Associate Artists

We are happy to honor a circle of radiant Associate Artists who both inspire and carry out the many programs and projects of our theatre.

Meet our Core Associate Artists:

Gustavo Boada

Gustavo Boada is a theater-based multidisciplinary artist with more than 25 years  experience working in professional theater in Peru, Chile, Puerto Rico and New York, Vermont and Philadelphia.

Since moving to Minneapolis 2007, he has worked as Mayday Parade staff and roster artist with In the Heart of the Beast.

Independently he teaches artistic residencies about puppetry, mask making, stilting, and he is commissioned to building big puppets and pageants, touring his children puppet shows for diverse community organizations and all over the School Districts of Minnesota.

Gustavo Boada
Gustavo Boada

Julie Boada

Julie Boada is an Anishinabe artist, puppeteer and arts educator. She has worked regionally and nationally for the past 26 years.

Recent work includes Beauty All Around, Between the Worlds, Shota and the Star Quilt. Julie has received grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Jerome Foundation and is a 2014 Ivey Award co-recipient for design.

Julie has a B.A. in Studio Arts and American Indian Studies. She is passionate about work that inspires, fosters cultural pride and cross-cultural understanding.

Julie Boada
Julie Boada

Masanari Kawahara

Masanari Kawahara is a performer, educator and Butoh practitioner who incorporates puppetry, mask and movement into his work.

Notable recent works include The Story of Crow Boy (2016) at In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre and the solo performance piece Little Boy (2014) commissioned and developed by Pangea World Theater’s Alternate Vision series, performed at Pillsbury House Theatre. Masanari Kawahara is a Playwrights’ Center McKnight Theater Artist Fellow (2010-2011).

Masanari Kawahara
Masanari Kawahara

Esther Ouray

Esther Ouray has been creating, performing, celebrating, and teaching with In the Heart of the Beast since 1980. As puppeteer, actress, director, dancer, and choreographer, she has creatively engaged with community locally, regionally, and internationally.

She has cavorted with other performance companies as well in the Minneapolis area - among them are: At the Foot of the Mountain, Barebones Productions, Illusion Theater, and Interact Center for Visual and Performing Arts. Currently Esther is a company member of Zamya Theater Project. She has been the recipient of grants from the MN State Arts Board, Jerome Foundation, Rimon, Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, Puffin Foundation, and Arts on Chicago.

Esther Ouray
Esther Ouray

Laurie Witzkowski

Laurie Witzkowski is a maker of theater, music, ritual and gardens in both English and Spanish.  She has been creating at In the Heart of the Beast for several decades, wearing every hat there is.  Additionally she has enlivened space in war zones, sacred sites, on the streets and by rivers across the country and the world, dedicated to ending violence on all levels.

Besides her theater work with many ensembles, she has appeared on stage, screen and recordings as a vocalist, musician and conductor. Drumming! Dancing!  Working with kids and dirt and seeds! She just can't help herself.

Laurie Witzkowski
Laurie Witzkowski

Meet our Associate Artists:

Nicole Amaris

Nicole Amaris is a resident of Powderhorn with 20 years experience in performance, visual art and teaching. Her years as a vocalist, stilt performer and youth advocate in South Minneapolis and Portland shaped her experimental art and vision.

Currently, she finds joy teaching youth involved with Heart of the Beast to be proud and stand tall, mostly on stilts! Nicole’s art is found everyday in the street or classroom, as she believes art should be accessible and shared with community.

Nicole Amaris
Nicole Amaris

Ramon Cordes

Ramon Cordes: has worked in puppet type art for over 20 years, growing up in the Powderhorn Park area and participating in numerous projects with In the Heart of the Beast, including the annual MayDay festivals, the Phillips Project Artist Team, and a puppet poem conceived by Bart Buch called, Ode to Walt Whitman. He is an active member of the Twin Cities Bike Polo team.

Ramon Cordes
Ramon Cordes

Angie Courchaine

Angie is a community-based artist and teacher living and working in South Minneapolis. She enjoys working on collaborative projects, usually using her skills in visual arts, puppetry, and movement.

Most recently she appeared as an aerialist in the puppet rock opera Basement Creatures at In the Heart of the Beast. When she’s not biking around town, she can be found stilt walking (proud member of Chicks on Sticks) or flying on various aerial apparatuses. She is also a board member, maker, and performer with BareBones Productions.

Angie Courchaine
Angie Courchaine

Gaea Dill-D’Ascoli

Gaea grew up in Powderhorn Neighborhood and became involved at Heart of the Beast at the ripe old age of 2. She surprised no one (except herself) when she decided to pursue art full-time after returning from three years in the South Pacific as the Peace Corps Volunteer.

Now, her art takes many forms including community based puppetry, stilt walking, writing, photography and technical theater.  She's had the pleasure of working with Barebones Puppets, Brooklyn Center High School Theater and the Phillips Project to bring art to students, adults and the public.  She can be found online at GaeaDD.com or DragonsLLC.com.

Gaea Dill-D'Ascoli
Gaea Dill-D'Ascoli

Seth Eberle

Seth Eberle is a socially engaged puppet, mask, and teaching artist. Alongside performing with In the Heart of the Beast, Seth is also an Arts Educator at Silverwood Park where he is focused on teaching about the natural world through art and puppetry. In puppetry, he has performed or worked with Torry Bend at Open Eye Figure Theatre, Whitman Electric at Intermedia Arts, the Nordnorsk Opera of Norway, Bread and Puppet Theatre, Magic Lantern Theatre, and Public Domain Productions.  Seth was also a fellow of the Creative Community Leadership Institute, a program of Intermedia Arts, in 2015.

Seth Eberle
Seth Eberle

Patty Gille

"I am an old time fan of In the Heart of the Beast. I’ve danced the parade as Carmen Miranda for at least 30 years. Often found at the Saturday Matinee puppet shows. I show up as frog or raccoon at different events. Composer of the famous MayDay Money song among others. Paper mache maven".

Patty Gille
Patty Gille

Olli Johnson

Olli is a theater artist, musician, crafty lady, and aspiring paper engineer. She has performed with Bread and Puppet, In the Heart of the Beast, Barebones and Bedlam Theatre.  Formerly, she was an ensemble member of the Unseen Ghost Brigade, a clown troupe that travelled by raft and shared performances in small towns along the Mississippi River.  She currently works as a teaching artist at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Adventures in Cardboard, and Mia.  Her obsessions are book-binding and making pop-up books, automata, and playing accordion.

Olli Johnson
Olli Johnson

Madeline Helling

Madeline Helling is a multidisciplinary artist who jumped into the fields of puppetry and cardboard engineering in 2010. Much of her work centers around large scale community-based collaborations. For six years, Madeline has worked on In the Heart of the Beast projects including the MayDay Parade, the Phillips Project, main stage productions, small scale productions, residencies and commissions. Recently, this work sent her to South Africa to collaborate with Handspring Productions. She has twice co-directed the BareBones Halloween Extravaganza, Metamorphosoup in 2014 and We All Fall Down 2015, and is currently a member of the BareBones Productions board.  Madeline works as an arts educator at Adventures in Cardboard. She is described as “so exuberant, you forget that you’ve been papier macheing for the last five hours” (BareBones Productions).

Madeline Heliing
Madeline Heliing

Jeong Ae Neal

Jeong Ae Neal has been recognized as a master puppeteer of Korea and is a puppet, doll, mask, and print maker. A prolific artist, she not only creates worlds of fantasy and reality through inanimate beings who take on lives of palpable existence - she also is deeply involved in the modern realities of environmental and social issues, single mother issues, and workshops for mothers and children. Her creations have been commissioned and spotlighted through exhibits, shows and workshops throughout the world. Jeong Ae is now a resident of St. Paul and has been on MayDay artistic staff since1999. She actively participates in In the Heart of the Beast and Barebones Productions.

Jeong Ae Neal
Jeong Ae Neal

Angela Olson

Angela Olson is a puppet artist and arts educator from Minnesota. She has created and performed in work across the country, including Michigan, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New York. She lives in South Minneapolis with her dog, Princess Leia.

Angela Olson
Angela Olson

Junauda Petrus

Junauda Petrus is a writer, aerialist, playwright, creative organizer and performance artist. She has received a Givens Foundation fellowship, Jerome Travel and Study grant, Many Voices Mentorship with the Playwright's Center, and Naked Stages Residency at the Pillsbury House.

She is also a cultural producer-in-residence at the Givens Foundation, where she co-hosts a podcast series called Black Market Reads. She is the co-founder of Free Black Dirt, a Minneapolis-based artist collective.

Junauda Petrus
Junauda Petrus

Mary Plaster

Mary Plaster is a Minnesota-raised, world-traveled, mixed-media artist and facilitator based in Duluth since 2000, where she is founder/artistic director of All Souls Night, held in early November since 2008. She is the feature artist of 2016’s ArtWorks festival, August 27 & 28, in Austin, MN. Career Highlights include: Parliament of World Religions, The Cosmic Mass, Ordway International Children’s Festival, Duluth Children’s Museum, MN Ballet, and Burning Man, with Jungle Theater and Children’s Theatre Company internships. A HOBT/MayDay fan/kindred from its start, Mary first joined art staff in 2008 and spent that summer with the Bread and Puppet Theatre in VT. maryplaster.com

Mary Plaster
Mary Plaster

Daniel Polnau

Daniel Polnau has created puppet theatre and community puppet spectacle events since 1982. He specializes in low-tech, high magic puppetry techniques, creating puppets from upcycled materials.

Awards include The Lila Wallace Readers' Digest Artists International Fellowship making possible a 6-month residency in Bali, Indonesia where he studied traditional shadow theatre. He just returned from a collaboration in Puerto Rico with Poncili Creacion – where he created new work with local artists.

Daniel Polnau
Daniel Polnau

Anne Sawyer

Anne Sawyer works as a puppeteer and arts educator for In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre, Open Eye Figure Theatre, Chicks on Sticks, Silverwood Park, and Artstart. Anne is the author/illustrator of two children’s books: Nalah and the Pink Tiger and Nalah Goes to Mad Mouse City. She tours puppet show versions of these around Minnesota. For five years she has served as the Artistic Director of the New York Mills Cultural Center’s Kalevala Puppet Pageant.

Anne Sawyer
Anne Sawyer