Human beings are hard-wired for storytelling. In 2021, sharing our stories and bearing witness to others’ stories matters more than ever. We are a Boston-based theatre company whose mission is to foster understanding, empathy, and human connection through storytelling. We:
- Create and perform original live and audio documentary pieces based on research, interviews, and real events;
- Produce podcast mini-series;
- Facilitate community-based story circles; and
- Lead workshops and residencies that help organizations and communities use storytelling to strengthen their teams and work.
Meet the Visitors
Melissa is a Boston-based actor, playwright, and teaching artist and has served on the adjunct faculty of Emerson College since 2017, where she teaches in the Applied Theatre and Theatre Education graduate program.
Melissa is the former Artistic Director and co-founder of The Charlottesville Women's Theatre Project, a company focused on creating theatre relevant to the female experience. Previously, she served as Program Manager for Young Audiences of Massachusetts, an organization dedicated to arts education across New England. She has performed in a variety of stage and film projects, including Letters to Medford (Two Roads Performance Projects); I Never Saw Another Butterfly (Firehouse Center for the Arts); Ready for Lou (Gold Rush Films); and SafeGuard, an original solo documentary performance play which examines the female perspective of deployment, based on interviews with women of military families across the United States. She is the author of The Perpetual Visitor: A Field Guide for Everyday Artists, Wild Unfolding: and other poems, as well as several poems, short films, and plays. Her essays about creativity and sustainability have been published in Howlround, the international theatre journal based at Emerson College.
Melissa believes in the power of theatre not only as a meaningful collective experience for audiences, but as a transformational tool for dialogue and social change for communities at-large. She has taught in a variety of settings, including Harvard University, Michigan State University, Lenoir-Rhyne University, the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, The New England Theatre Conference, Boston Educators for Social Justice Conference, The Chester Charter Scholars Academy, and The South End Settlements.
Melissa received her Master of Arts in Theatre Education at Emerson College and is currently completing her MFA in Applied Theatre at Emerson College. Born in Rochester, NY, she holds a B.A. in Theatre Performance and History from SUNY Geneseo.
Our Origin Story
When they were fifteen years old, Melissa and Kate met selling pies at a school band fundraiser. Recognizing the kindred spirits within one another, they quickly bonded over a love of make-believe, salsa and chips, and big laughs. At school, they lived in the drama and music departments, and on the weekends, they traipsed through the woods in capes and fake mustaches enacting stories, both dramatic and ridiculous. As they got older, they refused to surrender imagination or a sense of play at adulthood’s doorstep.
But amidst the silliness, they also shared a fascination about what it means to belong – to other people, to a place, to a community. For more than a decade, they have been having conversations with friends and strangers about how people identify themselves and others.
In 2010, Melissa attended Emerson College’s Graduate Program in Theatre and Community where she was intrigued by the power of performance not only as a meaningful collective experience for audiences, but as a transformational tool for dialogue and social change for communities at-large. During her time at Emerson, she had the opportunity to explore Theatre of the Oppressed, education outreach, and build upon her love of documentary theatre. Melissa saw so many ways to build bridges between theatre and community, and create stronger connections between the art form of theatre and the conversations we share about community issues.
At the same time, Kate was at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland getting her Masters in Nationalism Studies. Researching how trauma affects national memory and healing, she was curious about how remembering events of the past changes how we collectively belong in the future. She loved having conversations with classmates from around the globe about how they see themselves and their countries, and how belonging is different and the same in all corners of the world. Kate was captivated by the ways nations, like people, want above all else to be seen.
In 2015, Melissa and Kate realized that they took different paths to examine the same questions, and began imagining how and where to have these conversations in their community. They thought about their love of storytelling – about its power to create belonging when someone sees her story in another person, and the power to create understanding when someone sees a story unlike his own. They began to see each real story of “visiting” as a potentially powerful piece of theatre that could simultaneously start a dialogue and entertain. Thus began The Perpetual Visitors Theatre Company.