Bonnie Cullum | Producing Artistic Director
Bonnie Cullum co-founded The VORTEX in Austin in 1988. As Producing Artistic Director, she has collaborated with the ensemble of VORTEX artists to create and present 30 seasons of new work—more than 350 innovative and distinct productions. She has directed more than 60 world premieres as well as dozens of published works. In 2009, Cullum was inducted into the Austin Arts Hall of Fame. She received an MFA in Directing from the University of Texas at Austin and a BA in Theatre from the University of Kansas. Thrice honored as Austin’s Best Director by the Austin Chronicle, Cullum received B. Iden Payne Awards for Best Director for Sarah Silver Hands (2011, NEA-funded opera), Troades: The Legend of the Women of Troy (2008, original play with music), Moby Dick (2002, original play adapted from Melville), and Despair's Book of Dreams and the Sometimes Radio (2000, original musical). The VORTEX has been honored with more than 100 B. Iden Payne Awards for Outstanding Productions, Original Scripts, Original Scores, Acting, Design, and Extraordinary Events. She founded VORTEX's award-winning Summer Youth Theatre in 1991 to provide free theatre opportunities for youth, nurturing several generations of young artists. Cullum is internationally recognized for her experimental productions and her advocacy of cutting-edge artists. She lives in East Austin with her husband Chad and their belovéd cats. She loves dancing, singing, and magic.
Melissa Vogt | Managing Director
Melissa joined the VORTEX administrative team as Managing Director in 2013. Melissa first appeared on The VORTEX stage in 2003 and has starred in numerous productions. She received B. Iden Payne Awards for her leading role in Vampyress in 2005, her ensemble role in Wake for the Dark Poet in 2004, and for ensemble work and original score in Sing Muse. Other notable VORTEX work includes SPIRIT, EARTH, :Humpty, Beirut, The Dragonfly Princess, Pink Sun, Bell(e), hOle, and Pythia Dust, garnering Melissa many B. Iden Payne Nominations for Excellence. Melissa has designed masks and manifested puppets for many notable VORTEX productions, including Atlantis: A Puppet Opera, The Chimponauts and the Mechanical Phantom, Sarah Silver Hands, Changelings, and more, as well as collaborating with Ethos and Electronic Planet Ensemble on vocal arrangements and scripts for a variety of performances. As a tech enthusiast, she initiated livestream performances of new work at The VORTEX with Howlround TV, a national theatrical commons. Most of the graphic design for the theatre starts with her, and The VORTEX has even dabbled in augmented reality posters! Melissa holds a BFA in Acting from Texas State University and a certificate in ‘Just Google It’ from The Internet. She worked for several years in New York where she toured professionally with Chamber Theatre Productions, and has also toured with The North Carolina Shakespeare Festival. In addition to her vast artistic experience, Melissa has many years of experience in business administration, sales, and marketing, and was Artistic Director of One Shot Productions in NYC. Melissa is also President of the Manor Road Merchant’s Association, and a board member of Alliance Française d'Austin. When not on the stage or behind the scenes, she enjoys hiking, forests, reading a great book, and adventuring. And of course big snuggle sessions with her fur-baby, Princess Molly-cat.
Krystle Kelley | Business Manager
Krystle moved to Austin in 2007 and has been with The VORTEX since 2010. She was awarded Rookie of The Year in 2010, Rod and Staff (2014), and Audit Monarch (2016). She is a VORTEX company member, theatre lover, adventure enthusiast, humanitarian, archaeologist, occasional painter, and experienced wielder of The Force. Krystle has a BA in Anthropology and Business from The University of Texas, and a MA in Anthropology with a focus in Maya Archaeology from Texas Tech University. She is a presenting member of the Society for American Archaeology and serves as Treasurer/Secretary on the Board of Directors of the Manor Road Merchants Association. When she’s not in the office at The VORTEX, Krystle can usually be found digging up ruins in the jungles of Central America, or out enjoying the rich cultural experiences Austin has to offer with her remarkable group of Rebel friends.
Heather L. Barfield, Ph.D. | Development Director & Associate Artistic Director
Heather has been a vital member of VORTEX Repertory Company for over 28 years. She has an extensive background in theater history, criticism, theory, and practice. She received her Ph.D. in Performance as Public Practice from the University of Texas at Austin, holds a MA in Performance Studies from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and a BA in Anthropology from UT Austin. Throughout her career, she has worked as performer, scholar, director, producer, writer and arts administrator in the Austin theater and arts communities. Heather’s theatrical credits include the creation and direction of VORTEX’s Wake for the Dark Poet (B. Iden Payne Award for Outstanding Production of a Drama) and her direction of Machinal for VORTEX’s Summer Youth Theatre (B. Iden Payne Award for Outstanding Production of Theatre for Youth). She has performed locally in critically acclaimed shows including VORTEX’s Dark Goddess, Rude Mech’s Dionysus in ’69, and Rubber Repertory’s The Casket of Passing Fancy. She was an arts writer for The Austin Chronicle and a contributing member of the Austin Critics’ Table. Her artistic work often incorporates intermodal forms of storytelling through digital and analog methods. In her critically-praised production, Privacy Settings: A Promethean Tale, Heather and her cast of devised-theater makers explored the complex topics of whistle-blowers, digital privacy, and civil liberties alongside audience-immersive interactions. She teaches as Adjunct Professor of performance and theatre history/criticism at Austin Community College. She continues to devise, write, and direct video and performance installation works as an artist-citizen-scholar. Heather recognizes that a healthy and just social ecosystem depends upon vibrant, eclectic, diverse, reflexive, and innovative arts. She devotes her extra time to raising, playing, and inspiring her son to be a kind, observant, and creative human being.
Rudy Ramirez | Associate Artistic Director
Rudy has directed for The Vortex Repertory Theatre, The Austin Bike Zoo, ColorArc Productions, ScriptWorks, Shrewd Productions, Sky Candy Aerial Arts, Teatro Vivo and The University of Texas at Austin, as well as performance work at Dixon Place (NYC) and readings at The Lark (NYC), The Playwrights’ Center (Minneapolis) and The Parsnip Ship (NYC). He is a five-time winner of the B. Iden Payne Award for Outstanding Direction, a nominee for the 2015 NNPN Director’s Fellowship and was named Best Director by the Austin Chronicle Reader’s Poll in 2017. He is also the creator of two autobiographical performances: Footnotes for People Who Don’t Speak Spanish with Beliza Torres Narvaez and Promised Land: A Radical Queer Revival. He received his MA in Performance as Public Practice from UT Austin in 2012.
Alex Cogburn | Box Office Manager & Keeper of the Butterfly Sanctuary
Alex was born and raised in San Antonio by two musicians, and developed a love for performance at an early age. He played French Horn and Bass Guitar and began acting in High School. The love of theatre led him to set building and all aspects of running the show. After receiving a BA in Theatre and Dance from UT Austin, Alex worked at a Martial Arts School (Aim & Focus Karate/Tang Soo Do) slitting his time as an instructor and actor. He loved his work as an actor/technician, and at the same time, training/instructing as a Martial Artist professionally was fulfilling. He eventually took a full time job in Martial Arts. He was an instructor of Tang Soo Do for seven years before he realized he needed Theatre back in his life. He returned to The VORTEX where he had previously performed in Murder Ballad Murder Mystery. He started with a two-week engagement running the Box Office. He was soon the Box Office Manager and helping with set building, organization, maintenance, and gardening. He took upon himself to sustain and grow The Butterfly Garden that The VORTEX had started and made his own and has achieved a Nationally Recognized Butterfly Garden though the North American Butterfly Association.
Sandie Donzica | Development & Marketing Associate
Sandie is a French contemporary choreographer, dancer and certified yoga teacher. She started her artistic career in France after completing her dance education at the CNDC (Centre National de Danse Contemporaine), obtaining her BFA in Dance and her Dance Management Bachelor degree. Sandie has also been a dance teacher for many years, obtaining her national dance teaching certification at only 18 years-old in Aix-en-Provence, France. She obtained her choreographic studies diploma with excellence at the National Regional Conservatory of Nice, in the South of France. She is now dedicated to help The VORTEX grow and support this community of artists, on top of choreographing and dancing in Austin with different dance companies such as Jun Shen Movement Theatre Effect, Chaddick Dance Theater, and Diverse Space Dance Theater.
Tamara L. Farley | Production Stage Manager
Tamara grew up in Dallas, ran away to Colorado briefly, and returned to Austin to find The VORTEX. In 2007 she started stage managing for the VORTEX performance Dark Goddess. She's now totally hooked and states she'll never leave!
Teresa Cruz | Production Assistant
Teresa is a theater director raised in Austin, Texas. She is a company member, technical assistant, and general operations assistant at The VORTEX and loving it! She has been able to travel the country working at different theater companies (Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Center Theatre Group in L.A., Ars Nova in NYC, and The Ground Floor at Berkeley Rep) in varying capacities. She graduated from Connecticut College with a degree in Psychology and in Theater.
Megan Kemp | Technical Assistant
Megan is a skilled artist concerned with countering the product-focused education system. She is very passionate about inspiring and encouraging the creative growth of our youth. She uses a variety of media in her work but her go-to is acrylic painting. She's been involved in theatre for almost a decade, both technical and performing aspects and has a decade of experience in dance, my specialty being ballet. She's currently enrolled at the University of Texas, and graduate in 2019 with a BA in Psychology.
Joy Neyland | Box Office Assistant
Kimberley Mead | Web designer
Kimberley is a photographer, designer, and performer. She has a MA in Counseling from St. Edward's University, a BA in Photography from San Jose State University in California, and studied graphic design at Parsons in NYC. She was the Vortex photographer for 13 years and photographed over 35 productions. She currently photographs for numerous theatres in town including Shrewd Productions, Penfold Theatre, Hidden Room Theatre, La Fenice, and others. As an actress, she has appeared on stage with the VORTEX, Arts on Real, The Vestige Group, Austin Shakespeare, and City on a Hill.
Kimberley has an insatiable curiosity about life which manifests in both her art and story telling. She seems to have boundless creative energy and recently created a card game called Morbid Curiosity.
Michele May | Gatekeeper
Michele was born in New Braunfels and raised in Los Angeles, but she's called Austin home since 2005. She's loved acting and theatre since she was very young -- her mom was a contract player for Universal Studios -- but what she loves most is meeting and talking to new people, which makes her job as the VORTEX gatekeeper a perfect fit. When she's not informing all comers about the wonders of the VORTEX compound, she likes to hang out with her husband and their amazing Chihuahua, Pearl, and handsome brown tabby, Buddy, watch movies, and garden.