What We Do and How We Do It
Perisphere Theater is a nonprofit theater company incorporated in Montgomery County, Maryland. We produce smart, moving, well-written plays, focusing on those that explore historical events or figures and those that have the topic of history itself as a theme.
We’re a small professional company with one employee, Artistic Director Kevin O’Connell. Kevin is a theater artist who has lived in Montgomery County for nearly 20 years. He has produced and directed highly acclaimed shows in the Capital Fringe Festival, in addition to serving in various capacities with other local theaters. He has master’s degrees in history and in theater history and criticism. So he’s ideally suited to run a theater company that focuses on history.
We pay all of the artists who work on our plays: actors, directors, playwrights, designers, stage managers, etc. In the near future, we’ll introduce our artistic associates. These people will have a leg up on opportunities with us, but we’ll always reserve some good parts and positions for non-company members to make sure we keep new blood coming in.
Artistic associates provide Perisphere with pro bono services that could include any of the following:
- Organizing or hosting fundraisers and other events
- Other marketing and fundraising activities
- Actively serving on committees with members of the board
- Website management
- Writing social media content
- House management and concessions
- Grants management
- Donor management
- Other administrative work
- Anything else of value to the company that’s not a paid position on a production
Like all 501(c)(3) corporations, we also have a board of directors, which is responsible for all of these things:
- Keeping the company on solid financial footing through the budget development and approval process.
- Contributing money to the company and encouraging others to do the same.
- Setting the company’s overall policies and practices by writing and revising the bylaws.
- Contributing to the development of the company’s strategic plan.
- Electing new board members when there are openings.
- Appointing a new artistic director if needed.
- Ensuring that the company sticks to its stated mission.
Our board accomplishes its work through a committee system. Non-board members are encouraged to serve on committees as well.
We aim to be one of the premiere black box theater companies in the DC area and to be the very best at the type of productions we do. As we work toward our goals, we are guided by these values:
- Artistic excellence
- Diversity in our personnel, playwrights, and play subjects
- Belief in history and theater as sources of knowledge and insight
- Engagement with our community, which we define as theater and history enthusiasts throughout the DMV
- Respect for our audience, our artists, and our volunteers
Artistic Director and Board President
Board of Directors
Founding Artistic Director
Kevin O’Connell was the founding artistic director of Barabbas Theatre Company, which produced highly acclaimed plays in the Capital Fringe Festival. These included H5x7, O’Connell’s faithful adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry V; the world premiere of Alexandra Petri’s Never Never; and the D.C. area premiere of Lauren Gunderson’s, Exit, Pursued by a Bear. He holds a M.A. in dramaturgy from the Catholic University of America and an M.A. in history from the State University of New York at Albany. Kevin studied directing with Joy Zinoman at the Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory and completed the Directing Studio at Shakespeare’s Globe in London. In addition to Barabbas, Kevin has worked with several local companies, including Quotidian Theatre Company, Factory 449, the Washington Rogues, Pallas Theatre Collective, and Lean & Hungry Theater. He has also worked for the federal government in several capacities since 1994.
Teko Campbell is a recent graduate of the Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory. She has also studied at the Tasha Smith Actors Workshop in Los Angeles. She appeared in the commercial campaign for Lyft’s Round Up & Donate feature for the benefit of N Street Village, a women’s empowerment organization in Washington, D.C. Growing up in New York, Teko would travel on the Long Island Railroad with her mother going on countless auditions for modeling, film, commercial, and television. She then moved to North Carolina for high school and joined her first theater company, where she performed Shakespeare.
Kia Hunter has been involved in the Washington, D.C., theater scene from an early age, most memorably as the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland with Adventure Theater. After a brief period as a television producer, Kia now works in the museum field, emphasizing the convergence of history and performance. Most recently, Kia has collaborated with theaters in D.C. and Charleston, South Carolina, in many capacities, including advisory work, fundraising, reviewing and stage managing. Kia received her B.A. from Davidson College in history, with a minor in theater, and her M.A. in museum studies from George Washington University.
Jeff McDermott has been an attorney with the federal government for 14 years, currently serving as investigative counsel to the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of State. He is also the President of the Capitol Hill Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, having previously served as its Treasurer and Secretary. He was a member of the editorial board of the monthly periodical The Federal Lawyer from 1999 to 2010. Jeff has produced, directed, and acted for several theatres in the Washington area. He has been a member of the Rockville Little Theatre Board of Directors since 2012 and currently serves as its Treasurer. Jeff received his B.A. from the College of William and Mary and his J.D. from Georgetown University.
Devon Meier graduated from the University of Michigan with her B.A. in English and theater and went on to earn her M.A. in arts management from Carnegie Mellon University. Devon began her career in the arts, working for CRLT Theatre Program at the University of Michigan, Pittsburgh Opera, and the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council. Over the last decade, she has managed fundraising field offices for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, worked as the director of fundraising for Montgomery Housing Partnership, and was the associate director of Westminster Ingleside Foundation. Devon currently serves as the director of philanthropy and engagement for Navy Marine Coast Guard Residence Foundation. Outside of work, Devon enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling, and going to the theater. She has participated in community theater around the DMV and produced two productions at Silver Spring Stage.
Heather Benjamin founded Perisphere Theater in 2014 and was artistic director until 2019, directing Oleanna and Copenhagen for its inaugural season in 2016, and performing in Tartuffe in 2018. In the D.C. area, she has performed as an actor with many local theaters, including the American Century Theater, Quotidian Theatre, Adventure Theatre, and the Capital Fringe Festival.