Producing Artistic Directors

 

Producing Artistic Director

Ilia Guzei (c) 2010

Donna Peckett, choreographer-deviser, actor, tap dancer and arts educator, is producing artistic director of TAPIT/new works Ensemble Theater, which she co-founded in 1985. She has performed in and co-produced 40 theater works, touring from Florida to California, from Kansas to Washington, DC, from Canada to Mexico, from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Alaska, as well as venues throughout Wisconsin and the Midwest.

Peckett received two Choreography Fellowships from the Wisconsin Arts Board and was recognized by the Wisconsin Dance Council for her contributions to the field. She received a BA in Art History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and trained briefly with the Bread and Puppet Theater and at the HB Studio in New York City. Donna was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on February 19, 1945, and grew up in Homestead, Florida.

Currently on the faculty of the Edgewood College Department of Theatre Arts in Madison, Wisconsin, she teaches technique, choreography and multi-cultural perspectives of American rhythm tap dance. She is an instructor for UW Education Outreach and for the UW-Madison Department of Liberal Studies and the Arts.

In 2014, Peckett developed the original concept for Convenience, a site-specific, multi-disciplinary performance work about the historic Schenk-Atwood neighborhood in Madison, Wisconsin. She appeared in TAPIT/new works’ production Now What, an Ohio-Wisconsin touring exchange theater project with the New World Performance Laboratory in Akron, Ohio, in 2013. She choreographed, co-produced and performed in Take Care, the Company’s 2012 production, premiering in Wausau, Wisconsin, playing Madison, Wisconsin’s Overture Center, and touring to The Last Frontier Theater Conference in Valdez, Alaska. In 2011, Peckett choreographed and co-produced Bullying: The Musical at the Barrymore Theatre in Madison, Wisconsin. She co-produced, choreographed and performed in the Company’s 25th anniversary production in 2010, Help Wanted: The Search for Security, True Love or at Least a Decent Part-Time Job. From 2008-2014, Peckett co-produced and performed in the Company’s production of Mangia Mangia, a play about Madison’s historic Greenbush neighborhood. She toured to Canada in February 2008 with the play Garden Party, which had its Madison premiere in 2005 and went on to tour Wisconsin and Illinois that year, Washington, D.C. in 2009, and has continued touring through 2014.

Peckett’s acting and choreography were seen in Source Code: Candide in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, in March 2008. She acted in and choreographed the Syncopated Syndromes tour to Door County, Wisconsin, which included cameos and talkbacks with Dr. Zorba Pastor; and The Girls From Building B, performed at Ohio’s Lakeside Association’s 3,000-seat theater and in Miami Beach. Other key performances include her work in Without Pity at the Krannert Center, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and at the AIDS Theater Festival in San Francisco; and Soul Journey in Toronto for the International Festival of Madness and Arts.

In 2014, she co-produced and co-hosted a week long residency with Brenda Bufalino, living legend of tap dance. It was a collaborative effort of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Edgewood College in Madison, and UW-Stevens Point, Wisconsin. A devoted arts educator, Peckett has produced and hosted workshops with some of the leading figures in American rhythm dance, including Roxanne Butterfly, Anita Feldman, Keith Terry, jazz and tap historian Ernie Smith, Frankie Manning, Ralph Brown, Steve Condos, La Vaughn Robinson and many more. She is a specialist in creative movement and drama for young children. Through TAPIT/new works Ensemble Theater, she coordinates and teaches in the Company’s summer arts programs for school-age students.

As a residency artist, Peckett received training from Kennedy Center facilitators and co-developed a model format combining creative writing, movement and visual arts for school-age students. She currently co-facilitates creative arts residencies in the Madison, Wisconsin, public schools. From 2006-2012 she co-facilitated stop bullying arts residencies in the Madison, Wisconsin, public schools. In 2007 and 2012, she co-facilitated theater arts residencies at UW-Marathon County, Wausau. She has performed and taught in a National Performance Network residency, Alverno College, Milwaukee, and served as a featured speaker at the Annual Meeting of the Georgia Association on Young Children. She has facilitated arts residencies and workshops around the U.S.

An artist and activist, Peckett believes that positive social change can be fostered through the arts. A founding member of the International Tap Association, member of the Network of Ensemble Theaters and the Wisconsin Dance Council, she enjoys cooking and gardening.

Producing Artistic Director

Ilia Guzei (c) 2010

Danielle Dresden, playwright, actor and residency artist, is producing artistic director of TAPIT/new works Ensemble Theater, which she co-founded in 1985 in Madison, Wisconsin. Dresden is the author of 35 plays performed across the United States and abroad.

Her playwrighting awards include a 2010 Wisconsin Arts Board Literary Arts Fellowship, 1999 Finalist for the Yukon Pacific New Play Award and the Council for Wisconsin Writers Drama Awards in 2001, 2003 and 2006. Her most recent productions are Convenience, a site-specific immersive collaboration with Fresco Opera Theatre, performed in Madison, Wisconsin, in August 2014, Source Code: Candide, at Horse Trade Theater Group’s #DRAFTSNYC in New York City in July 2014, and Now What, a one-act comedy about apocalyptic thinking (with zombies, of course!), developed as part of a touring exchange with the New World Performance Lab in Akron, Ohio, in 2013.

Her play Take Care premiered at UW-Marathon County and was performed at The Last Frontier Theater Conference in Valdez, Alaska, in 2012. In 2011, Bullying: The Musical premiered at the Barrymore Theatre in Madison, Wisconsin. Help Wanted: The Search for Security, True Love or at Least a Decent Part-Time Job, for which she was awarded the 2010 Wisconsin Arts Board Fellowship, was performed in Madison and Stoughton, Wisconsin, in 2010. From 2008-2014 Mangia, Mangia!, a play about Madison’s historic Greenbush neighborhood, played to capacity audiences in Wisconsin. Dresden toured to Canada in February 2008 with her play Garden Party, which opened in 2005 in Madison, subsequently touring in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Washington, DC.

Her short play, “Just My Luck,” was part of the Break A Leg mini-ensemble theater festival at Madison’s Overture Center for the Arts in November, 2007. Tear Up the Front Page premiered in 2006 with performances in 2008-2009 in Wisconsin and at Purdue University in Indiana. In 2003, she premiered One Wall Missing in Madison and Changing Faces was produced at the Playwright’s Forum of the Looking Glass Theatre in New York City. Her monologue from Athena, Live! was published in Young Women’s Monologues from Contemporary Plays #2 from Meriwether Publishing Ltd.

Other plays include Without Pity, performed at the Krannert Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the AIDS Theater Festival in San Francisco, Soul Journey at the International Festival of Madness and Arts in Toronto, and Questionable Origins at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.

Dresden has served as a panelist and presenter at the Last Frontier Theater Festival since 2002 and worked as a professional actor in theater, radio and video. Examples include performances in her play, Source Code: Candide, in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, in 2008 and at Madison’s Overture Center in 2005, the Syncopated Syndromes tour to Door County, with talkbacks by Dr. Zorba Paster, and The Girls From Building B, performing in Ohio, northern Wisconsin, and twice touring to Miami Beach, Florida.

An experienced residency artist, Dresden co-developed a model residency combining creative writing, movement and visual arts. Her work as a judge and consultant with the Marcia Legere Student Play Festival at the University of Wisconsin-Madison began in 2013 and continues. In 2009 and 2007 she taught theater, playwriting and coached a college student theater group as part of residencies at the University of Wisconsin-Marathon County. She performed and taught as part of a National Performance Network residency at Alverno College in Milwaukee and served as a featured speaker at the Annual Meeting of the Georgia Association on Young Children in 2000.

She has served as a peer review panelist for the Wisconsin Arts Board and Dane Arts, and is a member of the Barrymore Theatre Board of Directors in Madison, Wisconsin, the Dramatists Guild, the Theatre Communications Group and the Network of Ensemble Theaters.

Dresden received BAs in Journalism and Comparative Literature and a Masters in Business in Arts Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A former reporter, her arts administration experience includes work as the acting editor for ACUCAA, now the Association for Performing Arts Presenters, and a three-year stint as a development director in community radio. She was a contributing writer for DramaBiz Magazine.