Current Residency: Jay Adana and Zeniba Now

The University of Wisconsin–Madison Division of the Arts welcomes playwrights, musicians, and composers Jay Adana and Zeniba Now to campus October 6–16, 2022, launching the Interdisciplinary Arts Residency Program series for 2022–2023 in partnership with the Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives (OMAI).

The residency will include participation in the first Just Bust! Open Mic and Workshop events of the academic year along with guest lectures, workshops and rehearsals leading to a performance of The Loophole at the 16th Annual Passing the Mic (PtM) Festival.

About the Artists

Jay Adana headshot

JAY ADANA (she | her) is loud and shy. The Loophole (Public Theater Studio, music and lyrics), The Jordan & Avery Show (The O’Neill Theater Center, book, music, and lyrics), The Woodsman (New World Stages, lyrics), Notes From Now (59E59, contributed music and lyrics), Fingerpaintings (Playwrights Horizons Downtown, music and lyrics), LeFay (Musical Theater Factory, book and lyrics), The Last Tiger in Haiti (Berkeley Rep/La Jolla Playhouse, contributed music and lyrics). Currently developing The Jordan & Avery Show as a musical movie. 2020 Richard Rodgers Award, 2021 Vivace Award, 2018 Jonathan Larson Award, 2019 Dramatist Guild Foundation Fellow. Work featured by PBS, The American Theater Wing, Joe’s Pub, and The Dramatist Magazine. Residencies: Public Theater #BARS residency writer under Jeanie O’Hare, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, SPACE on Ryder Farm. Education: #BARS workshop founded by Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs, Acting BFA SUNY Purchase Conservatory.

Zeniba Now headshot

ZENIBA NOW is a musical storyteller and artscientist from Los Angeles. Millions of people have enjoyed her performances online and on stage. As a writer of musicals, her work includes Beloved (PBS, #BARS at The Public), Human Resources (St. Louis Rep, Woolly Mammoth), The Loophole (The Public Theater), and Take the Lead (forthcoming). Her one-woman specials “IQuit: Millennial Retirement Gala” and “Sincerely, Z” can be seen on TIk Tok and Youtube. Z has also collaborated with Buzzfeed, The New York Times, Mixed Blood, NYU Playwrights Horizons, Goodspeed Musicals, NYMF, Theatre Raleigh, Theatre by The Sea, RWS & Associates, La Mama, The Dramatist Guild Foundation, The American Theatre Wing, Joe’s Pub, The GreenRoom42, 54 Below, The Gibney, Ring of Keys, Democracy Now, Caveat, SPACE on Ryder Farm, SpeakEasy Stage, Signature Center, Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, Rhinebeck Writer’s Retreat, and more.

Zeniba is passionate about the effects of heart and brain coherence on human consciousness and has completed Alpha Brainwave Training 1 at Dr. James Hardt’s Biocybernaut Institute and two advanced retreats on piezoelectricity with Dr. Joe Dispenza. She has a degree in Musical Theatre from The Boston Conservatory at Berklee with an emphasis in Directing. Additional training in antiracism and leadership from Urban Bush Women, and graduate coursework in Trauma & Communal Suffering, The Shape of The Story, and Artist Identity from NYU Gallatin where she briefly pursued an Independent Masters in Musical Film and Television. Zeniba is the winner of the 2021 Jonathan Larson Award, 2021 Vivace Award, the 2020 Richard Rodgers Award, and West High’s Funniest Senior.


Guest Artists

The duo will be accompanied by guests Jess McLeod (Hamilton), Blu Rhythm Collective (Lyric Opera of Chicago), Christian Thompson (Devil Wears Prada, Ain’t Too Proud) Le’Asha Julius (Random Acts of Flyness), Tyler Fauntleroy (Tambo & Bones), Alessandra Valea (West Side Story), Jason Simon (Metropolitan Opera), Andrea Yohe, and Kelsey Baehrens for a performance of The Loophole at the 16th Annual Passing the Mic Festival.

Kelsey Baehrens

Kelsey Baehrens (she/her) is a bicoastal human who gets to do so much fun stuff, specializing primarily in positive vibes. Recently, she’s contributed vibes as an assistant with Broadway For Racial Justice, the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Music Theater Conference, and Kainalu Elementary School’s special education pre-K program. Associate directing credits: the NYCLU’s “Sing Out For Freedom” 2021 benefit concert (dir. Jess McLeod), We Won’t Sleep, a new musical about the right to vote (dir. Erin Ortman). Fave acting credits: Cambodian Rock Band (Manoa Valley Theater), Wild Swimming (KOA Theater), Lizzie, the Rock Musical (Playhouse Square), The Magic School Bus: Lost in the Solar System (Theaterworks USA, first national tour).

Le'Asha Julius

Le’Asha Julius is an actress from Washington D.C. She attended Duke Ellington School of the Arts and went on to receive her BFA from SUNY Purchase College. She is known for her role as Wendy in HBO’s Random Acts of Flyness and Jasmine in Still Here which premiered at Sundance Film Festival. Le’Asha has worked with The Public Theater, The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, Howard University, and Carnegie Hall among many other endeavors. In her free time, she’s a songwriter and has performed at Black Thought’s “School of Thought” and has opened for several artists including Kendrick Lamar, Salt ‘n’ Peppa, Noname, and Talib Kweli. Le’Asha is currently the first year acting teacher at SUNY Purchase’s Conservatory of Acting BFA program.

Christian Thompson

Christian Thompson is a mixed race, multi-hyphenated artist from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Broadway: Thoughts Of A Colored Man, Ain’t Too Proud. Regional: Devil Wears Prada (World Premier), Catch Me If You Can (Arena Stage), Skeleton Crew (Marin Theatre/Theatreworks). Tour: Rent (Benny, u/s Roger). Commission Writer at Penn State, ’22. Catalyst Finalist (Pilot) and Resident Writer with Fosters Residency in ’21. BFA Musical Theatre from Penn State. @christianthompsonactor

Alessandra Valea

Alessandra Valea is a performing artist, director, choreographer, a certified teacher through Dance Educators of America, and also currently serves as the Artistic Director of both Metuchen Dance Centre and the Theatre Arts Conservatory in New Jersey. She is also the Director MDC’s pre-professional dance company, Dance Reflections. Notable choreo & directing projects include: Cabaret (Brook Arts Center, NJ), The View Upstairs (SpeakEasy Stage, Boston), #BARS III: The Loophole, (The Public Theater, NYC), Public Speaking’s HAIR:50 (The Public Theater, NYC), Spamalot (N.H.T. Award Nom.), Fingerpaintings (Playwrights Horizons NYU), Jay Adana’s Larsen Legacy Concert (American Theatre Wing/Adelphi), Dirty Secrets (Tony & the Kiki), Cabaret, Reefer Madness, Dancing At Lughnasa, Urinetown, I Love You Because (The Boston Conservatory), and The Duke Ellington Nutcracker (Metuchen Dance Centre). Alessandra has her BFA from The Boston Conservatory with a triple emphasis in Acting, Dance and Choreography, and is a member of Actors Equity Association.

Andrea Yohe

Andrea Yohe is a recent NYC transplant from Nashville, Tennessee Although primarily a pianist, she is a theatre major turned Music Director and has been working on musicals in various capacities for many years. Most recently, she’s been fortunate enough to work on a handful of original new works in the city. Andrea is a proud Maestra member.


The October 2022 Interdisciplinary Arts Residency is presented by the UW–Madison Division of the Arts with aryn kresol as program coordinator and by the Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives (OMAI) with Director Sofía Snow as residency lead.