The Team



The Forum for Cultural Engagement (FCE) is a leading cultural diplomacy organization, which produces multi-faceted, interdisciplinary programming around the globe. Founded by singer-songwriter Mary McBride, FCE collaborates with embassies, corporations, academic institutions, cultural organizations, NGOs and artists to forge deeper understanding, ease conflict and lessen human isolation. In collaboration with multi-national diplomatic teams and a broad network of partner organizations across four continents, FCE has created bold and uniquely innovative programming since its inception in 2014, including such programs as The Home Tour, Shelter Sounds, Shop Talks, Flash Acts, and Frame Work. FCE’s ongoing, dynamic cultural programming brings together today’s most compelling artists and thinkers with social and cultural organizations to forge human connection and advance positive social change.
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Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director Molly Smith and Executive Producer Edgar Dobie, is a national center dedicated to American voices and artists. Arena Stage produces plays of all that is passionate, profound, deep and dangerous in the American spirit, and presents diverse and ground-breaking work from some of the best artists around the country. Arena Stage is committed to commissioning and developing new plays and impacting the lives of over 10,000 students annually through its work in community engagement. Now in its eighth decade, Arena Stage serves a diverse annual audience of more than 300,000. Arena Stage’s pioneering spirit is evident in several significant achievements: it was one of the first American theaters to convert to not-for-profit status; it was the first regional theater to have a production taken to Broadway; it was the first theater outside New York to win a Tony Award in 1976; and, in 1973, Arena Stage was the first American theater to tour the Soviet Union.
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The Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown University, co-founded by Derek Goldman and Ambassador Cynthia Schneider, harnesses the power of performance to humanize global politics. Since 2012, The Lab has created and presented innovative work from around the world that is at the intersection of politics and performance. Among the Lab’s many initiatives and projects are CrossCurrents, a biennial festival that in 2019 brought together hundreds of artists from more than forty countries, a Global Fellows Program, and numerous original productions and convenings. The Lab’s distinctive approach engages artists, policymakers, and wider audiences in forums that cast critical issues in new light. As the only signature joint initiative between the School of Foreign Service and Georgetown College, The Lab is passionate about helping to train the next generation of innovators to use their artistry and voices to shape new understandings and to humanize others in pursuit of a better, more just world.
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The Center for Modern Drama (CMD), based in Yekaterinburg, was founded in 2009 by playwright and teacher Nikolay Kolyada. The Center has been heralded for its commitment to experimentation in theater and for encouraging a censorship-free environment for artists in all stages of their careers to develop their craft. CMD is an ongoing repertory theater, presenting new works in coordination with writing and acting schools in the Ural region of Russia and Northwestern Kazakhstan.


The Lubimovka Young Russian Playwrights Festival is a nonprofit festival dedicated to discovering challenging new work by emerging and established playwrights from Russia and former Soviet republics. Widely regarded as one of the leading playwriting events in the Russian speaking world, the eight-day festival, held annually in Moscow in early September, features staged readings, master classes and workshops. Since 2014 Lubimovka has participated in an annual translation exchange program with the Lark Theater lab in New York City.



ViDCo is a collection of designers innovating new ways to tell stories and create communities online. Using virtual platforms, ViDCo generates entirely live performances with heightened design elements that bridges Theatre, TV, and cinema tricks into a new online hybrid form. We strategize to use the strongest elements of every discipline to inspire the artistic community to use their tools while we provide them the platforms to tell their stories.

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Team Bios

The Forum for Cultural Engagement (FCE)

Mary McBride (Executive Director and Founder, Forum for Cultural Engagement) is a singer-songwriter and the Founder and Executive Director of The Forum for Cultural Engagement (FCE), a leading cultural diplomacy organization, which produces multi- faceted, interdisciplinary programming around the globe. In 2010, Mary founded The Home Tour, which uses live music to inspire and connect people, and engage the global community. In partnership with more than 100 social service organizations worldwide, The Home Tour brings live concerts to long term health care centers, veteran facilities, homeless shelters, supported-housing, mental health facilities, and prisons. As a Cultural Envoy for the U.S. Department of State, Mary has performed with her five-piece band in more than 30 countries. Her work as a musician and humanitarian has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, and in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.
Adam Thorburn (Managing Director, Forum for Cultural Engagement) has over twenty years’ experience as an administrative leader for global arts projects, working with performance artists and leading producing organizations. Most recently Adam served as Business Manager for Pomegranate Arts, an independent production company based in New York dedicated to the development of international performing-arts projects. He has worked closely with composer Philip Glass, playwright and performer Taylor Mac, and choreographer Lucinda Childs among others. Adam is also an award-winning playwright and free-lance writer. He received his MFA in Theater from Sarah Lawrence College. He was commissioned by the Citizen’s Housing and Planning Council to create the play Stuyvesant Town: This Is Your Home. His prize-winning play November Spawned A Monster is available through the TADA! Youth Theater script catalogue. Adam’s critical essays have appeared in Gay Community News, The Humanist, and Polari Magazine.

Arena Stage

Molly Smith has been a leader in new play development for over 30 years. She has been Artistic Director of Arena Stage since 1998. Her most recent directing credits at Arena include Celia and Fidel and Newsies. Her directorial work has also been seen around the country and Canada, including on Broadway (2014, The Velocity of Autumn), and Perseverance Theater in Juneau, Alaska, which she founded and ran from 1979-1998 She is a great champion of new work. She led the creation of Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater as a national center for American artists.
Edgar Dobie As Executive Producer of Arena Stage, Edgar is responsible for leading administration/producing programming, including budgeting, revenue delivery, operations, community relations, industry relations (public and commercial) and serves on the Board of Trustees. Born in Vernon, British Columbia, he is one of five brothers raised by Edgar (Senior), a mechanic and small businessman, and Connie, a telephone operator and union organizer. Previously Edgar worked with Trinity Repertory Company, Toronto’s Canadian Stage Company, National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Vancouver’s New Play Centre. He was president of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Company, North American executive producer of Riverdream and managing producer of the Tony Awards.
Seema Sueko serves as Deputy Artistic Director of Arena Stage, where she drives the season-planning process, identifies ways to optimize the impact of artistic programming, directs plays, and oversees new play development among other programs. She recently created the Theater Artists Marketplace and brought playwrights and policy leaders together at the Power Play Summit. More information can be found at
Teresa Sapien joined Arena Stage's artistic staff in 2019 as Casting Director/Line Producer after seven seasons at La Jolla Playhouse, most recently as Associate Producer. At the Playhouse she helped guide over fifty productions and was the curator and producer of the 2019 Without Walls Festival of site-based and immersive theater which hosted over twenty international and American companies. As the co-producer of the annual DNA New Work Series, she supported the development of over thirty-eight new plays and musicals. She was the Playhouse’s Local Casting Director for five seasons. Sapien is a graduate of the University of Evansville’s Theatre Department.
Jocelyn Clarke is currently Senior Dramaturg at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. He was Theatre Adviser to the Arts Council of Ireland for ten years. He has taught dramaturgy at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Columbia University and Trinity College Dublin. He was the Commissioning and Literary Manager of the Abbey Theatre for four years, and lead theater critic with The Sunday Tribune for nine years. He has written plays for Anne Bogart and the SITI Company — including Bob, Room, and Trojan Women. He has just finished with Katori Hall on P-Valley, her new TV series for Starz.
Renée M. Littleton has enjoyed a varied career in arts management connecting audiences with meaningful and quality performances and events through comprehensive communications strategies.  She has had the opportunity to work at and with organizations including African Continuum Theater Company, Atlas Performing Arts Center, Tribute Productions, Washington National Opera, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (as a Kennedy Center Fellow), and LORD Cultural Resources. Currently, as the Senior Director of Marketing and Communications at Arena Stage, she focuses on marketing strategies, audience development, sustainability and establishing long-lasting relationships in the community.
Other Arena Stage Staff Credits: Alison Irvin, Leadership Office Manager Brieahn J. DeMeo, Digital Communication Manager Khady Kamara, Managing Director

The Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown University

Derek Goldman (Director, Laboratory for Global Perf and Politics; Chair Georgetown Dept of Performing Arts) is Professor and Director of Georgetown’s Theater & Performance Studies Program and co-Founding Director of the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics, the first signature joint initiative of the School of Foreign Service and Georgetown College, founded in 2012 with a mission "to harness the power of performance to humanize global politics.” He is an award-winning international stage director, producer, festival director, playwright, adapter, developer of new work, teacher, and published scholar, whose artistic work has been seen around the country, Off-Broadway and at numerous major regional theaters, as well as internationally. He is Vice-President of the International Theatre Institute, and Founding Director of Unesco's Network of Higher Education in the Performing Arts.
Cynthia Schneider, Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown, teaches, publishes, and organizes initiatives in diplomacy and culture. She co-directs the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown, as well as the Los Angeles-based MOST Resource (Muslims on Screen and Television). Additionally, she co-directs the Mali based Timbuktu Renaissance. Dr. Schneider speaks and publishes on topic related to arts, culture, and media and international affairs. Professor Schneider was a member of Georgetown’s art history faculty from 1984-2005, and published on Rembrandt and seventeenth century Dutch art. From 1998-2001 she served as U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands, and led initiatives in cultural diplomacy, biotechnology, cyber security, and military affairs.
Laura Mertens joined Georgetown University’s Department of Performing Arts as Public Relations and Special Events Manager in 2009. Prior to that, she served as Communications Coordinator for the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland, College Park and as Communications Director for the Missouri Symphony Society. She graduated summa cum laude with degrees in English and in Language Arts Education from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Vanessa Gilbert (Community Engagement & Development Manager) is a creative producer dedicated to radical hospitality and exchange of all kinds. Before joining Georgetown's Theater & Performance Studies Program in 2018, she served as the Executive Artistic Director of Perishable Theatre, founded the Blood from a Turnip puppetry salon, and convened Magdalena USA, the only US based festival of the Magdalena Project for Women in Contemporary Theatre hosting 35 artists from 12 countries for a week of workshops, panels, and performances in Providence RI.
Margaret Gleason is a junior at Georgetown University, majoring in Theater & Performance Studies with minors in Music and Justice & Peace Studies. She comes to the Lab for the first time as an Associate Producer on the Flash Acts festival, having previously worked in the Department of Performing Arts as Torgus in a staged reading of Torgus and Snow by Christine Evans and as a Production Associate to director and adapter Maya Roth on The Rover (ReFrame). She is passionate about intercultural exchange in the arts and has enjoyed further pursuing this work through Flash Acts.
Alyssa Kardos is in her fourth year of her undergraduate studies at Georgetown University, studying Global Health with a minor in Theology in the School of Nursing and Health Studies. In the summer of 2019 she received funding from Georgetown’s Social Innovation and Public Service Fund to workshop social justice theatre in high schools in Soweto, South Africa. This experience then led her to the Lab where she now works as an Administrative Assistant. Alyssa is most excited to combine her interests in global health, politics, and performance in upcoming Lab projects.


JARED MEZZOCCHI (Creative Director of Virtual Media Design) received his M.F.A. in performance and interactive media arts at Brooklyn College. He is currently on faculty at University of Maryland, College Park, where he leads the projection design track in the M.F.A. design program. He is a resident artist at Wooly Mammoth Theater Company in DC and has directed and designed at theaters across the U.S. and in Europe, including designing for Big Art Group, The Builders Association, Rob Roth, 3-Legged Dog, Hearts Center, and UTC #61. He made his Off-Broadway debut at Manhattan Theatre Club with his projection design in Vietgone, written by Qui Nguyen and directed by May Adrales. In 2012, he received the prestigious Princess Grace Award, the first projection designer to be honored with this national theater award. In 2017, he received the first Lucille Lortel Award for the category of Outstanding Projection Design (Vietgone, Manhattan Theater Club). In addition to the Lucille Lortel, he received a 2017 Obie Award and nominations for an Outer Critics Circle Award and a Drama Desk Award. In Spring 2017, he was accepted as a fellow to the Macdowell Colony. Most recently, he wrote and directed an adaptation of Oliver Jeffers' book How To Catch a Star at the John F. Kennedy Performing Arts Center. He grew up in New Hampshire, where he returns to every summer as a producing artistic director of Andy's Summer Playhouse, an innovative children's theater producing original work by professional artists from across the country.
Andrés Poch (he/him) is a Colombian theatre artist and designer based in Maryland. Recently, Andrés served as Head of Public Relations for Andy’s Summer Playhouse. Assistant media design credits: Russian Troll Farm: A Workplace Comedy (TheatreSquared), Labor Day, A Celebration of American Workers (Biden Campaign), Social Mirror (ASP), and Thank you for Listening (ASP). Scenic design credits include The Flick (Crites Hall), Circle Mirror Transformation (Crites Hall), and The Mad Mad Scientist (13th Street Repertory Theater). He loves collaborating with people from all backgrounds to tell stories that change the way people look at life, or that just make them smile for a while.
Tori Schuchmann (she/her) is a Connecticut-based theatre artist. Most recently, Tori served as Production Manager at Andy’s Summer Playhouse, and assisted with media design for: Russian Troll Farm: A Workplace Comedy (TheatreSquared), and Labor Day, A Celebration of American Workers (Biden Campaign). Additional work includes: Stage Manager at The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts at Fairfield University, and Festival Services & Company Manager at Central City Opera in Central City, Colorado. Tori finds great joy in being surrounded by creative, forward-thinking individuals who embrace the journey and empower one another to believe in the unbelievable.
Taylor Verrett (she/her) is a Maryland based theatre artist and designer. She loves working in synergetic environments with open minded and excited people that expand past the traditional ways of thinking. Projection Design Credits: She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms (UMD); Assistant Media Design Credits: Russian Troll Farm: A Workplace Comedy (TheatreSquared), Labor Day, A Celebration of American Workers (Biden Campaign); Assistant Projection Design Credits:The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (Round House), The Visit (UMD), Hootie and The Blowfish Group Therapy Tour.
Kiana Vincenty (she/her) is a Latina theatre artist and designer based in Maryland. Finding happiness in the little things, Kiana loves to collaborate with creative and innovate individuals who enjoy the process as much as the product just like she does. Assistant media design credits: Russian Troll Farm: A Workplace Comedy (TheatreSquared), Labor Day, A Celebration of American Workers (Biden Campaign);  Selected professional costume design credits: Betrayal (4615 Theatre),Escape from Peligro Island (Imagination Stage), Lincolnesque (Keegan Theatre); Selected educational costume design credits: She Kills Monsters:Virtual Realms (UMD),  The Visit (UMD),Citizen: An American Lyric.

Translation Team

Dmitry Pobedash (Head Translator) is an Associate Professor at the Ural Federal University in Yekaterinburg, Russia, where he teaches English and History of Russian-American Relations. Dmitry authored over 50 articles and monograph chapters on international relations that were published in Russian, English, and Ukrainian. He taught at universities in Serbia, Thailand, the Czech Republic, and in the USA. As a freelancer, Dmitry has provided consecutive and simultaneous interpreting at official visits and conferences in Russia, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, Finland, Norway, Republic of South Africa, India, Qatar, Latvia, Lithuania, Georgia, Armenia, and Sweden.
Anna Sosnovskaya (Head Translator) is a Russian interpreter and translator with 30 years of professional experience. Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1998 she moved to Los Angeles, where she has resided ever since. Anna has worked on numerous projects that involved interpretation and/or translation from English into Russian and vice versa. Her clients included Open World,  Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, BBC News, CBS Studios, Trigger Street Productions, New York Film Academy, Getty Conservation Institute, Rosetta Stone, Mariinsky and Bolshoi Theaters, Theater Movement Bazaar, and many others. Anna translated six books that have been published in the United States and Russia.  
Dmitry Bezuglov is a Yekaterinburg-based translator, journalist, and curator of public programs at Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art. He holds a MA degree in Philosophy (Ural Federal University, 2013); he studied at the Fundamental Sociology program at the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences (2015-...). In 2017, as part of the Arkady Dragomoshchenko Prize, an exhibition of his project "Golos Stikh (Voice Fades // Voice, Verse)" was held in St. Petersburg. His translation of the graphic novel "Wilson" by Daniel Clowes was long-listed for the "Master" award. He penned op-eds and pieces for Strelka Magazine, "Gorky," Afisha, ArtGuide, AroundArt, K-R-A-P-I-V-A, The Village.
Alexandra Fyodorova is a freelance translator. She presently works and lives in Moscow. She graduated from the Sociology Faculty of Moscow State University in 2002. Ten years later she received her second higher education degree, specializing as a translator from English as her major language (and Spanish as her minor). She initially worked for various Russian and international companies in marketing where she adapted and translated Russian-language material into English for a number of Russian and international companies, also conducting correspondence and negotiations as well as making presentation in English. Then she became a full-time translator focusing on cultural and artistic texts. She has worked on texts in a variety of fields and has translated film subtitles and scenarios of documentary and feature films, journalism and essays on social and political subjects, art catalogs.
Jessica Mroz is a Russian-to-English translator who is lucky enough to live and work in one of the world's most beautiful cities -- Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Julia Trubikhina (PhD, New York University) teaches at Hunter College, CUNY, and at Columbia University/Barnard College. Her book The Translator’s Doubts: Vladimir Nabokov and the Ambiguity of Translation received the Samuel Schuman Prize in Nabokov Studies in 2016 and, with support by Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, was selected for the series "Reissuing and Promoting Slavic Studies Titles as Free EBooks." Among Julia’s recent and forthcoming projects: the translated and edited volume of the Russian poet Vladimir Aristov, translations of a seminal contemporary Russian woman writer Elena Shvarts and of poetry in Efim Etkind’s memoir The Barcelona Prose.
Giuliano Vivaldi is a translator, blogger and writer on cultural issues mostly focused on Russia. Born and raised in the United Kingdom, he has lived much of his adult life in Italy, Spain and, for much of the past two decades, Russia. He has studied at Trieste’s Modern School of Languages for Translators and Interpreters (Italy), and at the Universities of Sussex (UK) and Salamanca (Spain). He has translated many film scripts, subtitles for films and a large range of essays and scholarly texts for various journals and reviews and is now working as translator for the V-A-C Foundation (a foundation dedicated to the international presentation, production and development of Russian contemporary art based in Moscow). He is completing book length translations of works by the Soviet philosopher Evald Ilyenkov and the contemporary Russian political thinker Ilya Budraitskis, as well as translating (jointly with Tom Rowley) the writings of the murdered anti-fascist lawyer, Stanislav Markelov. His own writings on film and philosophy have appeared in Senses of Cinema, Bright Lights Film Journal, Calvert Journal, Desist Film, East European Film Bulletin, Tribune, Stasis, Historical Materialism. Occasional articles of his have appeared in Russian (Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie) and Italian (Nazione Indiana) publications. He has curated film retrospectives and events on the Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini in Russia and the UK. He is also participating in the collective translation project of Alexandra Petrova’s award-winning novel Appendix. He writes his own blogs on Russian and Soviet film and on general cultural and political issues.
Oxana Yakimenko is a professional translator and interpreter based in Saint Petersburg, Russia (languages: Russian, English, Hungarian). Education: St. Petersburg State University, post-graduate course in Germanic Languages. Works as a free-lance conference and court interpreter, translator with major agencies, museums, research venues; holds academic jobs (Herzen University (SCIT), St. Petersburg State University, HSE). Translates books (30+ titles), writes articles for academic journals and literary magazines. For the past 20 years Oxana have worked in theaters as interpreter-on-set for international productions, translated subtitles for theater festivals, interpreted on stage; translated film scripts from English and Hungarian into Russian, published three volumes of contemporary Hungarian drama as a translator and editor.

Production Managers

Emily Brown is a NYC based stage manager. Some of her previous projects include Sleep No More by Punchdrunk, Really, We’re Gonna Die, An Octoroon, and Dry Land with Company One Theatre, Far Away with Harvard TDM, and Eryc Taylor Dance’s 2017 season. She has also worked as a member of the run crew team on various Juilliard productions. This is her first virtual project! She would like to thank everyone involved in these shows for making art happen during covid-19.
Emily Hayes was the Assistant Stage Manager for the Broadway Revival of Company when the COVID shutdown began. Other Broadway credits include: Beetlejuice, Angels in America (2017 revival), Groundhog Day, Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, and Hands on a Hardbody. Off-Broadway: Brigadoon (NY City Center Encores), The Last Match (Roundabout), Too Much Too Much Too Many (Roundabout), The Train Driver (Signature Theatre), Antony and Cleopatra (The Public), and Trojan Women: After Euripides (SITI Company). Emily has also worked at Kansas City Rep and The La Jolla Playhouse, and on various corporate events and galas internationally.
Brianna Rafidi is a freelance stage and production manager based in New York City. Their most recent stage management work on Zoom has included: Juilliard Drama’s Actor Presentations (Group 49), Pride Plays’ Men from the Boys, and two musicals in development (Gorgeous Entertainment, Lively McCabe Entertainment). They are also the Production Stage Manager for Juilliard’s Center for Innovation in the Arts. Prior to moving to New York City, Rafidi studied Linguistics and Anthropology at Arizona State University, taught ESL in Italy, and freelanced in Phoenix, Arizona’s theatre and live event scene. @rafidi0913
Cindy Wade is an alum of Plymouth State University (’16) and The Juilliard School Professional Apprenticeship Program (’19-’20), focusing in stage management. They are a freelance stage and production manager in New York City. Their most recent credits include: Black Snow and Bright Half Life (The Juilliard School); Annie Jr. (West Side YMCA); Taming of the Shrew, Mothers & Sons, Love’s Labor’s Lost, and A Midsummer’s Night Dream (Shakespeare & Company). They are excited to be a part of, and see how this beautiful cultural exchange comes to life.