Kultur Stories 

 

 

Gail Prensky — Creator, Executive Producer, and Project Director
As creator and director of The Jüdische Kulturbund Project, Gail brings to this project a deep and first-hand understanding of the Kulturbund’s spirit and recognizes that their issues of living under oppression continue with artists around the world today. Her interviews with the Kulturbund survivors and current-day artists form the basis of her passion and vision for this project, which is rooted in the Kulturbund’s strong regard for music and the performing arts.  In 2001 Gail started researching and gathering material about the Kulturbund. Several years later she has brought together select talent, partners, and like-minded supporters to make this project possible and then interviewed artists living under oppression in various countries. Her hope and dream is that the project will serve as a beacon of inspiration to all people.

For the last 25 years, Gail has written, produced, and directed a broad range of media projects in film, multimedia, books, and exhibitions for clients such as the Banner Health's Alzheimer's Registry, the New America Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trust, Discovery Communications, National Geographic, the Smithsonian Institution, Time-Life Books, and Glaxo-Wellcome.  Through her Meteopa Productions, Gail produces independent projects focusing on advocacy, art, human rights, international, and music themes. She is on the advisory board of the Breaking Barriers Institute to develop films about those who made an impact on civil rights in the United States. Between 2013 and 2016, Gail served on the board of The Welders, the DC-based playwrights’ collective and winner of the Helen Hayes-John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company (2016).

Gail is a recipient of the Mandela Washington Fellowship American Impact Award; an Awardee of the Reciprocal Exchange component of the Mandela Washington Fellowship (2019); and U.S. State Department Arts Envoy Program Awardee (2019).  She is also honored to be an ongoing participant in the Mandela Washington Reciprocal Exchange Alumni Ambassadors Initiative.

Johan Fält — Education Collaborator, Sweden
Johan Fält is a director, actor, playwright and musician living in Karlstad, Sweden.

He has studied drama, film, art and art history in Malmö and Karlstad and has a Bachelor of Art in cultural studies from the University of Karlstad.

Through the years Johan has appeared in plays varying from Shakespeare to Ionesco and Pinter as well as directing in several different genres from childrens plays to drama and musicals. He has also composed original music for theatre and film.

Johan is a part of the Kunskapsteatern, a theatre company with an aim to illustrate facts and knowledge through drama and entertainment.

For the past 15 years he has also worked as a drama teacher at the communal school of art in Karlstad, Sweden.

Wendy Frosh — Education Coordinator and Facilitator
Founder of the consulting firm, Healthcare Management Strategies, Wendy has consulted on policy and equity in the health care sector. Wendy has expertise in the facilitation of strategic planning and initiatives to address social justice and access to health care for underserved populations.

Wendy has served on numerous nonprofit boards, including Strawbery Banke Chamber Music Festival, MobileMed, Planned Parenthood, and US National Oral Health Alliance. She also was a Fellow at the FrameWorks Institute inWashington, DC.  She holds a Master’s Degree from Harvard University and a Bachelor’s Degree from Wesleyan University.

Dominic Dau Deng Mathiang (DD Dawoody) — Project Coordinator, South Sudan
DD is a singer, songwriter, activist, student and entrepreneur.  He was born in Wau Western Bhar El Gazal, Sudan (now South Sudan).  While growing up he was involved in church choir then began creating music, leading a music group in performances of African traditional music and dance.  He incorporates these influences based on his personal experience rather than theoretically approaching the African music. He continues to perform with groups and as a solo artist; performance pieces are a major part of his life's work.  He released his first hit in 2011 called SOUTH SUDAN IS MY HOME and also launched an album in 2012 called INTI WAHIT.  In 2016, he released his third third album, I LOVE MY NATION.

Apart from working as a composer, performer, and solo musician, DD Dawoody is also a first member artist whose music videos trended on national TV (SSBC or SSTV) during independence of the Republic of South Sudan and contributed on live performance the same day.

DD Dawoody has been participating in Artist Initiatives for Peace and response to oppression, which includes AnaTaban Art Initiative, I AM PEACE, and The Jüdische Kulturbund Project.

DD Dawoody is currently member of The Jüdische Kulturbund Project's COVID-19: The Oppressor, an initiative that explores and collects artists’ response to Covid 19 from Africa, US, Asia and Europe.  Learn more about DD on You Tube and Facebook.

Cindy Oxberry — Music Education Coordinator
Cindy went to Washington National Opera at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and began her post as a resident assistant director for Marta Domingo and her production of LA RONDINE and for David Edwards’ production of FEDORA starring Mirella Freni and Placido Domingo. For 20 years she has returned to work on such productions as DON CARLO, MAGIC FLUTE, RIGOLETTO, IL TROVATORE, IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA, TURANDOT, THE TALES OF HOFFMANN, UN BALLO IN MASCHERA, HANSEL & GRETEL, PIQUE DAME (starring Placido Domingo), LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR, VANESSA, MANON LESCAUT, AIDA, NORMA, SAMSON & DELILAH, L’ITALIANA D’ALGERI, LA CENERENTOLA, A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, MADAMA BUTTERFLY, JENUFA, LA BOHEME, A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE, PEARL FISHERS, PETER GRIMES, DON PASQUALE and LE NOZZE DI FIGARO. She has also worked for Los Angeles Opera as an assistant director on LA RONDINE, LA TRAVIATA, THE TALES OF HOFFMANN, LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR and LUISA FERNANDA, starring Placido Domingo.

In the summer of 2000, Cindy was invited to serve as the stage director for OPERA INSTITUTE where she still is only now as the Program Director in addition to her classroom teaching. She has also served as the stage director for CAMP FOR KIDS – both programs offered by the Education Department of Washington National Opera.

Cindy’s directorial career has also flourished. She has directed several productions of THE MERRY WIDOW, around the country. Her MIKADO has been remounted in several American cities as well as several wonderful musicals, THE MUSIC MAN, CAROUSEL, CAMELOT and CANDIDE. She is honored to also be a director as major universities and colleges in the US as well. She has recently begun working in the genre of cabaret and loves it!

She was most proud to be invited by Mr. Domingo to Mexico City to celebrate his 40th anniversary as an international artist. She had the honor of working with Mr. Domingo on the production of FEDORA for the International Opera Company of Mexico at the Palacio de Bellas Artes.

Cindy is an Awardee of the Reciprocal Exchange component of the Mandela Washington Fellowship (2019) and U.S. State Department Arts Envoy Program Awardee (2019).

Wyatt Oroke — Education Collaborator, USA
Wyatt Oroke is a nationally recognized educator for his work around social justice and literacy. Mr. Oroke graduated from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Johns Hopkins University School of Education in 2015 with a Master of Science in Education. Mr. Oroke currently teaches 7th and 8th grade English and Honors English at City Springs Elementary/Middle School in Baltimore City. For his school Mr. Oroke serves as the middle school team leader, coaches girls’ volleyball and boys’ basketball, and has a host of other leadership positions including a professional development facilitator in race and equity, scholar academic growth, and culturally responsive curriculum. For the district Mr. Oroke serves on the CEO’s Teacher Advisory Council, works as a writing instruction expert for the Literacy Improvement Fellowship, serves as a curriculum writer for the Wholeness Writers Fellowship, and is a professional development facilitator in Courageous Conversations around race and identity. Mr. Oroke has received recognition for his teaching including awards from Johns Hopkins University, the University of Baltimore School of Law, the Maryland State Senate, the Baltimore Orioles, and was awarded the “Superhero Award” by Ellen DeGeneres, where he appeared twice on her show. Mr. Oroke was named the 2020 Baltimore City Teacher of the Year and the 2021 Maryland Teacher of the Year.

Leif Persson — Program Director, Sweden
Leif Persson is a director, actor and regional coordinator of theatre at the national touring theatre Riksteatern in Sweden.  Leif has a long experience of theatre and has been active in a large variety of Sweden’s independent theatres and institutions. Until the late 1990s he was the chairperson of the Center for Independent Theatres in Sweden.

In recent years he has been actively contributing to stage artists with other ethnicities, to make it possible for them to work in theatres in Sweden , and at the same time bring different experiences to Swedish audiences. SITARAHA and WHO LIT THE STARS, written and performed by Moniraha Hashemi, are such performances.

Jok Abraham Thon — Education Collaborator, South Sudan
Jok is the founder and director of Promised Land Secondary School and the Youth for Peace Through Education initiative. He is also the deputy chairman of Jonglei Youth Peace League, a group that works on reconciliation and youth empowerment. His school educates 673 students who are internally displaced within South Sudan. The school has received recognition from the government. His Youth for Peace Through Education initiative currently provides support for 67 girls who were victims of early marriage and 83 orphans. In addition, he promotes peace and education through radio and television shows and articles in newspapers. Jok was educated in Uganda when he was a refugee but returned to South Sudan for higher education. He studied Social and Economic Studies at the University of Juba and holds a diploma from the N2N Christian University of the USA in Juba. Jok is committed to changing the mindset of youth, encouraging them to become self-reliant and productive citizens who will contribute to national building, not tribal conflict.  The Jüdische Kulturbund Project's BULLETS TO BOOKS initiative is based on and inspired by Jok's life and mission for "changing minds from bullets to books."