BEHIND THE SCENES AT THEATER IN THE OPEN

From our origins as a children’s theater to the dynamic, multi-faceted organization you see today, Theater in the Open continually evolves to meet the community’s needs. Which means there's a lot of work that goes on at the Gatekeeper's House year round. Theater in the Open is delivering on all aspects of its mission — as a professional theater company, as a center for youth arts education and as a community partner with the vision to create art that is accessible to all. 


KELLY SHEA KNOWLES
Executive Director

Kelly Shea Knowles began working with Theater in the Open in 2013 with a goal to help expand its education programs and deepen its impact as a key arts and cultural organization on the North Shore. Her background is in brand management and strategic communications planning. She has also worked as an independent communications consultant to non-profit organizations. Kelly holds an M.A. in Early American History. She is a native of Newburyport, MA where she lives with her husband, two daughters and their dog, George Bailey, all of whom love Theater in the Open as much as she does. 


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EDWARD F. SPECK
Artistic Director

Edward, known to most as Teddy, has a long history with Theater in the Open, having been a company member for 12 years, before taking on the role of Artistic Director. He is a talented artist who contributes original work to the Theater in the Open catalogue annually. A graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy and The New School University, Teddy recently completed his M.A. in English at the Harvard Extension School. An Amesbury native, Teddy now lives in Newburyport. He is artist in residence at the Maudslay Gatekeeper’s House, which allows Teddy and his wife to raise their young daughters on the edge of these magical woods. 


Board of Directors

JOHN GIORDANO, CHAIR
John is a visual artist, writer and teacher. In addition to college-level teaching in the visual arts and interdisciplinary studies, he develops community-based youth arts programs in conjunction with schools, museums, environmental organizations and human service agencies. John was a founding board member and chair of the education committee of 826 Boston, a chapter of the acclaimed youth writing and literacy organization founded by writer Dave Eggers. John has also been a Board member of River Valley Charter School in Newburyport. John is the founder and principal consultant of Ramp Education and a resident of Newburyport, MA. 

JUDITH KAMBER, VICE CHAIR
Judith is Dean Emerita of Professional Development at Northern Essex Community College. After 28 years she retired to start her own organizational consulting practice (Co- Creating Communities of Practice) specializing in non-profit work and higher education. Judith also has 15 years of experience in human service work, teaching and administration. Judith chairs the Board Governance Committee for Theater in the Open. She also serves as President of the Board for Community Inroads, a Lawrence-based non-profit organization. Judith is a resident of Byfield, MA.

CALEIGH HOLDEN, TREASURER
Caleigh first attended Theater in the Open’s Summer Arts Workshop in 1998 and began performing with us in 2001. She remained involved with the Theater and its youth arts education programs throughout high school and college, performing, teaching and volunteering. She holds a Chemical Engineering degree from the University of Delaware and works as an engineer for a publisher of educational resources. Caleigh is a Newburyport native and current resident of West Newbury, MA.

SIERRA GITLIN, CLERK
Sierra joined the Theater in the Open Board of Directors in 2017. She holds a BA in English Literature with a minor in Psychology. A talented artist herself, Sierra is an actor, dancer and musician who is raising her two children to also love the creative process and the joy it brings. In addition to serving a term as Clerk, Sierra also plays a lead role in producing our annual Circus Smirkus fundraiser each year.

BILL BIXBY, MEMBER
Bill has long been a supporter of the work Theater in the Open does in the community and joining the Board early in 2017 was a natural fit. A Newburyport-based business owner and a strong advocate of the arts, Bill is deeply committed to supporting the health and well-being of the community. He brings a strong background in finance and business planning to his work on behalf of Theater in the Open. As an extensive traveler, he also brings a range of experiences and a broad worldview that helps to inform the way we connect with the people we serve. Bill was raised in Haverhill, MA and now lives with his family in Kingston, NH.

JUDITH CHAFFEE, BOARD MEMBER
Judith is a dancer, choreographer and teacher, having recently retired from her faculty position at Boston University. She has been awarded the BU Metcalf Cup and Prize for excellence in teaching, and the Association of Theatre Movement Specialists’ Outstanding Service Award. Judith was co-artistic director/choreographer/dancer with Boston Dance Collective and was awarded a Massachusetts Artist Foundation Fellowship grant and Finalist award. She has choreographed for OperaBoston, Central Square Theatre, Huntington Theatre Company, North Shore Music Theatre, Actors’ Shakespeare Co., Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, Greater Boston Stage Company, Viborg Kulture Festival (Denmark), and Kwachon Madangkuk Festival in South Korea. While an avid traveler, Judith currently calls Plum Island, Newburyport home.

SUZANNE DUBUS, BOARD MEMBER AND CHAIR OF THE DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
Suzanne has served as the Chief Executive of the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center since 1998 and is credited with developing and administering domestic violence prevention programs that are effective, innovative and community-based. Suzanne is also a strong supporter of the arts and of the education work Theater in the Open does in the community. Theater in the Open is fortunate to benefit from Suzanne’s extensive experience with fundraising and development, as well as education program planning and community advocacy. Suzanne is a resident of Exeter, NH and she and her family have strong ties to the Newburyport area.

AlLYSSA GIBBS, BOARD MEMBER AND CHAIR OF THE EDUCATION COMMITTEE
Alyssa received a BFA in Theater Studies from Emerson College in Boston. For the past 12 years, Alyssa has taught English and Theater at Essex Technical High School in Hathorne, MA. She has been involved with Theater in the Open since 1990 as an actor, teacher, writer and Education Director, and she currently serves on the Board of Directors. Alyssa lives in Ipswich, MA with her husband, daughter and a very spoiled black lab.

HAILEY KLEIN, BOARD MEMBER
Hailey is a writer, director and producer who has been involved with theater in the area since 2001. She is the co-creator of Writers Camp; Actors, INK, a play development group and Random Acts, a 24-hour play festival. Both have been running for more than 15 years. Most recently, Hailey served as Chief of Staff for State Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives from 2012-18. She grew up in Boston, moved to the North Shore in 1998, and is currently a resident of Amesbury, MA.

KIMM WILKINSON, BOARD MEMBER
Kimm is a talented, visionary and well-known member of the local arts community. She had an immense impact on the development of the performing arts in Newburyport during her long tenure as the Artistic Director of the Firehouse Center for the Arts. Currently she serves as the General Manager of the Adelynrood Retreat Camp; Conference Center in Byfield, MA. As member of the Theater in the Open Board, she has been instrumental in helping the organization build audiences and build a broader network of collaborating artists. Kimm lives in Newburyport, MA with very deep roots in the community.