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C. Meranda Flachs-Surmanek

Degree and Program: Master’s degree candidate in Virginia Tech’s Urban & Regional Planning and Theatre’s: Directing & Public Dialogue programs

Biography: Born and raised in Queens, New York, C. Meranda Flachs-Surmanek (they/them/theirs) is working toward a future where creativity, community building, and care are part of our social fabric. They are a civically-engaged artist, theater maker, urban planner, and skilled facilitator whose work inspires dialogue, connection, and community wellbeing. C. specializes in documentary theater, facilitates community-based story projects, and holds space for healing-centered dialogue. Through their consulting practice, Building Belonging, C. custom designs forums for open creative expression that increase our sense of purpose, belonging, and value in and to our broader communities. As a theater artist with training in urban & regional planning, C. works individually, relationally, and systemically to further equity and justice in the social sector.

C. is an Artist-in-Residence with the Dr. Robert L. A. Keeley Healing Arts Program at Carilion Clinic in Roanoke, VA, and Adjunct Instructor with the Center for Communicating Science at Virginia Tech. They collaborate with the arts-in-healthcare focused ensemble The Clinic Performance and award-winning theater Ping Chong + Company. Their dual-degree master’s in Urban & Regional Planning and Theatre’s Directing & Public Dialogue programs is a first of its kind endeavor at Virginia Tech. 

C. is a recent NEW AESTHETICS Fellow with Theatre Replacement and Visiting Fellow at Skidmore College's MDOCS Storytellers' Institute. They were a SU-CASA Artist-in-Residence with the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Social Practice Artist-in-Residence with ProjectArtFellow at The Performance Project at University SettlementEmergeNYC Fellow at the Hemispheric Institute for Performance & Politics and Fellow with The Art & Law Program. C. has trained with the Anti Oppression Resource & Training Alliance (AORTA), The Art & Law Program, Double Edge Theatre, the Center for Artistic Activism’s Art Action Academy, the Center for Performance and Civic Practice, and New York University's Studio Art and Art & Public Politics Department.

 

As a civic practice artist, C.’s work takes place in public space, hospitals, and community spaces. C.’s work has been presented with numerous cultural institutions, including: Abrons Arts Center (NY), Dixon Place (NY), Goggleworks (PA), Leslie-Lohman Museum (NY), Mitchell Art Gallery (EDM, AB, Canada), The Performance Project (NY)Play Perform Learn Grow (Thessaloniki, Greece), and Theaterlab (NY). Current projects are supported by the Actors Theatre of Louisville and Kentucky Nurses Association; the Center for Communicating Science at Virginia Tech; the Institute for Creativity, Arts and Technology at Virginia Tech, and the Oncology Nursing Foundation.

 

Research interests: Arts in Public Health; Community Cultural Development; Community Health and Wellbeing; Civic Practice; Creative Placemaking and Placekeeping; Documentary Theatre; Devised and Ensemble Theatre; Healing-Centered and Trauma-Informed Facilitation, Methodologies in Research-Creation; Theatre of the Oppressed; Theatrical Jazz; Performed Ethnography

Court "C" Meranda (they/them/theirs), 2022 M.F.A. Candidate (Directing & Public Dialogue) Court “C” Meranda (they/them) is a live artist, theater-maker, and cultural organizer. C creates interactive installations and performances from scratch combining fact and fiction, and often incorporating real people's stories. Their work explores our relationship to the place/s we call home, and often asks: How do we want to be remembered? Personally, C is driven by a curiosity for the way we perform our identities out in the world, and how we perform in our civic discourse. As a creator, facilitator, and longtime educator, C works with people from all backgrounds and sectors to explore ethical storytelling, narrative power, and everyday practices of transformative justice. Their facilitation style blends serious play, healing, liberatory frameworks, and big dreaming. 


C is currently an adjunct Faculty member with the Center for Communicating Science and School of Performing Arts at Virginia Tech, and a dual degree M.F.A./M.S. Candidate in Theatre: Directing & Public Dialogue and Urban & Regional Planning at Virginia Tech. As a collaborating artist with The Clinic Performance, C develops creative experiences designed to support health care professionals in feeling seen, heard, and cared for. They are also a collaborator and teaching artist with Ping Chong + Company, where they develop verbatim theater projects, adapting memoir into collectively weaved performances rooted in cross-cultural connection.

C is a recent NEW AESTHETICS Fellow with Theatre Replacement, Visiting Fellow at Skidmore College's MDOCS Storytellers' Institute, SU-CASA Artist-in-Residence with the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Social Practice Artist-in-Residence with ProjectArt, Fellow at The Performance Project at University Settlement, and EmergeNYC Fellow at the Hemispheric Institute for Performance & Politics. They've studied with The Art & Law Program, the Center for Artistic Activism’s Art Action Academy, and New York University's Art & Public Politics Department. 

A third-generation New Yorker with Ashkenazi Jewish and Sicilian roots, C calls the occupied lands of the Massapequa, Matinecock, and Lenni-Lenape (Queens, NY) home. For more information: www.courtneysurmanek.com.