BEV MEYER, FOUNDER & ARTISTIC DIRECTOR: Bev Meyer is an educator, teacher-trainer, theater director, and workshop facilitator who has had wide experience working with anti-racist and human rights programs with participants from diverse backgrounds. As a Teacher Trainer for Facing History and Ourselves for fifteen years, she worked with teachers from international schools worldwide, as well as with educators from Europe, Asia, and Africa. She was also involved in writing curriculum and developing strategies for using drama and arts-based techniques in conjunction with Facing History’s civic education and social justice themes. She has made presentations on human rights, children's rights, and Teaching for Tolerance at international conferences and seminars (including the Council of Europe, the Soros Foundation, and UNESCO). As Artistic Director of Zurich Young People’s Theatre (ZYPT) for ten years, she directed numerous productions that deal with contemporary and historical themes of racism, discrimination, and civil courage, including the European premiere of James Still’s In the Suicide Mountains; and the Swiss premieres of Brundibár, the Czech children’s opera originally performed in Terezin; and Korczak, an extraordinary music theatre piece about the children’s rights advocate and Holocaust hero Janusz Korczak. She is currently collaborating with Terezin survivor Ela Weissberger on a multi media stage piece called Walking with Ghosts: Ela’s Stories, based on Weissberger’s memories of Terezin. Born and raised in the United States, Meyer lived and worked in Europe for over 20 years before returning to Los Angeles where she had grown up. She attended Fairfax High School and holds degrees from the University of California at Berkeley, UCLA, and the University of Texas at Austin. She is currently working in a new Integrated Community Arts Pathway (ICAP) at Los Angeles High School and teaching an expanded after-school theater program there.
GINNIA HIGGINS, DANCE TEACHER: Higgins began her career in New York, training in competitive gymnastics at the Dutchess County Gymnastics Center and dance at Ballet Arts Dance Studio. She has spent over twenty years studying ballet, modern, hip hop and jazz and performed with the Dutchess Ballet Company. She acquired an international background in dance by spending a month in London, researching dance and theater as cultural metaphors and six months in Seville, Spain studying flamenco and Sevillanas. She then went on to spend a month in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil studying the history and performance of Brazilian dance through capoeira, and four years training in the Pilates Method of Body Conditioning. In addition, Higgins has taught dance at several different studios and was an instructor on the National Cheerleaders’ Association staff for four years. After winning Goucher Freshman Dance Award in 2003, she ultimately graduated from Goucher College in Baltimore, MD in 2006. Since earning her Bachelors degree in Dance and International Relations with a Spanish minor, she went on to become the Resource Coordinator of Enlace Chicago/Rosario Castellanos Community School in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago while also performing with Corpo Dance Company for two years. During that time she became a founding board member of VillArte, an arts collective that plans arts events, including the Little Village Arts Festival, for which she was the Volunteer Co-Coordinator. Higgins left Chicago to teach English at Casa Do Caminho while training regularly with the Rio de Janeiro branch of Fundação de Capoeira Angola. Upon her return to New York in 2010, Higgins became the Program Director of the after school program through the Children’s Aid Society at P.S. 152/The Dyckman Valley School in Washington Heights. She received her master’s degree from Teachers College Columbia University in their Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages Master’s Program with a scholarship. Higgins is currently the English Language Development teacher as well as After-School Program Director at Environmental Charter Middle School in Gardena, CA and continues to take and teach dance classes while incorporating movement into the classroom.
JAMIAH HARRIS, TEACHING STAFF: Harris is Associate Director of Recruitment and Selection for The Broad Residency in Urban Education. In this role, he works on the development and execution of national and regional marketing and recruitment strategies, as well as on the Residency’s rigorous selection process. Before joining The Broad Center, Harris was a graduate consultant for the Brazil Foundation in Rio de Janeiro. He has also worked as an operations manager for the Head Start National Center on Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness, manager/director for the Associação dos Amigos da Casa do Caminho and as a compliance and trading specialist for optionsXpress. Harris holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Chicago and an M.P.A. from Columbia University with specializations in social policy and Latin America.
VALERIE TUTSON, STORYTELLING: Tutson graduated from Brown University with a Master’s Degree in Theatre Arts and a degree in a self-designed major: Storytelling as a Communications Art. Ms.Tutson has been telling stories in schools, churches, and libraries and at festivals and conferences since 1991. She draws her stories from around the world with an emphasis on African traditions. Her repertoire includes stories and songs she has learned in her travels to South Africa and her experiences in West Africa, as well as stories from African-American history. In addition, she is gaining a reputation for her exciting re-telling of Bible stories. She also teaches workshops and classes to students of all ages and hosts Cultural Tapestry, an award-winning television show which celebrates the cultural diversity of the Providence, Rhode Island (USA) area in which she lives. Tutson has served as co-director of the National Black Storytelling Festival and has been on the staff of the International Festival of Tolerance since 1999.
ELA WEISSBERGER, TEREZIN SURVIVOR: Weissberger was deported to Terezín in 1942 and remained there until the liberation of the camp by the Soviet army in 1945. She returned to Prague after the war, where she finished high school and attended art school. Ms. Weissberger performed the role of the “Cat” in all fifty-five performances of the children’s opera Brundibár in Terezín, including the one filmed for the Nazi propaganda film. She now lives in Tappan, New York, where she previously ran an interior design business. She now travels widely, speaking about the role of art and music in Terezín. She feels a special responsibility to speak to young people and is frequently invited to performances of Brundibár, where she speaks to young performers and audiences about her experiences and usually joins the final chorus, singing and marching along with the young performers.