Who We Are

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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

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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.

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Sea Thomas, Ensemble Member

Sea Carnelian Thomas is a recent graduate of Mount Holyoke College (BA Dance & Critical Performance Histories) currently living in Minneapolis, MN. They are a queer mover researching the intersections of identity and embodiment practices. Sea’s practices blend their experience working in experimental theatre, modern dance, and embodiment theory. Hailing from a small town in rural New York, Sea grew up farming and climbing trees. They have recently softened to their upbringing, growing to admire the child who climbed peach trees just to feel the nectar between their teeth. They’re trying to get back into that. 

Erica Fladeland, Ensemble Member

Erica Fladeland (she/her) is a queer trans performer residing in Minneapolis, MN.  Originally from North Dakota, her adventures took her to Dell’arte International School of Physical Theatre in Blue Lake, CA; and afterwards she performed, taught and worked in Los Angeles with The Pacific Resident Theatre, The Grand Guingolers, and American Russian Theatre Ensemble Laboratory (ARTEL, now residing in the UK); Imago Theatre in Portland, OR; Double Edge in Ashfield, MA; and her own company Conduit Theatre before finding herself in Minneapolis with Open Flame Theatre. 

Erica is interested in photography, poetry, exploring ensemble dynamics, and how to cultivate the energy that exists between performers and audience (based in the work of Michael Chekhov).  She believes strongly in centering joy and delight in her artistic process.