What is our Core Artist
Full Circle uses a unique model of inclusive leadership that embodies our company’s Equity, Inclusion, Diversity-based mission: All of Full Circle's major artistic decisions are made collaboratively by our Core Artist Leadership Group, comprised of three Core Artists and the two Co-Artistic Directors, together representing diverse racial, ethnic, gendered, and other identities and communities. These artistic decisions are made using a consensus process.
In addition, Core Artists are given priority as artistic leaders of Full Circle theater projects, and as theater artists in Full Circle’s programming (as directors, actors, writers, etc.).
The current members of our Core Artist Leadership Group are Lara Trujillo, Rick Shiomi, Martha B. Johnson, Stephanie Lein Walseth, and Siddeeqah Shabazz (2022-23 Resident Core Artist).
Many thanks to Ricardo Beaird for completing a One-Year Residency (2020-21)!
About Rick Shiomi
Rick Shiomi is an internationally recognized, award-winning Japanese Canadian playwright, stage director, artistic director and taiko artist. He’s the recipient of the McKnight Distinguished Artist Award, the Ivey Award for Lifetime Achievement, and the Sally Ordway Irvine Award for Vision, as well as other awards.
As playwright, director, artistic director, organizer, and visionary, Mr. Shiomi has had a major impact on the development of Asian American theatre regionally, nationally, and internationally. He was a founding member and the Artistic Director of Mu Performing Arts in Minnesota for 20 years, developing it into a major Asian American theater in the US. As a visionary he was a part of the development of Asian American theatre in San Francisco, Minnesota, and Philadelphia. And internationally he has had four productions of his plays in Tokyo, Japan.
As a stage director, Rick Shiomi has discovered remarkable new plays and re-imagined classics in the context of the Asian American experience. He has staged over forty productions for theater companies across North America. He directed the world premiere of Caught, by Christopher Chen, at InterAct Theatre for which he received a Barrymore Award Nomination for Outstanding Direction and the play received the Outstanding New Play Award. (Caught went on to many other productions across the country, winning several awards. Chen won a 2017 Obie Playwriting Award for Caught for its NYC production.) Shiomi’s re-imagining of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado, reset in Edwardian England, attracted considerable national interest and press coverage, with Asian American actors playing many English lead characters, wiping out all the problematic Asian stereotypes. He re-staged Caught for Full Circle Theater at the Guthrie Theater’s Dowling Studio in 2019 to sold-out houses and critical acclaim.
Rick Shiomi’s groundbreaking first play Yellow Fever, premiered at the Asian American Theater Company in 1982, winning awards and leading to Pan Asian Repertory Theatre’s New York production, which garnered rave reviews in the New York Times and New Yorker. Yellow Fever is now considered a mainstay of the Asian American playwriting canon. At present Rick Shiomi is the author of over twenty plays and remains very active as a playwright. He’s currently working on Fire in the New World, the third in his trilogy of plays (including Yellow Fever and Rosie’s Cafe) featuring Japanese Canadian detective Sam Shikaze grappling with post-World War II racism in the Powell Street area of Vancouver.
About Martha B. Johnson
Martha B. Johnson Martha B. Johnson began her Twin Cities career in the early 1980s with her co-founding/co-artistic directorship of 21st Street Players, a small, experimental theater company, where she collaborated on new works by poet Robert Bly and Japanese Noh master Akira Matsui. During this time she also taught acting for Guthrie Theater Outreach for several years. In 1988 she joined the theater faculty at Augsburg University where she taught classes, served as department chair, and directed over 30 productions, including area premieres of Anne Carson’s Antigonick and Nilo Cruz’s adaptation of Calderon’s Life is a Dream. She maintained a professional career while teaching, helping to co-found Theater Mu and serving there as core artistic group member for 21 years, collaborating with other theater artists as a director, dramaturg, consultant, and performer. And while at Mu she wrote Dipped in Love, directed by Jen Weir and produced by Mu at Mixed Blood Theater. Proud to be one of the co-founders of Full Circle Theater, she has served this company as co-artistic director, co-writer, dramaturg, assistant director (Theater: A Sacred Passage), and director (Glass & Lady M.) Outside of Full Circle, she has directed at New Native Theater, and her play Dipped in Love was co-produced by Full Circle and KinderSpace Theater in Tokyo (fall, 2019) in Japanese translation by Momoko Tanno. She holds a Ph.D. in theater from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she specialized in ancient Greek, traditional Japanese, and experimental European theater.
About Stephanie Lein Walseth
Stephanie Lein Walseth was one of the co-writers for Full Circle’s debut production of Theater: A Sacred Passage, one of the directors for 365 Days/365 Plays: A 2017 Remix, and the dramaturg for Under This Roof. As an actor, director, dramaturg, and stage manager, she has worked with Penumbra Theatre Company, Mu Performing Arts/Theater Mu, Sod House Theater, the Playwrights’ Center, Guthrie Theater, Theatre Unbound, Starting Gate Productions, Theater in the Round, Frank Theatre, the University of Minnesota, Native Voices at the Autry (CA), and Portland Stage Company (ME).
Stephanie is also a theater educator and administrator whose work in the Twin Cities has included tenures with Penumbra, Mu, Mixed Blood Theatre, Ubuntu Theater Project (Oakland, CA), and Augsburg University, where she is an adjunct faculty member. She received her Ph.D. in Theatre Historiography from the University of Minnesota, and her research interests include the cultural poetics and politics of Native American, African American, and Asian American theatre, as well as theatre historiography, cultural studies, performance ethnography, critical and feminist pedagogies, and theatre for social change. She has recently taken on a new role at the Perpich Center for Arts Education as the Theater Education Specialist with the Professional Development and Resources team. In this capacity, she works with K-12 and college/university theater educators and directors across the state.
About Lara Trujillo
Lara Trujillo is a vocalist, actor, educator and director, and has served as music director for productions ranging from light opera to classic musical theater. As a performer she has appeared with the Minnesota Opera; The Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company; Mu Performing Arts; Chanhassen Dinner Theater; Teatro del Pueblo; Theater Latte Da; Flying Foot Forum; Mill City Summer Opera; History Theater, most recently in River Road Boogie: The Augie Garcia Story; and the Ordway Center, most recently in In the Heights. Lara co-wrote Full Circle Theater Company’s initial production of Theater: A Sacred Passage. Lara co-directed Full Circle Theater Company’s staging of 365 Days/365 Plays, in directorial collaboration with Full Circle’s Artistic Leadership team, and directed Full Circle’s initial staged reading of Atacama in 2018.
About Siddeeqah Shabazz
Siddeeqah Shabazz (she/her) is originally from Oakland, CA with degrees in theatre from the University of La Verne and the Guildford School of Acting in England. She has been an actor for the last 20 years and has spent the last 10 years working in arts education. As a youth worker she started off as a teaching artist and youth coordinator at Pillsbury House + Theatre and moved on to work at the Guthrie Theater as an education manager. She has worked with youth from all backgrounds and in many capacities and she is passionate about continuing that work as the Executive Director of Kulture Klub Collaborative which is an arts organization working with youth experiencing homelessness. As an actor Siddeeqah has worked with Climb, Shadow Horse, Gadfly, Chain Reaction, Freshwater, and 20% Theaters, Exposed Brick Theatre, Savage Umbrella, Aniccha Arts, Intermedia Arts, Artistry, Underdog Theatre, Transatlantic Love Affair, Full Circle Theatre, and she makes up a ⅓ of the Drag Story Hour trio. She is dipping her toe into the directing and writing world and is a Doctor Who (2005), Harry Potter enthusiast, and fiber arts enthusiast!
About Ricardo Beaird
Ricardo completed Full Circle's 2020-21 Core Artist Residency. We invited him because he offered complex new perspectives, and because of Full Circle's core values to support emerging theater artists, to encourage intergenerational artistic collaboration, and to share the artistic vision and leadership of the company with artists of color.
Ricardo Beaird is a Twin Cities-based theatre practitioner and artist educator originally from Nashville, TN. His work is informed by the pursuit of healing through storytelling, the unfinished business of ghosts, and Beyoncé.
In addition to performing on the stages of Pangea World Theater, Park Square Theater, Red Eye Theater, and Ten Thousand Things Theater, Ricardo recently directed a production of Euripedes’ Medea, reimagined for Zoom.
As a playwright, he has also seen a number of his plays presented including Father Darling (an examination of queer sexuality and paternity) with Ambiance Theatre, SPOOK (a devised ritual highlighting the gifts and curses of black ancestry created in partnership with Suzanne Cross) with The Umbrella Collective, and Countdown (a dance party at the end of the world that explores weaponized nostalgia and collective anxiety, created with Megan Burns) through Red Eye Theatre’s New Works 4 Weeks Festival.
Currently, Ricardo is an I.D.E.A.L. (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access, and Leadership) Center Professional Development Specialist at the Science Museum of Minnesota, supporting the design and facilitator of in-person and virtual professional development programs.