THE CALLING IS IN THE BODY | Digital Program

THE CALLING IS IN THE BODY tells the story of a Nashville hero and early HIV advocate in the early 90s as the pandemic was growing internationally and changing culture and language around sex, safety, and intimacy. It is the story of her memory and legend as told by a young high school student who searched for closure after losing contact, a nurse practitioner and HIV/AIDS care trailblazer who befriended her, and a woman in recovery who commits to her cause and champions her work.

The Calling is in the Body is based on journal entries, personal notes and interviews with the following individuals collected between 2014 – 2022: Beverly Byram, Mary Owens, Jennifer Walker, Laura Boyd, Dwayne Jenkins and Dwight Lewis. Additional research is based on articles published in the Tennessean newspaper between 1991 and 1999. All characters are based on real people who knew and still remember Deidre Williams 25 after her passing.

Her work had a profound impact on our lives and careers.


Destinee Monét

Deidre

Credits include: Lola in the short film Jane, Kimmy in the short film Songbird, and Joy in the limited series that she is writing and producing with local Nashville creatives, The Sad Sex Lives of Women. She also loves exploring her passion as a writer and has won writing competitions for her short films Eternal Shadow and This is Forever. Destinee is from Waycross, Ga and moved to Nashville in 2017 to attend Vanderbilt University where she graduated in May 2021. She has only recently started pursuing a career in acting and just wrapped her first full length show, Blues for an Alabama Sky, as an alumna under Dr. Kristyl Tift’s direction with Vanderbilt University Theatre. Destinee is heavily involved in the growing TV/Film community in Nashville. Destinee is beyond grateful for the trust and support from her family and friends and would like to thank Cynthia C. Harris for giving her this opportunity to return to the stage and help bring her brilliant story to life! Additional Thank You: Keith and Donna Johnson (mom and dad), Trinitee Addae (sister), & Dr. Kristyl Tift and Dr. Leah Lowe (who both recommended me to Vali!).

Teacora Sherrill

Cynthia

Credits include: Grant Yagel, Christmas Carol 1941 (Arena Stage); Maurice, Lord of the Flies (Round House Theatre); Lee, Origin Story (Kennedy Center workshop); Major Evans, Either Or (Theater J); F. Scott Fitzgerald, Outside Paradise (Actors Bridge); Laius, Blood Bound & Tongue Tied (Rorschach Theatre); WS “Fluke” Holland, Walk the Line (20th Cent. Fox); Hotel Manager, The Wire (HBO); Bill Black, Elvis (CBS).

Nicole Mason

Ms. Mary

Nicole Mason makes her return to the stage after many years away. She was a part of a teen theater group and performed in shows while attending MTSU.She is currently studying the Meisner technique at the Actors Bridge.

Rachel Agee

Bev

Favorite Theater Credits include:  Blondie, The Ice Treatment (Actors Bridge Ensemble); Karen, Long Way Down (3 P’s Productions); Narrator, Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson (TN Repertory Theater); Angry Vagina, The Vagina Monologues (ABE); Annie, Misery (Circle Players); Elizabeth Donderstock, The Book of Liz (ABE); Pompey, Measure for Measure (ABE); Gertrude, The Underpants (ABE); Ensemble, The Laramie Project (ABE), Ensemble, All in the Timing (Act I); Delightful/Nadine, Dearly Departed (TN Rep), Angry Feminist Vampire, The Vampire Monologues (ABE/Broadaxe); Baba Yaga, The Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls (ABE/Belmont Univ.); Pattie/Debra, Kimberly Akimbo (ABE and Verge productions); Film: Anne, The Dead Center (Sequitur Productions/Dir. Billy Senese). Rachel is proud to be a founding member of Actors Bridge Ensemble and made her professional directing debut with the company’s 2019 production of Kodachrome. The rehearsal and performance of The Calling is In the Body may have changed her life. Forever thankful to Cynthia Harris.

Lisa Yolanda Treece

Lisa Yolanda Treece

Grandma

Credits include: Abuela Claudia, In the Heights (Visión Latino Theatre Co. Chicago);  Deloris, Sister Act (Encore Theatrical Co, Morristown, TN); Motormouth Maybelle, Hairspray (Encore); Love, Loss and What I Wore (Encore & Flying Anvil Theatre, Knoxville); Mary Magdalene, Annas Understudy, Jesus Christ Superstar (Theatre Guild, Morristown). Yolanda is also the Artistic Associate for Nashville Repertory Theatre.  Recently transitioning from East TN, she is making her stage debut in Nashville with this beautiful story and wonderful Actors Bridge Family.  She is so thankful for the opportunity to continue to tell stories.  She would like to thank everyone who has supported and encouraged her along her journey!

Vali Forrister

Producer

Credits include: Morris, The Nether (Actors Bridge Ensemble), Sarah, Time Stands Still (Actors Bridge Ensemble), Lil’ Bit, How I Learned to Drive (Actors Bridge Ensemble), Sally, Talley’s Folly (Actors Bridge Ensemble), The Elven Queen, The Hobbit (Nashville Children’s Theatre), Titania, Robin Goodfellow (Nashville Children’s Theatre), Maggie, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (ACT1). Vali is the co-founder and producing artistic director of Actors Bridge Ensemble. She teaches the Meisner Technique at Actors Bridge and Lipscomb University. She created Act Like a GRRRL in 2004 and Big GRRRL in 2008 and remains Goddess-in-Charge of both today. She was named “Theaterati of the Year” by Jef Ellis at the 2019 First Night Awards. She has received the First Night Star Award, the Louisa Nelson Award, Nashville Business Journal’s Women of Influence Award, and Vanderbilt’s Women Mentoring Women Award. She was in the Leadership Nashville class of 2014.

Cynthia C. Harris

Director

Credits include:  Woman1/Playwright/Director  How to Catch a Flying Woman (Actors Bridge Ensemble); Headmistress, School Girls; or the African Mean Girls Play (Nashville Rep); Ensemble, Nine Exits (Actos Bridge Ensemble); Some Truth/Playwright, Why Won’t She Leave (National Black Arts Festival).  Cynthia is Public Health Professional, NonProfit Leader and Playwright originally from Nashville.

Gabrielle Saliba

Movement Director

Credits include: Dance Rehearsal Director, Steal Away (Oz Arts), Movement Director To Stab A Butterfly & Brittney Approximately (Vanderbilt University), Performer and Co-Writer, Frozen Moment (Actor’s Bridge), Writer & Director Raccoon Log Ride (Third Coast Comedy Club), Movement Support How to Catch A Flying Woman (Actor’s Bridge). Gabrielle began choreographing for local theater companies at the age of 15. In the three decades since, her path has traversed both the technical and the spiritual nature of movement. Dancing with humans having all sorts of human experiences has helped Gabrielle develop an intuitive sense for movement that compliments the creative process for actors and dancers alike. This production marks her 17th anniversary working with Actor’s Bridge Ensemble.

Alimah Akbar

Assistant Director

Alimah is an up and coming Nashville filmmaker/screenwriter by way of VA,MD,NY. Complex characters from complex worlds get her pistons firing, but love & freedom are at the heart of all her projects & endeavors. You can catch her at all blacktastic programming around town sometimes alone, sometimes with her mini-me entourage. She’s got an eye for black excellence and has sought out the Cynthia C. Harris experience with great intention, mad respect, and deep affinity.

Kat Tierney- Smith

Stage Manager

Credits include: Madea’s Farewell Play Tour (Tyler Perry Studio’s); Kodachrome, The Vagina Monologues, How to Catch a Flying Woman, Citizen: An American Lyric (Actor’s Bridge Ensemble); The Whale, Les Liasons Dangereuses, End of the Rainbow (Actors Express); Of Mice and Men, Time Between Us, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Serenbe Playhouse); All Childish Things, Tigers Be Still (Aurora Theatre), John Adam’s A Flowering Tree, The Remarkable Farkle McBride, Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion (Atlanta Symphony Orchestra); Angry Fags (7 Stages); Petite Rouge: A Cajun Red Riding Hood, Body Awareness (Synchronicity Theatre).  Kat has been a part of the Nashville theatre scene since 2017 and is pleased to call ABE her home base.

Paul Gatrell

Scenic Designer

Credits include: Director, The Diviners, These Shining Lives and Now, Then, Again (Belmont University); Set Designs, Kodachrome, Citizen, and Sailor’s Song (Actors Bridge Ensemble); A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, and King Lear (Nashville Shakespeare Festival); Peter and the Starcatcher, Little Women, Argonautika, Three Sisters, and Rumors (Belmont University) Light Design, The Flick, The Nina Variations, and End Days (Verge Theatre); 36, Argonautika, Big Love, and Dancing at Lughnasa (Belmont University). Paul is currently a Professor of Theatre and director of the BFA Directing program at Belmont University. He holds an M.F.A. from the University of Georgia in Design and Technology and a B.S. in Theatre from Lindenwood University.

Richard K. Davis

Lighting Designer

While he has worked on various Film, Television, and Concert touring projects, his specialty resides firmly in lighting for Theatrical and Dance.  Such varied projects include “Peter and the Star Catcher”, “42nd Street”, “Godspell”, “Urinetown” (Belmont University), “The Wizard of Oz”, “Rock  of Ages” (Hillsboro Players), “Detroit 67’’ ,  “Kodachrome”, “Citizen”, “Eurydice”, “Marisol”, “Men on Boats”, “Outside Paradise” , ”The Warrior”, “The Piper”, “Atlanta” (Actor’s Bridge Ensemble), “Les Misérables” ,“Guys and Dolls” (MTSU), “American Idiot”, “The Addams Family Musical” (Circle Theatre) “Twelfth Night”, “The Suppliants” (Vanderbilt University), “The Holbert Suite” (Nashville Ballet), “Coppelia”, “Giselle”, “Swan Lake”, and “Carmen” (Dance Theatre of Tennessee) as well as “Dracula” and “Regarding Henry” (Film). 

Denese René Evans

Costume Designer

Denese René Evans is a Nashville based costume designer and skilled seamstress.  She is currently enjoying full time employment in the costume shop at Nashville Repertory Theatre.  Her design work has been seen with Springhouse Theatre, Nashville Shakespeare Festival, Bell Witch Festival, Middle Tennessee State University Theatre & Dance Department, Circle Players, and Act One, to name a few.  She is thrilled to be making her design debut with Actors Bridge Ensemble on this amazing premiere.  Much love to our wonderful cast, crew, and production team. 

Daryn Jackson

Associate Producer

Credits include: Carol, Oleanna (Lee University), Jo March, Little Women (Springhouse Theater), Lizzie Curry, The Rainmaker (Springhouse Theater), Miss Casewell, The Mousetrap (Springhouse Theater), Shelby Eatonton, Steel Magnolias (Springhouse Theater), Gwen Landis, The Fifth of July (Act One), Lanie, Two Rooms (Act One). Director, The Rules of Comedy (Springhouse Theater), Director, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Springhouse Theater), Director, The Real Inspector Hound (Springhouse Theater), Assistant Director, The Music Man (Springhouse Theater). Producer, Twelve Angry Men (Springhouse Theater). Daryn is thrilled to call Actors Bridge home after a few years away from the stage. Many thanks for Vali for her training, and even more for her trust. Daryn makes her Actors Bridge directorial debut with When We Were Young and Unafraid in the fall of 2022.