work behind the scenes!”
Yaz Simpson (Facilitator; Stage Manager; writer/performer–Sincerely, Your Fairy Godmother, The Book of Life) is a junior Cinema and Psychology major from Chicago, Illinois. Yaz was also heavily involved with last year’s HERE US production, serving as a co-creator and facilitator while also performing a slam poem called “Most Beautiful.” You may have also seen Yaz performing poems around campus at open mic nights, gala events, and homecoming events. In addition to her work in the theatre department, Yaz is a Community Advisor, a Denison Film Society Projectionist, and First Aid/ First Responder for intramurals. She is a member of the Black Student Union, plays intramural volleyball, and is on the Denisonian Broadcast Media Crew. She also volunteers for FUTURENOW Media and Entertainment. Special Thanks: “Jim, you have always been my day one, go-to professor. Whenever I have a question you can answer it. If I ever lose confidence, you find it for me. Two years ago we teamed up to work on this project and never looked back. Thank you so much for everything. Khushi and Katherine, you’re both new to the team and I am so happy I was able to meet you. Faith, you’ve always been a great friend of mine and I’m so happy you joined the team. I wish I could express the happiness I felt when you said “yes” to being a facilitator.” Aditi Singh (co-creator/choreographer/performer–Becoming) is a Senior Data Analytics Major and Mathematics minor from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Although this is her first performance at Denison, she has danced for cultural events for Diwali and World of Dance. At Denison, Aditi is a RED Corps Fellow and a TA for Data Analytics and Mathematics. She thanks Bhavana and Farah for bringing this piece together.
Faith Sutton (Facilitator; performer–The Book of Life) is a senior Psychology and Black Studies major from Columbus, OH. Faith is a veteran of the stage, having performed in singing groups and theatre from the age of three. Some of her favorite experiences include The Colored Museum at her high school and The Little Mermaid Jr. with a community theatre. Her involvement on campus and in her community is vast, serving as a scene shop worker, OGS Program Assistant, MCSA Student Intern, African Student Association First Year President, Black Student Union Minister of Affairs, and is a Paving The Way Ambassador and Co-Coordinator. Faith would like to thank Yasmine Simpson and Jim Dennen for creating this production and making this experience possible. She also thanks her mom and dad for “helping me find my passions and love my culture so I could be a part of something so great.”
Tehillah (Prelude, “Let Praises Rise”) is Denison’s only gospel a cappella group. They are dedicated to spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and His love. Tehillah also aims to uplift the community through song, and to foster the exposure of the Denison community to a positive and inspirational message through showcasing various arrangements of gospel music. Tehillah includes Jennifer Clancey, Gitu Degefa, Aniaha Ortiz, Stefanie Rodrigues, Sarah Scheuer, Faith Sutton, Thy Trang Hoang Trinh, Sydney Walton, Zora Whitfield
Taylor Trimble (co-creator/performer–That Black Girl) is a sophomore, Politics and Public Affairs major and Educational Studies minor from Chicago, Illinois. She is very involved on campus, including being a Community Advisor, Denison Docent, Minister of Records and Correspondence for the Black Student Union, and a Staff Writer for the Denisonian. She would like to thank all the girls at That Black Girl, her mentors at the Doobie Radio, and everyone involved in HERE US.
Zora Whitfield (songwriter/performer–Daughter) For Zora, participating in HERE US is an escape from the pragmatism of her undergraduate studies in PPE, psychology, and women’s and gender studies. Zora applies what she learns from her majors into all of her art. Zora has been in many productions, most of which were done in high school, with highlights being Willy Wonka and The Music Man. She has also traveled the country to compete in solo and group vocal competitions, and was selected to play the saxophone in the Columbus all-city jazz band. She also has a gifted certification in playing the clarinet. Beyond music, Zora creates visual art, curates her own art shows, and has been a part of three different podcasts. Zora would like to thank all the women in her family for this performance, but particularly her Grandmothers Kweli Kitwana and Vicky Whitfield.
DJ Krate Digga (Music Director) has 25 years under his belt as a professional DJ. Those two plus decades have allowed Krate to successfully move beyond the scope of solely DJing into the realms of music production, arranging, composing, teaching, recording, mentoring, and executive producing a documentary. Krate has shared stages with artists including Eric Roberson, MC Lyte, Brand Nubian, The Foreign Exchange, Dwele, and many more. As a newly selected #NextLevelUSA Hip Hop Ambassador, Krate remains committed to improving quality of lives using music as a vehicle specifically through the prism of Hip Hop culture. Whether teaching middle school or at the collegiate level, opening for Grandmaster Flash or presenting his own stage production; it is music and the power therein that’s allowed Krate to serve as a conduit for artistic & community development. Krate understands that music bridges cultures.
Christian Faur (Video Projection Designer) and his creative work is well known in the Columbus area, where he has had several solo and group shows. In addition to his studio work, Faur has collaborated on a wide range of “new media” projects in the areas of theater, music, and dance. He earned a Best Stage Design distinction from Columbus Alive for his collaboration with Available Light Theater in 2010 and was awarded an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award in 2013 and again in 2021.” His collaboration with composer HyeKyung Lee titled “Dreaming in Colours” was performed at the Columbus Museum of Art in 2015. Christian currently holds the position of Director of Collaborative Technologies at Denison University where he teaches courses in Animation and New Media.
Joshua Paul Weckesser (Lighting Design) is a lighting designer whose designs have been seen across the US as well as internationally. Josh’s relationship with Denison is stretching into its second decade. He is founder of Bread & Roses Productions dedicated to providing production support to art-based organizations. TimeOut Chicago said that Josh’s “name seemed to pop up in every program.” Career highlights include lighting the first ever evening- length production of American Tap at the Kennedy Center, working with Karole Armitage in the Netherlands, and the national tour of Gobsmacked.
Jim Dennen (Facilitator; Producer) teaches Directing, Theatre-making, Public Speaking, and Performance studies in the Theatre Department. He is honored and grateful to get to work so closely with the incredible student artists and crew on HERE US for the second year in a row, and he hopes that this production can become an ongoing tradition with or without him. Jim feels particularly indebted to Yaz and Faith and Cordero and Sky and Kathy and Isabella and Kushi and Katherine for their trust, patience, generosity, and hard work in making HERE US a thing! And he is so grateful to Anastasia Congdon, Lane Czaplinski, Joan Dennen, Chris Faur, Kristi Matthews, Cheryl McFarren, Arloni Melini, Peter Pauzé, Molly Shanahan, and Cindi Turnbull for their vital support.
Michael Powell (Music Composition Consultant) poet, musician, writer, and actor, is the Director of Outreach and New Initiatives for Healing Broken Circles. He has worked with the Columbus foundation, Think Make Live Youth, and The Ohio Prison Arts Connection in hopes of continuing to strengthen the voices of people effected by the justice system as well as those effected in marginalized communities. Through his work with HBC in Columbus, Michael has shared his experiences and lessons from prison and reentry to help others transitioning back to society in Franklin County. Working with Zora on her song for HERE US was raw and explorative. Watching her find her voice and expression was like chemistry in a lab. Michael is so happy to have helped her find the right components.”
Rebecca Turk (Costume Designer) is a costume designer and arts educator with over twenty years of experience, whose art has been featured by premier theatre and ballet companies around the globe. She promotes equity, creativity, and play through her art, research, and collaborations. Outside of the university, Dr. Turk leads design and craft workshops in community and museum settings with participants from 5 to 60+ years of age. She holds a PhD in Arts Administration, Education and Policy with specializations in Art Education and the Analysis of Material Culture. Her research interests include trans-disciplinary educational practices, material culture, costume & performance, and practice as research.
Lisa McLymont (Poster Art & Design) was born in Manhattan, NY and has called Columbus, Ohio home since the age of ten. McLymont’s career as a self-taught, multi-disciplinary artist includes forays into sculpture, metal-work, jewelry design, drawing and painting. Lisa was a 2010 Fellowship Recipient of The Ohio State University Arts Initiative Fellowship for Emerging Artists. She has served as an adjunct faculty member at Columbus College of Art and Design and Ohio Dominican University, both in Columbus, Ohio. A former member of the Ohio Art League and the Columbus Society for Communicating Arts, McLymont is one of the inaugural coordinators of the Greater Columbus Arts Council’s Columbus Open Studio & Stage event, The Art and Artists Of Ohio, an online community, and a founding member of Black, Out, & Proud. In 2019, McLymont was named one of Columbus Underground’s Top 10 Local Artists, and she is thrilled to be establishing new mentorship opportunities with Denison student artists.
Michael D. Eisner Center for the Performing Arts Professional Staff
- Margot Singer - Director and Professor of English
- Kathy Peter - Managing Director
- Andrew Johns - Technical Director
- Laura Plikerd - Costume Shop Supervisor
- Owen Beamer - Assistant Technical Director
- Marla Krak - Arts Engagement Coordinator
- Elizabeth Dauterman - Production Coordinator & Technical Assistant:
- House Manager & Box Office Assistant - Phil Meyer
- Graphic Designer and Media Specialist - Hannah Frye
- Administrative Assistant - Anne Peterson
Department of Theatre
- Peter Pauzé - Associate Professor and Chair
- Mark Evans Bryan - Associate Professor and the Jonathan R. Reynolds Distinguished Professor in Theatre.
- Cheryl McFarren - Associate Professor
- James Dennen - Assistant Professor
- Eleni Papaleonardos - Visiting Assistant Professor
- Rebecca Baygents Turk - Visiting Assistant Professor
- Heather Grimm - Visiting Assistant Professor
- Hongyi Tian - Jonathan R Reynolds Distinguished Playwright in Residence
- Kristine Mathews - Academic Administrative Assistant
- Marilyn Sundin - AAA Emerita
- Cynthia Turnbull - Professor Emerita
- Jon R. Farris - Professor Emeritus
Voices of Color Perform. Original Spoken Word, Song, Dance, and Digital Visual Art created and performed by Denison POC.
In 1916, celebrated Harlem Renaissance poet and playwright, Angelina Weld Grimké, described one of her characters who shines in spite of the violent prejudice and turbulence of her time as “loving, young, joyous, and vital.”
In the Fall of 2020, the Denison Theatre Department presented “HERE US,” a virtual performance platform for students of color – amidst the violent prejudice and turbulence of a double pandemic – with the aim of releasing some of Denison’s own (and much needed) love, youth, joy, and vitality.
This year, we present “HERE US” as a live performance event, featuring a whole new series of bold, original works written and performed by students of color. Including Spoken Word, Music, Dance, and Digital Visual Art, which celebrate many facets of the complex POC identity in the Denison Community. Through various forms of expression, the artists featured in this production have worked collaboratively to create a holistic and celebratory image of youth, joy, and vitality.
Campus and community audiences will be subject to Denison Covid restrictions and guidelines in place at the time. More information coming soon.
Performance Dates and Times are as follows:
- Thursday, March 3, at 8 p.m.
- Friday, March 4, at 8 p.m.
- Saturday, March 5, at 8 p.m.