Member Spotlight

Statera Member Spotlight: Andrea Prestinario

StateraArts Membership is growing fast! Since our official launch on January 1st, over 100 artist-activists have joined the StateraArts community! Our members come from all over the USA and all genres of art-making. They are educators, arts leaders, activists, content-creators, professional artists, early career, mid-career, patrons, and community organizers. The Statera Member Spotlight is just one way StateraArts uplifts and amplifies the voices of our members. Today, we’d like to introduce you to Andrea Prestinario.

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STATERA: What inspires your work most?
ANDREA PRESTINARIO:
First and foremost, my work is inherently inspired by a calling to use my gifts and voice to give back to the world. And secondly, my work is rooted in a foundational belief that being an artist has saved me. And I mean “saved” in a "I feel like I will implode when I can't express myself" way. My work is my release. My work is my life's purpose. I love the lyrics by songwriter Ani DiFranco: "Art is why I get up in the morning, but ya know, my definition ends there and it doesn't seem fair that I'm living for something I can't even define." It's all so undefined and ephemeral and magical and intense… but it's all inspiration to me.

SA: What is your occupation or calling in the arts?
AP: Actress / Singer / Producer / Community Organizer

SA: What does gender parity in the arts look like to you?
AP:
What I envision is a future where women and TGNC artists are valued equitably with the other half of the human race in this industry. In short - it looks like smashing the patriarchy. The first way we achieve this is through education: education of the white supremacist, patriarchal systems of power.  Have you heard the saying "fish don't know they're in water"? If you tried to explain it, they’d say, “Water? What’s water?” They’re so surrounded by it, that it’s impossible to see. They can’t see it until they get outside of it. The Honorable Hillary Clinton references it in her book What Happened in regards to patriarchy: some people can't see the structural systems in place because it's all-consuming and we're, er, swimming in it. And I think often about how the basic understanding of patriarchy is what hinders so many people from working against it. Once we understand it, we can work within the framework to dismantle it. As artists, we are resourceful and adaptable and we tell stories about humanity, so who better to achieve gender parity and dismantle these systemic power abuses than the arts industry?! 

SA: What do you love most about your artistic community?
AP:
I love my many artist circles because artists are resourceful, adaptable, creative, personable, entertaining, passionate, passionate, and passionate. I am obsessed with centering myself around people that feel their feelings and crackle and percolate at a high energy... it makes me feel alive. 

SA: What organizations are you affiliated with?
AP:
I'm the co-founder and Director of Operations of Ring of Keys - a national network of queer women, trans, and gender non-conforming artists working in musical theatre;  I am the Board Chair of National Queer Theater; I'm a member of my alma mater's Alumni Council for the Department of Theatre and Dance at Ball State University, I'm a 10-year card-carrying Member of Actors' Equity ...and I'm a member of Statera!


SA: Why did you become a STATERA member?
AP:
Because feminism and theatre have always been my two passions, and anytime I have the opportunity to see them existing at an intersection, it pumps me up! So in essence, Statera pumps me up! My personal mission aligns so well with Statera's: to use positive action to advocate for and amplify women and marginalized voices. Theatre has always been political, but in the musical theatre medium (which is the medium I work in primarily) a political ethos isn't necessarily at the forefront. Throughout my 20s, my passions felt very siloed: political activism in one corner, and musical theatre in another. And I feel like I spent most of my 20s searching for that intersection. There's been a surge of activism within theatre circles, which I feel has happened since the 2016 election, and it's the light in the Trumpian darkness. The Statera community has been one of those lights that I stumbled upon, and I'm grateful to be able to count myself as a member. 

SA: When did you feel most supported or championed by the women in your life?   
AP:
I'm fortunate to have a core group of 8 girlfriends from high school and we have remained strong for the last 20 years. I’m the only one working in the arts, but our friendship began in our high school theatre classes. From breakups to deaths to promotions to parenting - we have combated so many different life milestones together - it’s actually pretty remarkable. And despite our career, geographic, and lifestyle differences, they have still supported me throughout my career by championing me with their words and showing up to my performances all over the country. And I, in turn, champion them. I think it's actually really refreshing to have friendships outside of the business. And I think those friendships keep me grounded. 

SA: Tell us about your favorite project you've done thus far.
AP:
I have so many favorite productions that I've done, but I think Ring of Keys, as a whole, could be considered my favorite project. My co-founder and I launched Ring of Keys in January of 2018 as the solution to what we saw as a problem in casting and a lack of community. We were tired of feeling isolated as the token lesbian anytime we were in a production. I like to say musical theatre is gay but not queer, meaning: it’s representing cis gay male stories and artists, but what about the full spectrum of queer? Ring of Keys "strives to kick-(ball-change) the closet door open and reveal a vibrant, diverse musical theatre landscape for the future;" we want to queer the stage. As an arts service organization, we are about community and visibility and serve our mission through our Member Directory, located on our website, which operates as a hiring resource. Since our launch last year, we have grown from 3 members to 250+ Members all over the nation (as well as in Toronto and London!).

SA: Any upcoming projects you'd like to share with us? 
AP:
I've been working on and off on a documentary theatre piece about child-free womanhood. It focuses specifically on women in their 30s. It's an interview-based devised work that explores the theatricalized, tick-tock experience of being child-free - whether by choice, indecision, fertility trials, singledom, or a myriad of other experiences. I started working on this piece after a lot of research on "advanced maternal age" (the age of women over 35) when I was 35. I felt as though all of the women in my life were talking around this topic, but in private conversations. From a single friend who desperately wanted to have a child with a partner, to the married friend feeling indecisive about motherhood yet intensely urgent to make a choice, to myself (who is gay and has never wanted children). I personally have had to  defend this decision repeatedly against folks that treat motherhood as the default choice. It feels like something we need to be talking about as a community so we aren't wrestling with these choices alone. I'm currently collecting and transcribing interviews. Any person who feels they'd like to be interviewed for this project should contact me!

SA: Tell us about another woman or non-binary artist who inspires your work. 
AP:
I know this is probably cliché to say, but my girlfriend, Klea Blackhurst, inspires my work. She and I met doing a production of GYPSY, and she is such an inspiration for her insane talent, her resilience in the face of constant showbiz rejection, and her musical theatre knowledge! And a side note: I am sometimes full of rage that her name is not on top of every marquee in this city because she is such a star! She values curiosity most, and in our home we talk a lot about the importance of always maintaining this essential human characteristic: to be curious about the world - in people not like you, in interests outside of the arts, to even be curious in why you're not being curious! It's important to know the history of that which came before. It's important to ask why. That is our job as artists: to ask these questions and take it all in, and then express that humanity in our work. 

SA: Mentorship is at the core of the STATERA mission. Tell us about one of your mentors. How did they shape you or provide pathways for opportunity?
AP:
One of my earliest mentors is my friend Michelle. When I was 11, I was in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Chicago Theatre with Donny Osmond and Michelle worked as a dresser. After the show closed (and because there was no internet yet), we became pen pals, and are dear friends still to this day. While I didn't know it at the time, Michelle, who is gay, told me in adulthood that what she saw in me was a gay kid growing up in the Midwest, and she wanted to make sure I had the support I may need as I grew up. It's incredibly emotional that she made the investment in me that she did. Not only was/is she a queer role model, but she has remained in the arts, and always has such sage advice for me within the business, about relationships, how to manage time... I can only hope to pay it forward someday.  


ABOUT ANDREA

Andrea Prestinario is an award-winning actress, singer, and activist who is NYC-based and Chicago-grown. Regional – Baltimore Center Stage: Fun Home (Alison); Weston Playhouse: Fun Home (Alison), Guys & Dolls (Sarah Brown); Asolo Rep: My Fair Lady (Eliza) dir. Frank Galati; A.C.T. San Francisco: 1776 (Martha) dir. Frank Galati; Paramount Theatre Aurora: RENT (Maureen), My Fair Lady (Eliza); Lyric Opera Chicago: Oklahoma! (Gertie) dir. Gary Griffin; Drury Lane Oakbrook: Gypsy (Louise), Curtains, Sugar, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers; Writers’ Theatre: Oh, Coward!; Boho Theatre Company: Side Show (Violet – Jeff Award, Leading Actress). Solo show – sMOkeyTOWN: The Songs of Smokey Robinson: Laurie Beechman, Mayne Stage Chicago, Feinstein’s/54 Below, Beverly Arts Center Chicago, Metropolis (Arlington Heights) Arts Center.
Education – BFA Ball State University (Musical Theatre), The School at Steppenwolf. Professional – Co-founder: Ring of Keys, a national network of queer women and TGNC artists working in musical theatre.
You can follow Andrea via her website www.andreaprestinario.com or on social media @andreaprestinario.

Statera Member Spotlight: Betsy Mugavero

StateraArts Membership is growing fast! Since our official launch on January 1st, over 90 artist-activists have joined the StateraArts community! Our members come from all over the USA and all genres of art-making. They are educators, arts leaders, activists, content-creators, professional artists, early career, mid-career, patrons, and community organizers. The Statera Member Spotlight is just one way StateraArts uplifts and amplifies the voices of our members. Today, we’d like to introduce you to Producing Artistic Director of Southwest Shakespeare Company, Betsy Mugavero.

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What is your occupation or calling in the arts? 
I came into theater as an actor. Now, I'm a producer and actor. I'm not certain which of those is a calling or an occupation to me! I do both Full Time. I'm happy doing both and feel passion for both... Hopefully, someone will figure it out when they write my obituary one day...:)

Tell us about your favorite project you've done thus far.
Shakespeare is my life's work. Every Shakespeare play I perform in is my favorite project at the time. Now that I'm wearing the Producer hat, having more control over how we shape Shakespeare for our modern audience is really exciting to me.

Why did you become a StateraArts member?
I became a member of Statera because I'm looking for community to support me and to offer support to, particularly in women. We're constantly fed a narrative that we all need to be competitive with each other, especially in the arts, and I do not think that is true at all. I firmly believe that if you believe there is enough pie for everyone, there will be enough. Statera is baking the pie and we're all adding ingredients. It's delicious and enlivening. 

What other organizations are you affiliated with? 
Co-Producing Artistic Director, Southwest Shakespeare Company; Actors' Equity Association

What do you love most about your artistic community?
I'm new to Phoenix, which is my current community. What I love most is how many artists there are here creating and producing their own work! I also recently learned that the arts contributed to $32 million in state tax revenues! People in Arizona support and value the arts. It's a great new place to be with tons of potential.

When did you feel most supported or championed by the women in your life?   
I have been lucky to have worked with women in theater who have helped carved a place for me by demanding their own respect for their talent and worth. Right now, I feel most championed by women who are younger than me, because they are looking at me as an example of someone who is in a position of artistic leadership at a professional theater company, juggling motherhood, marriage, being a professional actor, and staying healthy all at once. I keep wondering why there are so many more young women than men in production and on stage in high school drama club, and yet, when we get into the professional world, there are few women leading as directors, producers, and in arts administration. I doubt those young women lost their passion. I don't doubt that what they found as they began a professional career that they were told there wasn't room for mothers, or they couldn't be a mother if they chose to stay in the profession, or most likely, the didn't SEE any mothers around. I have to be my whole self when I'm on stage, I have to be my whole self as a producer. That means understanding the reality of having a family and arranging my life so that I can have both. Mary Way, Executive Director of Southwest Shakespeare Company, has never once made me feel like my being a mother hinders my ability to lead. I'm incredibly grateful for her confidence and belief in me. She's definitely an everyday champion for me.

Tell us about another woman or non-binary artist who inspires your work. 
Every woman out there telling her story, and empowering others to tell theirs is my inspiration.

Mentorship is at the core of the StateraArts mission. Tell us about one of your mentors. How did they shape you or provide pathways for opportunity? 
I'm actually looking for a mentor! I'm lucky to have people I can turn to for advice and guidance- the best advice I got from a female Artistic Director was to make sure to take care of myself. It's very easy in the arts to put your own needs to the side to keep the "baby" alive, but that can lead to incredible fatigue and illness. You can't lead if you aren't well. I've taken that advice very seriously.  I'd really like to have a female mentor to converse with on a regular basis about being a manager and producer for the arts. It's a completely different ballgame for women and having a coach who understands some of the challenges I face on a personal level to help me navigate through would be extremely beneficial to me! 

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Any upcoming projects you'd like to share with us? 
Yes! Southwest Shakespeare Company is hosting Harlem Shakespeare Festival as they produce an All Female Othello! April 19-28 at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, AZ. Debra Ann Byrd is starring the title role, Vanessa Morosco directs.

Othello runs April 19-28 at Taliesin West Pavilion theater in Scottsdale, AZ!
Ticket and info at 
www.swshakespeare.org

Statera Member Spotlight: Chrissy Collins

StateraArts Membership is growing fast! Since our official launch on January 1st, over 80 artist-activists have joined the StateraArts community! Our members come from all over the USA and all genres of art-making. They are educators, arts leaders, activists, content-creators, professional artists, early career, mid-career, patrons, and community organizers. The Statera Member Spotlight is just one way StateraArts uplifts and amplifies the voices of our members. Today, we’d like to introduce you to Stage Manager and Yoga Instructor, Chrissy Collins.

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STATERAARTS: What is your occupation or calling in the arts?
CHRISSY COLLINS:
Stage Manager and Teacher

SA: What moved you to become a member of StateraArts? 
CC:
I really wanted to get more involved in the arts community and to widen my circle of colleagues. When I found out about Statera, the mission just clicked with my own!

SA: Any other organizations you are affiliated with?
CC:
Actors' Equity Association, Yoga Alliance

SA: What do you love most about your artistic community?
CC:
The tremendous support, strength, and love that I feel from my theater family is something I truly can't live without.  Honestly, they are some of the most dedicated, hard-working individuals out there who consistently go above and beyond for their students, their work, and their colleagues.  

SA: Tell us about some of your favorite projects.
C:
Definitely a three way tie Ragtime, Les Mis, and 39 Steps.  I've been so very lucky to work on many, many amazing and challenging projects that have helped me grow as an artist.  

SA: Any upcoming projects you'd like to share with us?  
CC:
I recently returned to my artistic home, PCPA Pacific Conservatory Theatre, after a five year hiatus. I'm so very happy and grateful to be part of that community again and support their upcoming productions. We just opened a production of The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe and it's been thrilling to have so many strong, fierce women on stage!

SA: Mentorship is at the core of the StateraArts mission. Tell us about one of your mentors. How did they shape you or provide pathways for opportunity? 
CC:
Patricia Troxel has been one of my dear friends and mentors for years now and will always be even though she's no longer with us.  Her infectious smile, laugh, and positive energy made us all believe anything was possible.   Patricia was a true example of unconditional love, friendship, and passion, and I carry her lessons with me still today.

Statera Mentorship: Central Coast  regional coordinators during a recent meeting. Chrissy Collins (standing top-left) with (left to right) Z Jennifer Zornow, Kitty Balay, Karin Hendricks, Amani Dorn, and Emily Trask.

Statera Mentorship: Central Coast regional coordinators during a recent meeting. Chrissy Collins (standing top-left) with (left to right) Z Jennifer Zornow, Kitty Balay, Karin Hendricks, Amani Dorn, and Emily Trask.


ABOUT CHRISTINE COLLINS

Christine Collins is a proud California native from the Bay Area who holds an MFA from the Yale School of Drama. Stage Management has been her artistic calling since early on and she enjoys sharing her love of theater and stage management with the next generation. She has stage managed over 60 productions with PCPA's Pacific Conservatory Theatre and is so grateful to be in residence there, where she considers it her true artistic home. She was recently on a five year hiatus before returning to PCPA, during which she became a certified yoga instructor and yoga studio manager. Chrissy is the proud pet parent of Katie and Dancer, and a friend to all!