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Actor | Educator | Writer | Director

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Dr. Quenna Lené Barrett, a Chicago native, 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. She has developed participatory, justice-and-theater-based programs at the University of Chicago’s Arts + Public Life and at Goodman Theatre, where she currently serves as the Associate Director of Education and Engagement.


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.


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. Currently, she is an Associate Artistic Associate with Pivot Arts, adjunct faculty at The Theatre School 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 Doctorate of Education (EdD) in Educational Theatre from NYU Steinhardt. Continuing to build the world she wants to see/live in, one of her recent and ongoing artistic projects is Re-writing the Declaration.

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