Bess O’Brien is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and theatre producer.
Her latest project is Coming Home, a documentary film focused on five people returning to their Vermont communities from prison. The film spotlights the innovative COSA program—Circle of Support and Accountability—which helps reintegrate former prisoners back into their daily lives. The film premiered in the fall of 2018 and toured Vermont.
Other films by O’Brien include All of Me, a film on body image and eating disorders, The Hungry Heart, about prescription drug crisis in Vermont and the compassionate work of Dr. Fred Holmes. The film won the American Society of Addiction Medicine Award for outstanding media and was honored by Vermont Governor, Peter Shumlin as the film that served as a catalyst for opiate addiction awareness across the state.
Other award-winning documentary films by O’Brien include: Ask Us Who We Are, a powerful documentary about foster care in Vermont, Journey into Courage about women in the Northern part of Vermont who survived domestic violence and sexual abuse, Where is Stephanie? about the murder of a young girl in Rutland, Vermont, and Here Today about Vermont families struggling with heroin in their lives. Bess O’Brien co-founded Kingdom County Productions with her husband Jay Craven in 1991. She is also the director/producer of the highly acclaimed feature film Shout it Out, based on the lives of Vermont teens and the original Voices Project live musical.
O’Brien co-produced the feature films Where the Rivers Flow North starring Rip Torn, Tantoo Cardinal and Michael J. Fox, and A Stranger in the Kingdom starring Ernie Hudson and Martin Sheen.
Isaac Eddy is a theatre professor, and chair of the performing arts department at Northern Vermont University (NVU)–Johnson.
Before joining the faculty at NVU, Eddy was a member of the Blue Man Group for 12 years, performing in New York, London, Chicago, and Las Vegas.
A Vermont native, Eddy has led workshops and lectured on improv, acting and devised experimental theater at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, the University of Michigan, Curry College and the Vermont Governor’s Institute on the Arts.
As a writer and a cartoonist, he has been published in The New Yorker and in The Herald weekly newspaper in Randolph.
At NVU–Johnson, he has directed such plays as Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice, Anne Washburn’s Mr. Burns, and a modern take on Sophocles’s Antigone entitled Red Feed, Blue Feed.
Nate Venet is a lifelong musician and educator who has been playing and teaching piano in the Burlington area for the better part of twenty years.
With a focus on ensemble playing, vocal accompaniment, theatre, and rock and jazz idioms, Venet has performed with and lead vocal and instrumental ensembles throughout Northern and Central Vermont, including music directing at MMU, CVU, and SBHS high schools for over twenty theatrical productions, playing for or music directing an equal number of productions for Lyric Theatre, Stowe Theatre Guild, and other community theaters, and for universities and regional theaters such as UVM, Champlain College, and St. Michael’s Playhouse.
Sarah Lowry is a trained mental health counselor, specializing in drama therapy and somatic therapy. Lowry currently serves as an individual and group clinician at Centerpoint, as well as the clinical consultant and group facilitator for the Listen Up Project.
Lowry comes to this work with experience as a theater artist, a dancer, a community organizer, and a body-based trauma therapist. She has a wealth of arts-based experience, serving as a performer, director, producer, stage manager, and teacher, and also co-founder of The Missoula Oblongata. Based primarily out of Philadelphia, Lowry was a leader or collaborator on a wide range of projects that included community theater productions, full-scale national tours, and workshops with youth and adults of all ages on collaborative theater creation.
Clinically, Lowry trained as a drama therapist in the trauma program at Washington County Mental Health in Berlin, Vermont from 2017-2018 and continues to work as a Pilates teacher, a massage therapist and Somatic Experiencing Practitioner. She also serves on the Board of SafeArt, a rural healing arts organization located in Chelsea, Vermont.
Lowry received her undergraduate degree from Haverford College in Haverford, Pennsylvania and a master's degree in Drama Therapy degree from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Shani Stoddard is a dancer, choreographer, and performer from Vermont's Northeast Kingdom.
He was an original cast member in Bess O'Brien's touring stage production of 'The Voices Project' in 2005.
Shani went on to study Dance and Musical Theater at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City, as well as Northern Vermont University in Johnson, Vermont. He has performed with the Vermont Dance Collective and continues to teach a variety of dance workshops in the Central Vermont area.
Shani is also a Burlington based drag performer; performing with Queen City Cabaret, Capital City Queens, Green Mountain Cabaret, and additional showcases in Montpelier, VT and Boston, Massachusetts.
MITCH BARRON, LICSW LADC
Trained as a clinical social worker and substance abuse counselor, Mitch Barron is the Director of Centerpoint, Vermont’s largest provider of “integrated adolescent treatment and support." In this role, he has been responsible for insuring the highest-quality services and supports to meet the mental health, substance abuse, and special education needs of Vermont teens, young adults, and their families.
Barron is a Principal with the Vermont Youth Treatment Enhancement Program and National Treatment Faculty with Reclaiming Futures, a public health and juvenile justice reform organization based at Portland (OR) State University. Mitch is an associate with the Vermont Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council, has had long-term leadership with Vermont Association of Addiction Treatment Providers, and serves on the Boards of two regional youth development, health promotion, and substance abuse prevention coalitions, the Burlington Partnership for a Healthy Community and Connecting Youth.
Through his career, Barron has been a practicing clinician, clinical supervisor, program director, educator, and administrator. He teaches, trains, and consults regionally and nationally on a variety of topics related to adolescent mental health and addiction. Barron can also be seen making music on stages throughout the northeast and found underwater in oceans and lakes around the world. And his greatest loves are found at home.
Beth Esmond is an independent consultant and owner of Esmond Communications. She works with a variety of Vermont businesses, with concentrations in health care, energy and education.
Esmond Communications covers communications needs from strategy through execution, including writing, social media, graphic design and video production. Esmond's co-workers (and family members) Scott Esmond and Sam Lewis will also help with outreach, communications and production for Listen Up.
Esmond was proud to be involved with the Voices Project, which was the model for Listen Up. In her capacity as communications director at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont, she helped conceive of and produce the musical and record a video of the performance, which later aired on Vermont PBS. During the pre-production for the video, she met her husband Scott.
In her spare time, Esmond sings with the Last Minute Choir and dances at Synergy dance studio in Jericho. She's also involved in local theatre and directed Seussicalfor Stowe Theatre Guild in 2016.