The Artists Who Bring Our Stories to Life

Our Artists

Literature to Life would not be possible without our dedicated team of actors and teaching artists.

Our actors are seasoned professionals whose work has been seen and heard across the United States. Many have lived with these works for years, and all have spent months working with our artistic team to craft their high quality performances.

In addition to being actors, playwrights and directors our teaching artists have been successful educators in the field for years, many with post-graduate degrees in education, fine arts and educational theatre. Because of their experience and training, they understand how to communicate artistic concepts in a way that aligns with the teaching goals of the classroom and the interest of the students.

The following photos are complemented by a personal statement about each artist’s connection to the work. We invite you to learn more about our amazing company!

Our Literature to Life artists and alumni have been nominated for (or won) the Tony-Award, Emmy-Award and Obie-Award.

Artistic Circle

Wynn Handman

“The student audience, to me, has become the most important audience I can reach, because you impact so deeply on them.”

Billy Lyons

Actor: The Things They Carried
Literature to Life is a unique program that stimulates the imaginations of young audiences by bringing verbatim adaptations of American Literature to the stage. Performed live by one actor who inhabits all of the characters, our program brings stories to life, provokes thought and discussion amongst diverse backgrounds of audiences, and inspires students to read, express themselves creatively and more fully understand the complex world around them.

Elise Thoron

If there is ever a day I get discouraged about theater’s importance or ability to reach a broad audience, I attend a Literature to Life performance.  It’s that inspiring.  We also do longer residencies in schools and professional development; our company of actors and teaching artists is astounding and as dedicated as our staff. It’s probably the most gratifying work I do.


Lily Balsen

Actor: Secret Life of Bees
In my work, I seek to “let the little guy drive” or the kid in me explore a bit more – all the best discoveries come when I’m playing, not working. I love activating the imagination with simple ingredients – a story, a stage, and an audience to listen.– I can’t wait to share these discoveries with kids!

Sarah Franek

Actor: The Glass Castle
Our work creates community. Our modern world thinks we connect on social media. We connect when we show up, when we are quiet, when we listen, when we are so moved by the story of someone else’s human experience of hardship that our own humiliations, sorrows and longings don’t feel quite so unique and personal. To look into the eye of someone who was once a stranger and see their truth awash on their face, and bear witness to their shame, is to taste your own shame, but on a newly minted palette of mutual connection. Jeannette’s story always challenges me to forgive. Our chosen audience, with their young agile minds, always challenge me to be true.

Cheryl Howard

Actor: Zora, Folktales, Their Eyes Were Watching God

Ana Maria Rodriguez Jomalca

Actor: The House on Mango Street
We have made an unforgettable difference in one and many lives. The hope and possibility I plant in the children’s minds and hearts that they can rise above their circumstances and seeing them become surprised and inspired by their own passions.

Billy Lyons

Actor: The Things They Carried
As an actor who has performed The Things They Carried throughout the country for over a decade, I can think of no better audience to be reached than that of young audiences. From war to critical decision-making, politics to tangible and intangible baggage, themes from the book resonate deeply with students. The degree of concentration and involvement from the student audience is palpable and remarkable.

Rich Orlow

Actor: Farenheit 451

Liz Parker

Actor: The Giver
I love creating new theatrical performances that inspire wonder and curiosity in young audiences and families It is a privilege to share in the world of The Giver with young audiences – I love hearing how the content moves their thoughts and imaginations. I look forward to engaging audiences through performance and discussion.

Tarantino Smith

Actor: Black Boy
Through Literature to Life, I’ve discovered more about myself, things that I could only feel…that I now have words for. And many of the students and communities I’ve encountered have discovered the same.

Michael Angel (MAV) Viera

Actor: County of Kings
The most meaningful thing for me being an arts educator is being able to connect with children via the arts. The opportunity to be a part of the team that makes children their number one priority. As always, I’m excited about inspiring children to be creative and encouraging them to express themselves through art – writing, music, poetry.

Sorab Wadia

Actor: The Kite Runner
I am thrilled to a part of a wonderful organization that is dedicated to enlightening and enriching the lives. The most exciting aspect of my job is seeing children/young adults experiencing empathy is a new or more profound way.

Channie Waites

Actor: If Beale Street Could Talk
I treasure the interactive and engaging nature of theater as it lifts up the page. Some of the most profound literature of our world speaks to the social and personal experiences of our communities. I’m looking forward to learning how our work deepens critical thinking and impacts the daily actions and well-being of the youth I engage with.

Master Teaching Artists

Vanessa Cohen

Master Teaching Artist
As an actress, I am committed to engaging students’ intellectual curiosity, reflecting their genuine emotions and inspiring their imaginations that they might find themselves connecting personally with this extraordinary poet. Seeing students write their own poetry in the course of a short session never ceases to amaze! I look forward to the unexpected moments that arise in the classroom when students surprise us with their own discoveries and points of view.

Heleya de Barros

Master Teaching Artist
This year, I am excited to be focusing on building my voice over experience. It’s a whole new creative world to me. I am constantly learning from the students I work with. Their perspectives on the art brings out news of thinking and creating for me.

Mtume Gant

Master Teaching Artist
What is important to me is the fact as a native New Yorker I am able to give back to the youth of this city with the artistic skills I have worked hard to hone during my life. Learning more from them about their visions of expression and guiding them in finding their voice is what gets me excited.

Melissa House

Master Teaching Artist
I love giving young people a vehicle, through theatre, to explore and express their voices. Witnessing young people experience through and “Aha” moments of transformation, continues to surprise and transform how I see myself and our world. I am excited to return to Flint, MI this year to share one of my favorite novels, The Glass Castle with teens, and to experience this great place of literature through new eyes.

Kaaron Briscoe Minefee

Master Teaching Artist
The scope of Literature to Life excites me. I feel as if the diversity in programming allows us to meet kids where they are. Showing children how the arts connect with their day-to-day lives is one of my goals.

Sarah Pencheff

Master Teaching Artist
I enjoy the opportunity to work with students from diverse background and seeing the unique ways in which they connect with the material. Each year I look forward to being surprised by and to seeing children and youth surprise themselves.

Brad Raimondo

Master Teaching Artist

Fabian Saucedo

Master Teaching Artist
I am an artist, educator and agent of change, committed to using artistic craft and the creative process to impact both my local and global communities. Working with young audiences connects me with other Activists equally committed to creating meaningful artistic experiences for children.

Chris Snock

Master Teaching Artist
I teach for the Literature to Life program on the National Level. Storytelling has the power to educate and impact at a high and deep level. What is meaningful is hearing young adults’ voices and how they perceive their worlds. I am thrilled to have students engage with their imaginations to perceive¸ to challenge and question, and to have them create space for windows where once there may have been walls.

Lisa Strum

Master Teaching Artist
What is meaningful to me is creating safe spaces for children to express themselves artistically. I’m excited about bringing theatre arts into the classrooms and witnessing how creativity transforms children’s lives.

Ready To Bring Our Stories To Your Audiences?

Literature to Life performances are available to tour across the U.S. Learn more about booking today.

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