The Theatre Mine Board
Artistic Director and Co-Founder
Matthew Vire, BA, MFA, MS
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.
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 Aseere Britnell has a BA in Theatre, Film, and Television from the University of Colorado Denver with an emphasis on directing. After college, she was introduced to Silverton, Colorado, by Mollie Mook Fiddler as an instructor for the children's summer theatre program. Her love for Silverton, its people, and her passion for the arts became the foundation for Delena as she has continued to teach theatre and visual art around the country. As an instructor, she works to create an environment that allows all ages to express and discover the wonders of imagination. Delena's experience working in theatre has continued to spark her love for stories. It has encouraged her to continue working as a painter and illustrator for children's stories, commission projects, and inspirational imagery. It was Mollie Mook Fiddler that inspired Delena to find her voice by merging both visual art and the theatre arts. She deeply appreciates the opportunity to be a part of this collaborative community of artists.
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 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 the University of Florida and her MFA from the 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.
The following individuals have expertise in specialized areas and provide advice and general support to the staff and board of directors as needed.
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 graduated in 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.
Other Notable TTM Figures
Co-Founder and Secretary
Daniel Sullivan, BA, MFA
Interested in furthering Marianne Fearne’s and Mollie Mook-Fiddler’s theater-making legacies in Silverton, Colorado, in 2017, Daniel Sullivan founded The Theatre Mine along with colleagues Matthew Vire and Judy Graham.
Following a year and a half endeavor that took him to the Grotowski Institute in Wroclaw, Poland to work with Teatr Zar, and then back to the U.S. to study with scholars Jim Whitta and Elizabeth Ditmars, in 2015 Daniel completed a new translation of Antigone by Sophocles. Paige Rogers directed the work at Cutting Ball Theatre in San Francisco, where it ran for seven weeks of sold-out performances. Jim O’ Quinn, founding editor of American Theater Magazine, called Sullivan’s version his most favored rendering of the play.
As a playwright, Daniel has had his plays produced in various theaters throughout the U.S. He has also taught courses in dramatic writing at Fort Lewis College, the University of Colorado at Denver, and the University of Iowa.
Beloved Friend and Board Member
Ted Pope, BA, MFA
Wise sage, arts advocate, and a true gent, Ted Pope passed away in late December 2019. Ted will be sorely missed, particularly in Silverton￼. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family in their grief. May his spirit nurture and guide all those he has left behind.
Shine bright out there in the great unknown, Ted. Your legacy lives on.
Ted enjoyed living in Silverton, Colorado for many years, where he felt the great presence of nature sustaining 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 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).
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 Marianne and ATG. Mollie eventually succeeded Marianne 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 The Theatre Mine (TTM) board members, Charmain Howington and Peter Gil-Sheridan. In 2017, Daniel, Matthew, and Judy Graham co-founded 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.