The Cast

Vero Maynez (she/they) - Gabriela

Fred Pitts (he/him) - Carleton

Lauren Garcia (she/her) - Rebecca

Jean Forsman (she/her) - Angie

Akaina Ghosh (they/them) - God (voice 1)

J. Riley Jr. (they/she) - God (voice 2)

Linda Girón (they/them/elle) - God (voice 3)

In the above banner, (from left to right and top to bottom): Jean Forsman, Lauren Andrei Garcia, Akaina Ghosh, Linda Maria Girón, J. Riley, Jr., Vero Maynez, and Fred Pitts

The Crew

Noelle Viñas (she/her/ella) - Playwright

Elizabeth Carter (she/her) - Director

Laura Brueckner (she/her) - Dramaturg

Leanna Keyes (she/her) - Stage Manager/Production Designer/Streaming Producer

The Sponsors

Season Sponsors:

Craig & Kathy Moody

Bibi Tiphane

Don Kaufman & Carol Amyx

Richard Nelson & Janice Berman

About the Play

As we continue to navigate this ongoing pandemic, we strive to make theatre that speaks to the now. With that in mind, we have commissioned a Zoom play by Noelle Viñas, an emerging playwright whose Zoom Intervention was named a New York Times Critics Pick.

Feel the Spirit follows a young, queer pastor attempting to navigate her new congregation’s shift to online worship due to COVID-19. As seasons change outside and the flat timeline of quarantine continues, the church fights to maintain a practice that rotates around fellowship and community across generations and cultures when they can’t hug, cook, or sing together. Playwright Viñas says it's about, "a community learning to help itself by making up its own rules.”

Noelle Viñas headshot
Elizabeth Carter headshot
Leanna Keyes

About the Playwright

Noelle Viñas is a playwright, educator, and theater-artist from Springfield, Virginia and Montevideo, Uruguay. She is a resident artist at Colt Coeur and a member of The Civilians ' 2020-2021 R&D Group. Her play Derecho (2019 John Gassner Playwriting Award, 2019 Jane Chambers Honorable Mention) was workshopped as part of the 2020 Bay Area Playwrights Festival. Recent commissions include Weston Playhouse for her short play Zoom Intervention (NY Times Critic's Pick), Feel the Spirit for Shotgun Players, Lauren Gunderson's New Now Commission, and the book for The Long Horizon, a space musical for Imagination Stage's Speak Out Onstage Ensemble. Previously, she was part of Playwrights Foundation's four-year Resident Playwrights Initiative and a 2019 Artist-in-Residence at Djerassi. A recent arrival from the Bay Area, Viñas resides in Brooklyn where she is completing her MFA in Playwriting at Brooklyn College.

About the Director

Elizabeth Carter is thrilled to return to Shotgun as the director of Feel the Spirit. Her directing includes San Francisco Shakespeare Festival’s 2020 groundbreaking virtual King Lear, Bondage (Honorable Mention for the Relentless Award), Every 28 Hours Plays and A Place to Belong with American Conservatory Theatre, for colored girls…(Broadway World Best Local Play and TBA nominee Best Ensemble) with African American Shakespeare Co. and Participants (TBA Best Anthology) for TheatreFirst. She has directed for California Shakespeare Theater Conservatory and is the Associate Director of the Theatre Dept. at Ruth Asawa School of the Arts. She is a recipient of the Shotgun’s Bridging the Gap Grant and a Director’s West 2019 Alum.

About the Production Designer

Leanna Keyes of Transcend Streaming is a multi-hyphenate theater professional. Her most well-known digital productions are Today Is My Birthday with Theater Mu in Minneapolis, Downtown Crossing with Company One in Boston, and the 2020 Bay Area Playwrights Festival with Playwrights Foundation in San Francisco. She specializes in shows that are fully live: the way we’re meant to be.

As a playwright, you can find her play Doctor Voynich and Her Children in The Methuen Drama Book of Trans Plays (May 2021). Leanna co-edited this first-of-its-kind anthology of trans plays by trans playwrights about trans characters.

Image of a church with a rainbow Pride flag hanging outside

The Spark

“I grew up going to church three times a week, partially because my folks made friends with American missionaries who lived on their block back in Uruguay. Within a year of us immigrating to the States, both my parents were baptized into a church that none of my family members were into. Church was a place where my mom was able to earn money as a church secretary, my father was able to be a community leader despite being an immigrant without a degree, and we were buoyed through a variety of different family tragedies and celebrations.During the pandemic, churches, like theaters and lots of other organizations have had to move online. And in the past year, especially with the pandemic, I’ve been thinking a lot about spirituality and community.” - Playwright Noelle Viñas

What's in a name? Perhaps you noticed that we just adjusted the title of our play. It used to be Every Time I Feel the Spirit, inspired by the song of the same name. Many of us, including our playwright, have joyful associations with that song. Dr. Lynne Morrow, a local scholar and music professional, pointed out to us that the song is an African American Spiritual, and has profound significance in the African American church tradition. While we are very proud of our talented multiracial cast, creative team, and script, our story does not specifically center a Black spiritual experience. We realized that we were giving the wrong impression of the story by invoking the song's history in our title. We are grateful for the opportunity to learn and evolve. Thanks for your support!