About Us




A quick look at the Detroit Fringe Forward Festival staff and advisors!

Torri Lynn Ashford (Advisory Board) lives and works in Detroit. She has performed with local ensemble based theaters including A Host of People, The Hinterlands, the Matrix Theatre, PuppetART Theater and CMAP, as well as other artists across Southeast Michigan. For the past four years she has headed the children’s puppet workshops and summer camps at PuppetART Theater. At present Torri is exploring shadow puppets and silhouette puppetry, solo performance work, and her identity as an artist.


Stefanie Cohen (Advisory Board) teaches movement, dance & somatic practice, with a focus on the integration of bodily awareness & the creative process. She holds a BA in theater (Brandeis University); an MA in Somatic Education (University of Central Lancashire, UK); completed the Contemplative Dance program as a facilitator of Authentic Movement; & is registered as a Somatic Movement Educator through the International Somatic Movement Education & Therapy Association (ISMETA). She has worked as an improv dancer & performance artist for more than 25 years, teaching & performing in theaters, festivals, retreats & universities. She and partner Corey Gearhart curate performance through their space, Light Box in Detroit.


Erin Erin Esposito (Production Manager) has been employed as an actor, stagemanager and administration in non profit theatre for over 25 years.  She served as Director of Education for the Surflight Theatre (a professional year round stock theatre in New Jersey) for 5 years, producing their Theatre for Young Audiences tour, visiting schools each year in the New Jersey/ Pennsylvania/ New York area and creating a Shakespeare intensive for High School students, The Sounds of Broadway (a musical revue/workshop that toured to high schools throughout New Jersey) and MASTER CLASS! (a series of classes taught by Broadway veterans). Erin is a  a graduate of Ithaca College with a BFA in Musical Theatre.  She is also a member of the Actors and Stage Managers’ union (Actors Equity Association).


Corey Gearhart (Advisory Board) received his MFA in Performance and his BFA in Studio Art (School of the Art Institute of Chicago).  Since the 1990’s he has worked in a wide variety of media, incorporating and and re-contextualizing fragments of art history, popular culture and technology and engaging in collaborative process with artists of different backgrounds.  His fine art, video, installation and performance work has been seen in such venues as Assembly Gallery/The Courtyard in Glasgow, Scotland; Blue Rider, Links Hall, Drive-Thru studios and the Spare Room in Chicago; the Ann Arbor Art Center and the Duderstadt Video theater, University of Michigan. He and partner Stefanie Cohen curate performance through their space, Light Box in Detroit.


MollyMcMahon100Molly McMahon (Advisory Board) is a director, actor, and puppeteer working professionally for over 15 years in southeastern Michigan. As a director, she has worked with Planet Ant Theater, Magenta Giraffe Theatre Company, Matrix Theatre and BoxFest Detroit. As an actor, she has performed in more than 30 resident and touring productions with the Abreact Performance Space, A Host of People, Elizabeth Theater, The Ringwald Theater, Breathe Art Theatre, Puppet Art Theatre, and Wild Swan Theater. Since 2010 she has served as Artistic Director for BoxFest Detroit, a festival that showcases and creates opportunities for women directors.


CarrieMorrisHeadshotCreditKristinKurzawaCarrie Morris (Producer) is a director and performance artist combining puppetry, multimedia and the gestural language of experimental theater. Her work has been seen in the New York Int’l Fringe Festival, The Athens Museum of Art, Seattle’s Annex Theater, as a Fulbright grantee in the field of performance art in Solo, Indonesia and as an invited artist with the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra. As a puppeteer she recently collaborated with the Bangla School of Music in Hamtramck, MI, in order to present shadow scenes inspired and accompanied by their songs as part of the NEA-sponsored Outdoor Summer Series performances. She is the director of CMAP (Carrie Morris Arts Production), a puppetry and multimedia venue for adult­-based, cutting edge puppet and performance works in Detroit.


Oliver Pookrum (Advisory Board) is a graduate of Nataki Talibah Schoolhouse, Cass Technical High school, and Wayne State University. He is the producer, director, and star of the Michigan premiers of “Jesus Hopped the A Train” and the Pulitzer Prize winning “Topdog/Underdog”, as well as the author of “The Wall”, “Spook”, “Dutchman 2K”, “Pearls of Wisdom”, and “The Dunbar Boy”. He is also the founder of The African Renaissance Theater and The Pookrum Playhouse opening this fall, on McNichols, just west of Woodward Ave (1 Grove St., Highland Park, MI 48203)


Emilio Rodriguez (Advisory Board/Literary Development) The original founder of the Detriot Fringe Festival, Emilio is a playwright, director and co-producer of the Black and Brown Theater Company. His plays have been a part of various festivals including the inaugural Latino Theatre Common’s Carnaval of New Works (Swimming While Drowning), the inaugural Activate Midwest Festival at Western Michigan University (Spin), and the Austin Latino New Play Festival (Mamacita and the Negrito). Fall 2015, Emilio was awarded a residency in the Djerassi Artist Residency Program; Fall 2016 he was in residence with the newly founded Mitten Lab in Traverse City, Michigan. Additionally, Emilio was a 2015 finalist for the Association for Theater in Higher Education’s Excellence in Playwriting Award, a 2016 Finalist for the Playwright’s Center Many Voices Fellowship and recently completed commissions for the JET Theater and Portland’s Milagro Theater. When he’s not writing, Emilio teaches theater to young people in the Detroit area through programs with Living Arts, Matrix, and Disney Musicals in Schools.

Paige Vanzo No GlassesPaige Vanzo (Advisory Board) is a local performer and playwright. Her work has been produced most recently at the Metro Detroit Fringe Festival, Detroit Fringe Festival 2014, and Two Muses Women’s Play Festival. Paige has a varied background in Theater which most recently includes Marketing & Communications for Meadow Brook Theater, working as a professional Idiot with Delirio Del Arte and joining Comedy Sportz Detroit’s Minor League. She hopes you enjoy this festival and that you’ll continue to support live performance in and around Detroit!


We would like to say a big THANK YOU to our 2017 sponsors, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs minigrant program, administered by CultureSource.