The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Guest Artists and Scholars

Finn Lefevre headshot

Finn Lefevre (they/them)

B.S. in Theatre Studies, University of Evansville
M.F.A. in Dramaturgy and a Graduate Certificate in Advanced Feminist Studies, University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Instructor: Theater 100 and Theater 105

Office Hours: Thursdays, 10:00am-11:00am

Finn Lefevre is a dramaturg and facilitator whose work focuses on trans and queer communities. They facilitate applied theatre workshops on identity, naming, microaggressions, and community healing. Their recent projects include a traveling workshop called the Trans Naming Ritual, dramaturging and devising Queer & Now: Sync or Swim, and working on a new book on trans theatre. They have taught in the Theater Department at Keene State College and the Department of Ethnic and Gender Studies at Westfield State University. Their publications include "The Name (isn’t a) Game: New Explorations in Trans Applied Theatre" in Routledge Press' Diversity, Representation, and Inclusion, "Lip-Syncing for Our Lives: Queering Dissent in Queer & Now: a Lip-sync Spectacular" in the Palgrave Handbook of Queer and Trans Feminisms in Contemporary Performance, and "Schrödinger’s Dick: The Transgender Reveal Trope in Boy Meets Girl" in Beyond Binaries: Trans Identities in Contemporary Culture for Lexington Press. 


Liana Thompson Knight headshot

Liana Thompson Knight (she /her/hers)

B.A., Williams College
M.F.A. in Dramaturgy, University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Instructor: Theater 322

Liana is a freelance dramaturg who is joining the Department of Theater as a guest lecturer for the Fall 2020 semester. Past dramaturgy projects include Antony and Cleopatra and Gee’s Bend at Hartford Stage, GRIMM and After the Quake at Company One, Beyond Therapy, The Understudy, and Three Sisters at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, and Crumbs from the Table of Joy at Baltimore CenterStage. Liana has also worked with the Huntington Theatre, the Theatre at Monmouth, and the Maine Playwrights Festival.
Liana received her M.F.A. in Theater from the University of Massachusetts with a concentration in dramaturgy.


Darius Omar Williams (he/him/his)

M.A. in Theatre from Bowling Green State University
M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles
PhD, Theatre, The Ohio State University

Instructor: Theater 331

Darius Omar Williams is an award-winning director, Actors’ Equity Association actor, playwright, poet and acting coach whose work focuses on training serious actors using non-traditional techniques via a metaphysical blues aesthetic, ancestral invocation and indigenous West African ritual performance. He has served in the capacity of Theatre Arts Program Director, Associate Professor and Executive Producer of The Paul Robeson Theatre at North Carolina A&T State University as well as Assistant Professor of Theatre and Africana Studies at Lehigh University. Dr. Williams has also taught at The Ohio State University, Jackson State University, Emmanuel College and Tougaloo College. Directing credits include: In the Red and Brown Water featured at The 2017 National Black Theatre Festival, The World Premiere of Mississippi Born and Bred, Every Tongue Confess, Dark as a Thousand Midnights, Shake Loose My Skin, The Wiz, Ladies in Waiting, A Raisin in the Sun, The Old Settler, Ain’t Misbehavin’ and Robert Johnson: Trick The Devil. Acting credits include: Top Dog/Under Dog (Cape Rep), Crowns (The Lyric Stage Company of Boston), The Grapes of Wrath (Stoneham Theatre), Charlie and The Chocolate Factory (Wheelock Family Theatre) and Wine in the Wilderness (Our Place Theatre). He was nominated for an Independent Reviewer of New England Best Actor Award for his performance of “Afir Thomas” in Letta Neely’s Hamartia Blues at Theater Offensive. In 2017 he received an Excellence Award for his direction of his new play Mississippi Born and Bred and an Excellence Award for his direction of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s In The Red and Brown Water from the Region IV Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Recent projects include him playing the role of “Dun” in Dominique Morrisseau’s Pipeline at New Stage Theatre. His work has also appeared in the anthology Black Gay Genius: Answering Joseph Beam’s Call and he is co-editor of Mighty Real: Anthology of African American Same Gender Loving Writing. Darius has published two poetry collections: Silk Electric and Akhona. He is also CEO and Founder of The Darius Omar Williams Studio of Acting and Founding Artistic Director of The Mississippi Black Theatre Festival, Inc. His play Chocolate Cocoa on A Winter Night was directed in a staged reading by Robbie McCauley for Theater Offensive’s 2007 Out on the Edge Festival. He earned his doctorate in Theatre from The Ohio State University, his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles and his M.A. in Theatre from Bowling Green State University. His most recent new play Lord Willing and The Creek Don’t Rise is in the first phase of development.


Past Guest Artists and Scholars

  • Rachel Alderman, Artistic Associate, Hartford Stage Company — Career Prep Guest Artist
  • Kent Alexander, actor and community activist — guest artist during Baltimore, workshop leader on inclusion and equity for faculty and staff 
  • Josefina Baez, New York-based Dominican writer and performance artist — Skype interview with Multicultural Theater Practice students
  • Brett Bailey, South African theater maker — spoke to dramaturgy classes
  • Eliza Bent, playwright — guest speaker for community meeting about producing, guest performer for Community Play Read
  • Amy Berryman, playwright — Walden playwright, artist in residence for Play Lab
  • Kyle Boatwright, actor, musician — music director, Mr. Burns
  • Margaret Boyle, scholar in Spanish Theatre, Bowdoin College — Guest for a symposium on Wild Thing and its historical context
  • Jane Bunnett and Maqueque, international, all-women, improvised jazz ensemble — Skype interview with Multicultural Theater Practice students
  • Ed Check, scenic designer — scenic design advisor, Water Station
  • Dustin Chinn, playwright — Snowflakes playwright, artist in residence for Play Lab
  • Olivia D’Ambrosio, Producing Artistic Director, Bridge Repertory Theater, Boston — Career Prep guest speaker
  • Claire DeLiso, scenic designer — visiting lecturer, scenic design advisor
  • Paul Dennis, choreographer and dancer — guest choreographer for Baltimore
  • Mark Dold, actor — guest speaker, CareerPrep class
  • Prince Duren, playwright and actor — visiting lecturer in playwriting
  • Ben Emerson, Sound Designer — Guest Artist for Sound Design 1 and Music Production/Recording Class
  • Michael Faulkner and Michael Perez from The Complete Works of Shakespeare, Abridged — Guest speakers, Career Prep
  • Courtney Flores, California-based, Latina costume designer — Skype interview with Multicultural Theater Practice students
  • Norman Frisch, dramaturg — guest speaker, Dramaturgy Round Table
  • Naya Gabriel, artist — artist exhibitor for Water Station
  • Michael Garcia, performer — guest actor and choreographer for Mr. Burns
  • James Glavan, head of the Costume Technology Program at University of Texas-Austin, wrote the updated edition of Richard Corson’s Stage Makeup — Guest at Community Meeting, led a stage makeup workshop
  • Terry Jenoure, jazz musician, poet, and director of Augusta Savage Gallery — Guest lecture on Black Theater in Theater 331: Modern Black Theater
  • Devorah Kengmana, projection designer — projection design for Baltimore
  • Karl Knapp, cellist — Guest artist playing period music for Wild Thing
  • Karen Kohlhaas, actress with Atlantic Acting School — Career Prep guest artist
  • Maggie Lacey, actress — Career Prep guest artist
  • Moriah Leigh, choreographer and dance instructor — choreographer for Bacchae
  • M Sloth Levine, playwright — The Interrobangers playwright, artist in residence for Play Lab
  • Ben Liebert, performer — guest speaker, Career Prep class
  • Suzanne LoManto, director of RiverCulture in Turners Falls — Guest speaker in Public Relations Class
  • Harry McEnery, performer — guest performer for Community Play Read
  • Michelle Memran, filmmaker, The Rest I Make Up — Guest Lecturer, symposium about playwright Maria Irene Fornes and the film The Rest I Make Up
  • Local storyteller and performer Onawumi Jean Moss — Attended a luncheon with the students of Multicultural Theater Practice to discuss her projects
  • Akua Naru, hip hop artist — Guest artist in Hip Hop Feminisms
  • Devon Painter, artist — Guest lecturer in Costume Studio
  • Monica Palacios, Chicana writer, performer, and self-proclaimed hip chick — Skype interview with Multicultural Theater Practice students
  • Liza Jessie Peterson, playwright and poet — Skype interview with Multicultural Theater Practice students in partnership with the Latinx Cultural Center and the Magic Triangle Jazz Series
  • Will Power, Hip Hop theater pioneer, playwright, and poet: Skype interview with Multicultural Theater Practice students
  • Sarah Pucket, pianist — pianist for Musical Theatre course
  • Risher Reddick, actor and acting instructor — visiting lecturer in performance and dramaturgy, voice and speech coach for Baltimore, Bacchae
  • Isabel Rodes, Victoria Teijeiro, and Juan Hernando Vázquez, Spanish theater performers — Gave a guest workshop in Theater 321 in conjunction with the presentation of Desde lo invisible
  • Regine Romain, photo-anthro-journalist, performer and educator — Guest lecturer in Brown Paper Studio
  • Eric Sawyer, composer, faculty member at Amherst College — Musical Director, Wild Thing
  • Glenn Siegel, local Jazz concert producer and radio DJ — Skype interview with Multicultural Theater Practice students 
  • Shante Smalls, scholar, artist, and writer focusing on Black popular culture — Guest artist in Hip Hop Feminisms course
  • Matthew Spellberg, scenic designer — guest speaker in scenic design classes
  • Ben Tibbetts, pianist — pianist for Musical Theatre course
  • Diep Tran, senior editor of American Theatre magazine and host of Token Theatre Friends — Skype interview with Multicultural Theater Practice students
  • Cazayka Walker, host at House of Vogue at House of Yes — Guest artist in Hip Hop Feminisms course
  • Denise Wallace-Spriggs, milliner – guest instructor, millinery workshop
  • Stephan Wangh, performer and Grotowski instructor — Guest lecturer in Movement class
  • Emma Weinstein, professional playwright — Playwright residency for Play Lab
  • Ciera Wells, costume designer — visiting lecturer, guest advisor for Baltimore costume design
  • Michael Wilson, screenwriter — guest speaker, Career Prep class
  • Ryan Winkles, fight choreographer and performer — Fight choreography for Wild Thing, Sweat, other events.
  • Fan Zhang, costume designer in New York — Guest lecturer in Costume Studio