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 co-founded an all-transgender theatrical/dance/circus ensemble entitled the Gay Unicorn Triplettes (GUT). 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 the 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 a recipient of a JFund Award from the 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, Co-Director & Ensemble Member
Katie Burgess is a queer trans performer living in South Minneapolis. She was born in Maine and has traveled the country as a juggling street performer. She has been trained and mentored by Double Edge Theatre in Ashfield, MA for the past 7 years. It was, in part, through this mentorship that she joined Open Flame Theatre, which was also in residence at Double Edge. After touring the country with their last show The Wastelands, she was excited to return to the Twin Cities area which she has called home for over 15 years. During her time in Minneapolis, she has worked as a social worker, organizer, and activist – particularly within communities of homeless and/or trans youth. She is interested in finding the intersections of her activism and art.
Sea Thomas, Ensemble Member & Marketing Director
Sea Thomas (they/them, rhe/rhem) is a 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.
Arlo Ione Sombor, Ensemble Member & Musician
Arlo Ione Sombor (they/them) is a genderqueer musician, performer, welder, and fiber-arts-nightmare-creator. They grew up in the small city, big pine trees part of New York State, but have called the Twin Cities home for over a decade. They joined Open Flame as a musician in two productions of the Wastelands, and have performed as a violist with the Barebones Outdoor Puppet Extravaganza and the Minnesota Philharmonic Orchestra.