Ella Turenne is an artist, changemaker and entrepreneur. She has performed in an array of theatrical works including Shades of Blue, Love Child and Come Back to Me, which was featured in New York’s Fresh Fruit Play Festival. She was also seen in the 2004 Downtown Urban Theatre Festival in the play Working Things Out. Her debut stage play which she wrote and starred in, Gray, was featured as part of the “Come Celebrate The Glory of Sugar Hill” Theatre Festival.
Ella’s work has been published in various anthologies including Letters from Young Activists: Today’s Rebels Speak Out, Check the Rhyme: An Anthology of Female Poets and Emcees (nominated for a 2007 NAACP Image Award), Woman’s Work: The Short Stories, and most recently in Turning Teaching Inside Out. She is the editor of a volume of visual art and poetry commemorating the Haitian revolution entitled revolution|revolisyon| révolution 1804-2004: An Artistic Commemoration of the Haitian Revolution.
Ella is also a filmmaker who’s work has been an official selection of various national film festivals including the Hollywood Black Film Festival and the Montréal International Haitian Film Festival, where her short film woodshed was nominated for Best Short Film. In response to the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Ella co-edited a volume of poetry on Haiti called For the Crowns of Your Heads; the funds raised were used to aid a library that was destroyed in Port-au-Prince. Ella has been a Leadership LA Fellow and an Arts for LA ACTIVATE Fellow. She is the founder of BlackWomyn Beautiful, a platform that celebrates the beauty and power of Black women. Ella has a TEDx talk on the value of higher education in prisons and speaks around the country on issues of mass incarceration as well as Haitian culture.
For more information about Ella, visit her at www.ellaturenne.com.
Kathryn Ervin is a professor in the Department of Theatre Arts at California State University San Bernardino. She served on the faculty at Michigan State University. She teaches courses in Directing, Acting, Creative Drama and African American Theatre and Film and Culture. She is a graduate of Wayne State University and Illinois State University.
She is active in numerous professional organizations including the California Educational Theatre Association, the Association for Theatre in Higher Education and she is a fellow of the California Arts Project. She is a recipient of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Outstanding Educator Award and an NAACP Pioneer Award. She is a consultant and past president for the Black Theatre Network, the national organization for artists, scholars and individuals with an interest in celebrating the beauty and complexity of black life onstage. In 2010 she received the Black Theatre Network Lifetime Membership Award recognizing her service to the organization.
As a director her representative productions include THE WIZ, Novio Boy, HAMLET: the artist formerly known as PRINCE of Denmark. She guest directed Intimate Apparel at UCR and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom at Illinois State. Her original production of the hip hop opera Keep Hedz Ringin by Rickerby Hinds was a finalist at the American College Theatre Festival in Utah and presented as part of the NYC Hip Hop Theatre Festival in 2002. She recently directed Once on this Island at UC San Bernadino’s main stage.