About The Castillo Theatre:

The award-winning Castillo Theatre, established in 1983, opens up the world of cutting-edge political theatre to young people and adults of all backgrounds. Castillo serves as a multicultural home for Black Theatre, a showplace for the works of East German playwright, Heiner Müller, and our late artistic director, Fred Newman. Castillo provides a creative environment in which people of all ages can produce and experience theatre that deals with contemporary and historical social issues.

Castillo is leading the way in ensuring that artistic freedom, multi-cultural voices and community-based theatre thrives. Every year, over 6,000 people from the diverse communities of New York City come to see productions at Castillo Theatre.

Check out some of Dan Friedman’s articles to learn more about our mission:

Castillo is a program of The All Stars Project, Inc.

The volunteer-driven Castillo Theatre is a program of the All Stars Project, Inc. (ASP) a non-partisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting human development through the use of an innovative performance-based model. The ASP creates outside-of-school, education and performing arts activities for tens of thousands of poor and minority people nationwide. It sponsors community and experimental theatre, develops leadership training and pursues volunteer initiatives that build and strengthen communities. Castillo fosters the interaction of grassroots community development and cultural innovation, and works side-by-side with the All Stars Project’s youth programs: the All Stars Talent Show Network, the Development School for Youth, Operation Conversation: Cops & Kids, and the performance school, Youth Onstage!.

Making Theatre Accessible to New York’s Inner-City Youth

Castillo Theatre provides a performance platform for Youth Onstage! graduates. Youth Onstage! is a free development program for young people from poor communities who want to be part of creating socially- relevant theatre. The program offers performance and improv training with an emphasis on ensemble building, through a variety of experiential outings, workshops and classes, all led by theatre professionals who give their time and talents pro bono.

Our Cultural Partners:

New Federal Theatre: Since 2007, Castillo has enjoyed a producing partnership with Woodie King Jr.’s New Federal Theatre (NFT). NFT currently resides at the All Stars Project center for performance, youth development and activism on 42nd Street in New York City. NFT’s mission is to integrate minorities and women into the mainstream of American theatre by training artists for the profession, and by presenting plays by minorities and women to integrated, multicultural audiences – plays which evoke the truth through beautiful and artistic re-creations of ourselves.

New Yiddish Rep: Since 2013, New Yiddish Rep has co-produced a number of plays with Castillo. They are a theater laboratory on the front line of resistance against the extinction of Eastern European Yiddish theater. They speak to a 21st century audience by putting on modern treatments of Yiddish classics as well as Yiddish interpretations of modern and post-modern masterpieces.

Primitive Grace: Primitive Grace is Castillo Theatre’s newest cultural partner. It is a NYC based Theater Ensemble that produces original and established, classic and contemporary plays designed to create a shift in the audience’s paradigm so they will experience reality in a new, profound, life altering way.

Our Team

Gabrielle L. Kurlander

CEO, All Stars Project

Gabrielle L. Kurlander is an innovative non-profit entrepreneur, community organizer, actor and theatre director.

As the Cheif Executive Officer of the All Stars Project (ASP) over the past three decades, Ms. Kurlander has transformed it from a grassroots all-volunteer effort into a national model for engaging poverty through afterschool development and community organizing. Funding the ASP entirely through private donations, Ms. Kurlander has won the support of hundreds of prominent business leaders and philanthropists and has led ASP in raising $130 million during her tenure.

Ms. Kurlander’s directing credits include Playing with Heiner Muller which won a 2011 Audelco Award for Outstanding Ensemble Performance and Fred Newman and Annie Roboff's Sally and Tom (The American Way), winner of five 2012 AUDELCO Awards for excellence in black theatre, including Outstanding Director of a Musical. Most recently she directed Billie, Malcolm & Yusuf by Fred Newman.

You can follow Ms. Kurlander on Twitter at @ASP_CEO

Dan Friedman

Artistic Director

Dan Friedman is the artistic director of the Castillo Theatre, the associate dean of UX, and a faculty member of the East Side Institute [http://eastsideinstitute.org/]. He was one of the founders of the Castillo Theatre in 1984, and served as Castillo’s dramaturg-in-residence for 20 years before succeeding Fred Newman as artistic director in 2010. Dan originated Youth Onstage! in 2003 upon the opening of the ASP national headquarters. He has worked closely with Dean Dr. Lenora Fulani to establish and develop UX, the All Stars’ free school of continuing development for people of all ages. In addition, he is one of the lead organizers of Performing the World [https://www.performingtheworld.org/], a bi-annual conference co-sponsored by the All Stars Project and the East Side Institute, that brings together hundreds of performance activists, educators, and researchers from scores of countries to share their work and build lasting relationships.

Dan is a playwright, a dramaturg and a director. He has written seventeen full-length plays, including two with Fred Newman and one with Nancy Hanks. In addition to his work with Castillo Theatre, Friedman has directed at the Nuyorican Poets Café and La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, as well as at a number of New York colleges.

Dan holds a doctorate in theatre history from the University of Wisconsin. He speaks frequently at academic and performance conferences around the world and his articles have appeared in such journals as publications as The Drama Review, Modern Drama, Communications from the International Brecht Society, and Back Stage. Friedman has taught at Baruch College, Queensborough Community College, York College, the Fashion Institute of Technology, and Harvard University. He is editor of The Cultural Politics of Heiner Müller (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007), Müller in America (Castillo Cultural Center, 2003), and Still on the Corner and Other Postmodern Political Plays by Fred Newman (Castillo Cultural Center, 1998), and co-editor, with Bruce McConachie, of Theatre for Working Class Audiences in the United States, 1830 – 1980 (Greenwood Press, 1985). He is currently writing a book, Performance Activism, for Palgrave Macmillian.

Selected writings of Dan—including book chapters, articles, unpublished talks and play scripts—can be accessed at danfriedmannyc.org. To submit a play to Castillo Theatre, email Dan at dfriedman@allstars.org.

Diane Stiles

Vice President of Programs, All Stars Project of New York

Diane Stiles was first drawn to the multicultural, activistic environment of the Castillo Theatre as a young photographer and visual artist in the mid-1980s. After years of volunteering in many different roles, including fundraising and theatrical producing, she was honored to join the All Stars Project staff full-time in the late ’90s as Castillo’s managing director. In her current position as vice president of programs for the All Stars Project of New York, Diane continues to direct the various aspects of Castillo, working closely with the associate managing director and artistic director. In addition, she directs the All Stars’ full portfolio of developmental programs and initiatives at its center for performance, youth development and activism on 42nd Street, including supporting the development of the talented programs staff. She received her BFA in drawing and photography from Pratt Institute. Her first job was at the Pierpont Morgan Museum; she now curates the public spaces of the All Stars’ center.

John Rankin III

Associate Managing Director

John Rankin III is a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and a member of the NYC Rep Ensemble and the Castillo Theatre ensemble. He started volunteering in 2009 after playing the role of Sasportas in Heiner Müller’s The Task, directed by Gabrielle Kurlander. Theatre credits include ReSurgents and the AUDELCO Award winning Playing with Heiner Müller, and he is an improvisor with Castillo’s improv comedy show, Pop-Up Improv. John’s producer credits include: License to Dream, the AUDELCO Award-winning musical Sally & Tom (The American Way); the North American premiere of Katori Hall’s Children of Killers; The Donut Play (A Love Story in 24 Conversations); Still on the Corner; Emmett, Down in My Heart; Votes; The Store: One Block East of Jerome; and most recently Billie, Malcolm & Yusuf.

Lisa Linnen

Senior Program Manager, Community Partnerships

Lisa Linnen is the Senior Program Manager, Community Partnerships and a key leadership member of the All Stars Project of New York. She oversees Castillo Theatre’s production, business and community organizing in partnership with Castillo’s Associate Managing Director. She partners with the Talented Volunteer program to develop Castillo’s volunteer staff. In addition to her role in the Castillo Theatre’s operations and outreach, Ms. Linnen cultivates and builds partnerships with community organizations that participate in the award-winning Operation Conversation: Cops & Kids program.

Lisa has performed many roles and ran several programs at the All Stars Project, including Operation Conversation: Cops & Kids where she oversaw our partnership with the New York City Police Department, including outreach and workshops conducted in all five boroughs. She partnered with All Stars Project co-founder, Dr. Lenora Fulani to establish and build UX, our school of continuing development, and produced various community engagement events for the Committee for Independent Community Action and other initiatives.

Lisa has appeared in several productions at All Stars Project’s Castillo Theatre, including Billie & Malcolm: A Demonstration, Carmen’s Community, A Season in the Congo, Controlucé, Galileo, An Obituary — Heiner Müller: A Man Without a Behind, and Marat/Sade.

Joseph Spirito

Technical Director & Facility Manager

Joseph Spirito manages all technical work for the four theatres within Castillo's performance and education center here on 42nd St. He provides hands-on leadership to the work of the “Whatever It Takes” team, the many volunteers who hang the lights, build and paint the sets, run tech for shows and countless special events, and fix just about anything that breaks in the facility -- and so much more. As a designer, he has created sets and video for more than 130 productions in New York City over the past 25 years. Joseph is also a member of Castillo’s producing team, specializing in international co-productions.

Christian Paluck

Program Assistant, Youth Onstage! & Castillo Theatre

Christian has been performing stand-up, sketch and improv comedy for 19 years at the world-famous Upright Citizen’s Brigade, The Magnet Theatre, Caroline’s on Broadway, the Comedy Cellar among many other comedy clubs. He has made television appearances on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien”, has appeared on “The Montreal Just For Laughs Showcase," as well as in the Independent film Amira and Sam. Christian has also been seen in commercial’s for: McDonald’s, Consumer Reports, IBM, and Pepsi. Christian has been a part of the All Stars Project of New York’s youth development team since 2017. Christian is the production assistant to the Castillo Theatre and Youth Onstage! and is a core improvisor with Castillo’s Pop-Up Improv shows.

Rachel Keller

Sales and Fundraising Leader

Rachel first joined the All Stars staff as an Activists for Social Development fellow during the summer of 2018. During her fellowship, she enjoyed producing the international conference Performing the World and fundraising on the streets of NYC. In May of 2019, she graduated from Binghamton University with a Master of Public Administration and a certificate in Nonprofit Management. She began her role as Castillo’s Sales and Fundraising Leader shortly thereafter, and is currently responsible for ticket sales, member acquisition, marketing and fundraising for the theatre.

Michael Dockery

Project Lead, Database & Box Office Administration

Michael Dockery manages the Castillo Theatre’s Box Office. He has been an All Star for 10 years, working in different departments across the organization. Today he co-manages the company’s two major databases and supports national fundraising. Originally from Jamaica, Michael grew up in Yonkers and is passionate about connecting youth to opportunity. With no theater background, he is often mistaken as a professional actor -- perhaps his most prominent role is yet to come.

Elsa Dial

Program & Operations Manager

Elsa runs the Castillo Theatre’s volunteer house staff, a diverse team of people who create a welcoming environment and help keep the Castillo Theatre affordable for all New Yorkers. She is the Program Manager for the All Stars Project’s (ASP) Talented Volunteer Department and UX, ASP’s free, university-like school for people of all ages. Elsa is a native New Yorker, a community theatre-maker, and a writer. She graduated from Wells College with a B.A. in Performing Arts.

Volunteer Staff

Artistic Associates: David Nackman, Marian Rich, Cathy Rose Salit
Theatre Producers: Madelyn Chapman, L. Thecla Farrell, Kate Henselmans, Jessica Massad, John Rankin III, Joseph Spirito, Diane Stiles
Resident Costume Designer: Emilie Charlotte
Costume Shop Team: Emilie Charlotte, Donna Donner, Sandra Javier-Santana, Tiffany Otero
Resident Set Designer: Joseph Spirito
Sales Team: Diane Buscemi, Madelyn Chapman, Sandy Friedman, Emilie Knoerzer, Carolyn Kresky, Marian Rich, Liam Riordan, Alice Rydel, Tania Salazar, Vicky Wallace
Resident Directing Staff: Madelyn Chapman, Mary Fridley, Dan Friedman, Gabrielle L. Kurlander, David Nackman, Craig Pattison
Music Department: David Belmont, Michael Walsh
Box Office Staff: Maureen Albanese, Nora Bleich, Caren Crawford, Susan Freeman, Lois Kocis, Dionne Norton, Jeanne Ollivierre, Theresa Philips, Laurie Prose, Richard Ronner, Tania Salazar, Victoria Uribe, Catherine Ward, Marsha Weil, Nicky Zhou
Scenic Shop Team: Dwight Atteberry, Lara Drzik, Jennifer Engsstler, Olivia Gazzarini, Christopher Howard, Alice Kutsina, Caitlin McGuire, Liam Riordan, Sam Rudy, Joseph Spirito
Café Managers: Stefan Ramkissoon, Miko DiGiacomo-Castillo
House Staff Director: Elsa Dial
Senior House Staff Trainer: Elyse Mendel
House Manager Team:Diane Buscemi, Miko DiGiacomo-Castillo, Stephanie Elson, Reggie Fayton, Adrianna Gonzales, Marcy Jellison, Emilie Knoerzer, Yvonne Lee, Erin McGinley, Efua McLean, Natasha McLeod, Andy Moss, Joanna Newman, Liam Riordan, Sheryl Williams