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The Players

It was through contacts at The Evergreen State College that Aeryk Bjork joined the Heartsparkle Players in 1995. What began as another theatre gig soon became a lifestyle after experiencing firsthand the power of witnessing people’s stories and giving voice to an otherwise quiet population. He currently serves as a playback actor and musician and workshop facilitator. His other part-time work includes house manager and stage crew duties at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts in Olympia, and fielding calls in the Seattle area through the Stagehand’s Union Local #15. With his wife Vivian, he operates Olympia’s first Ashtanga yoga studio, The Bandha Room. He has also been spotted committing random acts of mime, fire juggling, Butoh, and sometimes all three at once.

Debe Edden came to Playback Theatre in 1991 when she was searching for a way to use theatre as a tool for building empathy and compassion with young people. Since that time, Debe and the Heartsparkle Players have incorporated Playback and other interactive theatre techniques in their work. She has had the privilege of hearing the stories of many people, teaching Playback, traveling to numerous communities around the world, serving her own community by sharing the gift of Playback with a diverse group of folks. She is honored and blessed to work with the Heartsparkle Players, a company of talented individuals, loving human beings and people who know how to have a good time! Debe has been a professional performer, storyteller and director for over 35 years. She is an accredited trainer with the Centre for Playback Theatre and serves on their board. 

Hiroko Ishii Cassidy started her Playback Theatre path initially as an interpreter to Jonathan Fox, who is a founder of this theatre method in Japan 30 years ago. She has worked with Jonathan and other faculty members of School of Playback theatre as an interpreter for over 20 years in Japan. Her interest grew so passionately, she studied and graduated from School of Playback Theatre.

Her psychodrama studies were done under the supervision of Zerka Moreno.

Hiroko was one of the founding members of Playback AZ in Japan and served as a company member for over 12 years. She has also served as the first board member for the International Playback Theatre Network representing Japan for 3 years.

She currently lives in Lacey WA with her family and is excited to make a contribution to positive change with her new troupe, the Heartsparkle Players.

(Lydia) Beth Leimbach has been practicing, performing, and helping teach playback theatre since 1991 and has been a member of The Heartsparkle Players since 1997.  As an actor, musician, and conductor, she appreciates the different roles within a playback troupe and loves the ways playback helps people listen, grow, and connect with one another.  She has participated in international conferences in Olympia, WA; Perth, Australia; York, England; and Sao Paulo, Brazil.  When not on the playback stage, Lydia Beth works as an organic farmer and educator at The Evergreen State College; leads an acapella choir at Temple Beth Hatfiloh and sings in the Olympia Peace Choir; and gets her hands dirty in other peoples’ gardens (as well as her own) with her business, Greenacts.

Elizabeth Lord joined the Heartsparkle Players in 1998. In 1992 Elizabeth joined the Olympia Storytelling Guild where she met and befriended Debe Edden. Elizabeth's passion for the art of storytelling, her experience as an actor, as well as her curiosity about the human experience made her a natural match for the theatrical form of Playback Theatre. The Heartsparkle Players provide an opportunity for Elizabeth to satisfy her need to meet new people, hear their stories and learn from their experience. It gives her a chance to honor people's lives in their unique, respectful, and engaging manner. Playback Theatre satisfies her desire to not only perform, but to collaborate with talented people and explore theatrical improvisation.  Find out more about Elizabeth!

Haley Lowe is the newest member of the Heartsparkle Players and this season will be her first official foray into the world of performing arts.  In May 2018 she participated in a rehearsal and performance when one of the programs she directs (YouthSound) was selected as the featured organization.  She knew then and there she wanted to be a part of the magic that is Playback Theatre. Haley believes in the importance of creating safe and intentional spaces for healing and connection, especially in these times of political and humanitarian crisis, and views Playback as a creative way to hold space for this to happen.  Even with the dark times we are walking through, she believes there is still beauty in the world, and stories of triumph and the human spirit bring this beauty to light. When she’s not busy with work or Playback Theatre, you will likely find her wandering in the woods with her four legged side kick, Gracie Mae. Haley has called Olympia home since 1980 and enjoys being a part of a small, progressive community that values the arts and social justice.

Bob McKenzie Sullivan has been involved in the performing arts most of his life as a singing and instrumentalist musician and actor. His first exposure to playback theatre was the Heartsparkle Players on a regular monthly performance at Traditions Café. He was taken in by the care with which people’s stories were taken and carefully and artistically turned into theatre and offered back to the owner of the story. He began to come to Heartsparkle workshops with an eye to teaching playback theatre to his students at Rochester High School. He is very excited to be involved in theatre that is more than entertainment. It is theatre at the service of the community and each member who shares a story.

Laurie O'Brien has been a performer of one type or another her entire life including acting, singing, dance, and emcee work. She discovered the Heartsparkle Players through her growing involvement in the Olympia storytelling community. After seeing performances and participating in some workshops, she felt like it would be a good fit. She is drawn to the altruistic nature of Playback Theater and has been touched by the opportunity for personal growth it affords participants, both on and off stage. Laurie lives in Olympia with her husband, Brian. They are the proud parents of two grown sons.

Megan Rosenberg joined the Heartsparkle Players in the Winter of 2016 after playing opposite Debe in Olympia Family Theater's production of Charlotte's Web. She has studied theatre throughout her life and was seeking a way to combine her interests in performing and social justice. Megan is currently the Campus Visit Program Coordinator at The Evergreen State College and is almost done with her Masters in Public Administration. She likes hiking, hot yoga, playing the ukulele, mentoring queer youth, and building community through Playback Theatre.

Sara Rucker Thiessen discovered The Heartsparkle Players and Playback Theatre in 1998. Playback Theatre and ensemble life are an excellent match for her interest in playful and truthful community building through the arts. Sara works for Senior Services for South Sound in Olympia where she makes her home with her husband Kyle.

Mark Waren has been a fan of the Heartsparkle Players ever since his daughter, Samantha, started performing with The Thunders in 2012.  Over the years he has become increasingly  more involved and now performs as musician.  Mark enjoys learning new aspects of Playback Theater and working with such talented and energetic actors.  He takes great joy in creating musical sounds to accompany the action on stage.  Mark is a retired soldier and currently works as a substitute teacher in Yelm.  

The Compassionate Action Players
Nic Cereghino
Gaston Excell-Rehm
Gini Koshelnik-Turner
Morgan Koshelnik-Turner
Parker Koshelnik-Turner
Cameron Osier
Samantha Waren
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