Cornerstone Theater Company


2018 Institute: Meet the Players: Starleisha Gingrich

This summer we traveled to the other side of the country to make a new play called, The Cardinal with and about the people of Queens New York, the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world. The production is part of Cornerstone’s Institute Summer Residency, which has brought together thirteen participants (“the players”) from across the United States and Canada to live, learn, and create together. In one month’s time, and working alongside Cornerstone staff, Ensemble and community members, these creative souls are learning Cornerstone’s process for creating community-engaged theater. By participating in classes, workshops, and taking part in every aspect of the play-making process from casting, auditions, rehearsals, costume/design build, and acting. This blog series is an opportunity for you to “Meet the Players”!













Starleisha Michelle Gingrich AKA Community Engagement Associate

A little bit about Starleisha

“Starleisha is a theatre professional that lives and works in Lancaster, PA and yes there are more than just Amish there! She works in a box office, teaches beginner acting to 8-14 year olds, and does publicity for a local theatre non-profit. She is excited to be joining the Cornerstone family for what will be an enriching and exciting experience in Queens this summer!”

What inspired you to join Cornerstone’s Institute Summer Residency this year?

“I became interested in Cornerstone my junior year of college. I took a Theatre for Social Change class and it made me realize that theatre is not just an entertainment commodity, but can also be a mode of story telling, healing and reconciliation. When I found out that the Institute was going to be in Queens, I knew I was meant to apply since it’s more accessible to me than flying to LA for a month. The application process made me think more critically about my future role in local theatre and arts.”

What has been your favorite moment thus far?

“In general, I’ve been enjoying observing everyone in their respective roles, but my favorite institute moments so far have been our classroom discussions. Paula, Sage, Nephelie, Peter, and Michael Garcés are so knowledgeable about many different things, and being able to jam with them on ideas and concepts has been a delight.”

What do you hope to learn from your experience this summer?

“My main goal for this institute is to learn how to develop community based theatre for my own communities in Lancaster, PA. I also hope to become more intentional in how I help uplift the voices and experiences of minorities in my hometown, using story circle techniques and theatre as advocacy and as resistance to white supremacy.”

Complete this sentence. Queens is….

“…so diverse! Prior to my arrival at the institute, I had never visited Queens, but now I’ve fallen in love with Flushing. If you’re hungry for any type of food, you can find it in any Queens neighborhood. Corona Park, the site of the 1964 World’s Fair is amazing too. Standing under the Unisphere made me realize how small I am, but also inspired me to create art that spans many ethnic, cultural, and social divides. So really, to me, Queens is delicious and inspiring.”

Why do you think people should come and see the play? 

“I think people will be inspired, intrigued, and interested in how Queens is portrayed in “The Cardinal.” It’s a warm story of home, and cherishing your family in whatever form they come in-friends or blood relatives. I think native New Yorkers will find the local humor in the piece and guests will want to travel to the places that are mentioned. All around, “The Cardinal” is an excellent production and will give audiences a new appreciation for Flushing.”

The Cardinal performs August 10 & 11th. CLICK HERE to purchase tickets today!

Last Saturday night’s dinner with Institute alumni guests.














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