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Stargate Staff

DAVID SHOOKHOFF, Director of Education

As Education Director of Manhattan Theatre Club since 1988, David Shookhoff has designed and implemented a multi-faceted program that annually serves 3,000 teenagers and adults. A leader in the field of arts education and a teaching artist for forty years, Mr. Shookhoff was the founding chair of the New York City Arts in Education Roundtable, serves on the Board of Directors of the Center for Arts Education, has chaired the Arts-in-Education Panel of the New York State Council on the Arts, and has been a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts. He has been an educational consultant to the Lincoln Center Institute, the Theatre Development Fund and many other arts organization in New York and around the country. He has directed numerous theatre and opera productions in New York City and nationwide and has taught acting, directing and arts education courses at a variety of colleges and universities, including the University of Pennsylvania, Sarah Lawrence, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia Teachers College, City College of New York and the Mannes School of Music. He holds a BA from Stanford University and an MFA in Directing from the Yale School of Drama.

JUDY TATE, Founding Artistic Director (Summer 2013, 2014, 2015)

Judy Tate is a four-time Emmy Award winning writer and WGA award recipient, having written scripts and story for Another World, As the World Turns and Days of Our Lives. She was a Manhattan Theatre Club Playwriting Fellow, winner of the New Professional Theatre’s Playwriting award, member of Playwrights Horizons’ Black Ink, the Women’s Project and Ensemble Studio Theatre. Her plays have been developed, presented and produced by numerous companies, including the Lark Theatre, Ensemble Studio Theatre and Playwrights Horizons. She’s a co-founder and Producing Artistic Director of The American Slavery Project and conceived their first original work, Unheard Voices, a collectively written monologue piece honoring the anonymous men, women and children slaves, indentured servants and free people who lived in colonial New York and are buried in the African Burial Ground in Lower Manhattan. A professional actor, Judy has worked in major professional theatres throughout the United States and in Southern Africa. She has served as a teaching artist for Manhattan Theatre Club, TDF, The American Slavery Project, International Theatre and Literacy Project, City Lights and Lincoln Center Institute among others and has taught kids in schools, shelters, prisons, townships and from reservations. An alumna of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts conservatory program, she studied with Stella Adler, was an honors graduate receiving the Founder’s Day Award, Seidman Award and Beinecke Award for excellence in acting and academia.

STEPHEN DIMENNA, Co-Artistic Director (Summer 2013, 2014, 2015)

An Off-Broadway and regional theatre director and educator, Stephen was the artistic director of the MCC Theater Youth Company for 11 years. He is a faculty member of the Educational Theatre Program at NYU, a senior teaching artist for Theatre Development Fund and City Center, and a consultant for The New York City Department of Education for whom he co-authored the K-12 Theatre Blueprint. He is the co-founder of The International Theatre and Literacy Project which sponsors theatre workshops for children living in poverty throughout Africa and India. He recently directed Morris Panych’s Vigil at the DR2 Theatre in New York and previously at The Westport Playhouse. In New York, he has also directed for Rattlestick Playwright’s Theatre, HB Playwrights Foundation, Ensemble Studio Theatre and the Mint Theatre among others. Regionally, he has directed at The Guthrie Theater, The Pillsbury House Theatre, Eye of the Storm Theatre and the Cricket Theatre among many others. He is a member of The American Alliance for Theatre and Education and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.

EVAN ELKIN, Co-Founder

Evan Elkin is a nationally respected innovator and leader in the field of juvenile justice, child welfare reform, mental health and substance abuse treatment, and youth development. Evan originally trained as a psychologist at New York University and as a researcher at the New York Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University’s Department of Child Psychiatry. His work has been at the intersection of public health and social justice, focusing on the nation’s most vulnerable populations. Most recently Evan served as the Director of the Department of Planning and Government Innovation for the Vera Institute of Justice and was a member of the senior management team. He also oversaw Vera’s work in the area of Child Welfare and Justice and served as Project Director for two successful demonstration projects. For more than a decade, Evan has been a technical advisor in the government and non-profit sectors on policy strategy, program development, evaluation and training and was the treatment model developer for the Vera Institute’s acclaimed Adolescent Portable Therapy program. He has served as a consultant in the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Evan is currently the National Executive Director of Reclaiming Futures, an organizations that promotes new standards of care and opportunities in juvenile justice.

PAUL GUTKOWSKI, Company Manager (Summer 2015)

Paul Gutkowski is a Brooklyn based licensed clinical social worker, actor, teaching artist, and social justice advocate. Paul has spent 15 years working in the adult and juvenile justice systems in New York City and California, including 8 years as the Associate Executive Director of Getting Out and Staying Out, Inc., an East Harlem based reentry program for 16-24 year old justice involved young men.  He received his MSW from Columbia University School of Social Work in 2005. Paul received theatrical and improvisational training at Stella Adler Acting Studio and The Peoples Improv Theater, respectively. He performs regularly at The Peoples Improv Theater as a member of the ensemble cast. Paul joined Stargate Theatre as the Company Manger in 2015.

ELISE SANTORA (HERNANDEZ), Choreographer (Summer 2013, 2014, 2015)

Elise Santora (Hernandez) made her professional debut as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, directed by renowned actor/director Jose Ferrér, at the Tapia Theatre in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She toured the world as a background vocalist and dancer with such legendary acts as David Bowie and Julio Iglesias, as a singer/dancer for Danny Kaye’s UNICEF Africa tour, and was one of the first Latina dancers on the TV dance show, Soul Train.  Broadway credits include: Paul Simon’s The Capeman starring Ruben Blades and Marc Anthony; Adventures of Tom Sawyer directed by Scott Ellis; and, In The Heights starring Lin-Manuel Miranda. She also starred as Abuela Claudia in the 1st National US/Japan/PR tour of In The Heights.  National Companies include A Chorus Line (Morales) starring Bebe Neuwirth and Man of La Mancha (Aldonza U/S) starring John Cullum. Most recently, Elise was a cast member of the new Broadway-bound musical Gotta Dance directed by Jerry Mitchell. Elise is a grant recipient of the Ford Foundation for her one-woman piece A Woman and her Cigar. In addition to her career as a performer, she is also a professional teaching artist in playwriting, acting and musical theatre residencies/workshops for arts education programs that include Manhattan Theatre Club, Theatre Development Fund and Lincoln Center. She has been a faculty member for both the Professional Performing Arts High School and the Henry Street Settlement Center.