Rising Youth Theatre’s staff is comprised of youth apprentices, young adult staff members, and adult staff members. As a staff team, we work in a collaborative, horizontal power sharing structure, where major organizational decisions are made collectively.
Trinity “Trini” Lugo is an apprentice artist for Rising Youth Theatre. Trini was first introduced to Rising Youth when she auditioned for the Light Rail Plays in 2016, and has been with the company ever since. You'll find her either at a bookstore, a thrift shop, or writing some poetry. Her hopes for Rising Youth in the future is that we expand, grow, and prosper as a theatre organization. And that we make and big and great impact on not only young, but our community, and society.
Thameenah “Ty” Muhammad first started working with Rising Youth Theatre during Light Rail Plays 2.0 by one of her high school teachers during her sophomore year. She is currently working as an apprentice artist and staff member with with the company. Ty is an Afro-Caribbean queer woman. Her hope for the future of Rising Youth Theatre is that “the lives touched by the performances and content created by Rising Youth are better because of the work.”
Sarah is a theatre artist, writer, collaborator and one of the first members of the Rising Youth Theatre ensemble! She, along with Xanthia Walker, co-founded the company in 2011, so she has been with the company since the very beginning. Outside of Rising Youth Theatre, she enjoys reading books, listening to podcasts, and spending time with her family, especially her daughter Josephine. Sarah’s hope for the future of Rising Youth Theatre is “that we keep growing, and keep learning, that the work we do makes a difference, and that we continue to find new ways of dismantling systems of power and building community.”
Paula has been with Rising Youth Theatre for five years now. She auditioned for her first show when she was fourteen years-old, and now works as an apprentice artist, teaching artist, and mentor. She is a proud Salvadorena and Mexicana. She is a full-time double major student at Phoenix College, and she works as an assistant manager at a fast food restaurant and on the staff of an organization called RE:Frame. For the future of Rising Youth Theatre, she wants to “make sure every young person gets paid. 50 dollars or 100 dollars make a difference. I want us to work with youth that have been forgotten by society (youth in the juvenile system, dropout youth, youth addicted to drugs and more) because these youth are often talked about but never invited into spaces.”
Quinn Pursell is a white, trans-young person. As a first year apprentice, he has been working with Rising Youth Theatre since 2014. He auditioned for the show called “In the System”, however the first show he was in was “Shipwrecked”. Currently, he is a senior at Arizona School for the Arts and he enjoys playing guitar. Quinn’s hope is that Rising Youth Theatre continues to expand the support for artists, particularly expanding resources for the apprentice program.
Julio-Cesar Sauceda, the General Manager, is an artist, thinker and activist of Mexican descent. He was introduced to Rising Youth Theatre in 2016 through an actor and auditioned the next year. Julio’s favorite memory is going to the Latinx Theatre Commons Conference 2019 in Austin, TX. His hope for Rising Youth is “that in the future we are engaged in even more varying levels of community development through theatre.”
Xanthia is one of the co-founders of Rising Youth Theatre, and currently is one of the co-artistic directors. One of her favorite memories from working with Rising Youth Theatre is watching the audience and ensemble work together during “The 100th Day” to create a Student Bill of Rights. She likes to be outside, travel, work on community-engaged arts projects, take funny pictures of her cat, and swim when she is not working with Rising Youth Theatre. Her hope for the future of Rising Youth Theatre is that the company remains “engaged in a continued reflective relationship with our organizational values and understanding how to live them better.”
Sofia Fencken is an apprentice artist for Rising Youth Theatre. She was first introduced to Rising Youth Theatre when she auditioned for Bodies Are Magic! in 2018. She is a senior at Arizona School for the Arts, where she plays classical guitar and sings in choir. She is also a private music instructor and president of an activism club at her school. Sofia’s hope for the future of Rising Youth Theatre is that we can reach more young people, allow them to express themselves, and engage with their communities.
Rene Sandoval Martinez is a first year apprentice for Rising Youth Theatre. He first started working with Rising Youth during Light Rail Plays in 2018 through a Facebook ad. Rene loves to be involved in acting for shows outside of RYT and making short films in his free time. He hopes the future for RYT will be more expanding either with artists, programs, and connections.