Our unique programming would not be possible without our talented ensemble of teaching artists and administrative staff, all of whom bring a wealth of experience in performing arts and community service.
REHEARSAL FOR LIFE STAFF
NARCISSA CAMPIONProgram Manager: Freelance Players
Narcissa is the Program Manager and a music director for Freelance Players. She joined the organization in 1982 and served as its Managing Director from the late 1980’s until 2019. An accomplished composer and arranger, she has won two Massachusetts Arts Lottery grants for composition. Narcissa is a graduate of Wellesley College, where she was awarded the Lamb Prize for composition, and the Barrett Fellowship for the study of musical theater. She has composed over 25 musicals for young people.
IJ CHANTeaching Artist
IJ (she/her/hers) is a dance artist and educator born, raised and now based in Boston. She graduated from James Madison University with a B.A. in Dance and Journalism and has dedicated her life to training and performing intensively in multiple dance genres, for multiple local and international dance masters. In her own choreographic work, IJ is interested in intersecting and exploring the Asian-American narrative. She is committed to bringing quality dance instruction to low-income and minority youth populations within Boston. She also works as freelance graphic designer and visual artist, with a specific focus on creating marketing materials for other dance artists in the community.
KIPPY DEWEYFounding Director
As Founding Director, Kippy serves as artistic adviser to all programs of Urban Improv and oversees the Freelance Players. Kippy has taught and directed at the Charles Playhouse and the Next Movie Theatre and held artist residencies in schools throughout the metropolitan Boston area. Kippy is also the founding director of Creative Arts at Park, a multi-arts summer program for young people ages 8-15.
EMILY DUGGANMarketing & Development Associate
Emily (they/them/theirs) is interested in work — and play! — at the intersection of the performing/expressive arts and individual and community healing. Past experience includes the Puppet Showplace Theater, Perpetual Visitors Theatre Company, Mass Poetry, 826 Boston, Writers Without Margins, Deana’s Educational Theater, and Ghosts & Gravestones Boston. In their spare time, they create and perform slam poetry, experimental theater, and improv, sketch, and stand-up comedy.
COOPER EVELLOTeaching Artist & Freelance Players Music Director
Cooper joins the Urban Improv community with a background in music production, performance, arranging and composition. He is super excited to get involved in the re-writing, editing, recording, and performing of the music of Urban Improv. Cooper studied music production and composition at the Cambridge School of Weston, Hampshire College, and the Berklee School of Music. When Cooper isn’t working at Urban Improv he can be found music directing in JP and Dover, composing and recording music in his home studio for various freelance projects, and performing around New England.
JACKSON JIRARDAssociate Director: Urban Improv
New Orleans born and Pennsylvania raised, Jackson Jirard is now a Bostonian artist and educator. He received his BA in Psychology from Stanford University, his M.Ed. in Human Development & Psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and has been researching power, responsibility, and emotional well-being in artistic spaces for many years. He’s danced professionally with Ballet Austin in Texas, Sacramento Ballet in California, and Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre. He’s also choreographed for New Repertory Theatre and Columbia Pictures, and performed for several other local companies. Having grown up in Massachusetts, Jackson continues to excitedly re-familiarize himself with the New England scene. He is so grateful to Rehearsal for Life for bringing him on this team in pursuit of a wonderful, revolutionary vision for social-emotional learning.
CAMILO LINARESTeaching Artist
Camilo (he/him/él) is originally from Bogotá, Colombia and currently resides in the Washington, DC area, where he works as an actor, musician, teaching artist and photographer. He has worked with various theaters in DC and is a teaching artist with GALA’s Paso Nuevo youth program. Camilo received an Associate Arts degree in Theatre Performance from Montgomery College and is a graduate of the British American Drama Academy. He was a Dreamer, and none of this would be possible without DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and perseverance.
KEVIN MADISONTeaching Artist
Kevin has been an art nerd since he was a kid. His first memories center around painting, writing poetry, and playing the piano. These passions propelled him to earn Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in piano performance. Throughout his artistic career, he’s had the opportunity to perform his piano compositions at Carnegie Hall, have his music broadcasted globally, and to tour throughout the country. He has also written several libretti, derived from his poetry, for student operas in New Jersey and Boston. Side-by-side with his music career has been his love of theater. Kevin’s history with Rehearsal for Life has seen him improvising as both an actor and musician, and he is thrilled to be an official member of the ensemble.
LISA McCOLGANOffice Administrator
Lisa oversees the database and administrative functions for Rehearsal for Life. Lisa has a BA in Theatre from Saint Leo University and received her MFA in Creative Writing & Literature from Emerson College. A singer and percussionist, she performs with the B-52s tribute band Bikini Whale. She is also a lifelong horror movie nerd and co-hosts and engineers Stay Scary Podcast. Lisa is passionate about theatre and its ability to transform and save lives, and is honored to be a part of Rehearsal for Life.
MERLE PERKINSTeaching Artist
Merle is a founding member of Urban Improv, with the company since 1992. An Independent Reviewers of New England award winner, she’s played roles at theaters in New England and abroad. Credits include TV shows like HBO’s “Six Feet Under”, films and local commercials. The Governor’s office, the Mayor of Boston, and the Red Sox have requested Merle to sing at events. Merle trained at Boston University and Walnut Hill School of Performing Arts.
KRISTEN SHERMANManaging Director
Kristen oversees philanthropy, marketing, and administration for Rehearsal for Life. She has worked in museums, public parks, education, and nonprofit foundations in Boston and NYC. Kristen studied Art History at UMass Amherst and received her MBA from Endicott College. A daily dose of art continues to be a connective thread in both her professional and personal life. Kristen believes the arts are an important tool, and can serve as a lens to interpret current events.
HOLLY TARNOWERAssociate Education Director: Urban Improv
Holly holds a degree from Drew University in Theater and Dance with a concentration in Arts for Community Outreach. She fell in love with the arts through Freelance Players. Combining her passions for performance, education and social justice, working with Urban Improv is a dream come true. Holly teaches and performs with improv troupes throughout Boston. Holly received her Master’s in Applied Theater from Emerson College, where she teaches.
JAMIE ULLRICHSenior Program Manager: Urban Improv
Jamie is the Senior Program Manager for Urban Improv and has worked for the organization for over 10 years. Prior to joining Urban Improv, Jamie worked for several radio stations in Boston and Seattle. Originally from South Dakota, she earned a B.A. in Communication Studies from Seattle University and her M.A. in Media Arts from Emerson College. Jamie is gratified to be working for an organization that values artistic expression and social justice.
ELENA VELASCOExecutive & Artistic Director
Elena (she/her/hers) brings over 25 years of experience in theater creation, education, performance, and production. She most recently served as Artistic Director and Co-founder of Convergence Theatre, a home and collective for socially-conscious artists to spark dialogue between diverse communities through new theatrical structures, and as a Theatre Professor at Bowie State University. She has specific experience working with youth theatre education/production with theaters across Washington D.C. and Arlington, VA. Elena is inspired how Urban Improv uses a fusion of performance, social-emotional learning, and social justice to educate and empower Boston-area youth, and by the opportunities for student performance in the Freelance Players program.