Leadership

Paata Tsikurishvili

Founding Artistic Director

A native of the Republic of Georgia, Paata is an innovative, award-winning international artistic director, director and educator with more than 30 years of experience fusing the classical elements of drama, movement, dance, pantomime and music. Since Synetic Theater’s founding in 2001, Mr. Tsikurishvili has received an impressive 25 Helen Hayes Award Nominations and has won the awards 9-times. Together with his wife and co-founder Irina, he was named “Washingtonian of the Year” in 2013. Mr. Tsikurishvili has directed and performed in Hamlet … the rest is silence, The Master and Margarita, The Crackpots, Dracula, Host and Guest, Frankenstein, and The Island of Doctor Moreau. He has directed over 60 productions including Salomé, Bohemians, Jason and the Argonauts, The Dybbuk, Faust, Frankenstein, Macbeth, Animal Farm, The Fall of the House of Usher, A Christmas Carol, Romeo and Juliet, Carmen, Dante, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Antony and Cleopatra, Othello, King Arthur, King Lear, Don Quixote, Twelfth Night, Much Ado about Nothing, The Three Musketeers, Alice in Wonderland, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Jekyll & Hyde, The Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest, As You Like It, and The Man in the Iron Mask. Synetic’s inaugural production, Hamlet … the rest is silence received 3 Helen Hayes Awards for Outstanding Director, Outstanding Resident Play and Outstanding Choreography. As an educator, Mr. Tsikurishvili has trained hundreds of actors in movement technique through Synetic Theater and has taught at leading universities such as American University, Catholic University of America, and Georgetown University. Before moving to the USA he co-founded Mimodrama Theater in Germany and has toured worldwide. Paata holds an MFA in film directing from Tbilisi State University and a BFA in acting from The State Institute of Theater and Film in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Irina Tsikurishvili

Founding Associate Artistic Director & Resident Choreographer

A native of the Republic of Georgia, Ms. Tsikurishvili is a 58-time Helen Hayes Award Nominee and has won the award 14 times for her outstanding choreography and acting. Irina has choreographed all Synetic Theater’s productions including The Crackpots, Dracula, Host and Guest and Frankenstein, Island of Doctor Moreau, Salomé, Bohemians, Jason and the Argonauts, The Dybbuk, Faust, Frankenstein, Macbeth, Animal Farm, The Fall of the House of Usher, A Christmas Carol, Romeo and Juliet, Carmen, Dante, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Antony and Cleopatra, Othello, King Arthur, King Lear, Don Quixote, Othello, Twelfth Night, Much Ado about Nothing, Three Musketeers, Alice in Wonderland, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Jekyll & Hyde, The Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest, As You Like It, and much more. Ms.Tsikurishvili has taught at Georgetown University, where she choreographed Lysistrata. She continues to run intensive movement workshops and train Synetic cast members. With her husband Paata, she is the co-founder of Synetic Theater and co-founder of Stanislavsky Theater Studio. Paata & Irina were named Washingtonians of the Year in 2013. Irina Graduated from Chabukiani National Ballet Academy in Tbilisi Georgia and holds BFA in Performing Arts.

Jason Najjoum

Managing Director

Jason Najjoum comes to Synetic with a decade of experience in the arts and culture space. Most recently, he served as Managing Editor for the Yale Theater Management Knowledge Base, where he oversaw its strategic planning process and designed the first integrated people development system for an arts organization. Previously, he served as Company Manager for Yale Repertory Theatre, Public Service Fellow for New Haven’s Department of Arts, Culture and Tourism, and Management Fellow for Baltimore Center Stage. Prior to joining New Haven’s nonprofit arts community, Jason served as Producing Director for New York Theatre Barn in New York City, where he developed the work of over 50 musical theater writers through NYTB’s signature new work development and community building program. Jason has served numerous other theater and arts organizations across the country, including Prospect Theater Company, The Cell, and New York Music Theater Festival as a producer, general manager, and casting director, and began his career as a performer with The Flea.

Jason’s arts experience is augmented by several transformative experiences in the private sector. Most recently, he was a Senior Associate at McChrystal Group, a global advisory services and leadership development firm, advising a global energy company on internal communications, culture change, and decision-making. Prior to that, he was a Senior Management Associate for Bridgewater Associates, where he was trained in their principles-based management system.

Jason earned a Master of Fine Arts in Theater Management from Yale School of Drama, a Master of Business Administration from Yale School of Management, and a Bachelor of Arts in Music and History from Emory University, and is a graduate of the Commercial Theater Institute. Jason co-founded the Analyzing and Mobilizing Privilege group at Yale School of Drama and previously served on the board of directors of Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services nonprofit in New Haven, CT. He is trained as an intercultural group facilitator and is an active member of Resource Generation, a multiracial membership community of young people with wealth or class privilege committed to the equitable distribution of wealth, land, and power. Jason is a native of Northern Virginia, and currently resides in the U Street Corridor of Washington, DC.

Artistic

Scott Brown

Tour Director

Scott came to Synetic after graduating from Radford University with a Bachelor of Science in Theatre (Acting and Directing) and a dance minor. You may recognize him as an actor with Synetic as he has been a proud Synetic company member since 2007. While not on stage, Scott started his professional career in Human Resources for Fortune 500 companies where he eventually joined a casting office, casting for commercials, industrials and large budget films. In 2012, he started his own software consulting company, where he currently works, specializing in Customer Relationship Management software from Microsoft. Scott is a lover of the arts, politics, tech, film and people. He is thrilled to be bringing his passions to Synetic as Tour Director. Having toured with Synetic many times to places such as New York, Massachusetts, Tbilisi, Georgia and Chihuahua, Mexico, he has witnessed first-hand the amazing impact our shows have had on audiences across the US and around the world!

J.P. McLaurin

Associate Producer

Originally from South Carolina, J.P. is a founding member of Boots on the Ground Theater and a graduate of Coastal Carolina University. In addition to his studies at CCU, he has worked and trained at the Guthrie Theater, the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, and the SITI Company with director Anne Bogart. He currently serves as the Allen Lee Hughes Leadership and Business Fellow at Arena Stage. Recent directing credits include “Fire Mountain” (Los Angeles Central Public Library); Grounded (Piccolo Spoleto Festival Selection, BOTG); Assassins (Asst. Director, Theater Latté Da); Hamlet (Asst. Director, Park Square Theatre); Three Sisters, Marisol (CCU); “Catatonic” (Atlantic Stage’s New Voices PlayFest); and The Giving Tree (Fine Arts Center). Acting credits include A Year With Frog & Toad (SC Children’s Theatre); Love’s Labour’s Lost and Titus Andronicus (Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey); Big Love, Pride & Prejudice, “A Rehearsal for Celebrations” and Picnic (CCU); Assassins and The Who’s Tommy (College of Charleston); Lincoln’s Last Day (Smithsonian Channel) and “Identity” (The CW). He is an alumnus of the Directors Lab at the Pasadena Playhouse, an Actor’s Equity Membership Candidate, and a recipient of the Dean’s Excellence Scholarship at CCU.

Katherine DuBois

Producer, Synetic Motion Pictures & Streaming

A DC native, Katherine first started directing and producing as a teenager with Wildwood Summer Theater, where she coached, produced, and directed for six seasons. Katherine earned her degree in Drama via Ithaca College, the Eugene O’Neill National Theater Institute, and the St. Petersburg Imperial Academy of the Arts. As a physical theater artist, Katherine has focused on the techniques of Droznin, Grotowski, Meyerhold, Jazzo, and has trained and performed with Synetic for over ten years. She is currently the Associate Director for Synetic’s The Phantom of the Opera. An award-winning filmmaker, Katherine has exclusively focused on women as the subject of her film work. Self-taught in Los Angeles and New York City, Katherine enjoys the DC area’s commitment to documentary. As part of her series of “quiet dramas,” she wrote, produced, and starred in The Challenge Coin, Back Home, and Awake. Her most recent work, Space to Explore, profiles aerospace engineer Natalie Panek and her goal to be the first astronaut on Mars. She hopes to explore film as a medium for Synetic storytelling. Katherine brings over a decade of administrative management and support to the Synetic team focused on workflow and project management in the financial, entertainment, and non-profit sectors.

Konstantine Lortkipanidze

Resident Composer

Konstantine is a native of Tbilisi, Georgia, and has composed original music for 14 Synetic Productions and has received 5 Helen Hayes nominations for his sound designs and received 1 award. He has also composed original music for films including First Steps, Essay (both directed by Paata Tsikurishvili), and Marage. His compositions for theater include work for Hunter from the Sun, Guest of the Night, Mimikria, Labyrinth, and The Decameron. His work has been performed at music festivals across Europe, including the Maqs Ophulos festival in Germany and the International Gaudeamus Music Week in Amsterdam. Mr. Lortkipanidze received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the Tbilisi State Conservatory.

Education

Hester Kamin

Director of Education and Outreach

Hester Kamin (she/her) is thrilled and honored to return to her movement theatre roots as Director of Education of Synetic Theater. She is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University (Phi Beta Kappa) and Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris, and is the recipient of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists National Award, the Academy of Paris Award for Contribution to Arts and Culture, and the Academy of American Poets Prize. In 2020, her touring play about a Holocaust survivor, In Flight: The Story of Sabine Van Dam, was honored with an ArtWorks award by The National Endowment for the Arts. Over the past two decades, Hester has served as Co-Artistic Director of bilingual Drama Ties Theatre in France, Youth Theatre Associate of Honolulu Theatre for Youth, and Director of Education of Barrington Stage Company and Gulfshore Playhouse, and she created the education programs at two historic theatres: the Hawaii Theatre and Bucks County Playhouse. She has initiated partnerships with organizations including the Naples Philharmonic, the Honolulu Symphony, and the James A. Michener Art Museum and has served as a guest artist at Chicago Dramatists, Florida Repertory Theatre, and The Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. Hester has also created, directed, and choreographed more than two hundred professional and youth shows around the world. Recent: I Never Saw Another Butterfly and Moana at The Naples Players, Shipwrecked (The Tempest) at Gulfshore Playhouse and The Naples Philharmonic, and Scapino at both Gulfshore Playhouse and Kinetic Theatre. In 2021, Hester was honored to perform with Canadian theatre company Right Angle Productions in Art Heist at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Member, SDC and the Dramatists’ Guild of America. www.hesterkamin.com.

 

Vato Tsikurishvili

Company Manager & Education Associate

A native of the Republic of Georgia, Vato Tsikurishvili is an award-winning actor, choreographer, and educator with more than a decade of experience imparting Synetic Theater’s unique style to audiences and students of all ages. Performing with his parents, Synetic co-founders Paata and Irina Tsikurishvili, since the age of 4, Mr. Tsikurishvili also has an extensive athletic background, having trained in fencing under Olympic coach Vladimir Nazlymov and in gymnastics with his grandfather, the world-renowned Olympic coach Arnold Kvetenadze. Performing credits include lead and supporting roles in dozens of Synetic productions: Host and Guest, Othello, Antony and Cleopatra, King Arthur, Macbeth, The Taming of the Shrew, Home of the Soldier, The Tempest, The Three Musketeers, Twelfth Night, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Hamlet… the rest is silence, Beauty and the Beast, Much Ado About Nothing, Alice in Wonderland, Dante’s Inferno, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Sleepy Hollow. His recent work as a fight choreographer includes The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dante’s Inferno and The Man in the Iron Mask as well as Titus Andronicus and The Adventures of Peter Pan, for which he was also Assistant Director and Co-Director, respectively. As an educator, Mr. Tsikurishvili has trained Synetic company members, travels throughout the DMV area teaching stage movement to students of all grade levels, serves as an instructor at Synetic Studio, and, alongside Irina Tsikurishvili, trains the Synetic Teen Company.

Ashton Schaffer

Education Manager & Camp Director

Ashton Schaffer is a Washington DC area based performer and holds a B.M in Musical Theatre from the Catholic University of America. Theatre companies he has worked for include: Monumental Theatre Company, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Arena Stage, DAR Constitution Hall and Synetic Theatre. Ashton has been teaching at the Synetic Summer Camp for over eight years and is extremely passionate about arts education.

Production

Raymond Simeon

Production Manager

A Cuban-American originally from Miami, Florida, Raymond is a graduate of Barry University and Marymount University, holds a MBA and a MHRM. Raymond also has an educational background in the arts through continued certifications and courses, including “The Cycle: Management of Successful Arts and Cultural Organizations” through The University of Maryland, and “Theatre and Globalization” through Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU).  Raymond is thrilled to be taking on the mantle of Production Manager with Synetic Theater having previously been the Production Manager for The Tempest (2019). He holds the position of Production Manager with the Washington Improv Theater, having been the production manager and designer for numerous shows and festivals since 2016. Previously an Intern with Ford’s Theater, and a Fellow at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company.

Phil Charlwood

Resident Technical Director

Phil has been building sets and props for Synetic Theater and Synetic Family Theater over the last five years. He has designed the Helen Hayes Award-nominated sets for The Island of Dr. Moreau and King Lear and designed the sets for RMT’s West Side Story and AMS’s The Producers.  Mr. Charlwood also works with local schools to develop their technical drama programs.

Administration

Porter Conroy

Patron Operations Manager

Porter (he/they) is a theatre-trained creative from Charleston, SC. After receiving their BA in Theatre and Arts Management from the College of Charleston, they relocated to Atlanta, GA to pursue theatre non-profit administration, and found their love for client relations working in management at J.Crew. In recent years, they have worked on and off as a dramaturg and stage manager, with credits from PURE Theatre (Charleston) and Out Front Theater Company (Atlanta), and will sometimes direct their energies towards playwriting!

Daria Butler

Social Media Manager

Daria is a fervent lover of the arts, which has guided me throughout my entire life: from art lessons at age 3 to ballet intensives in New York to performing in high school musicals and choreographing for community theatre. In 2018, she graduated with honors from New York University with a Bachelor’s in Music Theater and a double minor in English Literature and Gender Studies. She always knew that she wanted to pursue a Master’s of Arts Management, so she enrolled in Carnegie Mellon University’s double-degree Masters of Arts Management program with the University of Bologna. She spent a year living in Italy, making friends from all over the world and traveling as much as she could. If there’s one thing she knows for sure, it’s that the arts and culture are inextricably linked and deserve our investment. In her career, she aspires to make the arts accessible for everyone to enjoy by making sure we are holding space for diverse voices. To Daria, the arts should not be considered a luxury good, but something that is vital to the human experience and spirit.

Megan Kueny

Graphic Designer

Megan has worked in design and advertising on both the East and West coasts since graduating from Hamilton College with a degree in Fine Art. She spent a year as an artist/printer at Robert Blackburn’s Printmaking Workshop in New York City and then got her first real job at a 3D graphics software company in San Francisco. Megan returned again to New York and co-founded a design firm whose clients included Pfizer, Barnes & Noble and the LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts. She have been back in California for the last 15+ years working as a freelancer out of her home office in the Santa Cruz Mountains while raising her two boys.

Mandi Lee

Development Director

Mandi came to Synetic as a Development Assistant and is excited to now serve as Development Director! Her background is as a performer and academic with an emphasis on Shakespeare. She received her MFA in Theater from the University of Central Florida, where she wrote her graduate thesis “Gender Performance in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night”. While attending UCF, Mandi worked as a performer and administrator at Orlando Shakes, and she previously served as Education Director at Forefront Arts in her hometown of Atlanta. She and her husband, Chris, are proud parents to their pups — Penny and Pippin.

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