Who We Are

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Walken Schweigert, Founder, Composer & Artistic Director

Walken is a performer, composer and director from St. Paul, MN. He is the founder and artistic director of Open Flame Theatre, an all queer/trans ensemble that creates surrealist & queer-centered work. Walken 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. A classically trained violinist, he has been part of over a dozen musical ensembles of varying genres, from klezmer to metal. Walken was also recently the recipient of a JFund award from the Jerome Foundation via the American Composers’ 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, 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.