The S.T.A.R. Program (Serving Teens through Arts Resources) is an award-winning, nationally recognized, evidence-based, multi-session peer education program, which addresses behaviors related to adolescent emotional and physical health. Featuring an ensemble company trained as peer educators and advocates for young people, this theater-based program introduces the tools necessary to promote positive attitudes, build risk reduction skills, and link youth with health care and social services.
The S.T.A.R. Program was founded in 1989 in response to the escalating, but then unrecognized, HIV/AIDS epidemic among urban youth. For 30 years S.T.A.R.’s edgy, engaging programming with full-length, interactive theater performances and in-depth follow-up facilitation workshops have served more than 2 million young people develop the skills, confidence, and strategies they need to overcome a range of tough health and social issues which include: domestic and gang violence, cyber-bullying, healthy dating relationships, negotiating peer and partner pressure, deciding whether and with whom to have sex, gender roles and stereotypes, teen pregnancy prevention, teen parenting, HIV and STD’s, sexual orientation, and substance use.
S.T.A.R.’s portfolio of age and culturally appropriate interventions address youth from the 5th grade through young adulthood with specifically designed theatrical productions and educational workshops for each developmental level. Through direct service in classrooms and youth agencies each year, S.T.A.R. provides a safe space for vulnerable young people to gain access to health and sexuality information and skills that can change the course of their lives, without the heavy handed, academically oriented "lecture" style of the classroom that they so often reject. Actor/educators (who reflect the age and diversity of our City’s youth) in collaborations with trained facilitators, craft compelling, relatable characters and dramatic material that models healthy alternatives and explore the attitudes, situations and behaviors that put young people at risk. Under the auspices of the United Nations, S.T.A.R.’s founder, Dr. Cydelle Berlin, has shared the S.T.A.R. model widely across Eastern Europe, South Asia and North Africa.
Dr. Cydelle Berlin
Dr. Cydelle Berlin founded STAR Theatre in 1987.
An internationally recognized expert in the field of Adolescent Sexuality, Dr. Berlin holds a Ph.D. from New York University in Health Education and Human Sexuality, with a specialty in Adolescent Development and Sexuality. She also holds a Master level degree in Communication Technology from New York University .
Dr. Berlin is also the co-founder of the Adolescent AIDS Prevention Program at Mount Sinai Hospital’s Adolescent Health Center where she was the co-director of the program and the Executive Producer of STAR Theatre for 11 years. (1987-1998).
Dr. Berlin and the program have received numerous national and local awards for innovation in the field of peer education, educational theater and sexuality education for young people. In 1996, PBS produced an award winning film called “Sex and Other Matters of Life and Death” about Dr. Berlin and her program. She is also the winner of a national CableAce for best television programming for a cable series on adolescent sexuality topics that she wrote, produced and hosted called “On the Edge”. Most recently Dr. Berlin produced S.T.A.R.’s Off-Broadway show “Sex and Other Matters: The Reality Show at Theatre 3 in Manhattan .
In addition to her work with S.T.A.R., Dr. Berlin consults with many organizations nationally and internationally, on adolescent sexuality, HIV and on the use of innovative methodology. Among her many consultations, she works with the United Nations (UNFPA) where she trains young professionals from the regions of North and Eastern Europe on adolescent sexuality and the use of theater as an educational tool. She and her colleague, Ken Hornbeck wrote a manual on developing educational theater, which is being used by the United Nations. She has also been a presenter or a keynote speaker at dozens of regional and national conferences and meetings.
Terrence has been working with S.T.A.R. since his years in high school. Terrence has worked as an Actor/Educator as well as a facilitator for numerous S.T.A.R. interventions. A graduate of the “FAME” Performing Arts High School in New York City , he has appeared Off-Broadway, and in film and television. Terrence also works with Zinc as a Life Skills facilitator/actor for the NFL and NBA.
Chuk is an actor, writer, director and choreographer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from SUNY Geneseo, where he studied communication with a double minor in musical theatre and dance. He has served as STAR Theatre's choreographer for 12 years.
Obasi is also currently a company member with The Private Theatre, a Movement Director at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting, and an Adjunct Professor of Musical Theatre at Drew University. He has recently worked with Intersections International (Artist in Residence), the National Dance Institute (Teaching Artist), and Village Playback Theatre (Performer). Recent works include Let Me Fluff Your Pillow (May 2019, Director); Rocco, Chelsea, Adriana, Sean, Claudia, Gianna, Alex at HERE Arts (2019, starring as Rocco); Twisted Operettas at The Public Theater (2019, Co-Lyricist); The Neighbors at the Italian Theatre Festival (2018, Director); one-man play The Actual Dance at the United Solo Festival (2018, performer); Music concert A Drink with Death (2018, Lyricist) at Feinstein’s/54 Below; Critically acclaimed play Uniform Justice (Playwright/ Director), which he produced at the 2015 NY International Fringe Festival; Award-winning Feature films “The Depths(2017)” and “79 Parts(2016)” (Actor); A 2018 artist residency with The Marble House Project in Vermont (Actor); A 2016 artist residency at the Actor’s Studio (Actor); And 2015 arts residencies at Irondale Theater, SUNY Geneseo, and Central College in Iowa. He has also been recently seen performing original spoken word poetry for the Diamond Empowerment Fund 2016 and 2017 Galas in Las Vegas and at The Declaration Initiative 2016 Conference in Washington, DC. He will be serving as Artist-in-Residence for a June 2019 residency at the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands.
Obasi is a recent recipient of the 2019 Zelda Fichandler Award - a full scholarship to study with the Michael Chekhov Association this Summer in New London, CT.
A New York native, born in Queens and raised in the Bronx, Obasi currently resides in Manhattan with his wife and two sons. Twitter: @ChukObasi
Henry Waletzko is an artist, educator, and activist whose work focuses primarily around creating safe spaces for LGBTQ youth. In addition to his work with STAR, he is a Program and Development Coordinator with the Sam and Devorah foundation for Trans Youth, and also works for the GLSEN's Education and Youth Programs Department. Henry holds a degree in the Study of Women and Gender from Smith College, and is thrilled to be able to combine love of theater with his work in social justice and education.
Tay Bass is thrilled to be returning as a facilitator for S.T.A.R. after touring with the company in their 2017 season. She has so much love for this incredible company, its a gift to work with such committed and giving artists everyday. She was last seen as Peep One in Hype Man: a break beat play at The Flea. Tay received her BFA in Acting from LIU Post, and is committed to creating and performing in work that is relevant to today's sociopolitical climate. www.taybass.com
Joey Brenneman, has worked in the theater world as an actor, playwright, director, teacher and producer for over twenty years. She started her career as an actor with STAR upon graduation from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She grew with the company and eventually became the Artistic Director. In 2000, she stepped down to pursue other projects and returned in 2015 with new experiences in theater, film, live-streaming, video web content and social media. Joey directs theater at Columbia Secondary School and she has worked with teenagers at Mount Sinai’s Adolescent Health Center to create and produce educational films and PSA’s. Her film, Taking a Step Back, won entrance into the Urban Visionaries Film Festival and won the Best of Specials Award by Manhattan Neighborhood Network. As a playwright, Joey has had three plays produced in New York City including Better Left Unsaid which was the first, live-streamed play. As a director, Joey has directed several shows at the New York International Fringe Festival. Two of which have won Overall Excellence Awards for Best Ensemble. Joey has been a guest teacher/director at The New School and New York University.
Director of Education
Alex Bernui is a director and teaching artist residing in Brooklyn. He is a graduate from Oberlin College where he received a B.A. in Theatre with a concentration in Directing. He was a member of the Tony-Award winning Intiman Theater’s Emerging Artist Program in 2016. Their work has been shown at Oberlin College, Barnard College, and in small educational communities accesos the country. Most recently, Alex was the assistant executive director and show director for the Oberlin Children’s Shakespeare Project. They joined STAR in 2017 as the company stage manager, and is thrilled to be back this season as the director.
Michalos Management LLC
Leah Michalos is a theatrical producer and general manager. She was the editor of fzine, an arts and literary journal for youth based in the School of Art Institute of Chicago where she frequently collaborated with art educators in the Chicago Public Schools to bring arts to the classroom, among various other projects. Leah also served as Education Director for O’Neill at Yale/Playwrights Theater of New York, heading the “chain-of-mentorship” between professional playwrights, playwrights at Yale, and aspiring playwrights in the New Haven Public School system.
General management credits include: Renee Taylor’s My Life on a Diet (Lucille Lortel and Outer Critics Circle nominations) In The Pocket, Terms of Endearment with Molly Ringwald, Butler, A Better Place, The Road to Damascus, On a Stool at the End of the Bar, Almost Home, Jericho, Murder in the First, Poetic License, The Best of Everything. Director: GABBY Awards at Carnegie Hall, El Capitan (LA) and Ellis Island.
MFA, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Creative Developer/Lead Facilitator
Cory Wade is a multi-medium entertainer and activist most well known for competing and placing third on cycle 20 of America's Next Top Model. Now a prominent voice within the LGBTQ+ community, Cory has used his televised platform to take a strong socio-political stance. Cory has been published in the Huffington Post, Teen Vogue, Allure, Buzzfeed, People, Elite Daily, the NY Times and others in various articles about gender non-conformity as well as general queer culture in today’s society. He has toured the US to speak at multiple colleges & universities on effective allyship, inclusion, equality and human understanding. Cory Wade's debut album, "UNIFY" (independently released August 31st, 2017) was produced by Alan Glass who has produced iconic records from the likes of Aretha Franklin, The Temptations, Jennifer Holiday and more!
Zahaira Curiel is a native New Yorker, born and raised in Washington Heights, with roots planted in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. She is a graduate of Hunter College, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Music. Zahaira is currently in the cast of Mexico Beyond Mariachi's: Sugar Skull, Platanos & Collard Greens and the sketch group Clementine team, part of the Boogiemanja family. You can catch her improvising with The Code Switch. Last year she co-produced the sold out all-POC women production CrazySexyCruel at The PIT. When she is not performing, you can find her working with non-profits such as Statement Arts and is honored to be a part of the S.T.A.R. at the Director's Company family. Oh, and she’s a lover of all things desserts and even has her own cupcake company, Sassy’s Sweets! @zahairacuriel
Andrew Dahreddine is an NYC-based casting director, actor, producer & drag performer (moonlighting as Sausalita Turkey). He has been the casting director for STAR since 2017, after working with the company as an actor. He was the casting assistant for the 1st season of the hit Hulu show, "Ramy," in addition to casting and producing several staged readings and workshops. Television Acting: "Homicide City" Ep. 201 (Caleb Fairley) for Investigation Discovery. Selected Theatre Acting: Macbeth (dirs. Kenneth Branagh & Rob Ashford), Miss Julie (dir.Thomas Ostermeier), Anne Frank in the Gaza Strip at Planet Connections, As You Like It & Measure for Measure with The Drilling Company. Regional Acting: The Comedy of Errors, Cinderella, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and A Christmas Carol (Alabama Shakespeare Fest.). Andrew holds a BFA in Acting from NYU, with a minor in Producing.
Twitter/Instagram: @Dramaddine www.AndrewDahreddine.com