DIVE IN . . .
PRIMARY PHOTO BY WES C. PHOTO. VIDEO BY NIC PARK.
Alyssa Vera Ramos is a Chicago-based theatre artist. She focuses her energy on equal parts leading and listening: directing and devising, facilitation and collaboration. She also considers it her calling to foster deep connections and to hold hearts.
Alyssa is the Artistic Director of For Youth Inquiry (FYI) Performance Company, housed at the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health (ICAH), where she also serves as Arts Justice Organizer. FYI designs participatory theater experiences to activate the creative potential of school, family, and healthcare systems and improve the wellbeing of youth. Alyssa directed and co-conceived EXPECTATION, an immersive play about supporting pregnant and parenting young people, as part of FYI's first-ever public season of new work in Spring 2017. At ICAH, she also co-runs the CHAT Network, a youth-adult partnership organizing cohort, supporting the design of arts-infused actions, events, and story collections, all to advance the sexual health, rights and identities of youth in Illinois. We are visioning and building a world of reproductive justice.
Alyssa is a founding member of FEMelanin, a femmes-of-color performance collective devoted to lifting up our unsung voices in ethical, celebratory, and "delightfully rageful" ways. Alyssa was recently seen in FEMelanin's full-length theatre for young audiences play EPIC TALES FROM THE LAND OF MELANIN, as Anacaona (a warrior who also insists that people pronounce her name correctly). EPIC TALES was selected amongst rigorous competition for Chicago Kids Fringe 2016 and the 2017 AATE Conference and is available for tours and bookings. FEMelanin can be seen causing a poetic ruckus all over Chicago.
Alyssa recently assistant directed the hilarious, incendiary NATIVE GARDENS (by Karen Zacarias, dir. Marti Lyons) at Victory Gardens Theater as a Directors Inclusion Initiative Fellow for Season 2016-17. You may have also seen her directing work this year in the Snapshots Festival at 20% Theatre Company or at the 1-Minute Play Festival's "America Is." She also enjoyed an exuberant return to the stage, fighting subway monsters in the 2017 remount and national tour of SIX STORIES TALL at Adventure Stage Chicago.
Alyssa's current work includes co-conceiving of YOU CAN'T COVER THE SKY WITH YOUR HANDS with her mother, playwright Marisel Vera, a play about the systematic reproductive injustice waged upon the bodies and families of Puerto Rican women from the 1890s through today. The play explores widespread sterilization policies and birth control trials; colorism and classism, coercion and liberation - all through through two protagonists' blood memories. Alyssa and Marisel ignited the intimate collaboration with a funded, 4-day script development workshop at Free Street Theater and a DCASE Individual Artist Grant. More soon.
Alyssa is an alumnus of DirectorsLab Chicago 2016, Cities of Peace 2016 Teach-In Cohort, Teaching Artist Development Studio (TAD) 2012, and Rape Victim Advocates' cohort of volunteer medical advocates. She has studied theatre of the oppressed with Julian Boal and community-based social practice with Michael Rohd, and aims to be an influential woman of color practitioner in someone else's bio someday. Alyssa is the awardee of several individual artist grants, including from 3Arts and from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events twice over. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Theatre from Northwestern University and a certificate in Sexuality Education from the University of Michigan.