Sharman Altshuler is Producing Artistic Director and founder of Moonbox Productions. A practicing veterinarian for 15 years, she had a serendipitous collision with the world of theater in 2011 which led to the founding of Moonbox and, in time, the hanging up of the stethoscope.
Moonbox Productions began in 2011, when we raised the curtain for a one-weekend run of Godspell at the historic Brattle Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As the band filed in each night, an unusual warm-up act took the stage – guests from a local non-profit called StreetSafe Boston, an anti-gang-violence program of the Boston Foundation. By sharing the spotlight for just a few minutes, Moonbox gave StreetSafe a chance to showcase the amazing work they were doing in our communities – earning them friends and funds from eager audiences moved by their story. That production became the seed of our company and its unique dual mission – to create exceptional theater using local talent and to connect our audiences with the other non-profit organizations doing wonderful work in our area.
Ten years and over twenty productions and non-profit partnerships later, Moonbox has continued creating and connecting, building an ever-widening circle of friends, partners and collaborators. Our mission has expanded, too, as we’ve broadened our desire and our ability to educate and include audiences, artists, and activists throughout Boston.
In 2016 we launched the Moonbox “Shadowbox” Mentorship Program, which provides hands-on theater experiences to emerging creative artists and theater technicians, all at no cost to them. The following year saw our test workshops for “Moonbox U”, an initiative to provide low- and no-cost continuing education and professional development for Boston-area working artists. Moonbox U’s first programs included not only traditional audition workshops and complimentary yoga classes, but also offered interdisciplinary round-tables where theater professionals from all walks of life could connect and share wisdom, with panelists ranging from opera singers to audiobook narrators, video-game music directors to musical theater mavens. After a short hiatus, Moonbox U is picking up steam again in 2021, with more exciting opportunities ahead for artists in Boston and beyond.
In 2018 we began Turning the Tide, a program designed with a two-part mission of accessibility. Turning the Tide’s first aim is to create more opportunities for theater professionals living with Deafness or disability, whether they’re working on or off the stage. Its second aim is to present stories of Deafness and disability to a wider audience. We want to prove that not only is compelling theater accessible – but also that accessible theater is, in itself, compelling.
As issues of social justice and racial inequality rise in our national consciousness, we at Moonbox have responded by broadening and deepening our commitment to anti-racism and community advocacy. Beginning in November of 2020, we have: hired a Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion; assembled an Advisory Board of theater professionals representing BIPOC, Deaf, and disabled perspectives; and developed a comprehensive Anti-Racism Statement that commits us to increasing BIPOC representation at every level of our company.
In response to the COVID-19 shut-downs, Moonbox has created opportunities for local artists and far-flung “Moonbox alumni” to earn both exposure and income through “Moonbox Homebrews”, pieces featured on our website and in our newsletter. Every Homebrew artist is compensated by Moonbox directly for their contributions, and every artist also has the opportunity to share links for personal fundraising or to request additional donations supporting causes they are passionate about.
We’re exceptionally grateful for – and proud of – the opportunities we’ve had to connect with artists, advocates, and audiences throughout Greater Boston, and we’re also grateful for the recognition our artistic work has achieved on its independent merit. Since our founding, Moonbox has been honored by numerous laudatory reviews and raves from audiences and critics alike – garnering Moonbox numerous IRNE and Elliot Norton Awards ranging from Best Musical, Best Actor & Actress, to Best Scenic and Costume Design recognitions.
As we’ve hunkered down over the past year, we’ve also found an extraordinary opportunity to focus on one of our long-deferred goals: developing new works by local playwrights. As part of our Boston New Works Festival initiative, we received more than sixty-five play proposals, from which we have chosen eleven original theatrical pieces by local artists for a year-long intensive workshop process culminating in fully-staged productions. Catch them all at the first-annual Boston New Works Festival at the BCA and Calderwood Pavilion campus in 2022!
At Moonbox, we believe that the stories we tell are important. They sustain and preserve our community, our history, and our values. Telling racially diverse stories allows us not only to reflect – but also to reflect on – the complexities of our past. When we join together in the act of storytelling, we are united in ways that transcend the everyday. Together, we can use the power of storytelling to honor our commonalities, celebrate our differences, and address historical discrimination and injustice. We pledge to take this power seriously, and to use our voices and the stories we tell to dismantle the systemic racism and white supremacy engulfing our culture, our country, and our industry.
We pledge to create an anti-racist culture that resonates not just on our stages, but throughout the communities they support. We stand in solidarity with our BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Color) community. We say with open hearts that Black lives more than matter – they are a crucial part of the fabric of our society and the work we do as artists. We pledge to raise up and interweave diverse voices in all of our endeavors, creating a vibrant tapestry in the art that we produce.
We pledge not just to acknowledge the crucial nature of this work, but to act on it. At Moonbox, we will:
- Implement anti-racist practices in both our internal policies and our external initiatives;
- Intentionally create an anti-racist culture among our staff, advisory panel, and artists;
- Produce works that truthfully reflect the community around us – both as it has been and as we hope it will become; and
- Actively monitor what works and what doesn’t, convening at least quarterly to make sure we continue our progress along an anti-racist path.
We recognize that this will be hard work, and that it is long overdue. We are only beginning to unravel decades of injustice, and we must be steadfast in our commitment to positive change. We will work tenaciously and tirelessly to make sure that everyone – at every level of our organization, and throughout the communities we support – feels that they belong.
We recognize that the land we live, work, and thrive upon is not our own. We acknowledge that this land was taken from Indigenous communities that have endured a painful history of genocide and colonization. We will with every production and in every printed program pause to honor the legacy of these people and our shared responsibilities in reconciliation. We invite you to join us as we consider our roles in decolonization and co-conspiratorship.
This plan is a working document and will be updated often and as necessary.
This plan is in response to the list if demands by the anti-racism organization #WSYWAT (We See You White American Theatre).
Our Action Plan:
By January 2021, Moonbox will have completed a comprehensive anti-racism policy that we will share widely with our community to affirm our position in dismantling racist practices within our shared theater community. This policy will be a work in progress and will be adjusted accordingly to fit our ever-changing atmosphere.
By February 2021, Moonbox will create a community-member advisory panel whose membership contains at least three to four artists who identify as members of the BIPOC community. This panel will serve as a resource to Moonbox staff, artists and community partners who enter into open dialogues on how we are engaging with all communities and be a voice in helping us implement better practices.
Initially, we envision panel members serving a one-year term with the option to renew for a second year based on mutual agreement. Ultimately, we will aim for a panel of four to six advisers, made up either of two cohorts of two with staggered two-year terms, or two cohorts of three with staggered two-year terms.
Each year, Moonbox’s staff and advisory panel will partner with BIPOC community leaders and Non-Profit Partners and engage in dialogue to determine how we can deepen our support in these communities.
At present Moonbox is engaged in bi-weekly courses guided by CELC (Cultural Equity Learning Center) with goals to:
- Reduce harm towards Black, Indigenous, queer, and trans persons of color (BIPOC | QTPOC), and well as persons of color with disabilities.
- Increase the skill sets and accountability of white arts and culture sector leaders.
- Delve into what it means to build anti-racist co-conspiratorship within the sector.
- Deeply examine what it means to build anti-racist arts and culture organizations.
By Spring 2021, Moonbox staff will engage in quarterly training including but not limited to implicit bias training, anti-racism in theater training, bystander intervention training, conflict de-escalation training, and harassment prevention training.
By April 2021, Moonbox will implement an orientation and onboarding process for all staff, artists, advisory panel members, contractors and volunteers that includes anti-racism awareness and a zero-tolerance harassment policy. Upon completion, all personnel will be required to sign an anti-racism pledge and zero-tolerance harassment agreement.
As Moonbox grows and opportunities to increase our staff develop, we will intentionally seek out BIPOC applicants and cast our nets in BIPOC-specific networks in the quest to keep our staff diverse and inclusive.
Moonbox will engage with culturally accurate directors and design staff when producing BIPOC-centered stories. Equally, we will engage with BIPOC directors and designers when producing non-BIPOC-centered stories.
Moonbox will be intentional in selecting and producing BIPOC-centered shows – not only those of the struggle, but those rich in the accomplishments and success of the BIPOC community. These productions will make up 50% of our season.
Historically, we acknowledge that we have fallen short in the following and we commit to changing that by:
- Increasing our BIPOC artists by 25% in 2021, with the goal of at least 50% BIPOC artist representation in each production by December 2022.
- Increasing our BIPOC musicians by 25% in 2021 with the goal of at least 50% BIPOC musician representation in each production by December 2022.
- Increase our BIPOC design/production staff by 25% in 2021 with the goal of at least 50% BIPOC design/production representation by December 2022.
Moonbox will be intentional in our marketing. We will commit to seeking ways to share our productions with the broader community. We will increase our BIPOC audience attendance by 25% in 2021 with the ultimate goal that everyone is welcomed.
Moonbox will deepen our engagement with BIPOC Non-Profit Partners; these BIPOC partnerships will make up 50% of the Non-Profit Partners for each season.
Allison Olivia Choat (she, her, hers/ they, them, theirs) is an IRNE and Elliot Norton award-winning theater artist whose work lies at the intersection of direction, design, and physical storytelling. She is honored to be Associate Artistic Director of Moonbox Productions and Founding Partner of the company...
Kara, a DeafBlind Intervenor for Northeast Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services, came to Moonbox six years go to help implement and coordinate the company's Community Initiatives.
Davron S. Monroe is a Boston based award winning singer and actor with vocal talents that run the gamut from Opera to Musical Theatre, gospel to jazz and everything else in between. Davron is the 2019 recipient of The Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Musical performance in Breath and Imagination...
Regina Norfolk founded RNCommunication, LLC, a public relations and special events company, in 2006 and has been the Publicist for Moonbox Productions since 2015. Throughout her career, she has worked extensively with public and private companies to spearhead successful launches and ongoing campaigns...
After years of artistic collaboration, Phil Tayler (He/Him/His) has been named Director of Marketing and Communications for Moonbox Productions. Phil is grateful for the opportunity to #CreateCommunity with this unbelievable organization...
Jo Williams is a full-time lecturer at Tufts University in the Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies department where she teaches and mentors the stage management and production management students. In the summer she enjoys working with all the young students in the Children’s Theatre program at Tufts...
Arthur is a Boston raised and based Actor, Director, and Collaborator. As a creative, he’s worked with a wide range of theatre’s in the New England area and as a collaborator he’s been lending ideas and assisting a multitude of companies and groups...
Patrick “Pax” McCarthy has quite extensive experience coaching theatre interpreters in American Sign Language since 1985 at various Boston theatres....
Elizabeth Yvette Ramirez (she/her) is a professional Stage Manager and small theater director. She was the Artistic Director of the Calliope Project Theatre (2011- 2014) and got involved in local arts activism after their regular venue, the Factory Theatre was closed...
Damon Singletary is a Boston-area-based actor/playwright. He previously appeared in Moonbox's production of Target Practice as part of the 2015 Boston Theater Marathon.
Kira Troilo has been working as a choreographer and performer in the Boston area since she graduated from Emerson College in 2008. She recently received an Elliott Norton nomination for her choreography for Moonbox Productions' recent production of Parade...
In the (hopefully near) future, this page will contain employment opportunities at Moonbox (including audition notices, calls for production staff, designers, technicians and managers), and will provide a portal through which to submit your resumes and post any inquiries.
At the moment, due to COVID, there are no open positions at Moonbox, but please check back regularly for updates and new employment opportunities.
If you would like your information to be added to our database at this time for future consideration, please submit a cover letter + resume and any details of your interests and skills that you would like to provide to us: firstname.lastname@example.org