Our staff is a small, diverse group with rich backgrounds in education, theatre, music, film, gender and cultural studies. Due to the size of our organization, we all work very hard and wear many hats to make each element of every project a meaningful and educational experience.
MELANIE CLOSS, FOUNDER/DIRECTOR, PROGRAM DIRECTOR
Melanie Closs is the founder and director of The Other Side. In 2009, she created her first solo performance with original music of The Other Side in San Francisco, exploring cultural competency and what it means to be an “other”. After a video/street performance (by Samantha Cornwell) and an ensemble incarnation of The Other Side in New York City, she embarked on a 9 month round-the-world journey in 2010, which included teaching and directing at Pardada-Pardadi Educational Society in Uttar Pradesh, India, and performing her final two-woman version of The Other Side based on her cultural experiences of traveling, called Hang Up The Moon at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. After 2 years as Educational Director of Green Theatre Collective, Melanie is re-igniting The Other Side with this project empowering girls in Brooklyn, teens in New York City, and girls of all ages in Anupshahr, India, through cross-cultural exchange, theatre, and music. When not focused on this project, Melanie is a singer/songwriter as Mela, and she gives private voice, guitar, and ukulele lessons in Brooklyn.
ASHLEY NEASE, DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATE
Ashley Nease is a theater maker, writer, filmmaker, and fundraiser. Her successful development experience with affordable housing organizations and other socially responsible non-profits, has emboldened her to continue to search for funding for important causes. Living abroad and traveling the globe fostered her interest in cross-cultural understanding and advocacy. She strongly believes that art and empowered imaginations are necessary to create positive change. When she isn’t happily searching for grants for The Other Side, she can be found sitting on her roof in Brooklyn, memorizing lines or reading science fiction.
LUCY ANDERSEN, GRAPHIC DESIGNER
Lucy Andersen works at the Brooklyn-based graphic design studio, Eight and a Half. She graduated from Harvard University in 2012 with a degree in the History of Art and Architecture, and she traveled to southern India in the summer of 2010 to volunteer at a rural artists’ village. Therefore, she is particularly excited to be part of the ongoing cross-cultural arts initiatives of The Other Side. Upon joining The Other Side in 2013, Lucy inspired us with her visual concept for our brand and has designed our logo, newsletters, flyers, postcards and press kit.
SHANTEZ MARIE TOLBUT, TEACHING ARTIST
Shantez Marie Tolbut is an Educator, Performance Artist, Poet, Advocate and Activist. Born and raised on the South side of Chicago to a Vietnam veteran and physically handicapped mother with Autism, she is committed to social justice and changing the world through education and the performing arts. She received her B.A. in Communication, Media, & Theater and Women’s and Gender Studies from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, IL. Newly a New York City transplant, Shantez has worked within the urban education movement reaching over 600 children in the NYC/NJ surrounding areas. She also works as a freelance stage manager for local and regional theaters and shows. You can find her singing and acting on NYC stages and performing her poetry at any open mic/showcase she can find. With hopes to pursue a career in Broadway and to become a theater professor, she is currently pursuing her M.F.A. in Performance and Performance Studies at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY.