Spark Theatre Festival

Staff

Paul Adams (Artistic Director) founded Emerging Artists Theatre in 1993 and has been the Artistic Director for the life of the company. During this time, he has helped showcase hundreds of new works (plays, solo shows, musicals & dance pieces) for Off and Off-Off Broadway. Some of his favorite credits include directing the Off-Broadway production of Sisters’ Dance by Sarah Hollister at Baruch College and producing the solo show The Sensational Josephine Baker by Cheryl Howard, which had two Off-Broadway runs at Theatre Row and received a rave review in the NY Times. Paul performed his critically acclaimed solo show, The Cleaning Guy, at FringeNYC in 2016. He has also served on the NY Innovative Theatre Awards committee since its inception. Paul is currently producing his new play Off-Broadway, Doris Day: My Secret Love.

Andrea Alton (Director of Communications) has been a member of Emerging Artists Theatre Company since 2006. In that time, she has worked for the company in many capacities, including as a director, actor, playwright, publicist, and curator for their bi-annual Spark Theatre Festival NYC (formerly called the New Work Series). As a playwright, her plays have been produced across the country and internationally, with notable performances in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Florida, and Ireland. In 2015, Andrea won The Doric Wilson Independent Playwright award at The New York Innovative Theatre Awards. Some of Andrea’s favorite acting credits include The Chiselers (Emerging Artists Theatre), Big Girl, Little World (FringeNYC), The Strangest Kind of Romance (Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival), Possum Creek (writer/actor – FringeNYC), and Carl & Shelly; Best Friends Forever (co-writer/actor – FringeNYC). She is the co-founder/owner of Alton PR, which was formed in 2011. The company specializes in public relations for Off and Off-Off Broadway theatre. Andrea is a proud member of the Actors Equity Association and SAG/AFTRA.

Elizabeth A. Bell (Director of Programming for the New Work Series) is a San Francisco-born, New York-based actor-singer-VO artist who has been involved with Emerging Artists Theatre for a decade. Most recently, Elizabeth has been working as the Production Stage Manager for the Spark Theatre Festival NYC (formerly called the New Work Series), which aligns with her ongoing vision of how new work can be developed in a transformative environment. As an actress, she has been seen most recently in productions of Dining with Ploetz (Cindy/Helen), The Fool’s Lear (Goneril), and J. Stephen Brantley’s The Emilies. Other roles include Beth in Richard Ploetz’s Versailles, Jo Hopper in Hopper’s Ghosts, Gertrude (Hamlet), Helen of Troy (Epic Poetry), Lady Capulet (Romeo and Juliet), Peaches (The Secretaries). Regional: Provincetown Playhouse, Nashville Rep, Butterfield 8, Actor’s Bridge Ensemble. Training: BADA (Oxford), John Strasberg (NYC), A.C.T. (San Francisco). Elizabeth is a member of the Actor’s Equity Association. 

Vanessa Shealy (Executive Director) started working with Emerging Artists Theatre in 2010, first as a solo performer/playwright in the New Work Series (now called the Spark Theatre Festival NYC), then as one of the series curators since 2013. As a playwright, Vanessa’s full-length plays include Tea in the Afternoon (Theatre Row; Queens Theater; FringeNYC), American Drum Circle (UP Theater; developed at the Actors Studio), and One, Two, Whatever You Do…. (FringeNYC). She and her former husband/current best friend also wrote and performed in the critically acclaimed FringeNYC hit, My White Wfie; or So I Married a Black Man. Her other writing includes a number of short plays, multi-festival comedic short films, and a middle-grade graphic novel called Couri Vine. As an actor, Vanessa has appeared onstage in over 30 professional productions, in independent films, on television, and in numerous national commercials. She is a member of AEA, SAG/AFTRA, and DGA. When she is not working with EAT, Vanessa is a mom to two hilarious kids, and serves as the Senior Director of Communications at the Children’s Tumor Foundation, a national nonprofit organization that is finding treatments and cures for the millions of individuals worldwide living with neurofibromatosis and schwannomatosis. 

Artistic Director: Paul Adams
Executive Director: Vanessa Shealy
Director of Communications: Andrea Alton
Director of Programming: Elizabeth Bell
Associate Artistic Director: Derek Jamison
Associate Artistic Director: Melissa Attebery
Production Manager: Elizabeth Ramsay
Festival Lighting Designer: Adam Carrigan