Sarah PhotoSarah Sullivan, Co-Founder and Artistic Director

Sarah Sullivan is a theatre artist, educator and writer based in Phoenix, Arizona. She is the co-founder of Rising Youth Theatre, a company that creates original work with young people in collaboration with professional artists. She has directed a number of youth-driven plays, including Venus in Stitches and Some Are Beginning with Rising Youth Theatre, Live Out Loud and Definition of a Dream with the Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development, and Verona High: the Raphael and Jasmine Story (an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet) with Orangedale Middle School. As a teaching artist, Sarah has worked in more than a dozen Arizona schools with over twenty-five teachers and several hundred students.

She holds her MFA in Theatre for Youth from Arizona State University and her BS from Northwestern University. In addition to her work with Rising Youth Theatre she works as Childsplay’s Communications Specialist and blogs about feminism and young adult literature at


Xanthia photoXanthia Angel Walker, Co-Founder and Artistic Director

Xanthia Angel Walker is a director, facilitator, and educator passionate about the intersections of theatre and community. She holds a MFA in Theatre for Youth from Arizona State University and a BA in Theatre and a BA in Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies from University of Minnesota. Xanthia is the co-founding artistic director of Rising Youth Theatre, which creates and produces new plays through partnerships between youth, communities, and professional artists; and was awarded the inaugural Mayor’s Arts Award in Theatre by Mayor Greg Stanton in December of 2012. Her most recent directing credits include Woman and Girl by Charlie Steak at Space 55, La Tierra de mi Alma in Teatro Bravo’s 2012 new Latino play series, Finding Family: Three Short Plays About Immigration at Rising Youth Theatre, Community at Free Arts of Arizona, and Venus in Stitches by Lou Clark at Rising Youth Theatre. She has worked as artist in residence at the Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development, the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections, El Nido Family Centers; and as a teaching artist with Childsplay, Phoenix Theatre, and Free Arts of Arizona. Xanthia is the current Theatre Arts Department Chair at Arizona School for the Arts. She has taught courses in community-engaged theatre and theatre for social change at Arizona State University and creative collaboration, a course about the development of new work at the University of Minnesota. Xanthia is a recipient of the 2008 ASSITEJ World Congress and Festival Internship, the 2010 Ann Shaw Fellowship and is the 2009 Winifred Ward Scholar, awarded for excellence in the field of Theatre for Young Audiences. She completed a yearlong internship with Cornerstone Theater Company in Los Angeles in 2009-2010. Her article Pronouns, Playbuilding, and the Principal: Negotiating Multiple Sites of Activism in a Youth-Focused Theatre for Social Justice Project is featured in the anthology Staging Social Justice: Collaborating to Create Activist Theatre, published by Southern Illinois University Press in June 2013. Xanthia’s manifesto, titled For the Future of Theatre for Young Audiences is published in the Fall 2012 issue of TYA Today. She is the co-editor of the online publication Incite-Insight for the American Alliance for Theatre and Education.

Ashley Hare

Ashley Hare, Managing Director

Ashley Hare is a proud member of the resident artist team and honored to be the first Managing Director at Rising Youth Theatre. As a community-based artist, Ashley Hare strives to promote cultural diversity and respectful dialogue. Drawing upon her training in drama therapy, experience in various community settings, and her educational research, Ashley creates a safe space for creative engagement and personal development for all participants, regardless of ability, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.

She holds her MFA in Theatre for Youth from Arizona State University and her BA from Wesleyan College. Currently, Ashley is the Director of Arts Learning with the City of Phoenix Arts and Culture Office, deepening partnerships which integrate arts learning experiences into schools and communities. She is also a freelance Teaching Artist, utilizing youth development and art therapy techniques to encourage social interaction, confidence, and healthy emotional outlets for youth living at group homes, shelters, and substance treatment centers. She hopes that her work will help transform communities into places of progressive human interaction.



Photos taken by Tim Trimble

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