Meet the “Wake Up to Life: Out of the Ashes” Co-Directors!

Jeannine Gaskin

Jeannine Gaskin, a Cleveland actress and director, is excited to be co-directing this showcase of new plays with Ansley Valentine. She just finished co-directing “Until the Flood” by Dael Orlandersmith at Malone University with Craig Joseph. She had her directorial debut at Baldwin Wallace University in “Devised Blues: Uncut & Funky” and she was the Assistant Director at Ensemble Theatre in Lynn Nottage’s “Intimate Apparel”. She was last seen on stage at the Belkin Black Box Theater in Ntozake Shange’s “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf”. She also performed at Cleveland Public Theatre in the world premiere of Lisa Langford’s “Rastus and Hattie”. As well as the world premiere of Central Concern written by Pandora Robertson. Previous Karamu performances include “Day of Absence” by Douglas Turner Ward and “You Can’t Take It With You” by George Kaufman. She was seen at Convergence Continuum in her award-winning performance as Hester La Negrita in “In the Blood” by Suzan-Lori Parks. Other plays include the unconventional comedy “Neighbors” by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and Margaret Alexander in “The Amen Corner” by James Baldwin. While theatre is her first love, she has been a part of multiple film projects in Cleveland. She landed her first principal role in the Lifetime film “With This Ring”. She had a lead role in the 2016 48hr Film Festival Award Winning short film “A Sweet Christmas”. She also had the lead role in a local film “Milkweed” written by John Dayo-Aliya.


Ansley Valentine

Ansley Valentine is a professional director and choreographer for the theatre and musical theatre and an educator with experience teaching professionally at the collegiate level and in both public and private performing arts high schools. Ansley holds an M.F.A. in Directing from Indiana University. He is currently a proud member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) and Actors’ Equity Association (AEA). Ansley is also a graduate of the Arts Midwest Minorities in Arts Administration Fellowship, a program funded by the Ford Foundation to increase minority representation in leadership roles at American not-for-profit organizations. After his fellowship at The Cleveland Play House in marketing and development, he went on to serve as Theatre School Director at Studio Arena Theatre, a former LORT C theatre in Buffalo, New York. Ansley oversaw a wide variety of youth arts programming in Western New York. The Theatre School’s flagship program, The Creative Empowerment Program, sought to teach inner-city youth non-violent conflict resolution skills as well as playmaking. More recently, as Director of the Forest Roberts Theatre at Northern Michigan University, Ansley programmed many new works including world premieres through the Panowski Play Prize, two plays about the American relationship with the Middle East, and a touring production to surrounding Michigan counties designated as being underserved by the arts. His many awards include a 2014 Telly Award, and a Kennedy Center Gold Medallion. He is past National Play Program Chair for Region III of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. In that capacity, he helped to foster the writing and development process of a number of young playwrights including producing readings of new work. Currently, he is an associate professor of acting and directing at Indiana University Bloomington. In the summer, he is Artistic Director of the Ohio Youth Ensemble Stage, a company that provides an inclusive performing arts experience for students regardless of ability or financial resources.

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