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Actor | Educator | Writer | Director

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A Chicago native, Dr. Quenna Lené Barrett is a theater artist + practitioner, whose work gathers folks of diverse backgrounds, centers marginalized identities, learns from Black radical wisdom, and then dreams collectively to act boldly through those learnings. Quenna is a director, performer, facilitator, and writer, specializing in devised and social justice theater.


Quenna conceived of and directed Re-Writing the Declaration, a devised-participatory play that invites the audience to interrogate this nation’s founding by centering Black, queer femmes. She wrote and directed Stacey’s Walk, an audio story that takes listeners along a journey through South Shore and was in Chicago Children’s Theatre inaugural “Walkie Talkies” series. 


Performance credits include: Sexuality out Loud (FYI/ICAH), Don’t Go (Sojourn Theatre Company), Radio Golf (u/s, Court Theatre), The Green Book (Pegasus), American Revolution and Moon Shot (Theatre Unspeakable), Late Company (Cor Theatre), and Lines in the Dust (eta Creative Arts Theatre).


Directorial credits include: Dreamgirls (AD, Paramount Theatre), You Got Older and By The Way Meet Vera Stark (The Theatre School at DePau)l; #Enough (Goodman), Re-writing the Declaration (NYU Steinhardt/Free Street); Stacey’s Walk (writer and director, Chicago Children’s Theatre); Eclipsed (AD, Pegasus Theatre); and This Boat Called my Body (co-director, co-writer) with For Youth Inquiry Performance Company at the Illinois Caucus of Adolescent Health, where she is a board and company member, directing and performing participatory plays that support the sexual health and rights of young people. As a director, performer, educator, facilitator, and writer, she has worked with a number of organizations including Paramount Theatre, NYU Steinhardt, Oklahoma State University, Ohio State University, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Sojourn, The Theatre School at DePaul, Free Street, Pegasus, Court, eta, Theater Unspeakable, and For Youth Inquiry. 


Quenna has organized with the Black Youth Project100 and #LetUsBreathe Collective, and served as co-curator for Theatre on the Lake and Goodman’s Future Labs program. She is now an Assistant Professor or Applied Theatre at Governors State University, and most recently was  the Associate Director of Education and Engagement at the Goodman Theatre. She is a company member with ICAH’s For Youth Inquiry company, an Associate Artist with Pivot Arts, an adjunct professor at DePaul University and Columbia College Chicago, and a member of the new leadership circle of the Center for Performance and Civic Practice, where she supports arts-based, community-led transformation . She has developed and co-led justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion training, and teaching artists training and curriculum development for arts and culture organizations including Marwen, The Chicago Parks District, The Theatre School at DePaul, Arts Force Iowa, and Ingenuity with Arts Ed Chi, a cross-organizational working group comprised of arts educators and administrators across Chicago.


She has received artist residencies and awards from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, the Santa Fe Art Institute, Free Street Theatre, and the Speranza Foundation. Quenna is an alumnus of Public Allies Chicago, has participated in: the Chicago Young Nonprofit Professional Network’s Leadership Institute, Ingenuity’s Outreach Collective Impact Panel as Panel Chair, the Jane Addams Hull House Cities of Peace Harm & Healing Teach-In Series, and Chicago Freedom School’s Young Leaders for Justice Institute, and received the 2015 Pegasus Award for Relentless Innovation and Professional Courage in Education from the Collaborative for Perpetual Innovation. 


Quenna received her BFA from NYU Tisch in Drama, her MA in Applied Theatre from the University of Southern California, and her EdD (Doctorate of Education) in Educational Theatre at NYU Steinhardt. 

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