Central Conversations for Paradise

We are excited to offer Pre and Post show Central Conversations with acclaimed artists and scholars for Paradise!

All Central Conversations are open to the public; seats are available on a first come, first serve basis.

  • Post-Show Conversation with City Councilor Nadeem Mazen

    Join us after the 8 PM performance of Paradise on Friday, April 7, 2017 for a discussion with Cambridge City Councilor Nadeem Mazen, the first Muslim politician elected to a Massachusetts government post. Nadeem Mazen is an educator, entrepreneur, and community organizer. He was elected to Cambridge City Council in 2013 after an energetic grassroots campaign, winning by just 6 votes – being returned to office in 2015, receiving the most votes across all 23 candidates for City Council. In his first two terms, he has worked to make city government more accessible to the public and is building coalitions that address Cambridge’s most pressing issues. He has also focused on social justice issues and greater equity for all members of our community. You can read his civic updates at Nadeemtron or learn more about his campaign at VoteNadeem.
    Nadeem first arrived in Cambridge to study Engineering at MIT. After graduation, he founded two community-oriented businesses in Central Square: Nimblebot, a creative agency, and danger!awesome, a makerspace that brings creative expression and tools to the masses. He is a natural collaborator and problem-solver, dedicated to bringing fresh, progressive voices into community leadership. Over the past three years, Nadeem has organized a team of volunteers and community organizers who are proving that a truly progressive Cambridge is possible.
  • Pre-Show Symposium – Women in Science: This is my Experience

       Join us in the studio before the 8 PM evening performance of Paradise on Saturday, April 8, 2017,  for a convening of female scientists to compare notes from the field.

    Dr. Lesley Mathews Griner, Phd is a Research Investigator II in Molecular Pharmacology within Oncology Research at the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, MA, USA. Her role at NIBR is find novel therapeutics to treat a number of progressive cancers using targeted genetics and also to develop novel 3D model systems of cancer. In addition, Lesley is a lead teacher in the Community Exploration Learning Lab housed at Novartis. Prior to her role at NIBR, Lesley was a Research Scientist in the Biomolecular Screening and Profiling/Probe Development group at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). She joined NCATS in December 2010 after completing her postdoctoral research training at NCI-Frederick working on epigenetics and cancer stem cells. Lesley completed her Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and earned a Bachelor’s in Biology at Clark University in Worcester, MA. Lesley lives in Ayer, MA with her husband Nicholas who is also a scientist, and her two cats Bailey and Schwartz. When not studying cancer Lesley enjoys yoga and reading, and is also currently pursuing a degree in teaching high school biology at Lesley University.

    Linda G. Griffith, PhD, is the School of Engineering Teaching Innovation Professor of Biological and Mechanical Engineering and MacVicar Fellow at MIT, where she directs the Center for Gynepathology Research and the Human Physiome on a Chip Project supported by the DARPA/NIH-funded Microphysiological Systems Program. Dr. Griffith received a Bachelor's Degree from Georgia Tech and a PhD degree from the University of California at Berkeley, both in chemical engineering. Dr. Griffith’s research is in the field of regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. Her laboratory, in collaboration with J. Upton and C. Vacanti, was the first to combine a degradable scaffold with donor cells to create tissue-engineered cartilage in the shape of a human ear. The 3D Printing Process she co-invented for creation of complex scaffolds has been commercialized for manufacture of FDA-approved scaffolds for bone regeneration. She is also a pioneer in devising ways to control nano-scale stimulation of cells by molecular cues, and in creation of 3D tissue models for drug development. The 3D perfused “LiverChip” liver tissue culture technology has been commercialized for applications in drug development. A current focus is integration of tissue engineering with systems biology, with an emphasis on endometriosis and other women’s reproductive diseases. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, the Popular Science Brilliant 10 Award, NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, the MIT Class of 1960 Teaching Innovation Award, Radcliffe Fellow and several awards from professional societies. She has served as a member of the Advisory Councils for the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research and the National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases at NIH. As chair of the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee for Biological Engineering at MIT, she led development of the new Biological Engineering SB degree program, which was approved in 2005 as MIT’s first new undergraduate major in 39 years. Dr. Irene Porro is the Director of the Christa Corrigan McAuliffe Center for Integrated Science Learning at Framingham State University. The Center’s mission is to be a leader in developing opportunities for integrated science learning through the sharing of resources, building of partnerships, and advancement of educational practices. A professional scientist with a deep commitment to social justice, in her work Dr. Porro combines research skills in physics and astrophysics with an interdisciplinary approach to education. Through her professional experience Dr. Porro developed a deep understanding of issues of engagement and retention in K-16 science education, especially for groups traditionally underrepresented in science and engineering disciplines. A native of Torino, Italy, Dr. Porro received her Ph.D. in Space Science and Technology from the University of Padova, Italy. Before entering the field of education she was a researcher in astrophysics at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Max Planck Institut für Astronomie, in Heidelberg, Germany. She then joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she became the Director of the Education and Outreach Group of the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research. She is an alumna of the International Space University, an international education program that specializes in providing graduate-level training to the future leaders of the emerging global space community. Dr. Porro has personally experienced the benefits and sense of empowerment that the exposure to the integration of art and science learning experiences produces. Through her work she is especially committed to promote initiatives where both the arts and the sciences are fully respected and valued. To that end, she is proud to serve on the advisory board for Catalyst Collaborative @ MIT.
  • Press Night Celebration for Paradise

    Be amongst the first to see  Paradise and join the cast and crew to celebrate with wine and refreshments after the show.
  • Scholar Social with Eboney Hearn

      Join us directly following the 7:30 PM performance of Paradise for a conversation with Eboney Hearn, the Executive Director of Engineering Outreach Programs at MIT. Eboney Hearn deals daily with students who have similar dreams and similar face challenges as Yasmeen, Paradise's brave protagonist. Come hear her perspective on how the story in the play connects with students' real lives. Prior to her role as the Executive Director of the MIT Office of Engineering Programs, Eboney Hearn served as Assistant Dean for Graduate Education, Diversity Initiatives  at the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education (ODGE) from 2014-2016 and as Program Director, Diversity Initiative at the Broad Institute from 2008-2014. In both roles she provided strategic direction, keen insight, and coordination to increase student diversity and academic success at all levels. At ODGE she oversaw retention and recruitment efforts of underrepresented minority graduate students, staff training, budget management, and in collaboration with the foundation relations and development offices, secured contributions to support existing efforts and to create new ones such as the University Center for Exemplary Mentoring at MIT. Eboney has also served on a variety of MIT-wide committees and working groups, including the Committee on Race and Diversity; Mind, Hand, and Heart Academic Environment; and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day planning. At Broad, she heightened the visibility of diversity training programs (that served audiences from high school students to faculty), collaborated with HR and academic affairs to lead efforts addressing the professional development needs of women, to implement and evaluate a mentoring program for scientists, and to create a seminar series to prepare Broad research technicians to pursue graduate degrees in STEM and medicine. Prior to coming to MIT, Eboney was a mathematics teacher at public middle- and high schools in Boston for five years and was a manufacturing engineer at IBM, where she led several manufacturing processes in circuit board printing and co-patented a novel photolithography process. In addition to her undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from MIT, she earned an Ed.M. from Harvard University in 2004. Outside of her work life, she enjoys being the mother of an active and curious toddler, spending quality time with family and friends, traveling, skiing and salsa dancing.
  • Pre-Show Symposium – The Catalytic Mentor/Mentee Relationship

        Join us before the 8 PM performance of Paradise on Friday, April 14, 2017, to discuss the lasting effects of a successful teacher-student relationship with local educators and students who have benefited from their work. Dr. Catherine Caldwell-Harris, Associate Professor, brings her cognitive science training to a range of interdisciplinary questions, including cross-cultural psychology, bilingualism, foreign language learning and immigration.  She has written extensively on how the emotional resonances elicited by language differ for bilinguals' native and foreign language, beginning with her seminal study demonstrating that skin conductance amplitudes were larger when bilingual speakers listened to emotional phrases in their native language compared to a foreign language.  Her diverse investigations into the emotions associated with language include lying,  joking and evaluating trolley (and other) dilemmas. Dr. Caldwell-Harris' cross-cultural work  Her study of Russian immigrants to US documented how young children "Englishify" the household, while older immigrants' friendships maintain their native language. With computer-modeling colleagues, she is constructing a dynamic-systems model of the factors that influence the range of language-learning outcomes for immigrants to the U.S. And her mentee: Zoe Chen is a senior at BU majoring in psychology and minoring in statistics. She does volunteer tutoring for children and adolescents and from interacting with them, she has developed a strong interest in developmental and cross-cultural psychology. She hopes to go to clinical programs after graduating, and continue work with the younger generation. In her free time, she enjoys reading, watching crime shows, and traveling with friends and family. Francie Latour coordinates diversity programs at the Broad Institute, a leading center for genomics and biomedical research in Cambridge that is affiliated with MIT, Harvard and Boston's area teaching hospitals. Francie is primarily responsible for managing the Broad Summer Research Program, a competitive, NIH-funded program that matches college students from around the country with scientific mentors to conduct original research projects. The uniquely designed program also wraps students in a supportive environment that recognizes the institutional and cultural forces that have excluded people of color from STEM. In her work, Francie works one-on-one with students and helps design and facilitate workshops around growth mindset, cross-cultural mentoring and scientific communication.
  • Pre-Show Symposium – Women in Science: Engaging the Next Generation

         Join us and a panel of female scientists before the 8 PM performance of Paradise on Saturday, April 15, 2017, to discuss the importance of engaging more young women in the STEM fields. Melissa Franklin, the first female physicist to receive tenure at Harvard; Ashli Polanco, Executive Director of Gique; and Sharlene Yang, Cambridge STEAM coordinator, will share personal experiences, strategies, and visions for the future of science. Melissa Franklin is the Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics at Harvard University. She is an experimental particle physicist who studies proton-proton collisions produced by the Large Hadron Collider. She has worked on the Collider Detector at Fermilab (CDF) since 1983 and was part of the team that discovered the top quark. She is a collaborator on the ATLAS experiment where she works in collaboration with over 3000 physicists. In 2012, ATLAS co-discovered the Higgs boson. She is presently studying the properties of the Higgs boson. Professor Franklin, born and raised in Canada, received her B.Sc. from the University of Toronto and her Doctorate from Stanford University. She worked as a post-doctoral fellow at Lawrence Berkeley Lab, was an assistant professor at the University of Illinois in Champagne/Urbana and was a Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Harvard, before joining the Harvard Faculty in 1989. Ashli Polanco enjoys combining her passion for dance with her interests in STEM. She attended Boston and Lowell Public schools before attending MIT where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry by 2012. At MIT, Ashli performed and competed with several hip-hop dance teams throughout Boston while interning at the Broad Institute's Cancer Program performing research on melanoma. Upon graduation, she worked for 3 years as a Process Development Associate at the Broad Institute's Technology Development Lab and is now pursuing her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell where her current research project involves the development of polymers and nanocomposite materials for industrial applications. In 2014, Ashli co-founded a non-profit organization named Gique (pronounced “geek”), which exists to inspire and educate youth in science, technology, engineering, art, & math (STEAM) through community educational programs. In 2015, Gique launched its first Science Can Dance! Program where students learned fundamental science topics through dance choreography. Since then, Ashli has led eight other successful Science Can Dance! Programs in Boston, Cambridge, and San Francisco; and the program was featured on PBS NOVA's School of the Future Series. Sharlene Yang is the new STEAM Coordinator for the City of Cambridge, a role that reports jointly to the School Department and the City, responsible for expanding and supporting a system of high quality STEAM learning opportunities. Sharlene has a varied background in STEM and STEAM education, which combines working with classroom and out of school time teachers to develop programs and curricula, and experience as a classroom Biology teacher at the High School Extension Program and CRLS. During her tenure at the Museum of Science, where she worked as Partnership Director and Professional Development Director, Sharlene brought the Engineering is Elementary curriculum to partners around the country, training staff, developing teacher guides and materials, and demonstrating effective engineering content and project-based instruction. More recently, she has organized large community-oriented STEAM events in collaboration with city, school and community-based programs and the EL STEAM Network. Sharlene holds a Masters of Teaching in Science Education from Tufts University, a Masters of Science in Psychology from the University of Michigan, and a Bachelors degree in Biology and Psychology from Cornell University.
  • Post-Show Conversation with Wes Sanders, Founding Artistic Director of Underground Railway Theater

        Founding Underground Railway Artistic Director Wes Sanders leads a post-show conversation about Paradise, and shares news about an upcoming book about the first 20 years of URT's history as a national touring company. Wes Sanders - actor, director, playwright, puppeteer - was founding Artistic Director of Underground Railway Theater, and served in that position for 20 years. He helmed the creation of new works that engaged with themes of social justice, all of which toured nationally: Sanctuary - The Spirit of Harriet Tubman, Home Is Where, The Christopher Columbus Follies and InTOXICating - An EcoCabaret, to name a few. He also led URT's collaborations with symphony orchestras, including multiple commissions from the Boston Symphony, most recently an original orchestral version of Tempest. Roles with other companies include Shakespeare and Beckett at The Court and other Chicago theaters (Macbeth, Petruchio, Mercutio, Clov, Hamm); Herb Blau’s Kraken Group; and Serebriakov in an adaptation of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya at Vermont Stage. For ten years he was a professor of English at Oberlin College. Currently, he is writing a book about the first 20 years of Underground Railway Theater's work.
  • Artists & Audiences: Paradise

    Join the creative team behind Paradise for a post-show conversation about the delights and challenges of developing a world premiere play!
  • Love & Risk: An Afternoon of Storytelling

        What have you risked for love?Join us after the 3pm show on Saturday, April 22, 2017, for an afternoon of stories moderated by writer and psychologist Robin Abrahams. Storytellers Lindsay Brownell, Norah Dooley, and Leeny Del Seamonds will share tales of love and risk - the subject under neurological investigation by the young protagonist in Paradise. Lindsay Brownell is a freelance science writer based in Cambridge, and seems to be one of the only people in Boston who actually likes snowy winters. Norah Dooley is a storyteller, educator, critically acclaimed children’s author and creator of StoriesLive®, a high school storytelling curriculum and story slam program. She is the co-founder of massmouth.org and the Greater Boston Story Slam series. As project director of StoriesLive® she created and implements a curriculum used to teach over 7,000 Greater Boston high school students to tell compelling first person narratives. As an adjunct faculty she teaches storytelling to undergraduates at Tufts and runs a Junior Seminar at Lesley University.  In January of 2014, she returned to lecture on storytelling and language acquisition in Tokyo, Japan as part of a multi-year grant funded by the Japanese government. www.norahdooley.com. Norah has an MEd in Creative Arts in Learning from Lesley University and a BFA in Painting from Tufts University/Museum School.  Described as an “… entrancing storyteller” by the Boston Globe Norah is sought after as a keynote speaker on literacy and storytelling. She’s been a featured storyteller in regional festivals; Cambridge River Festival, Newport Folk Festival, Albany River Festival, 3 Apples Storytelling Festival, MA and at the Clearwater Festival, NY. In 2013 she was invited to perform at the Exchange Place of the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN. She has been a classroom teacher, a middle school performing arts teacher, workshop and training leader, currently teaches storytelling as an adjunct faculty at Lesley and Tufts University and teaches in several adult and community education settings.   She is booked through Young Audiences of Massachusetts and lives in Brookline, MA with her husband and a revolving subset of their 4 daughters. Leeny Del SeamondsWith a face and voice that launched a thousand characters, Leeny Del Seamonds is an internationally acclaimed performer, coach, author, multi award-winning recording artist and professional Voice Actor. Winner of the National Storytelling Network ORACLE Circle of Excellence Award, Leeny’s animated and uplifting tales and tunes reflect her love of people and desire to embrace life to its fullest. From a prized television show, to a village in Gengcun, China; from the Comix Club in NYC, to the National Storytelling Festival, Leeny encourages listeners to rejoice in human and cultural diversity, inviting them to share in her Cuban-American sense of humor and joy of performing. With Latino passion, fire and wit, Leeny’s dynamic one-woman shows and renowned workshops headline festivals, concerts and events worldwide.
  • Post-Show Conversation with Muslim-American Youth

    Join us after the 2pm show on Sunday, April 23, 2017 for a panel of Muslim-American youth will share reflections on Paradise and their own experiences growing up in the United States, moderated by Imam Ishmael Fenni. Munazza Alam is a first year graduate student in the astronomy department. She was a physics major at CUNY Hunter College in New York City, and has worked in various research groups in the Astrophysics Department at the American Museum of Natural History. Her research interests include exoplanet atmospheres, low mass stars, and brown dwarfs (astronomical objects that form like stars, but cool and fade over time to resemble gas giant planets). To collect data for her research, Munazza has used with world-class telescopes at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Tuscon, Arizona; the Mauna Kea Observatories in Hilo, Hawai'i; and the Las Campanas Observatory in La Serena, Chile. When Munazza isn't contemplating the cosmos, she is reading anything she can get her hands on, trying new ethnic foods, and learning new languages. Omar Rashed is the Community Development Coordinator of the Islamic Society of Boston in Cambridge, MA. He has published five books: 4 books of poetry and 1 book of prose. He participates and leads interfaith and intrafaith dialogues, and he believes in bringing people together and sharing in the 99% of things we share as humans. He believes peace, dialogue, and understanding bear sweeter fruits than war, and that to live peace we must sometimes put aside “being right” and instead choose to *do what is right*. Rashed is married to the most amazing Queen in the world, and is father of one Princess and two littler Princes. He completed a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a Bachelor’s in Social Work from Rutgers University, and he is currently teaching undergrads online at his alma mater, dishing out the delights he received and passing on the light for the next generation. is the Community Development Coordinator of the Islamic Society of Boston in Cambridge, MA. He has published five books: 4 books of poetry and 1 book of prose. He participates and leads interfaith and intrafaith dialogues, and he believes in bringing people together and sharing in the 99% of things we share as humans. He believes peace, dialogue, and understanding bear sweeter fruits than war, and that to live peace we must sometimes put aside “being right” and instead choose to *do what is right*. Rashed is married to the most amazing Queen in the world, and is father of one Princess and two littler Princes. He completed a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a Bachelor’s in Social Work from Rutgers University, and he is currently teaching undergrads online at his alma mater, dishing out the delights he received and passing on the light for the next generation. Sumbul Siddiqui is a progressive Pakistani Muslim woman who is a candidate in the 2017 Cambridge City Council election. Sumbul is an attorney at Northeast Legal Aid (NLA), a nonprofit legal services organization that provides free legal services to low income communities in Essex and Northern Middlesex counties. A first-generation immigrant from Pakistan who grew up in Cambridge public housing and attended Cambridge Public Schools, Sumbul has a deep and long-standing commitment to the economic development of low-income and immigrant communities, and works to ensure that the voices of those communities are heard. Sumbul earned her law degree from Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law and her Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy from Brown University. Sumbul also completed an AmeriCorps fellowship at New Profit, a nonprofit venture philanthropy fund that invests in social entrepreneurs.  In addition to her work as an attorney, Sumbul is currently a board member of Cambridge School Volunteers, Inc., a commissioner on the Cambridge Human Services Commission, and a board member of the South Asian Bar Association of Greater Boston. You can learn more about Sumbul at VoteSumbul.
  • A Post-Show Conversation with WBUR’s Tonya Mosley


    Join WBUR's Tonya Mosley (Edify) for a post-show conversation on Wednesday, April 26. 2017 delving into STEAM education and the power of language in crafting a narrative like Paradise.

    Tonya Mosley is the senior education reporter for WBUR's Edify. She comes to WBUR from Stanford University, where she was a 2015-16 John S. Knight Journalism Fellow. While at Stanford, Tonya created a curriculum for journalists on the impacts of implicit bias and co-wrote a Belgian/American experimental study on the effects of protest coverage.

    Before WBUR, Tonya was a regular broadcast correspondent for Al Jazeera America and created the national award-winning public radio series "Black in Seattle."

    In 2014, Tonya was named one of the “51 Most Influential People” by Seattle Magazine and 2015 “Journalist of the Year” by the Washington State Association for Justice. In 2016 Tonya won an Emmy Award for her televised piece "Beyond Ferguson."

  • Parity Party for Paradise

    Paradise was recognized by StageSource’s "Standing O" for promoting gender parity in theater! We are thrilled to join StageSource as a catalyst for change in Boston/New England and the theater community. Paradise is proud to have an amazing team made up of 11 incredible badass talented women and two awesome men, working together to tell the story of one phenomenal young woman. Come and see the brilliance created by Debra Wise, Laura Maria Censabella, Shana Gozansky, Jenna McFarland Lord, Gail Buckley, Karen Perlow, Lisa Guild, Adele Nadine Traub, Aria Lynn Sergany, Lisa NguyenCaitlin Cassidy, Nathan Leigh and Barlow Adamson on Saturday May 6, at 8pm, and stay after the show for a talkback with writer Laura Maria Censabella, director Shana Gozansky and Standing O Task Force memberJessica Ernst. Let's support and celebrate Gender Parity in Action! Use code PARITYPARTY for $25 tickets (plus fees). Get tickets for the 8pm, Saturday May 6, show of Paradise Learn more about Paradise Read an article about and interview with writer of Paradise, Laura Maria Censabella Read a letter from director of Paradise, Shana Gozansky Read an interview with Caitlin Cassidy, who plays Yasmeen in Paradise Learn more about Standing O