Shawna Franks is a graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University. She began acting in Chicago, where she originated the role of Dottie in Killer Joe by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tracy Letts. Shawna performed this role at The Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, The Bush Theatre in London and The Vaudeville Theatre on London’s West End. She has also appeared onstage in Dublin and Los Angeles. In 2006, she founded Space 55, where she has produced and appeared in numerous productions.
Duane has so far had a 30+, non-stop professional career. The first 20 were almost exclusively stage – including 2 years as an opera singer – and the recent ten years have included film and TV. His work as a director and producer began in 1991 when he founded The Fritz Theatre in San Diego and served as Artistic Director for 18 years. During his tenure there, The Fritz produced over 200 plays, half of them premieres. The Fritz recognized emerging voices in theatre and produced works by writers such as Brad Fraser, Nicky Silver, Maria Irene Fornes and eventual Pulitzer Prize winners Paula Vogel, Donald Margulies and Suzan-Lori Parks. Duane produced several premiers in New York and directed three times at the famed La MaMa Experimental Theatre, The Second City in Hollywood and The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. He has directed highly acclaimed productions of HAIR twice, starring Sara Ramirez (Spamalot, Grey’s Anatomy) and Steve Gouveia (Jersey Boys). He has costarred and toured with Tony winner Alice Ripley (Next to Normal) as Jud Fry in Oklahoma twice, played opposite Cathy Rigby in Peter Pan, appeared with Harold Nicholas in My One and Only, been conducted by Lorin Maazel, danced with Carol Lawrence, and just generally been hanging around theatres since forever. He has won the Drama-Logue Award, ACT Award, Patte Award, Blitz Award, and been nominated for The L.A Critics Association, LA Weekly and Garland Awards (Variety Magazine). He has also three times played the title role in Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street by Stephen Sondheim.
Additionally, Duane has logged over 2000 performances in Triple Espresso, a highly caffeinated comedy, in venues from San Diego to Dublin, Ireland. Theatre credits include gigs in Minneapolis, Toronto, Calgary, Rochester, Albany, St Louis, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, San Antonio, Atlanta, London and Paris.
In television, Duane is most often remembered for his role in the critically acclaimed Veronica Mars, and also appeared in Big Shots, Invisible Man, Tremors, Fashion House, Terriers, Kate Brasher and The Chronicle. He plays a hit man and a terrorist in the feature films Fathoms Deep and First Strike – both due out this year.
Duane is also an acting teacher in Los Angeles and is head of the Contemporary Theatre Program at Acting Abroad Conservatory in Normandy, France.
Film critic Michael Phillips (Talking Pictures) called Duane “a pleasantly maniacal over-achiever”.
Richard Briggs first appeared at Space 55 Theater Ensemble in the 2008 10 Min Play Showcase, and his most recent appearance was in The Seduction of Almighty God by the Boy Priest Loftus in 2009. Other memorable Space 55 credits include Ubu Roi, Untitled, and The Bakers of Lakewood. Richard received his Bachelor’s degree in Acting from California State University, Bakersfield where he is also a founding member of The Empty Space Theater Company. Richard or Dickie as he is known to his family and friends is excited and honored to have found a home here at Space 55.
Kim Porter is a playwright, performer, dramaturg and educator who currently writes and teaches in Phoenix, Arizona. Porter’s critically acclaimed plays have won a variety of awards for numerous productions in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Phoenix. Most recently her play Munched won the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle award, The LA WEEKLY award and the McDonald Award for Playwriting excellence. As an actor, Porter has performed in Texas, California and Arizona for the last 25 years. Over the last 15 years Porter has developed and/or directed dozens of solo-plays for many well-respected solo performers. In the 25 years that Porter has worked in professional theatre, she’s done almost every job a person can do in theatre. Porter currently balances teaching playwriting and solo-performance at Space 55 with writing her own plays and screenplays. In 2011 Porter was the recipient of the Phoenix New Times Big Brain Award.
Ashley Naftule dropped out of college to strike it rich as a writer/performer. He’s a playwright, a poet, a performance artist and puppeteer. He considers himself to be quite good at two of those roles, and not-so-good at the other two, but is modest enough to let others be the judge of which is which. After taking writing and solo performing classes with Kim Porter, he wrote and performed a one-man show, “As Above, So Below” at the 2010 Phoenix Fringe Festival. and is one of the curators of Space55’s “Down-Lo Solo” series. He also helps write and produce “Hollis’s Traveling Treehouse” and is a member of the “What The Fuck Variety Hour” and “Arcana Cabaret” shows. When he isn’t living the good life onstage at Space55, he can be found at local open mics, poetry slams, dance clubs, burlesque nights, all-ages rock shows, karaoke bars and black masses. Sometimes he can be found doing those things in drag. His only weakness is seafood. He credits all of his success to the deities Eris and Ganesh.
Carrie stumbled into theatre by accident when a friend coerced her into taking a playwriting class (“just for fun”) and she hasn’t looked back since. In 2009 the good people at Space 55 offered her playwright’s group with a place to meet, and Carrie found her home. She currently writes and performs on-stage foley effects for the Night of the Chicken series. She also wrote 2012’s Monsters, Mutants and Other Tales of Love and has contributed material to PHIL Talks, Heyre Be Dragons, Dragons Harder, and the 7 Minutes series. Carrie plays the voice of the “Motherboard” in Space 55’s monthly late night adventure show, Captain Jack’s Space Attack.
When BJ Garrett was 10 years old, he saw his older brother act in a high school production of The Fantasticks and decided that one day, he was going to do that too. 20-some-odd years and as many shows later,he is a member of the Artistic Ensemble, as well as a partner in local film collective Synthetic Human Pictures. Also a DJ, ordained minister, and licensed bounty hunter, BJ has worn several shirts but his favorite one right now is the large black tee with “Space 55” written on the front.
Dennis Frederick started his involvement with Space 55 in 2011 after seeing a show rekindled his love of theatre and performance. He has since grown to work behind the scenes as Technical Director but enjoys getting to play on stage as well. Some recent credits include Dr. Bendo in the recurring series Captain Jack’s Space Attack, Ed Huddle in Dragons Harder: The Dark Matter and the voice of Father Time in Resolutions. Dennis is also a member of the Space 55 Writer’s Group and has written and performed in various solo performance pieces and skits for the 7 Minutes series, Down-Lo Solo and Heyre Be Dragons. He derives a great deal of pleasure seeing any artistic vision come to fruition and is elated to call Space 55 his home base of operations.
Glen showed up at Space55 in 2012 to shoot a couple of shows. He’s been here ever since. Glen handles all our videography/ photography needs. When not at Space55, Glen shoots various events and shows around Phoenix. He also assists with smaller tech and theatre needs thus freeing talent to focus on what they do best, creating unique theatre experiences.
Belle Ransom is a young artist who studied theatre at Arizona School for the Arts and hopes to continue her artistic education at Columbia College in Chicago. She’s been working at Space 55 since 2013, and joined the ensemble in 2015. Her recent work there includes the role of Mozambique in the monthly late-night show Captain Jack Space Attack and stage managing the annual holiday musical, A Bloody Mary Christmas. She was first seen onstage as SKINHEADgirl in Xanthia Walker’s production of Naomi Izuka’s Polaroid Stories at Phoenix Center for the Arts. She’s been behind the scenes for countless productions around the Valley, and worked as the resident stage manager at the University of Great Falls’ Theatre during a brief stint living in Montana. She’s adored her time at Space 55 and hopes to spend many more years precariously perched in the booth (and to perhaps someday help build one that isn’t quite so detrimental to one’s health).