Walken Schweigert, Founder, Composer & Artistic Director
Walken Schweigert is a queer/trans actor, musician, composer and director from St. Paul, MN. A Jerome Foundation Fellow, he is a 2009 graduate of the Dell’ Arte International School for Physical Theatre, and a 2006 graduate of the Perpich Center for Arts Education (Theatre Major). He has worked with the Taller Xuchialt and Ronda de Barro in Leon, Nicaragua; toured with and been mentored by the internationally renowned Double Edge Theatre in Ashfield, MA; and has busked on the streets of 11 countries. He has facilitated Theatre of the Oppressed workshops across the Americas, and composed scores for numerous films and theatrical productions. A classically trained violinist, he has been part of over a dozen musical ensembles of varying genres, from klezmer to metal. Currently, he performs with the Occult-inspired, witch-pop, Detroit-based band Crune. In 2008 he founded the Unseen Ghost Brigade, an ensemble that toured an original piece of street theatre down the Mississippi River on a raft they built themselves. In its next incarnation, the ensemble was renamed Children of Wild to produce Schweigert’s first opera The Wastelands. In 2017 Children of the Wild became Open Flame Theatre, and moved to Philadelphia Community Farm, in Osceola WI, where the theatre and Schweigert are in residence indefinitely. Walken was also recently awarded a commission from the Jerome Foundation via American Composer’s Forum for the composition of his second opera, The Garden, to be produced by Open Flame Theatre and Philadelphia Community Farm
Katie Burgess, Ensemble Member, Training Leader
Katie Burgess is a transgender performer living in South Minneapolis. She was born in Maine and has traveled the country as a juggling street performer. With over 15 years of experience as a circus performer, she took the opportunity to be mentored by Stacy Klein, artistic director of Double Edge Theatre in Ashfield, MA. During the past three years of her mentorship, she joined resident ensemble, Open Flame Theatre. After touring the country with their last show The Wastelands, she is excited to return to the Twin Cities area which she has called home for over 12 years now.
Sea Thomas, Mentee
Sea Carnelian Thomas is a senior at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. They study dance while in school, honing in on embodiment theory and the intersection of art and activism. Hailing from a small town in rural New York, Sea grew up farming and performing in a local stilt-walking troupe. Sea met Children of the Wild in the spring of 2016 and began their apprenticeship, performing and stage managing for three months of the Great Lakes tour. They have continued their mentorship at Philadelphia Community Farm, hoping to further their work as a non-binary, queer performer in the future.