Northlight Teaching Artists
Kaiser Zaki Ahmed A director, producer, teacher, and actor. Kaiser is Artistic Director of Jackalope Theatre Company where he served as the Founding Artistic Director from 2008 to 2011. Born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and raised in mid-Michigan, Kaiser holds a BA in Theatre Directing from Columbia College. Recently named on NewCity’s “Players 2019: Fifty People Who Really Perform For Chicago”, Kaiser is a 2016-17 Victory Gardens Directors Inclusion Initiative recipient, a 2015-16 Eugene O’Neill National Directors Fellowship Finalist, a member of Not In Our House Chicago, SDC, and SAG-AFTRA. As a teaching artist, Kaiser also works with Raven Theatre and Mudlark Theatre. He is proudly represented by Gray Talent.
Jessica Alldredge moved to Chicago from Birmingham, AL where she graduated with a B.A. in Theatre Performance from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In Chicago, Jessica has worked as an actor, director, producer, and teacher. As a teaching artist and arts administrator, she has previously worked with American Theater Company and Mudlark Theater, and is a member of the Teaching Artist Development Studio 2015 cohort through CCAP at Columbia. She currently works for Northlight, Bubbles Academy, and The Viola Project teaching students from 18 months old through early high school. Jessica passionately believes in the importance of creativity and art at every age and equal access to arts opportunities. She is the proud mom of a strong, smart, and creative little girl who can often be heard singing from a mile away.
Sheldon Brown is a graduate of Emerson College ’14. He performed in Time Is On Our Side and This Bitter Earth at About Face Theatre and soon after became an Artistic Associate. His other credits include A Wonder In My Soul at Victory Gardens Theatre. Oedipus Rex and Man In The Ring by Pulitzer Prize playwright Michael Cristofer at Court Theatre and more. He also has numerous credits in Boston including The Grand Inquisitor, directed by Peter Brook through ArtsEmerson. His film credits include Cicada ( SFFILM Rainin Grant, OutFest, BFI Flare Festival, Frameline Film Festival), The Canyonlands, and My Name is Alex. He is a recipient of the President’s Award for Creative Courage from Emerson College for his work educating and inspiring others to create social change. He is a teaching artist with Northlight and Steppenwolf Theatre, as well as the League of Chicago Theatres in conjunction with the August Wilson Monologue Competition.
Kelsey Chigas is an artist, educator and lifelong Chicagoan. She began her career as an intern working in Northlight’s Performing Arts Camp in 2011, returning as a camp counselor and director in 2012 and 2013 — and has taught for Northlight in some capacity ever since. Kelsey currently serves as the Director of Education at Writers Theatre, where she leads the vision and management of all WT Education initiatives as well as teaching within its programs. Kelsey has worked artistically, educationally and administratively with other institutions across Chicago including Steppenwolf Theatre Company, American Theater Company, Genesis, Tympanic Theater Company, Mudlark Theater Company, MCA Chicago, Salonathon, The Fly Honey Show and the side project. She is an alumna of Cornell College, where she double-majored in English & Creative Writing and Theatre with concentrations on performance and art as civic engagement.
Jazmín Corona (Teaching Artist) is a bilingual (Spanish/English) teaching artist. She has worked with youth of all ages and background, teaching theatre, dance, and photography. In Chicago, she has worked with Northlight Theatre, Steppenwolf Education, Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE), ElevArte, The Beverly Arts Center, and The Viola Project. In Cleveland, where Jazmín is originally from, she worked with Great Lakes Theater Festival and Cleveland Play House. As an actress, she has had the pleasure of working with Goodman, Steppenwolf, Raven Theatre, 16th Street Theatre, Porchlight, First Floor, Free Street, First Folio, Teatro Luna, Collaboraction, Adventure Stage, Urban Theater Company, Prop Theatre, and Babes with Blades. She has worked on such films as Dawn and The Southside Has Many Beauty Queens, both having been shown at the Chicago Latino Film Festival with the latter winning the Audience Choice Award for Best Short Film. TV credits include NBC’s Chicago Fire.
Matt Farabee is an actor and teaching artist in Chicago. For Northlight-On-Campus he has directed Fairview South Middle School’s annual production from 2011-2020. He has also taught masterclasses and production workshops in schools as well as helping to create and teach workshops on Workplace Relationships with the Youth Job Center of Evanston. As an actor, Matt has worked with Chicago Shakespeare, Steppenwolf, Rivendell, A Red Orchid, Victory Gardens, About Face Theatre, Court Theatre, Remy Bumppo, American Theatre Company, Pavement Group, and Theater Wit. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Theatre and Recreational Therapy. Matt also was a teaching artist and faculty member with the National High School Institute Cherubs Program at Northwestern University for 10 years.
Tiffany Fulson is a multidisciplinary theatre artist and arts advocate from the south side of Chicago. She began her teaching practices with Global Girls Inc, a youth performing arts organization on the South side of Chicago that serves African American girls between the ages of 5-18. This program sparked her passion to educate in the art field and even more so to illuminate the voices of those often silenced. With this incentive she has gone on to teach thousands of students all over the Chicagoland area. Tiffany is currently the program director of TimeLine Theatre’s TimeLine South and the August Wilson Monologue Competition Outreach Program. She also serves as a program consultant and professional development facilitator with Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Tiffany holds a BFA degree in Theatre Performance from University of Illinois at Chicago and also studied at Arcadia University for Global Studies in London, England.
Jasmine Henri Jordan (she/ her) is a writer, performer, and teaching artist living in Chicago. She is an ensemble member at The Neo-Futurists, a company member at Playmakers Laboratory, and a founding member of Hot Kitchen Collective. Jasmine teaches performance and creative writing to youth and adults through Playmakers Lab, Northlight Theatre, The Viola Project, and the Neo-Futurists. She is a Florida State University School of Theatre alum. Her work is overwhelmingly about queerness, Blackness, pop culture, youth, and making messes. Follow her good work at https://linktr.ee/live.laugh.blood.
Kate Leslie is a playwright, director, and teaching artist based in Chicago. As an MFA candidate in playwriting at Hollins University, she has had readings of her plays 78 Miles to Graceland, The Love Code, Shadow of the Son, and Puck is Dead. Her short play Ashes to Dust was a finalist for the Gary Garrison award at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in 2019. In 2020, The Love Code was awarded the National Partners of the American Theatre Playwriting Award. Kate is also a proud member of the Dramatist Guild.
Edmund O’Brien began improvising and writing sketch comedy in 1989 with Off-Off Campus at the University of Chicago. He has performed in over a thousand shows from the south side to the north side, from Los Angles to Edinburgh. For 11 years he has taught youth and adults at The Second City in Acting, Comedy Writing, Improv, Music, Storytelling, TV and Film Writing, and Wellness. He and his wife Dana perform as Sheila’s Sister, and co-founded KidProv Chicago where they run improv classes for children ages 5-13 at Chase Park (and now online). He has also been a Teaching Artist with Lookingglass Theatre and Storycatchers Theatre where he was the recipient of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice 2016 Volunteer of the Year Award for his work at IYC-Chicago helping the boys write and perform musicals inspired by personal stories. He has also taught memoir writing and improv at The University Club of Chicago and The Center for Life and Learning. Edmund’s writing credits range from You Don’t Know Jack to MTV’s Undressed. Somewhere in repeats you can still hear him as the announcer for Street Smarts.
Jeremy Ohringer is a director and teaching artist. Directing credits include Raymondo (The Cartographers), Angels in America: Perestroika (Boston University), Five Encounters (Pride Films and Plays), Who Walked All Night… (Rhino Fest), Salve Regina (Center on Halsted), Sad Songs for Bad People (Rough House Theater), Who Rowed Across Oceans (Edinburgh Fringe Festival) and a new adaptation of Spring Awakening (Fearless Theatre). He holds an MFA in directing from Boston University. As a Teaching Artist, Jeremy works with Steppenwolf, Chicago Youth Shakespeare, Writers, and Lookingglass among others.
Jenn Oswald is thrilled to be a member of the Northlight Teaching Artist cohort. She began leading Speak Up! residencies in Winter 2017 and has continued working with Northlight as an educator and programming consultant since. Outside of Northlight, Jenn is the Program Manager with Turning the Page, where she works with families in the North Lawndale neighborhood on literacy and at-home learning strategies. She has also taught writing workshops with Open Books and spends her summers in Winona, MN as the Director of Summer Education Programs with Great River Shakespeare Festival, where she has been a company member since 2013. Jenn is a graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University and is a proud alum of the Apprentice Program at Actors Theatre of Louisville (Education/Teaching Artist). For more information, visit JennOswald.com.
Will Quam is a teaching artist and director. He has taught with Northlight since 2012 and piloted their Speak Up program for elementary grades. His plays for young people have been produced by Northlight, Mudlark Theater, St Athanasius and are published by Stage Partners. He take pictures of bricks and architecture as Brick of Chicago (www.brickofchicago.com).
Wilfredo “Freddie” Ramos (they/them) is a creator and educator with five years experience making and facilitating curricula that empower people of all ages to deepen their relationships to works of art, to themselves, and to their communities through conversation, collaboration, and play. Freddie holds a BA in English, with a creative writing concentration in playwriting, from Yale University.www.wilfredoramosjr.com
Vanessa Strahan is an educator, performer, choreographer, and director based in Chicago. Currently, she is the Acting Education Director at Mudlark Theater, where she also teaches, directs, and choreographs. She is an ensemble member with Chicago DanzTheatre Ensemble and Theatre Unspeakable, and works and dances with Joel Hall Dancers & Center. After studying at the Actor’s Gymnasium, she joined their teaching staff two years ago. Vanessa graduated from Northwestern University where she studied Musical Theatre, Choreography, and Political Science. In her time there, she served as the Outreach Director of Seesaw Theatre, producing original, multi-sensory theatre for children with autism and other disabilities. For more on her work, visit vanessastrahan.com.
Gus Thomas has been working as a bilingual actor, teaching artist, and writer ever since he left his home in rural Oregon. He’s worked with theaters and schools in Seville, Spain as well as Chicago. He specializes in using theater as a medium to teach a second language. He’s worked with Northlight and Global Voices Initiative as an educator since 2018. As an actor he’s worked with Teatro Vista, Filament Theater, and Corn Productions where he is a company member. He is a graduate of Whitman College and has trained at the American Conservatory Theater, Dos Lunas Teatro, and the iO Theater.
Abby Thompson (Teaching Artist) is a teaching artist, voiceover artist, and actor originally from Milwaukee, WI. She has performed and taught professionally with Northlight Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Storycatchers Theatre, First Stage Children’s Theater, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, African American Children’s Theatre, Compass Creative Dramatics, and Collaboraction. She is currently also a teaching artist for Afterschool Matters at Beidler Elementary School, where she has been teaching the past four years. She also records voiceover for audiobooks, narrations, and commercial work. Abby holds a BA in Acting with a minor in Voiceover from Columbia College Chicago. She has spoken on several arts advocacy panels, including the Education Pre-Conference for the Theatre Communications Conference 2019. Abby has written, directed, performed, and has a passion for theater for social justice, mixed race theater, devised theater, immersive theater, and children’s theater. In her spare time, she is found travelling the world! For more of her work, visit: abbythompson.org.