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8:46 Breathing Room

October 21-23, 2021

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Rivendell re-emerges with 8:46 (BREATHING ROOM) a festival featuring four exciting new commissions, each 8 minutes and 46 seconds long.


Through world premiere performances and community events — Rivendell’s Associate Artistic Director, Denise Yvette Serna, transforms Rivendell’s annual new play festival to reflect the moment we collectively find ourselves in now.


The festival invites community members to invest in artists of the global majority, offering them space to consider, share, and take a breath.


On November 1st, the festival concludes with streaming event in remembrance of the lives lost to brutality, negligence, and ecological apartheid of the last two years. Click here to learn more about The Breath Project.

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Tina Fakrid-Deen
Snow Black


Mari DeOleo
The Face in the Flame


Gloria Imseh Petrelli
Or Something Better

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Tisha Renae

Tina Fakhrid-Deen is a writer and educator. She is the author of Let’s Get This Straight: The Ultimate Handbook for Youth with LGBTQ Parents (Seal Press). Her play, Powerless Gods was a semi-finalist for the Bay Area Playwriting Festival (2019) and O’Neill Playwriting Conference (2016/2018). Tina’s second play, Dandelions, was commissioned for Theatre on the Lake - In the Works, and received a developmental pod- cast play production as part of their 2020 season. Her third play, Pulled Punches, was developed through the Women’s Theatre Alliance of Chicago and MPAACT in 2019 and the world premiere of Pulled Punches is slated for April 2022 with MPAACT at the Greenhouse Theater. She recently wrote and directed her first children’s podcast play, Sankofa, for the Chicago Children’s Theatre. Tina is a 2020 MacDowell Fellow, 2018 Kimbilio Fellow, and VONA Fellow in Fiction and Playwriting (2011/2017). Her public writing and cultural commentary have been featured in diverse media outlets and publi- cations including The Root, NPR: Eight-Forty-Eight, News One, The Dr. Laura Berman Show on Oprah Radio, Not-for-Tourists, Jet, Pearson Scott Foresman, and several anthologies. Tina is currently working on a middle grade novel. She is represented by Promote Talent Agency and is a company member with MPAACT.

Mari DeOleo (she/they) is an Afro-Latinx clown, writer, director, visual artist, and educator based in Chicago from Dominican Republic by way of rural Pennsylvania. Mari’s writing focuses on telling highly visceral, dynamic stories that are magical, strange, surreal, absurd, funny and historical or cultural informed. Their creative practice focuses on empowerment, connection and building community through comedy, participation and play. Mari’s work is informed by spectacle theater, storytelling, clown, buffoon, improv, comedy and performance practices from the Caribbean, Latin America and West Africa. They are currently working on transitioning their practice online.

Gloria Imseih Petrelli is a Chicago born and based actor, organizer, teacher, and writer. She can be found making plays with theatres such as The Neighborhood, The Gift, Interrobang, and during the pandemic, Steppenwolf, The Goodman and the Kenne- dy Center or organizing as the Co-Chair of the US Palestinian Community Network. She is proudly represented by Paonessa Talent. Subscribe to her newsletter ‘a communion’ here.

Risha Tenae is a Theatre, Television and Film Actor that has been involved with Theater and Theater education since high school. She graduated from the Alabama School of Fine Arts, attended Miami University B.A. theater program, and graduated from The California Institute of the Arts M.F.A. Theater program where she focused on performance. Theatre and TV credits include: Blues for an Alabama Sky(Angel), King Lear(Cornwall), 24 Hours the Musical (Shawnna), In the Blood (Welfare/Bully), Three Sisters(Irena), The Music Man(Alma), King Henry V(Kate), The Colored Museum(Woman #3). Don’t Make Me Over (Cissy Houston), Single Black Female(SBF 2), Julius Caesar(Portia), The Seagull(Masha), Frankenstein(Caroline), Urban Love Story (Ms. Marion), The Color Purple; directed by Gary Griffin(PA), The Projects(Doreen), When We Heal and The Chi. In addition to acting, Ri- sha finds joy in being a Teaching Artist. She taught Theatre for grades K-12 in multiple schools around Los Angeles County during her time there and is currently teaching Theatre for multiple schools around Chicago.



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Denise Yvette Serna
Associate Artistic Director

Denise Yvette Serna (she/her) is a theatre practitioner and arts activist raised in San Juan, Texas. She has facilitated international workshops and productions with Global Hive Laboratories and its partners, as well as readings, fundraisers, panels, and festivals to raise awareness and promote activism about racial equity, accessibility, climate justice, gender-based violence, immigration, land sovereignty, literacy, community collaboration, and collective joy.


Chicago directing and curating credits include productions with MCA Chicago, The Latinx Theatre Commons, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Prop Thtr, Strawdog Theatre Company, Pop Magic Productions, The Neo-Futurists, Victory Gardens Theater, Writers Theatre, Goodman Theatre, El Semillero, and Steep Theatre Company. Producing Credits include Dreams Beyond Borders: New Roots at Howard Area Community Center, Pop Magic’s salon series HOMESET, and The Syndicate’s FIRST READ.


Denise is committed to supporting arts organizations as they champion equity, diversity, access and inclusion, and move forward as transformative Anti-Racist forces in their communities.


Production Team

Miranda Anderson, Production Manager

Is excited to be working again with Rivendell! Recent Chicago credits include productions with The House Theatre, The Hypocrites, TimeLine Theatre, First Folio Theatre, Steppenwolf and Lookingglass. Regional credits include touring with The Hypocrites’ Gilbert and Sullivan productions to Olney Theatre Company, Pasadena Playhouse, Skirball Center at NYU, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville and American Repertory Theatre. Miranda is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association.

Yeaji Kim – Production Design

Yeaji Kim is a scenic and projection designer based in Chicago. Born and raised in South Korea, she came to the States in 2012 to pursue her MFA in Theatre Design. She enjoys thinking about people’s experiences with a story and is particularly interested in visualizing new works. Her recent collaboration in Chicago has been with Strawdog Theatre Company, Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, Silk Road Rising, The New Colony, Citadel and more.

Yeaji is also an illustrator. Her love of combining drawing and technologies has brought her frequent collaborations with a variety of theatre artists in Chicago and New York. Yeaji’s works for live performance have been nominated for 2020 Jeff Awards Non-Equity Projections Design (The Effects), 2017 BroadwayWorld Chicago Awards Best Scenic Design (Great Expectations). She was awarded for 2014 Kennedy Center Theatrical Design Excellence Honorable Mention in Scenic Design, and best exhibit at Michael Merritt Awards (2014). Yeaji has been honored to work with great artists and theatre companies across U.S. She is always excited when projects allow her to meet new people and travel to new places. She is a proud member of Associate Artist at Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, and she recently joined as an ensemble member at Strawdog Theatre Company in 2020. She holds an MFA in Scenic Design from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Bachelor of Law from Korea University.

Tara Mallen, Rivendell Artistic Director/Producer

Is an actor, director, and the Producing Artistic Director at Rivendell Theatre Ensemble. She is the 2017 3Arts William Franklin Grisham Awardee and the 2014 Volunteers of America Silver Star Awardee. Most recently Mallen was seen onstage in The Cake for which she won the 2018 Jeff Award for Performer in a Principal Role. In 2016 she performed in the world premiere production of Lynn Nottage’s Sweat at Arena Stage. Prior to that she was in Rivendell’s Jeff nominated world premiere productions of Look, we are breathing and Rasheeda Speaking. Tara appeared in Steppenwolf’s How Long Will I Cry: Stories of Youth Violence written by Chicago Journalist Miles Harvey. She was part of the ensemble in Rivendell’s world premiere, Jeff nominated production of The Walls and played Jolene Palmer (inspired by the true-life story of Aileen Wuornos) in Rivendell’s award winning production of Self Defense, or the Death of Some Salesmen—both productions part of Steppenwolf’s Visiting Theater Initiative. For Rivendell, Tara has produced and acted in over twenty-five productions. She received a Joseph Jefferson Award for Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Gwenyth in WRENS as part of that production’s Jeff-winning ensemble. She was nominated the following year for Actress in a Principal Role for her work in My Simple City. Her screen credits include Steven Soderbergh’s film Contagion opposite Kate Winslet, the Starz series Boss starring Kelsey Grammer, the NBC pilot of Chicago Fire, the CBS/Sony Pictures pilot Doubt, the NBC series Chicago P.D. and the Netflix series Sense8 directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski. With Rivendell, Tara conceived and directed the world premiere of WOMEN AT WAR, directed the Jeff nominated Midwest premieres of The Electric Baby, 26 Miles (co-production with Teatro Vista); Fighting Words; Psalms of a Questionable Nature; the co-production of Elliot, a Soldier’s Fugue with Stageworks/Hudson in Hudson, NY; and the brief and brilliant Shady Meadows by Lisa Dillman as part of the 2007 Chicago Humanities Festival.

Catherine Painter, Rivendell Managing Director/Producer

Catherine Painter, after serving as Rivendell’s grant writer for six years, joined the company as Managing Director in 2020. She is also Executive Director of Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre and Development Consultant to Praize Productions Inc. She is a member of the faculty at the University of Illinois – Chicago Certificate in Non-Profit Management Program where she teaches classes on Individual Giving and Strategic Leadership. Previously, she consulted with the American Indian Association, Trinity Irish Dance Company, and independent artists, and worked with Victory Gardens Theater, Merit School of Music, Northlight Theatre, and Latin School of Chicago. She holds Bachelor and Master of Science degrees from Northwestern University. 

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View the festival program here

We are thankful to the following organizations for supporting the festival:

Casa Al-Fatiha
FB: @CasaAlFatihaChicago
IG: @casaalfatiha



Glad Rags

FB: @GladRagsMusic

IG: @GladRagsMusic



Our Music My Body

FB: @OurMusicMyBodyChicago


Edgewater Mutual Fund

FB: @EdgewaterMutualAid  

IG: @EdgewaterMutualAid 

donate via Venmo @EWmutualaid

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