meet our team
The contributors for The Mad Maps Project represent a group of artists committed to thinking complexly about the relationship between psychiatric language, built environments, and mental health. Some identify as people with mental health diagnoses; as psychiatric consumers, survivors, or ex-patients; as Mad or disabled. Others identify as family, friends, or allies. Others still come from groups historically shaped through collisions with psychiatry, be it on the basis of race, sexuality, or gender. Find out more about our team below, and access interviews with specific contributors below.
contributor. Shayna Ambers is an artistic activist from Frisco, Texas who advocates for mental health in the dance community, sociopolitical change, and the elimination of society’s unrealistic expectations of the female body through her choreographed works. She is also a flying trapeze artist, and aspires to become a secondary or post-secondary educator and ally to all students, future artists, and changemakers.
Currently, Shayna is located in College Station, Texas where she is finishing her B.A. in English with minors in Psychology and Performance Studies at Texas A&M University (one more month!). Post-graduation, Shayna will attend graduate school to study the effects of artists at risk (artists whose bodies are included in their protest art) vs. artists who risk (such as online activists, etc.) on inciting societal change. Putting bodies on the line is dangerous, but how do the effects of protest art correlate to the degree of risk assumed by protestors? Can online protest art be as effective as in-person protest art despite the difference in assumed physical risk?
Instagram: @shambers, [at] ShAmbers
Facebook: Shayna Ambers
contributor. Slade Billew is a physical theatre artist, director, fight choreographer, and intimacy choreographer. He teaches acting and movement at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, TX. Slade holds an MFA in Theatre Pedagogy from Virginia Commonwealth University and a PhD in Theatre from Bowling Green State University. Slade’s work has been seen on a variety of professional and academic stages. In Richmond, VA, in addition to his own company Theatre of Operations, he worked with Barksdale Theatre, Richmond Shakespeare Festival, Henley Street Theatre, Firehouse Theatre Project, The Nightlight Collective, and Cadence Theatre. In Ohio, he worked for BGSU, Lionface Productions, Beautiful Kids Independent Shakespeare, and Toledo Repertoire Theatre. Among a variety of productions at SFA he directed the world premiere staged reading of Chiori Miyagawa’s Julia and Ellie.
To learn more about his process, check out Slade’s interview with dramaturg Molly Roy.
contributor. Rosie Brownlow-Calkin is an Assistant Professor of Acting at the University of Nevada, Reno. She is an Equity actor who has worked at regional theatres across the country including South Coast Repertory, PCPA, Great River Shakespeare Festival, Sierra Rep, Theatricum Botanicum, the Getty Villa and Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble. Her academic research revolves around the American theatre economy. MFA in Acting, UC Irvine.
To learn more about her process, check out Rosie’s interview with dramaturg Molly Roy.
contributor. Vannessa Cepeda is a Colombian political scientist, and stage artist for more than 7 years. Currently based in College Station, Texas, where is pursuing a MA in Performance Studies.
The body has been her core of academic and artistic research, from feminism has investigated and questioned the configuration of the body. She has participated in student and professional assemblies, focusing his acting work in physical theater.
Community work has been fundamental in her professional experience, focused on gender issues. The rapprochement with the community has been based on art, particularly scenic art. Local issues have been the guide of this work, among which are: domestic violence, gender / sexual discrimination, or sexual harassment.
VanessaRivera3108 [dot] WixSite [dot] com [forward slash] misitio
contributor. Kristin Perkins is a writer, interdisciplinary artist, and community organizer currently based at a small library in rural New York where she runs book clubs and events, curates a gallery, and discusses Marxism with her coworkers. She also writes book reviews for Publishers Weekly, grants for The OUT Foundation, and various other freelance thingamajigs. She graduated with an MA in Performance as Public Practice from UT-Austin in 2019 where she wrote her thesis on representations of LGBTQ+ Mormons in contemporary theatre.
website: kristinhelenperkins.com, KristinHelenPerkins [dot] com
Instagram: @kristinhelenperkins, [at] KristinHelenPerkins
To learn more about her process, check out Kristin’s interview with dramaturg Molly Roy.
director, contributor. Alexis Riley is a graduate student, writer, and artist at The University of Texas at Austin’s Performance as Public Practice Program where she explores performances made by, for, or about people with mental disabilities. She lives in east Texas with her one partner, two heating pads, and three plants that she has managed to keep alive for six months (and counting).
website: patientacts.com, PatientActs [dot] com
contributor. Amelia Riley is a Birmingham based photographer with a BFA in photography from Savannah College of Art and Design. Her education ranges in a variety of focuses such as studio, lighting equipment, digital, medium and large format film, inkjet printing, commercial, fine art, and documentary.
Blending formal technique with creative storytelling, her work highlights the importance of community and the vibrance of the world around us. Moving forward with the strong belief that even the most mundane aspect of day-to-day life can hold value, Amelia is constantly finding new ways to explore the connections that exist between ourselves and the places we inhabit.
When not working, Amelia enjoys volunteering in the community, as well as exploring other creative outlets such as writing, painting, and music.
AmeliaRileyPhotography [dot] com
dramaturg, contributor. Molly Roy is a movement artist, writer, librarian, educator, and Ph.D. Candidate in Performance as Public Practice at UT Austin, researching choreographies of surveillance.
Find her on Twitter and IG at @mollysroy, [at] MollySRoy
contributor. Roberto Soto is an Austin-based playwright and director. Currently in his junior year at The University of Texas at Austin, Roberto’s work focuses on the nuances of everyday speech and the complexities that lie within seemingly mundane conversations. Catch Roberto’s play, A Pregnant Pause, at The Cohen New Works Festival this week!
Instagram: @mammarob, [at] MammaRob
contributor. Angie Spalink is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Performance Studies at Texas A&M University. Her research examines the intersections of performance and ecology, specifically the use of dirt in contemporary performance. She also enjoys dancing and working as a choreographer.
contributor. Melissa Vera is an aspiring writer and artist from Brownsville, TX. She received her MA in Mexican American and Latina/o Studies program with a portfolio in the Women’s and Gender Studies and Queer Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2019. She also attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio where she received my BA in Literature with a language emphasis in French and Spanish. She currently lives in Austin with her fiancee, Trinica and their cats Aaron Purr and Pepperoni and their dogs Remy and Juniper.
Rachel Aston Warren
contributor. Rachel Aston Warren (RAW) is a fourth year B. A. in Theatre and Dance student with an emphasis in Playwriting and Directing, minoring in Italian, at the University of Texas at Austin. She has written and published four books of poetry which can be found in the Perry Castañeda Library and the Ana Sisnett Library on campus. Credits at UT include dramaturg for Flora Circular (UT New Theatre, 2019), featured poet in Unboxed (Cohen New Works Festival, 2019), the role of “Love” in Everybody (Performance as a Public Practice Graduate Student Alliance, 2019), director and playwright for staged reading of SOR/OR (Round About Players, 2019), assistant stage manager for Wyeth Airlines (UTNT, 2020), and stage manager for Community Garden (UTNT, 2021). She also plays “Mary” in Lane Michael Stanley’s Untie (Toronto Short Film Festival, Big Apple Film Festival, LA Queer Film Fest, LesFlicks Xmas Short Film Festival).
contributor. Rob Yoho is an Austin-based theatre artist, improv teacher, and all-purpose weirdo. Most recently, he produced and directed Mental Blocks: An Interactive Theatrical Game About Hard and/or Stupid Thoughts with his company, OUCH! Theatre. He teaches all levels of adult improv classes at The Hideout Theatre and Fallout Theater, and he’s received B. Iden Payne Award nominations for directing, acting, and fight choreography. Currently, Rob is writing new plays for the second run of Mental Blocks and doing research for a Greek tragedy about Casey Anthony. MFA in Directing, Baylor University.
website: robyoho.net, RobYoho [dot] net