Artistic Director and Co-Founder
Matthew Vire, BA, MFA
Matthew dreamed up the idea of a "Theatre Mine" as a way to continue and expand upon the work of close friend Mollie Mook-Fiddler, and shared the vision with his co-founders, Judy Graham and Daniel Sullivan on a visit to Silverton in late Spring of 2017.
Matthew completed a BA in Theatre from the University of Maine, where he graduated co-valedictorian in 1999, and an MFA in Acting from the University of Iowa in 2003. While at UI, he met Mollie, whose legacy in Silverton and the region inspired the creation of The Theatre Mine. Matthew has worked as a professional actor in regional theatres, and now serves as Program Director for his husband, motivational comedian and professional speaker Kevin Wanzer.
Gigi Benson, BA, ThM, MA, SAG/AFTRA, AEA
From the Four Corners to the steely streets of New York, Gigi has created a unique niche as a performing artist, writer, and marketing professional. An ardent advocate of the arts, she’s been blessed with a bevy of great roles, and colorful characters on stage and off. Whether touring Shakespeare through the Rockies or belting Camus in the Pyrenees, off-Broadway to off-road, the theatre is her raison d'etre and life long commitment. Life’s full circle has brought her back home to her Colorado family and friends. Growing up in Arizona and Colorado, Gigi attended Fort Lewis College then transferred to the University of Colorado where she received a double major BA in Theatre/Dance and Communication as well as an MA in Developmental Theatre. She received a Talent & Creativity scholarship to The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. Instrumental influences include the Colorado Caravan, Colorado Shakespeare Festival,NYC, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Sanford Meisner, The Public Theatre, Robert Benendetti, Kristen Linkletter, Viola Spolin and numerous mentors in playwriting, directing and save-the-world ventures. She continues her social advocacy, storytelling/writers community, and production of new works where ever and when ever possible. Her film/TV work keeps her family amused.
Co-Founder and Secretary
Daniel Sullivan, BA, MFA
A collegiate All-American in the pole vault, Sullivan met William Shephard once of The Performance Group (Pentheus et. al. in Dionysus in ‘69) looking for athletes for his Theatre Lab, became intrigued, and thereafter devoted a year studying performance with Shephard. He made his way to Los Angeles to teach at Markham Intermediate and there befriended and studied theater and writing with John Steppling, Murray Mednick, Michi Cruz, Irene Fornes, Noah Ford, Rachel Rosenthal, and Matthew Goulish and Lin Hixson. He lived in Piura, Peru studying Cesar Vallejo’s poetry, and for five years he performed with the Augustino Dance Theater in Oakland California with Slobodan Dan Paich directing. He studied with playwright Dare Clubb for three years in the early 2000s at the University of Iowa. With the guidance of Medieval scholar Jim Whitta and Classics scholar Elizabeth Ditmars he wrote a new line-by-line translation of Sophocles’ Antigone from the Attic Greek, developed it at The Grotowski Institute in Wroclaw, Poland with Teatr Zar and saw it directed by Paige Rogers at San Francisco’s Cutting Ball Theater. It ran for seven weeks of sold out performances. Transient Theater of San Francisco toured his play Owners of Nothing through fourteen cities including New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Other plays have been staged via Aurora Theater’s (GAP) Project, Great Plains Theater Conference, and the San Francisco Playwrights Festival. Recently he directed Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa at a New Mexico college. He has taught play writing and/or acting at U of Iowa, UC Denver, Fort Lewis College and in projects around the country. Daniel served as The Theatre Mine's president and artistic director for its first two seasons.
David Fiddler, BS
Dave was married to the late Mollie-Mook Fiddler, and is grateful to be able to participate and honor her memory by engaging actively with The Theatre Mine. Dave landed in Silverton, Colorado back in 1992 after a two-year stint working for the Federal Government in Las Vegas. Shortly after arrival, he was reluctantly entrained into A Theatre Group by Marianne Fearn, and subsequently enjoyed a 10-year acting career participating in numerous plays over the decade. Dave is a homeowner in Silverton, where he has lived off and on since 1992, while being active in the service industry, ski industry, local emergency services, search and rescue, avalanche education, local politics, and community theatre. He holds a BS in Technical Communication, and is currently employed as an EMS Captain/Firefighter with the Durango Fire Protection District.
Lauren Berkman, BA
Lauren is an actor, singer, and teaching artist based in Brooklyn, NY. She has performed and taught throughout the U.S. and internationally, from Argentina to Switzerland.
Originally from Scottsdale, Arizona, she began performing at the age of 16 in musicals, choirs, and her own Jackass series with her childhood best friend (they have the scars to prove it).
After receiving her Bachelor of Music from Boston Conservatory, Lauren went on to study theatre at L’Ecole de Comédie Musicale in Paris. There she performed with non-profit theatre companies bringing new musical theatre to France, and got to work with incredible artists such as Carner and Gregor, Adam Gwon, John Bucchino, and Pasek and Paul.
When she’s not performing, she is climbing mountains, playing the piano, listening to French 60’s pop, or searching for the best Berliner Weisse in New York City.
Delena Britnell, BS, MFA
Delena's story is one with many ups, downs, twists, and turns, all of which are reflected in each piece that she creates. Her adventure as an artist began in 2003 while studying Theater at the University of Colorado. The images that graced her dreams at night became visible at all hours. The intricate and undulating lines seemed to be growing by itself, bringing every inch of the images alive. Her artwork became her greatest teacher, opening up a new world around her. After college, in 2007, she spent her days with barefooted, creative, tough kids that taught her how to resist fear. It was through these children that she regained the strength to seek her true calling as an artist. Since then she has been on an amazing journey, with a pen in her hand at all times.
Delena's goal as an artist is to tell a story, one in which we are all involved, about life. She creates pieces that are dramatic, bold, with subtleties that are hidden in the background. She often steps back from the image and see words or faces that she consciously didn’t realize she was drawing. It is through these small discoveries that lessons, metaphors, and discussions are formed. She absolutely loves to hear what others see or feel when looking at one of her creations. Her hope is that each piece brings beauty and conversation to any space, for every story is worthy of being told.
Peter Gil-Sheridan, BA, MFA
Peter Gil-Sheridan, was recently in residence at San Juan College in Farmington, NM writing a new play called Courtney and Caroline, a piece written with Native and non-Native community members about religious and cultural tradition in the area. His play Ritu Comes Home, originally commissioned by InterAct Theatre in Philadelphia was selected as part of their 20/20 Commission program and had its world premiere there. Other plays include Cockfight, written at the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab and further developed by PlayPenn under the direction of Anna Brenner, and What May Fall, commissioned by the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis and performed there. Topsy Turvy Mouse was produced by the Cherry Lane and Borderlands Theatre in Tucson and was the winner of The Smith Prize awarded by the National New Play Network for outstanding political work. Residencies include the Jerome Fellowship in Minneapolis, The Sundance Institute, The Millay Colony, The Ucross Foundation, Tofte Lake and A Theatre Group in Silverton. Peter serves as Assistant Professor at Indiana University, Bloomington, and also taught at Fordham University in New York and as a LEAP teaching artist in New York City Public Schools.
Co-Founder and Board Member
Judith Graham, BS, MFA
Judith Graham has an MFA from the University of Chicago and a BS from the University of Wisconsin. She also studied at New York University, School of Visual Arts and Parsons School of Design. She is a life-long painter/visual artist, participating in various one-person and group shows, installations and commissions. She passionately supports several nonprofits as co-founder, a founding member and/or board member of of twelve organizations including The Theatre Mine. These other Boards delve into the arts and creativity or other issues related to community, human development or the sciences.
Her many weeklong walking meditations above timberline and her interest in genius loci, spirit of place inspire the imagery and subjects of her paintings.
Charmain Howington, BA, MFA
While pursuing a BA degree in English at Alabama State University, Charmain discovered her love for theatre after taking a Theatre Appreciation class. There was no turning back as she went on to obtain her BA in Theatre from University of Florida and her MFA from University of Iowa (UI). At UI, she met the inspiration for the Theatre Mine, Mollie Mook-Fiddler.
Charmain shares a deep love for arts and creativity with Mollie and the other members of the board. She has recently relocated from Los Angeles where she completed a number of independent films, print jobs and commercials. She is now transitioning into the theatre scene in her new home of Atlanta.
Ted Pope, BA, MFA
Ted has enjoyed living in Silverton, Colorado for many years, where he feels the great presence of nature sustains his creativity as an artist. His involvement with TTM developed from his earlier participation with A Theatre Group in Silverton and from his belief that TTM can be the catalyst and focus for a vital creativity within the community.
Ted was Professor of Art at Arizona International College, Univ. of Arizona (1999-2005) and at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison (1979-1998). He was a visiting professor in Qingdao, P.R.China (1990-91) and Finland (2006-2015). He has published numerous articles on contemporary art, and his paintings, prints, and interactive multimedia works have been exhibited in museums and galleries internationally. including the Manhattan Graphics Center (New York, USA); Museum of Art, University of Oregon (USA); White Mountain Academy of the Arts Gallery (Ontario, Canada); Ars Electronica (Linz, Austria); and Eurographics ’87 (Amsterdam, The Netherlands).
Community Council Member
Jessica Kane Benson, KDUR Radio Host, Durango, Colorado
“Jessi Kay” was born in Durango, growing up in the Four Corners and an alumni of Ft. Lewis College. She began working in college for American General Media as an on air personality on 99x, and is now Cohost of the Breakfast Club on 92.9 The Point, featuring her Life Advice bestowing a Millennial mother’s wisdom and best places to visit, play and party in Durango.
Community Council Member
Ben Mattson, BA
After graduating from Minnesota State University Moorhead with a B.A. in Theatre Arts, Ben worked in Minneapolis and Chicago, where he helped found the Savage Umbrella, a theatre company dedicated to creating new work. In 2009, Ben came to the Four Corners to perform the role of Frank Butler in Annie Get Your Gun for Sandstone Productions. Some of his local credits include: Tom Collins in Rent, Lonny in Rock of Ages, Roger in Maple and Vine, and Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Show. Ben is currently teaching Theatre Arts at Durango High School, and absolutely loves his job and his life here in Durango.
Community Council Member
Marley Roberts, Silverton, Colorado
Marley will be graduating in December, 2019 from the University of Northern Arizona with a BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies. Born and raised in Silverton, she was part of her first production at age four and there was no going back. Over the years she has had the pleasure of working under both Mary Ann Fearn and Mollie Mook-Fiddler in countless A Theatre Group productions. Silverton theatre has played an instrumental role in her life and she is thrilled to be a part of the continuation of that legacy and help keep the arts alive in her beautiful hometown.
Beloved Friend and Inspiration for The Theatre Mine
Mollie Mook-Fiddler, BA, MFA
Mollie first experienced Silverton during a summer internship under Marianne Fearn, the founder of A Theatre Group (ATG). She fell in love with the town, returning for many summers to work closely with Mary Ann and ATG. Mollie eventually succeeded Mary Ann as Artistic Director of ATG, serving for several years until her passing in late 2016.
Mollie earned a BA in Acting and Directing from the University of Colorado-Denver, and an MFA in Acting from The University of Iowa. While at UI, she met, befriended, and collaborated extensively with fellow MFA candidates Daniel Sullivan and Matthew Vire as well as TSTM board members, Charmain Howington and Peter Gil-Sheridan. In 2017, Daniel, Matthew, and Judy Graham co-founded The Theatre Mine (TTM) as a living memorial to honor Mollie's memory and extend her loving artistic legacy by advancing joyful creative collaboration in Silverton and beyond.