The 13th Annual

Aspen Fringe June Festival

June 11-12, 2021

The Wheeler Opera House, Aspen

A journey of hope and renewal through the voices of artists

Behind The ScenesThe ProgramArtist BiosDigital Program

JuneFest 2021 was made possible thanks in part to the support of our season sponsor
Weber Boxer Group
brokerage | real estate | development

as well as generous support from
The City of Aspen and Wheeler Opera House Arts Grant Program

Behind-the-Scenes

Playwright Simon Stephens discusses the creation of I Want To Wake Up and Heisenberg

Tiziano Gortan of Aspen’s L’Hostaria captures Photographer Jim Paussa in this “making-of” Safely Serving, with music by Allan Rubinstein

Choreographer Adrianna Thompson discusses the creation of Phoenix Rising

Composer de Sabinas discusses the inspiration and process behind The Lighthouse Fantasie

The Program

PHOTOGRAPHY

SAFELY SERVING

Photographs by Jim Paussa
Commissioned by L’Hostaria owner Tziano Gortan, Jim Paussa’s series on beloved Aspen restaurants is an homage to the employees, owners, servers, cooks, and staff across the industry. This multimedia presentation, designed by Nikki Boxer, features music by Monica Montany and Allan Rubinstein.

THEATRE

HOUR TWENTY

A new work by Sharr White
A man walks into a salon expecting his scheduled hour-twenty massage. What he gets is much less, and yet far more, than he expected. This new work by acclaimed Broadway playwright and former AFF Playwright-in-Residence Sharr White explores suddenness, connectedness, and universality during the age of COVID.

featuring David Ledingham and Sonya Meyer
with Mike Monroney, Samantha Altenau, and Aidan Ledingham
Directed by Maurice LaMee

DANCE

ON THE HORIZON

In this post-quarantine reinvention of a previously choreographed piece, dancer Samantha Altenau (featured in AFF’s 2020 FallFest) explores identity shifts and self-discovery as a journey of movement.

Choreography by Mark Caserta
Performed by Samantha Altenau

MUSIC

THE LIGHTHOUSE FANTASIE

Based on Franz Schubert’s Fantasie in F minor and drawing on texts from Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, this new classical vocal work captures the musings and wanderings of a mind alone in quarantine. AFF will feature the opening excerpt from this operatic-style composition, created by de Sabinas specifically for Aspen Fringe Festival and mezzo-soprano Nikki Boxer.

Composed by de Sabinas
Sung by Nikki Boxer

FRINGE LAB

I WANT TO WAKE UP

A new pandemic text by Tony-Award® winning playwright Simon Stephens
With its rhythmic and cerebral logic, I Want To Wake Up came out of an experiment in form with a choreographer, drums and bass DJ. This poetic and dramatic work explores the sharp, impossible-to-satisfy desire for sensual, sexual, economic, emotional, and physical experience in the face of mortality.

featuring Mike Monroney, Aidan Ledingham, and Kathy Pelowski
Directed by Maurice LaMee

Film

SHE LEFT HOME FOR A WHILE

A metaphor for the pre-COVID life.
TEXT & VOICED BY: Simon Stephens
DIRECTOR: William Kahn
FEATURING: David Ledingham
PHOTOGRAPHY & EDITING: Joshua Kessler

THEATRE

HEISENBERG

A sneak-peek of the upcoming 2022 AFF/Jewel Theatre production
An excerpt from Simon Stephens’ love story about a chance encounter between a 42-year-old mother and a 75-year-old butcher, and the chain of events it sets in motion.

featuring Mike Monroney and Nikki Boxer

DANCE

PHOENIX RISING

The phoenix was a huge mythological bird that cyclically was resurrected by arising from the ashes of its own fiery grave. To rise like a phoenix from the ashes means to emerge from a catastrophe stronger, with life reborn and transformed. Created for three best friends – Bolanos, Rassenti and Tiedeman – who found themselves furloughed from Aspen Santa Fe Ballet during the Covid-19 pandemic, this original work is dedicated to all performers who must now struggle to spread their wings again and breathe new life into their art.

Choreography by Adrianna Thompson
Performed by Katherine Bolanos, Seia Rassenti and Anthony Tiedeman

Artist Bios

Alphabetical by Surname

Samantha Altenau
Dancer

Samantha grew up in Southern California dancing at Dance Studio 84 under the tutelage of Carla Hunt Smallwood and at Cuizon ballet center with Lisa Cuizon. She was guided by Katherine Wolanske in modern and contemporary before attending the Ailey/Fordham B.F.A. Program in New York. She has performed works by William Forsythe, Mats Ek, Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey, Carolyn Dorfman, Robert Moses, Stefanie Batten-Bland, Claudia Schreier, etc. She has trained at Alonzo King Lines Ballet, The San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, Carolina Ballet, Arts Umbrella, and the Graham School.  She danced with Graham II, Miriam Barbosa Dance, has performed as a guest artist for Adria Ferrali, director of the Danza in Arte a Pietrasanta, and performed as a semi finalist on ‘America’s Got Talent’ at Radio City Music Hall. She danced with Carolyn Dorfman dance for two years, and is thrilled to be moving to Aspen to partner with Adrianna Thompson in establishing Trémula Dance Theater. 

Nikki Boxer
AFF Associate Artistic Director
Actor & Singer
Visual & Audio Designer 

A classically trained singer with a passion for theater, Nikki has been praised for compelling interpretations of music across a variety of genres. Her vocal repertoire ranges from opera and art song to Broadway and jazz. Nikki’s work as a soloist has included J.S. Bach’s Cantata BWV 170 for Alto & Orchestra and a self-programmed cabaret of musical memories entitled Colored Lights. Other solo performances include Durufle’s Requiem with the Aspen Chapel, Another Side of Sondheim with Music in the West End, and numerous classical recitals in the Roaring Fork Valley. Recent theatre productions include the first U.S. reading of David Ireland’s Ulster American (Ruth) with Aspen Fringe Festival, Henry Award-nominated Constellations (Marianne) with Thunder River Theatre Company, Theatre Aspen’s Cabaret (Fräulein Kost) and Les Misérables (Mme. Thénardier), Venus in Fur (Vanda) with Aspen Fringe Festival, and Harold Pinter’s Betrayal (Emma) with Hudson Reed Ensemble. Raised in New England, Nikki holds a degree in vocal performance from Tulane University in New Orleans. She apprenticed with The Santa Fe Opera and continued vocal studies at Longy School, IIVA Italy, LidalNorth in Oslo, and Sherrill Milnes’ VOICE Foundation. She has studied Meisner technique with John Ruskin at the Ruskin School of Acting in Santa Monica, CA, and ran an Aspen-based nonprofit play reading group, Nimble Rabbit, from 2013-2015. She is the associate artistic director of Aspen Fringe Festival.

Mark Caserta
Choreographer

“I strive to make art for and of the soul. To see, to heal, to hope, to search, to understand, to learn, to grow, to continue.” -Mark

Mark Caserta, from Philadelphia, graduated from the University of the Arts School of Dance with a BFA in 2010. He danced professionally with international touring companies Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Les Ballets Jazz De Montreal and Camille A. Brown & Dancers since then. Mark has been awarded the Philadelphia Rocky Award for Outstanding Dance Performance, The Patrick Swayze Scholarship from Complexions Ballet and the Pennsylvania Ballet Choreography Award. Mark was a 2018 Emerging Choreographer at Springboard Danse Montreal and premiered his first full evening length work ‘BIG KID’ at Gibney NY POP Performance Series in February 2019. Mark was commissioned to set new works on Pennsylvania Ballet II, Grace Dance Theater, Dark Circles Contemporary Dance with partner Mikey Morado 2019, Atlanta based company Kit Modus 2019 and Whim W’him Contemporary Dance Seattle for 2020. Mark was named the 2019/2020 EMERGE Award Recipient with Gibney Company & Springboard Danse Montreal. With this award, Mark was commissioned for a new creation on Gibney Company in Spring 2020. Mark has presented work at Wanderlust Dance Festival, The Austin Dance Festival, Dance Gallery Festival, The Banff Center for Performing Arts Choreographic Gesture, The Boston Dance Festival, Steps On Broadway Choreography Lab and the Brooklyn Dance Festival. He has also created work on the University of the Arts School of Dance and Pace University. Mark was co-director of The Thriving Artist Project from 2017-2020, a program offering a free Pre-Professional experience to young dance artists. He was also on faculty teaching Ballet, Contemporary Ballet and Movement Research at Dance industry Performing Arts Center. He currently is a freelance teacher, dancer and choreographer creating new work for his own project.

de Sabinas
Composer

de Sabinas is the composer pen name of Rolando Garza Rodríguez, a Mexican composer, pianist, conductor and painter. Rodríguez was born in Sabinas, Coahuila, Mexico and from an early age showed talent as both pianist and composer. At age 11 he won First Prize with his piece “Ballet” at the Universidad Regiomontana’s Children Composition Competition. In 2006 he was selected as Mexico’s “Premio Nacional de la Juventud,” a national award given to only two persons each year for outstanding achievements. Rodríguez holds a Bachelor in Piano from the University of Houston and a Master’s Degree in Piano from The Manhattan School of Music. He has had a long career in European opera houses, including as Kapellmeister, Korrepetitor and Music Director at the Opera Studio in Theater Basel in Switzerland, and Head of Music in Theater Bremen, Luzerner Theater and Theater für Niedersachen in Hildesheim, Germany. He has led masterclasses and taught at vocal programs in Italy, Israel, Belgium, and France, among others, has conducted extensively, and is regarded as one of Europe’s most sought after opera coaches. Rodríguez is credited as having given the first-ever, non-school related Opera Zoom Class for SoftlyLoud Artist Consulting, where he is one of the music directors. His compositions are performed worldwide. He is also a professional painter. 

Katherine Eberle Bolaños
Dancer

A native of Oklahoma City, Katherine began her professional career at the age of 15 with Ballet Oklahoma where she danced for seven years. As a guest artist with Long Beach Ballet, she toured extensively throughout Taiwan and China, performing the role of Jasmine in Aladdin. In 2004, she joined the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet under the direction of Jean-Philippe Malaty and Tom Mossbrucker, where she remained for 16 seasons. During her time in Aspen, Katherine enjoyed dancing all over the world in close to 50 ballets, 23 of which were commissioned. She feels fortunate to have worked with and performed ballets by world renowned choreographers including Bryan Arias, Gerald Arpino, Cherice Barton, Alejandro Cerrudo, Norbert De La Cruz III, Dominique Dumais, Alexander Ekman, Jorma Elo, Nicolo Fonte, Itzik Galili, Jiri Kylian, Fernando Melo, Cayetano Soto, David Parsons, Moses Pendleton, Helen Pickett, Dwight Rhoden, and Twyla Tharp. During this past year, Katherine obtained her Associates in Psychology from Colorado Mountain College and is looking forward to her future endeavors.

William Kahn
Filmmaker

A 2020 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, filmmaker William Kahn is an Aspen native. He has written and directed an award winning short film, “The Grove”, which was shot on location in the Hunter Creek Valley. He is currently working on a spiritual sequel, which wrapped production in August.

Maurice Lamee
Director

Maurice LaMee is the Head of the Department of Theatre Arts at Colorado Mesa University. Until 2016 he was Director of Aspen Words, a literary program of the Aspen Institute. Prior to Aspen and CMU, he served as Executive and Artistic Director of the Creede Repertory Theatre (2000 to 2012). During Maurice’s tenure at CRT, the theatre received a multitude of national and regional accolades, including Outstanding Achievement in Theatre from the National Theatre Conference. He’s been involved at the Aspen Fringe for several years, directing plays by Sharr White and Penelope Skinner.

Aidan Ledingham
Actor

Aidan is currently starring in the YouTube web series Unsocial. This is Aidan’s second time performing for AFF. He is currently enrolled the Acting BFA Program at PACE University in NYC. He booked a TV series pilot, INFINITY, in 2020 and plays the lead role in a new web series to be released in June 2021. Aidan performed in Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s Nutcracker and at Theatre Aspen in Wizard of OZ (Tin Man), Bugsy Malone (Fat Sam), Willy Wonka (Augustus Gloop), and elsewhere in Guys & Dolls (Nicely Nicely Johnson), Peter Pan (Slightly Soiled) and in Oliver! He writes music, plays the piano and was the lead singer of the rock band The Killer Fleas. Aidan studied acting at American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco and Berkeley Repertory Theatre.

David Ledingham
AFF Artistic Director and Founder

David co-wrote and directed the play The Song that killed the Snake, with a 16 piece chamber orchestra at the LA Philharmonic, directed the film Hitler Stalin & Walter O’Malley and has directed theatre nationally. Acting credits include starring as Signor Nacarelli in the Broadway National Tour of Lincoln Center’s Tony Award-winning The Light in the Piazza Directed by Bart Sher and in Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s Tony Award-winning The Grapes of Wrath at the National Theatre, London and the La Jolla Playhouse.  Recent credits include 1776 at American Conservatory Theatre directed by Tony award winner Frank Galati, the lead role in Chinglish at Berkeley Repertory Theatre and as Oscar in The Odd Couple, Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls and the Guardsman in Enter the Guardsman, and many more.  He starred in the film Final Judgement, and on TV in Law & Order, and was a series regular on ABC’s One Life to Live.

Sonya Meyer
Actor

Sonya is very grateful for her continued arts opportunities throughout this pandemic. Recent credits include touring her solo cabaret A Day of Sky, as well as performing with Beth Malone’s Covid cabaret. Sonya performs frequently with Thunder River Theatre Company and was nominated for a Henry Award for its production of The Doyle and Debbie Show. Locally, Sonya directs for Basalt High School, Theatre Aspen, and TRTC. She is a proud member of Consensual Improv and Aspen’s Local Legends, and is a ski instructor with ASC.

Mike Monroney
Actor

Mike Monroney is a Colorado native and long-time veteran of the fabled Crystal Palace. He is the “History Coach” for the Aspen Historical Society, and his play A Briefly Complete History of Aspen has been extensively performed in Colorado as well as in Los Angeles and Lincoln. He has acted and/or directed for Theatre Aspen, Thunder River Theatre Co., the Hudson Reed Ensemble, Aspen Fringe, Sopris Theatre Co., Snowmass Chapel, The Broadway Players, and Aspen Community Theatre. His 2017 production of Constellations at TRTC (featuring Nikki Boxer) was nominated for three Henry Awards including Best Production of a Play and Best Director. Mike is one of the original members of TRTC’s resident comedy troupe, “Consensual Improv,” and performs regularly with that group up and down the Roaring Fork Valley. His last appearance for the Aspen Fringe Festival was as Torvald in A Doll’s House, Part 2.

Monica Montany
Vocalist

At the age of 12, Monica received an Ella Fitzgerald CD as a birthday gift from her sister Nikki Boxer, and she quickly became obsessed with the great American songbook. She also shared her love of jazz standards with her grandfather, Gene Montany, who was once a big band drummer in the Hartford, CT area. She sang with Aspen local Dan Sadowsky in the Pastor Mustard Swing Band 2009-2011 and performed with Theatre Aspen during that time as well. After 6 years as a NYC late night trad-jazz groupie and jam session prowler, Monica has returned to Aspen and sings with her local band called Sweet Temerity.

Jim Paussa
Photographer

It seems like I’ve had a camera in my hand since high school photo class. After school I turned everything upside-down and began cowboying around ranches in the mountains of Montana. I experienced the amazing light of sunrise and sunset and storms and stillness. Being outside all day everyday means I didn’t only view nature; I lived the wind, heat, rain, snow, and serenity. It was authentic. Years later I made my first trip to Italy. I returned each year for the following ten years. I studied the art & architecture but mostly the food and learned creativity is important in everything we do. I hope all travelers to Italy return with a different sense of what is important in their lives. I turned professional 20 years ago. My specialty is portraiture. I enjoy the challenge and complexity of dealing with people. Some love the camera and others hate it. I like to joke, “If you hate getting your picture taken then I’m your man.” Since I love what I do my portrait sessions are always fun. Anyone can operate an automatic camera. The professional photographer has technical skills such as lens choice and lighting ability. The fine-art portrait photographer also needs patience and intuition to make a beautiful photograph. I also add a combination of relaxed fun and creativity. Learn more at paussa.com.

Kathy Pelowski
Actor

Kathryn Pelowski performed the soprano solos in the Mozart Mass and the R.V. William’s Mass throughout the UK and Europe. The Aspen Music Festival and School brought Kathy on a vocal scholarship to Aspen, where she performed the role of the Dew Fairy in Hansel and Gretel and was featured as a soloist singing contemporary music in the Benedict Music Tent. She has also performed locally with Pegasus Repertory Theater, the Hudson Reed Ensemble in the roles of Lady Anne in Richard III, Elizabeth Proctor in The Crucible, and various roles in Stagestruck and The Generations of Tantatus. Kathy performed a title role with Theater Aspen in Lies and Legends. With 4 Rivers Professional Theater she was the Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods and was the soprano in the Quartet in City of Angels. Other favorite roles include Yum Yum in The Mikado, Charlotte in A Little Night Music, Luisa in The Fantasticks, Glory and Hope in Almost Maine, and Maria in The Sound of Music (winning a best actress award in MN). Kathy performed many seasons at the Crystal Palace, doing sketch comedy reviews. She was featured in the ABC Movie of the Week, Murder in High Places, and in Willy Bogner’s Fire and Ice. Kathy has also appeared in numerous national and regional commercials.

Seia Rassenti Watson
Dancer

Seia grew up dancing in Southern Arizona. Training with Flamenco Y Maś by Olivia Rojo, and Tucson Regional Ballet established her base of movement appreciation. In 2006, she graduated from Kirov Academy of Ballet, Washington DC, as Salutatorian before joining North Carolina Dance Theater, where working with choreographer Dwight Rhoden solidified her love for contemporary ballet. Recently, she spent 11 consecutive seasons creating and performing with Aspen SantaFe Ballet. Seia is very excited about returning to performing arts and sharing dance creations with others in a live audience.

Allan Rubinstein
Musician

New York-based guitarist Allan Rubinstein began playing the guitar at age 11. By 13, he could be found performing professionally in various groups in and around the NYC area. Growing up in Wayne, NJ, Allan was initially influenced by the pop music of his generation, but soon fell in love with jazz. Through the advice of his teacher, Vic Juris, Allan auditioned for and was accepted to play in the William Paterson University Big Band at age 15. In order to immerse himself in the vibrant jazz scene of NYC, Allan later attended the New School and  began performing in various venues, including a year-long residency at the well-known jazz club Smalls with the Alex Stein Quartet. For the past several years, Allan has led his own group, regularly showcasing his original compositions and arrangements at the jazz club Fat Cat. He can also be found honing his craft on  jazz standards at several restaurants, including Antique Garage, Sarabeth’s, and Dock’s. Allan has focused much of his energy outside the jazz genre as well,  performing with and composing and arranging nearly all of the music for the rock group Delusions of Grand Street and  collaborating on various experimental projects. Most recently, in an effort to expand his musical horizons, Allan has been working to master and performing on the upright bass as well. Learn more at allanrubinstein.com

Simon Stephens
Playwright
2015 Tony Award-winner

For 20 years Simon Stephens’ work has been widely translated and produced throughout the world. He has won several awards including Olivier and Tony Awards for new plays. His work ranges from the deeply political, considering such subjects such as the 7/7 London bombings (Pornography) or the possibility of school shootings in the UK (Punk Rock) to the intimate and personal (Heisenberg, Harper Regan). His most famous play is his adaptation of Mark Haddon’s best-selling novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. He has written new English-language versions of masterpieces by Chekhov, Ibsen and Brecht, collaborated with the world’s leading theatre practitioners and produced original work throughout Europe and the US. He has been Artistic Associate at the Lyric, Hammersmith and Associate Playwright at the Royal Court Theatre. Simon has taught playwriting workshops in five continents and is a Professor at the Writing School of Manchester Metropolitan University.

Adrianna Thompson
Founder/Artistic Director SOULSKIN Dance
AFF Director of Dance

Adrianna is the Founder/Artistic Director of San Francisco-based dance company SOULSKIN Dance and director of dance programming for the Aspen Fringe Festival. SOULSKIN has premiered works at Dance Mission, PUSHFest, SjDANCEco, Mark Foehringer Dance Project(Dancing in the Park SF), Santa Barbara HH11 Dance Festival, and was presented twice at the Aspen Art Museum and Aspen Fringe Festival.  She received a BFA in Dance from Cal State Long Beach and danced professionally in New York City for over 15 years with Battery Dance Co, Carolyn Dorfman Dance Co, Mark DeGarmo & Dancers, and worked with Bella Lewitzky, Milton Myers, Jonathan Wolken, Brenda Daniels, Risa Steinberg, and Mary Jane Eisenberg. As Artistic Director of MEFTAS Dance Theatre in New York City for 10 years, Adrianna’s choreography was presented at Joyce SoHo, the Cunningham Studio, The Riverside Theatre, Mulberry Street Theater, the Downtown Arts Festival, Trisha Brown Studios, Movement Research, Theater for the New City, Dance Space, and the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen, CO. Thompson was awarded Performance of the Year by the Boston Globe and was on faculty for Aspen Santa Fe Ballet for ten years, and guest faculty for Alonzo King LINES Ballet. A Specialized Master Teacher in GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS®, she has been practicing the method for over 28 years. Adrianna was commissioned by the Aspen Art Museum in 2016 to create a site-specific work for SOULSKIN as part of the museum’s Alan Shields exhibit, as well as a residency as a part of an outreach program for children in 2017. In April 2019 SOULSKIN Dance premiered Parallel Dialogues at the Boulder Dairy Arts Center and has partnered with Glide Memorial Church to provide dance classes to underprivileged youth in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District. In Sept, 2019 SOULSKIN premiered a new ballet entitled Golden Mean to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus Art Movement at Dance Mission. For more info visit SoulskinDance.org

Anthony Tiedeman
Dancer

Anthony was born and raised in New Jersey. He moved to New York City to attend The Juilliard School under the direction of Lawrence Rhodes. There he performed in feature and lead roles in works by master choreographers José Limon, Paul Taylor, Lar Lubovitch, and Merce Cunningham. Upon graduation in 2015, Anthony moved to Aspen to join Aspen Santa Fe Ballet. In his six seasons as a dancer, he toured the world to places like Italy, France, Canada, Mexico, and Israel. Anthony performed roles in repertory works by Jiri Kylián, Nicolo Fonte, and Alex Ekman. He also had the opportunity to create roles in ballets by Cayetano Soto, Jorma Elo, Bryan Arias, Cherice Barton, and Alejandro Cerrudo. In addition to his life on stage, Anthony enjoys time in the studio teaching private lessons and master workshops. He is excited to return to the stage with Aspen Fringe Festival!

Sharr White
Playwright
AFF 2015 Playwright-in-Residence

In 2019,  Sharr’s play The True premiered Off-Broadway at The New Group Starring Edie Falco.  The Other Place received its Broadway premiere at Manhattan Theatre Club with Joe Mantello again directing Laurie Metcalf (Tony nom). The Other Place was also a recipient of the 2010 Playwrights First Award; the 20011 Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation’s Theatre Visions Fund Award; and was an Outer Critics Circle Award nominee for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play.  Annapurna premiered at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco. The Los Angeles premiere of Annapurna was directed at the Odyssey Theatre by Bart DeLorenzo, and moved Off-Broadway in the spring of 2014. The Snow Geese premiered on Broadway at the Samuel J. Friedman theatre starring Mary Louise Parker, Victoria Clark and Danny Burstein, and directed by Daniel Sullivan, as a co-production between Manhattan Theatre Club and MCC Theatre.

Our Commitment To Safety

AFF and The Wheeler Opera House continue to monitor public health conditions and will operate following all state and county health orders to safeguard its artists, patrons, staff, and community. Guidelines may change at any time.

  • If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please stay home and do not attend the performance.
  • Masks must be worn while in the lobby, at the box office, and as you move throughout the theatre.
  • Maintain social distancing and please follow designated traffic flow patterns to avoid clustering.
  • Performances will run approximately 1 hour with no intermission.
  • Performers have been fully vaccinated as per CDC guidelines.
  • Performers and staff will not participate if they are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19.