Tikka Sears is a Seattle-based theater director, performer, and educator. In 2004, Tikka returned from two years in Indonesia where she was a Fulbright Artist-in-Residence and collaborated with the internationally acclaimed Black Umbrella Theater. Tikka has been studying and performing Indonesian arts for 15 years and weaves mask, dance, and puppetry traditions into her current work. She also has been adept at using oral history projects as a way to solicit community voices in her artistry. Tikka is the co-founder and artistic director of Memory War Theater, and along with her collaborator, Manuel Castro, created the multimedia play, Work Created Under Compulsion, which was selected to appear at Bumbershoot and On the Boards Northwest New Works Festival. Tikka has received grants from the US Embassy, the American-Indonesian Exchange Foundation, Artist Trust, the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs and 4Culture. Here is what the Seattle P.I. said about the On the Boards performance:
“Of the nine works performed during the first weekend, three were clear standouts … Tikka Sears’ Work Created Under Compulsion is a powerful exploration of the struggles of three women throughout history — Scheherazade, a Holocaust survivor who painted concentration camp scenes, and a Latina immigrant serving in the U.S. Army Iraq. Actor-director Sears has collaborated with a team of musicians, singers and designers, including Manuel Castro… to create a multimedia production that ties these three very different life stories together … Sears and her talented collaborators enable us to see the challenges these women face as they try to make the best of very different, but equally difficult, life situations.
Theresa Ronquillo is the Director of Community Engagement and Education for Memory War Theater. She is an Instructional Consultant at the UW Center for Teaching and Learning. She received her PhD in Social Welfare from the UW School of Social Work. Her interests and skills are in the areas of inclusivity and diversity, curricular and social transformation, Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed, creative and arts-based pedagogical practices, and community-based experiential learning. Theresa is Affiliate Faculty with the UW Southeast Asia Center and Participating Faculty in the UW Center for Performance Studies. Ronquillo has been a collaborating partner with Memory War Theater since 2008.
Manuel Castro is a Seattle-based glass blower and theater artist. Manuel is the lead writer and designer for Memory War Theater. Manuel’s first introduction to glassblowing was in 1997 at Pratt Fine Arts Center in Seattle. He has worked as part of the Manifesto glass team, one of the premiere glass studios in Seattle, and in addition was part of the Lino Tagliapietra Seattle glass blowing team. In 2002 Manuel moved to Indonesia for two years and collaborated with visual artists and modern theater artists as well as studied Sundanese traditional music (drums, bamboo flute and zither.) Castro and Sears perform and teach Indonesian dance and drumming workshops for audiences of all ages. With help from the Visual Arts Department of the Bandung Institute of Technology in Indonesia, Castro helped to open one of the first hot shops in West Java. View Manuel’s Glass art: www.manuelcastroglass.com.
Michael Brennan joined Memory War Theater in September 2012. Currently a graduate student in Social Work at the University of Washington, Michael’s interests include anti-oppression and empowerment practices as well as community-centered arts practices of resistance and liberation. Michael’s theater background includes, but is not limited to: playing a custodian at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for the 2011 season, where his employer offered this review: “Michael had the uncanny ability to stay in character for eight hours per day, forty hours per week, for six consecutive months. He was remarkably committed to his craft.” Michael’s most inspired and memorable roles, however, have been serving alongside homeless populations, immigrant communities, indigenous peoples, inmates, and traveling street youth. When not concocting his magic elixir to uproot all forms of oppression, Michael can be found chasing rainbows, searching for wildflowers in urban centers, and devising ways to protect the Wild Rogue (river) for future generations.
Oriana Estrada is a recent graduate of the University of Washington School of Social Work where she completed a Masters Degree in Social Work Policy and Administration. During her last year of graduate school Oriana was an intern for Memory War Theater where she had the opportunity to help plan the organizational structure by working on strategic planning, educational program planning and grant writing. Oriana is also a dancer, she has loved dancing since a young age and has studied a variety of dance forms including Hip Hop, Salsa, Brazilian, African, and more. Music and dance are Oriana’s true passion and she has a particularly strong interest in the music and dance traditions of the African Diaspora. Some of the groups she has trained and performed with include: Johnny Bravo Dance Company (a Salsa performance group), Seattle Brazilian drum and dance ensemble VamoLá, Eduardo Mendonça’s music and dance group Show Brazil, the ladies salsa styling troupe BOM Squad, Bakra Bata Carribean Steel Drum and Dance Ensemble, The AFrican ConeXion Project and Tudo Beleza Brazilian Samba Dance Company. Along with co-directing Tudo Beleza, Oriana also continues to teach Rio-style Samba classes in the Seattle area.