Mary Brewer (She/Her)
After growing up in the Chicagoland area, Mary pursued an education in the humanities, specializing in sociological research and feminist theory within the LGBTQ+ community. Performance art has been a life-long passion for her, having attended dance, gymnastics, improv, voice, and circus classes since she was a little girl. For the past 3 years, she has been fortunate enough to study with some with some of the best circus and dance instructors in Chicago; an experience that has inspired her to marry mediums to achieve greater versatility within her work. When she is not exploring physical fitness in the gym and in the air, she stays busy working as and advocating for sex workers in Chicago. Her other interests include travel, roller skating, pole dance, and playing fetch with her dog. She has plans to continue her education in the circus arts and work as the dynamic and multitalented performer that she is, in Chicagoland and world-wide.
Tucker Bryant (He/Him)
Tucker is a circus artist in training from North Carolina. Before circus, he primarily trained in martial arts, including Taekwondo, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jujitsu, and Krav Maga. Now Tucker focuses on Partner Acrobatics, Hand-to-Hand, Hand-Balancing,and Tumbling. After teaching Martial Arts for a few years, Tucker obtained a diploma in Massage Therapy and works as a Licensed Massage Therapist within the city. After The Actors Gymnasium’s Professional training program, Tucker plans on attending one of the various international Circus Colleges to further his education and perform with a traveling troop.
Julia deGruchy (She/Her)
Julia traveled from Philadelphia to join the Actors Gym pro training program. She has a BFA in musical theatre from The University of the Arts and has been trained in vocal performance for 15 years.
Julia seeks to draw audiences into a powerful, unguarded performance. Her unique energy is cleverly engaged in each moment of a show to surprise, thrill and attract. She is on a journey for artistic truth. She is looking for ways to bring non-traditional physical art forms into musical theatre paradox. She values accuracy, impulse, and authenticity and strives to make art that can reform, rehabilitate, and rebuild society. She is so excited to embark on this journey!
Abigail Felstehausen (She/Her)
Abigail is an aerialist from Madison, WI. She started being involved in circus and theatre at a young age. She took a break from performing in high school to join rowing. In college, she began to stage manage and work as a theatre technician. This gave her access to spaces where she was able to work on circus. Abigail is excited to work with Actors Gymnasium to receive professional training, better her skills, and learn new ones.
Foxy Grandpa (She/Her/They)
An artist, host, dancer, clown and licensed attorney, Foxy Grandpa (birth name: Christine Konczal) is the co-founder of Pieus Productions and host of Pieus’s monthly late night circus variety show, AfterParty at Theater Wit. But she can be found performing all over the city – most recently, she played the role of Maria in Yes Ma’am Circus’s production of Twelfth Night in June 2019 and will be in several other smaller shows throughout Chicago in fall and winter 2019. Before coming to The Actors Gymnasium, Foxy fell in love with circus while taking adult recreational circus classes for 5 years and has been on ropes, poles, hoops, trapezes, silks, and anything else she could try. She is beyond thrilled to finally take her passion full time at the Actors Gym.
Foxy has lived in Los Angeles, London and D.C., but currently lives in Chicago. When she’s not performing, working on a Pieus Productions project or on an act, she enjoys traveling, running, opera, CrossFit, oil painting, and runs a Dungeons and Dragons game.
Ryan is an actor originally hailing from North Carolina who found himself up North in the cold to complete his BFA in Acting at Boston University’s School of Theatre. Upon graduating Ryan realized that he wasn’t quite ready to join the real world yet, so instead he ran away to circus school…in an even colder place. While at BU he worked as a fight choreographer, movement director, and stage manager for several productions. Some of his favored roles during his tenure there include Joe (Angels in America Part II: Perestroika), Every Damn Man (Hi How Are You How’s Your Sex Life), Eiliff (Mother Courage) and Joe Ryan (When the Rain Stops Falling). While in school Ryan also developed an original one-man documentary theatre show, Flailing into Happiness, derived from interviews conducted throughout 15 different countries. His interest in circus arts stems largely from a desire to see the human body reach its maximum expressive potential for the purposes of storytelling whether that be through aerial apparatus work tumbling, stage combat, dance, clowning or—ideally—a combination of them all! ryanhuemmer.com
Saydi Ogden (She/Her)
Saydi is a dancer, aerialist, and gymnast from Joplin, Missouri. She began her training at age four, but was introduced to the aerial arts in 2013, training with Midwest Regional Ballet Company. There, she performed in many high intensity performances and attended a variety of workshops including those by William Henry, Cat Cogliandro, Caleb Brauner, The Legacy Dance Project, Mia Michaels, and Momix. She attended the intensive, Step It Up, in Los Angeles where she attended acting and theater workshops as well as a vast number of dance workshops all over the city. She is ecstatic to begin this opportunity to not only delve into areas that are familiar but also those that are complete strangers at The Actors Gymnasium’s Professional Training Program.
Damian Portz (He/Him)
Damian has an absurd love of pie, his ferret Ziggy, and of receiving books in the mail. He began his circus career with the Memphis based circus-theatre company Weightless Aerial Company, where he helped create original productions as a director, writer, stage manager, and performer, creating an aerial adaptation of Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story. Since moving to Chicago, he has found a home at The Actors Gymnasium, previously working as the production intern for the 2018/2019 season. While attending the Professional Training Program, he is also a Backstage Manager for Teatro ZinZanni, where he works with international talent in a beautiful Spegieltent in a unique blend of circus, cabaret, comedy, and chaos. His goal is to blend circus arts with theatrical text, and to eat as much pie as possible.
Brittany Royce (She/Her)
Brittany has come to the Chicago from her hometown Springfield, MO. She got her start in acrobatics early in life as a competitive gymnast. After retiring from the sport, Brittany returned to the gym to teach. She became a recreational/competitive gymnastics instructor, coaching children of all ages for 7 years. While living in San Diego, California in 2014, Brittany stepped into the circus world for the first time and fell in love with aerial arts. Back in Missouri, she has been teaching and training aerial silks, trapeze, lyra, handstands, pole fitness, and tumbling at Springfield Aerial Fitness for over three years. She has performed acrobatics for music festivals, local music concerts, corporate events, and fundraisers. She is looking forward to expanding her performance abilities through The Actors Gymnasium pro training program.
Jack Russell (He/Him/They)
Jack was born in Portland OR. He started performing when he was 15, focusing on dance. When he was 18 he began his education at Cornish a College of the Arts. During his time at Cornish he studied modern dance and ballet intensely. During his junior year he did a study abroad in Italy at L’Accademia Dell’Arte where he learns Nikolais technique and Laban fundamentals. Jack began his circus training during his sophomore year of college and began training more deeply in it during his senior year. Jack mostly performs drag, burlesque, dance, and aerial pieces, but is versed in partner acrobatics, handbalancing, and acro-flow.