About the Company
The Red Ladder company is made up of a troupe of multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, professional actors who are committed to serving the community in positive ways through the art form of theatre. These talented individuals, who possess a wealth of experience and training, are uniquely suited to serve the broadly diverse spectrum of participants within our community, nurturing life-skills critical to the healthy development of youth, and fostering life-long learning by allowing its participants to re-ignite their creativity.
By working with the professional actors in the company, participants are encouraged to explore the issues that affect their daily lives. By applying the tools and techniques of improvisational theatre, participants develop the ability to make positive choices, solve problems creatively, focus on tasks, and work collaboratively. Through their workshops, Red Ladder helps participants to understand that by employing their creativity and believing in their own imaginations, they have the power to accomplish anything.
Red Ladder engages with the community in a number of ways. If you are interested in Red Ladder workshops, partnerships, or just connecting with us, please contact us here. We'd love to meet you.
Karen Altree Piemme
KAREN ALTREE PIEMME is an accomplished director, actor, dramaturg, workshop facilitator and acting instructor, specializing in social justice theatre and community access to the arts. Ms. Piemme is the Director of the Red Ladder Theatre Company, a nationally-acclaimed, award-winning company, which empowers marginalized populations in our community by helping them develop positive life-skills through the art form of theatre. Ms. Piemme spent 21 years with San Jose Repertory Theatre, where she was the Director of Outreach and Resident Dramaturg. Prior to that, she spent five years at Arena Stage with the Living Stage Theatre Company, Arena’s groundbreaking community outreach company. As a theatre professional, Ms. Piemme has directed productions for both youth and adults, taught classes and conducted workshops locally, nationally and internationally for nearly thirty years. As a teaching artist, Ms. Piemme has held residencies through Young Audiences of Northern California, and TheatreWorks’ Young Playwrights Project. She has conducted professional development training at the Marion Cilker Conference on Arts and Education, Montalvo Arts Center’s Arts in Your Classroom Conference, CCSESA’s Creativity at the Core Summer Institute, and will be presenting at the One Theatre World Conference in 2017. She also serves as the Associate Director for 2nd Stages at Dragon Productions Theatre Company, and the Artistic Associate for Playwrights Foundation where she produces the annual Bay Area Playwrights Festival. She teaches in the Department of Television, Radio, Film and Theatre at San Jose State University where she started an improv troupe to train the next generation of teaching artists, and serves on the Theatre Services Committee (the advisory council) for Theatre Bay Area. Ms. Piemme is the recipient of the 2011 Champion of Arts Education Award, awarded by the Mayor/City of San Jose and the San Jose Arts Commission, and in 2012 she was named one of the 35 Faces of Theatre Bay Area.
TASI ALABASTRO is an actor, filmmaker, and content creator on YouTube and Twitch. His hobby includes photography, bookstore diving, painting and sculpting. Mr. Alabastro is a proud member of Red Ladder Theatre Company where he delights in sharing the art of Theatre with children who would otherwise not have the opportunity to experience it. As part of Red Ladder, he also works with inmates as part of California's Arts-in-Corrections. His work with the Arts-in-Corrections program in Salinas Valley State Prison has allowed inmates to re-engage their creativity and imagination through carefully selected theatre and improv activities.
JENNY CITKOWICZ has had a passion for music and theatrical arts since early childhood. She grew up participating in various children's musical theater programs and has trained in both classical and theatrical voice technique, as well as learning ballet, tap, and jazz dance. Her favorite past roles include Penny in “honk”, Lily St. Regis in “Annie”, and Lina Lamont in “Singing In The Rain”. Her greatest passions are music and teaching young children. Jenny has studied early childhood development and has enjoyed being a preschool teacher, running a children’s movement and music class, and being a home daycare owner in past years. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and going on adventures with her family, painting, teaching herself to play different instruments such as ukulele, guitar, and piano, singing with her a capella group, and volunteering for the community by performing for elderly and disabled veterans. Most recently, she has loved being able to focus most of her time on raising her three children and working part time with Red Ladder at building kidz schools, where she teaches music and integrated arts classes to the preschoolers. She is currently rehearsing for the upcoming performance of a melodrama with “Showtime”, called “Wills, Thrills, and Spills”, or “If there’s a Will, There’s a Way”. She would like to thank Karen and Red Ladder Theater for welcoming her, and is looking forward to the future theatrical adventures to come!
MELISSA MARTINEZ has worked as a performer, choreographer, and teaching artist in the Bay Area for the last 4 years. She received her BFA in acting from The university of the Arts in Philadelphia. She just finished assistant directing/choreographing Beauty and the Beast at Berkeley playhouse where she is on the teaching faculty. Melissa also teaches theater to second-fifth graders with the Quinan Street Project in Pinole. Her favorite roles include Diana Morales from A Chorus Line with Solano College Theater and Hermia from Midsummer, Jon Tracy’s original adaptation of A Midsummer Nights Dream with Solano Repertory Company.
OLUCHI NWOKOCHA has been a part of the Red Ladder Theatre Company on and off for the past six years. Oluchi first joined the company while working at the San Jose Repertory Theatre as an Outreach and Education Associate under the guidance of Karen Altree Piemme. She created and improvised with children and learned the business aspect of running a theatre company. Oluchi left Red Ladder when she went off to the graduate school to receive her MFA in Acting from the University of Florida. Upon completing graduate school Oluchi taught with the New York Film Academy in Orlando, Florida at the summer Disney program. She then moved to New York City to pursue her career in theatre. While there Oluchi worked for Second Stage Theatre as an Assistant House Manager. Upon returning home to California Oluchi was last seen in We are Proud to Present at San Jose Stage. Currently, Oluchi works with Karen and Red Ladder at the Salinas Valley State Prison in a weekly improv workshop with the inmates.
Maurice André San-Chez
MAURICE ANDRÉ SAN-CHEZ is a new addition to the Red Ladder Theatre Company and the Arts in Corrections program. He has earned a B.F.A. in Music Theatre from the University of Texas El Paso. He is a teaching artist with Bay Area Children’s Theatre (BACT) in several of their educational programs. Andre has been working with youth since 2008 in many capacities some of which are assistant directing, vocal coaching, inspiring, and nurturing children’s love for the Arts. He is also a company member with the Bonfire Makers a Theatre collective that creates political performance by building evocative pieces gathered from community stories and ensemble collaboration that embraces theatre as a people’s tool for resistance. The Disney Musicals in Schools Program through BACT, alongside my work with The Bonfire Makers, and Red Ladder has inspired me to go back to school to get my teaching credential and Masters in Education to continue shaping, inspiring, and empowering young minds for a brighter future!
KAYLAMAY SUAREZ is a Bay Area based teaching artist for Red Ladder Theatre Company. She is an actor, singer, dancer, and sometimes model. Kaylamay attended the Pacific Conservatory Theater where she received her acting training and East Bay Arts where she cultivated her love for many dance styles including hip hop, ballroom, ballet, jazz, and modern to name a few.
MARYSSA WANLASS is a Bay Area director, union actor, and teaching artist. Her directing work has been showcased with The Free Theater (Romeo and Juliet), ShotzSF, and San Francisco Shakespeare Festival. As an actor she has appeared with San Francisco Shakespeare Festival (Winter's Tale, Macbeth), Livermore Shakespeare Festival (As You Like It, Hamlet, Merry Wives of Windsor), San Jose Stage (Persuasion), Pear Avenue Theater (Betrayal), San Jose Repertory Theatre (Crime and Punishment), Center REPertory Company (Witness for the Prosecution, Enchanted April), Theatre Rhinoceros (To Sleep and Dream, All About Eve). Some of Wanlass' teaching artist highlights include working with at-risk young adults through SF Shakes' Midnight Shakespeare program, empowering girls through the Girls Leadership Institute, and bringing improvisational theatre skills to maximum security inmates through Red Ladder Theater. Learn more: www.maryssa-wanlass.com.