Frank Lee - Project Lead
Dr. Frank J. Lee is an Associate Professor of Digital Media in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design at Drexel University with appointments in Psychology, Computer Science, and Biomedical Engineering. Lee received his Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology in 2000 from Carnegie Mellon University, and his B.A. in Cognitive Science in 1994 from UC Berkeley.Lee co-founded Drexel’s Game Design Program in 2008, currently ranked as one of the Top 5 Best Game Design Programs in U.S. He is the founding director of the Entrepreneurial Game Studio at Drexel University, an initiative to teach students entrepreneurship by helping them to create their own game companies. His most recent project, Skyscraper Tetris (2014), was mentioned in over 1500 news stories worldwide with an estimated 2.2 billion media impressions. In 2014, he was selected as one of the “50 Most Admirable People in Gaming” by Polygon.
Adrienne Mackey - Theatrical Director
Adrienne Mackey is the founder of Swim Pony Performing Arts where she has directed over 14 original works. Adrienne is the recipient of two Knight Arts Challenges, the second of which was for “Cross Pollination,” a project that explores interdisciplinary arts collaboration and experiments how different mediums can combine to create new hybrid products. In 2013, Adrienne directed The Ballad of Joe Hill at the historic Eastern State Penitentiary for Fringe Arts boasting a completely sold out run and a profile on NPR’s Radio Times. She teaches theater and voice at Drexel University, is on the faculty of Pig Iron’s MFA program in devised theater and serves as a board member for the Philadelphia Cultural Fund. She has received an Independence Foundation Fellowship, a Live Arts LAB fellowship and a CEC New Edge Residency and can occasionally be seen singing funk vocals as “The Truth” for Johnny Showcase & the Mystic Ticket.
Lauren Feldman - Playwright
Lauren Feldman is a playwright (Another Kind of Silence, Amanuensis, The Egg-Layers, A People, Fill Our Mouths, Grace, or the Art of Climbing), a devised-work collaborator (War of the Worlds: Philadelphia, And If You Lose Your Way, Or A Food Odyssey, Lady M, The Apocryphal Project), a dramaturg, an adjunct professor of playwriting (Bryn Mawr College), and a creator-performer of theatrical contemporary circus (Tinder & Ash). She has been nominated for the New York Innovative Theatre Award, Barrie and Bernice Stavis Playwright Award, Wendy Wasserstein Prize, Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, ATCA/Steinberg New Play Award, Barrymore Award, Carbonell Award, and the Doric Wilson Independent Playwright Award. A graduate of both the Yale School of Drama and the New England Center for Circus Arts, Lauren is also a New Georges Affiliated Artist, a member-mentor of The Foundry, and a 2015-16 Playwrights Realm Fellow. Hailing from Miami, Florida, she has lived in seven cities and is now in Philadelphia.
Arianna Gass - Project Manager
Arianna Gass is the Program Manager for the Entrepreneurial Game Studio (EGS), located within the Expressive and Creative Interactive Technology (ExCITe) Center at Drexel University. At EGS she manages projects that range from serious games for healthcare to interactive public art and informal computer science education. Her writing focuses on feminism, game studies, new media art, and performance studies and has been featured in Hyperrhiz, I <3 E-Poetry, and Reading Contemporary Performance: Theatricality Across Genres (Routledge, 2015). Her creative practice currently finds its home with The Obvious Agency – a transdisciplinary art group dedicated to the creation of original interactive performance and games. Since settling in Philadelphia, she has had the pleasure of working in the Philadelphia theater community, including Swim Pony Performing Arts on an adaptation of The Tempest as well as the first iteration of “Cross Pollination.” Arianna graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Vassar College with degrees in English and Drama in 2013.
Liz Green - Community Engagement Coordinator
Liz Green designs audience engagement programs and directs performances with people who might not consider themselves to be performers. Current projects include OnStage Seniors: A Community Project of McCarter Theatre and Audience Experience Manager for Team Sunshine Performance Corporation. Her company Arts Approach consults on audience engagement (including The Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, Leah Stein Dance Company, FringeArts, Shakespeare in Clark Park) and community organizations embarking on creative projects (including Committee of Seventy, Temple Institute on Disabilities, Achieving Independence Foundation, Southeast by Southeast). She produced the 2011 and 2012 First Person Arts Festivals and many StorySlams in museums, community centers, theaters, and bars across Philadelphia. She is earning her Masters in Social Work at Temple University and has studied performance and civic dialogue with Michael Rohd/Sojourn Theatre and documentary theater with Ping Chong and Company.
Stefan Rank - Game Designer
Stefan Rank came to Drexel’s Game Art & Production Program after ten years of distinguished service and research at the Austrian Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the University and Medical University of Vienna. Rank’s gaming and digital technology career is heavily steeped in research on Artificial Intelligence and various cognitive sciences. Rank specializes in development and application of computational affective behavior models for users and synthetic characters, intelligent software agents, game design, interactive narrative, and human-computer interaction. In 2009, he received his Ph.D in Computer Sciences from the Vienna University of Technology, Austria, graduating with highest. He also received a Prize of Appreciation from the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science for his Ph.D. Thesis and a Prize of Recognition by the Austrian Society for AI based on originality, quality, and relevance. Rank’s in-depth exploration of AI, narrative, and interactive media has been featured in more than 30 peer-reviewed publications and journals.
Bhob Rainey - Composer
Bhob Rainey is an award-winning composer/performer, saxophonist, and sound designer. He holds a Masters in Music Composition from New England Conservatory, where he studied with iconoclastic microtonalist Joe Maneri, jazz legends Paul Bley and Ran Blake, and the mathematically gifted composer Pozzi Escot.
Throughout his career, Rainey has sought out cross-discipline collaborations, working especially with theater makers and choreographers. Rainey was awarded the Pew Fellowship in the Arts in 2013, and in 2014 he received a Subito grant from the American Composers Forum to complete a multimedia project with filmmaker Catherine Pancake.
Maria Shaplin is a Philadelphia-based theater designer who received her MFA in lighting design from Temple University. She has a BA in Anthropology and Sociology from Hampshire College. In addition to lighting, Maria practices scenography, graphic, and web design. Although she works on many forms of performance including plays, dance, music and photography, Maria is especially versed in devised, immersive and experimental performance art. Maria is also the co-founder and lead designer of Applied Mechanics, a company who devises immersive, multi-narrative plays. Maria is the recipient of the 2015 Independence Fellowship in the arts. She is a frequent collaborator with many companies in Philadelphia including The Riot Group, Swim Pony Performing Arts, InterAct, The Arden, Juniata College, Orbiter 3, Team Sunshine Performance Corporation, People’s Light, Theater Horizon, New Paradise Laboratories, The Berserker Residents, Nichole Canuso Dance Company, IRC, Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental, PlayPenn, and Headlong Performance Institute.
Jichen Zhu - Westphal Faculty
Dr. Jichen Zhu is an Assistant Professor in the Digital Media Program of the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design at Drexel University, with a joint appointment at theDepartment of Computer Science, College of Computing & Informatics. Dr. Zhu directs the Procedural eXpression Lab (PXL). Her research focuses on the intersection of artificial intelligence (AI), creative expression, human-computer interaction, and media theory. Her emphasis is developing 1) new forms of cultural artifacts afforded by intelligent systems, 2) AI techniques motivated by expressive goals, and 3) critical understanding of the relationship between computational technology and socio-cultural structures. Her current interests include interactive narrative, serious games, computational creativity, and digital humanities. Jichen received a Ph.D. in Digital Media from Georgia Tech, under the advisement of Dr. D. Fox Harrell. She also holds a MS in Computer Science from Georgia Tech, a Master of Entertainment Technology from Carnegie Mellon University, and a BS from McGill University.
Sam Wend - Performance Manager
Samantha Wend is the Artistic Associate for Swim Pony Performing Arts. Her work for the genre-defying live performance company includes stage management, administration, dramaturgy, and documentation. She is also a freelance professional stage manager and has worked with companies including The Philadelphia Artists’ Collective, Commonwealth Classic Theatre Company, the Dorset Theatre Festival, EgoPo Classic Theater, and Iron Age Theatre. She also worked as Dramaturg and Production Manager for Traverse Through Time, a lecture series that identified and brought together 18 key players from the history of the United Kingdom’s foremost new writing theatre in celebration of their 50 th anniversary. Sam graduated summa cum laude from Drexel University with a BS in Entertainment and Arts Management and a Certificate in Creative Writing and Publishing.