Cornerstone Theater Company

Staff

HEADER_Staff2013

Sara Adelman

Sara Adelman
General Manager

Sara Adelman
General Manager

Sara Adelman
Sara came to Cornerstone in 2011, bringing extensive experience in executive leadership of arts non-profits. In 2009, she founded Vibrant Production Management, providing business and producing support to a number of organizations, including Shakespeare by the Sea, the California Science Center, Overtone Industries, Watts Village Theatre Company, ForYourArt, Heifer International, Impro Theatre and Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays. Prior to that, she served as Director of Operations at LA Stage Alliance and Managing Director of Shakespeare Festival/LA. Additionally she has managed and facilitated art making for EdgeFest, LA Theatre Works, the Geffen Playhouse, Actors’ Gang, Manhattan Theatre Club and the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Sara holds an MFA in Production Management & Technology from UCLA and a BA in Theatre Studies from the University of Connecticut.

James Cheeks III

James Cheeks III
Communications Associate

James Cheeks III
Communications Associate

James Cheeks III
James M. Cheeks III received his MFA degree in Film and Television Production at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles.  His career started in high school at the age of 16 with an internship at The TV Guide Channel, which later turned into part-time employment.  Cheeks got accepted into art school but he decided to study Communication and Film at George Mason University, where he earned his Bachelor’s degree. In college, James worked on various television projects in the DC area including the Ted Turner documentary mini-series, “Avoiding Armageddon,” which aired on PBS.  In 2006, Cheeks served as a sound designer for Alex Ko’s documentary, “Pok Dong,” which examined the haunting impact of the LA riots on an immigrant family from Korea.  Cheeks’ interest in missions and social justice has led him to serve in Peru, Mozambique, Jamaica and downtown LA’s Skid Row.  Cheeks is also a skateboarding enthusiast and supports skateboarding for at-risk youth.  In 2010, Cheeks founded a volunteer skateboarding team that travelled around the U.S. supporting a music and extreme sports tour. His film, "On The Grind," had its World Premiere at the 2009 Mammoth Film Festival, where it won the award for "Best Documentary Short.” It recently won the "Best Documentary Short" award at the 13th Annual Roxbury International Film Festival. “On The Grind” was also featured during a historical skateboarding exhibit at the California African American Museum and Cheeks is wrapping up the feature-length version of the film. "On The Grind" aired nationwide on the Documentary Channel and currently broadcasts on PIVOT (AT&T U-verse, Verizon FIOS, DIRECTV, Dish Network).

Sage Alia Clemenco

Sage Alia Clemenco
Manager of Community Partnerships

Sage Alia Clemenco
Manager of Community Partnerships

Sage Alia Clemenco
Sage began working with Cornerstone Theater as a institute student in 2007 in Holtville, CA. She has since been on staff for 5 summer Institutes, working as a Company Manager in Eureka, Pacoima, Fowler, Arvin and East Salinas. She recently completed the Master's program in Applied Theatre at CUNY School of Professional Studies in NYC where she was an apprentice in the Early Learning Through the Arts program at the Creative Arts Team. Sage has facilitated theater-based residencies with students from Kindergarten through high school and served as the Education Associate for Vital Theatre Company from 2011 to 2013.

Paula Donnelly

Paula Donnelly
Director of Engagement

Paula Donnelly
Director of Engagement

Paula Donnelly
Paula Donnelly began working with Cornerstone in 1998 as a stage manager and joined Cornerstone's Ensemble in 2000. Community-collaborations she stage managed for Cornerstone include Los Biombos in Boyle Heights, AKA in Beverly Hills, For Here or To Go?, a city-wide bridge show, at the Mark Taper Forum, Peter Pan in Cleveland, and Crossings at St Vibiana's Cathedral in downtown Los Angeles. She also was the stage manager for Cornerstone Ensemble shows Foot/Mouth (produced in multiple malls around Southern California) and Erik Ehn's Mary Shelley's Santa Claus. As a stage manager she has worked with Taper, Too, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, PCPA TheaterFest and other regional theaters. In 2003 Paula became Cornerstone’s Institute Director, planning and producing the annual Institute Summer Residency and Intensives. As Director of Engagement, Paula teaches and shares Cornerstone’s methodology, works to strengthen community relationships post-production, and to contribute to the expansion of community-engagement practices in theater. She helps imagine and implement engagement values in all aspects of our work. Paula loves the state of California, her home city of Los Angeles and the many people and stories contained therein.

Alyssa Escalante

Alyssa Escalante
Administrative & Database Assistant

Alyssa Escalante
Administrative & Database Assistant

Alyssa Escalante
Born and raised in San Diego, California, Alyssa moved to Los Angeles to attend Occidental College where she graduated in 2010 with a BA in theater. She has since worked all over the Los Angeles area as a stage manager. She feels blessed to be given the tremendous privilege to work within the arts community in this beautiful city. Alyssa comes to Cornerstone to serve as the Administrative and Database assistant.

Michael John Garcés

Michael John Garcés
Artistic Director

Michael John Garcés
Artistic Director

Michael John Garcés
Michael has been at Cornerstone since 2006. Directing credits at the company include Plumas Negras by Juliette Carrillo, Café Vida by Lisa Loomer, Making Paradise by Tom Jacobson, Shishir Kurup and Deborah Wicks La Puma, 3 Truths by Naomi Iizuka, Someday by Julie Marie Myatt, attraction by Page Leong, and The Falls by Jeffrey Hatcher (at the Guthrie Theater). For Cornerstone he has also written Consequence, out of story circles with students, teachers, administrators and parents in South Kern County, and Los Illegals, created in residence with communities of day laborers and domestic workers. Los Illegals was subsequently produced by Teatro Bravo in Phoenix; it is published in Theatre Magazine (Yale School of Drama/Duke University Press - More info on this Publication). WP white line space template Directing credits at other theaters include, most recently Wrestling Jerusalem by Aaron Davidman (Intersection for the Arts), We Are Proud to Present… by Jackie Sibblies Drury (Woolly Mammoth Theatre), The Convert by Danai Gurira (Wilma Theater), Stephen Adly Guirgis' The Motherfucker with the Hat (South Coast Repertory) and red, black and GREEN: a blues by Marc Bamuthi Joseph (REDCAT and The Brooklyn Academy of Music), and he has worked at many theaters across the country. His full-length plays include THE WEB (needtheatre), points of departure and customs (INTAR Hispanic American Arts Center) and Acts of Mercy (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater); a solo performance, agua ardiente (The American Place); short plays include Grief (Active Cultures), hymn in three parts (Chalk Rep), inhabited and in the Zone (Red Fern Theatre Co.), tostitos (EST Marathon of One-Act Plays), on edge and the ride (Humana Fest.), audiovideo (The Directors Project) and sandlot ball (Mile Square). He collaborated with composer Alexandra Vrebalov on the oratorio Stations, which received its premiere at the Rhode Island Civic Chorale and Orchestra and was also performed at the NOMUS Festival in Novi Sad, Serbia.   Michael is on the executive board of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.  He is a recipient of the Rockwood Arts and Culture Fellowship, the Princess Grace Statue, the Alan Schneider Director Award, a TCG/New Generations Grant, the Non-Profit Excellence Award from the Center of Non-Profit Management and is a Southern California Leadership Network Fellow. He is a company member at Woolly Mammoth and a proud alumnus of New Dramatists.

Lester P. Grant

Lester P. Grant
Production Manager

Lester P. Grant
Production Manager

Lester P. Grant
Lester first stumbled into the entertainment industry as a child performer back home on the island of St. Kitts, West Indies. He soon realized that he was much more interested in what was going on behind the scenes than being onstage. He went on to study film and technical theater and has over the years worn a variety of production and design 'hats in theater, corporate events, film and television. Lester is happy to be a part of this awesome team of creative people who use their talents to not only create beautiful, original work...but work that addresses the current challenges we face in our communities.

Ilia Jauregui

Ilia Jauregui
Development Director

Ilia Jauregui
Development Director

Ilia Jauregui
Ilia joined Cornerstone in June of 2014 as their Development Director. Prior to Cornerstone, she was the first Development Director at Our Community School (OCS), a K-8th grade public charter school in the San Fernando Valley. She was responsible for fundraising, community outreach and marketing for the school. Among her accomplishments at OCS was successfully doubling their annual giving campaign in one year. Additionally, she created and implemented their Community Building Breakfast series which brought in several businesses and local government officials that became successful partners and sponsors of the organization. In 2005, Ilia founded and became the executive director of Fostering Imagination, a nonprofit organization which provided enrichment and mentoring programs for foster youth between the ages of 12-23 that included theater, filmmaking, adventure and life skills. Ilia also holds a law degree and has practiced as a contract attorney.

Lorena Moran

Lorena Moran
Teatro Jornalero Program Director

Lorena Moran
Teatro Jornalero Program Director

Lorena Moran
Lorena was born in Guatemala City. During the time she has been in Los Angeles she has worked as a day laborer, and as such has witnessed and experienced the marginalization and oppression of this community as laborers and as immigrants. Because of this, she made the decision to do something for her community, and discovered that through theater as a pedagogical tool people express the realities of the day laborer and the different types of issues which are being faced. She believes that it is possible to affect change in society, and that Teatro Jornalero Sin Fronteras can be part of that change through our work.

Cesar Ortega

Cesar Ortega
Community Engagement Fellow

Cesar Ortega
Community Engagement Fellow

Cesar Ortega
As a student at the University of California, Riverside, Cesar rediscovered his passion for the arts. During his time at the university, he was a part of several season theater productions and interned as a producer for the annual Tomas Rivera Conference. His work as an actor led him to land a fellowship through the Gluck Fellows program and he had the opportunity to engage with youth through arts and performance. After graduating with a B.A. in Theater, Cesar became a student of Cornerstone’s Summer Institute i10 in Salinas, CA. Since then, he has continued to work for Cornerstone under the Creative Seeds program. Cesar is the Community Engagement Fellow on the California Bridge Tour, Cornerstone's year-long touring production of California: The Tempest.

Daniel Penilla

Daniel Penilla
Artistic Associate

Daniel Penilla
Artistic Associate

Daniel Penilla
Daniel moved to Los Angeles from the gritty suburban streets of Orange County to continue his journey as a storyteller.  He came to Cornerstone in 2011 as a student at the Summer Institute in Fowler and instantly felt connected to the work. He has worked with Cornerstone as an actor in Café Vida and assistant director for SEED: A Weird Act of Faith. He trained as an actor at Circle In The Square Theatre School and Labyrinth Theater Company and has a degree in Sociology with an emphasis in race, class, and gender from Cal State Fullerton. His experiences as a storyteller and love of creating and discovering have led him to work and develop relationships with various organizations and companies in many capacities. From acting, directing, and producing, to working as a theater consultant with the Santa Ana High School District to develop and implement curriculum that incorporates theater and ensemble models, he is always driven by the connection that the work brings. Daniel is excited to be a part of a team that creates opportunities with communities and individuals in a way that opens discussion for change.

Ashley Sparks

Ashley Sparks
Community Partnerships Associate

Ashley Sparks
Community Partnerships Associate

Ashley Sparks
Ashley Sparks is a southern theater maker and engagement strategist.  Current projects include: serving as the Community Partnerships Associate for Cornerstone Theater Company's California Bridge Tour, working on PearlDamour's MILTON, and Director of Engagement for the Cucalorus Film Festival social justice documentaries and works-in-progress programming. Previous projects, collaborations, and/or curations include: ArtSpot Productions Kiss Kiss Julie, Flight, Turning of the Bones and Go Ye Therefore; Lenelle Moises' Expatriate;  the Network of Ensemble Theater's Microfest: USA series (Atlanta, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Detroit, New Orleans, Knoxville, Harlan County KY, Honolulu); and Board Chair for Alternate ROOTS. She holds an M.F.A. in Directing and Public Dialogue from Virginia Tech.    

Daren Taylor

Daren Taylor
Associate Producer

Daren Taylor
Associate Producer

Daren Taylor
Daren Taylor recently moved to Los Angeles from New York City, where he worked as a writer and producer. A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Daren’s work has allowed him to travel to Holland, Italy, and Japan, studying performance and creating original, site specific work. Back in NYC, Daren became one of the founding members of The Movement Theater Company, a group of devoted young artists dedicated to creating original works for underrepresented groups. Having produced a variety of readings, plays, musicals, and events all over NYC, Daren has developed a versatility that allows him to easily find creative solutions. With a passion for community based and innovative work, Daren is proud to be a member of a wonderful team of creative and insightful professionals.

Megan Wanlass

Megan Wanlass
Managing Director

Megan Wanlass
Managing Director

Megan Wanlass
Megan Wanlass most recently joined Cornerstone Theater Company as its Managing Director in January 2014.  Prior to moving to Los Angeles, Ms. Wanlass was the Executive Director of SITI Company in New York. In her tenure with SITI, Megan helped to create over 35 productions touring to 88 cities, 32 states and 19 countries.  She began working with Anne Bogart and SITI Company in 1995 during The Adding Machine at Actors Theatre of Louisville for the Modern Masters Festival.  She has an Arts Administration Certificate from New York University, attended the Executive Program for Non-Profit Leaders at Stanford University Business School, was a member of the Arts Leadership Institute Charter Class at Teachers College, Columbia University, participated in the National Arts Strategies Executive Leadership Program and holds a B.A. in Theater from Occidental College in Los Angeles. Megan currently serves on the board of Theatre Communications Group (TCG).