Category Archives: Events

FULL CIRCLE TOURS “THEATER: A SACRED PASSAGE” Showcasing Diverse Artists’ Paths to a Life on Stage @ CHAT!

Join us for Full Circle’s “Theater: A Sacred Passage” FREE show at CHAT’s Studio 220!

WHEN? Thursday, April 14, 6PM

WHERE? CHAT Studio 220, 995 University Avenue, 2nd Floor, Saint Paul, MN 55104



Five St. Paul community based organizations and venues will benefit this April from Full Circle Theater Company’s tour of their play, “Theater: A Sacred Passage,” supported by a Knight Arts Challenge grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

“Theater: A Sacred Passage” is an original performance piece devised by the five core artists of Full Circle from their personal journeys into theater. Their stories embody the challenges and transformational experiences they have had in becoming theater artists and how their lives and work reflect the huge changes in our theater community over the past two decades. The artists/playwrights are Rick Shiomi, James Williams, Martha Johnson, Lara Trujillo and Stephanie Lein Walseth. The play premiered in November 2015 at Dreamland Arts, directed by Rick Shiomi and dramaturgy by Martha Johnson, and features acting, storytelling, choreography and music.

“With our personal stories performed on stage, we hope to inspire youth and adults from diverse backgrounds to feel confident that they have the right and power to enter the theater world, that they can have the talent and calling to pursue a career in theater,” said co-artistic director Rick Shiomi.

Specifically, with this grant, Full Circle’s production of “Theater: A Sacred Passage” will engage audience members, through experiencing the play, post-show discussions and workshops, to share their experiences and perspectives on the issues of diversity and inclusiveness in theater and society, exploring how to support each other in the larger cultural context of society.

Performances will be presented at:

  • Four St. Paul neighborhood venues: The Wilder Foundation, East Side Freedom Library, Neighborhood House Teen Resource Center, and CHAT (Center for Hmong Arts and Talent).
  • Dreamland Arts in St. Paul for three additional public performances, April 22-24.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion expert Gordon Nakagawa attended “Theater: A Sacred Passage” last November as an independent audience member, and he was moved to write of his experience: “Comprised of life stories and ‘passages,’ Theater: A Sacred Passage attests to the bracing power of narrative to move, teach, and inspire… Rarely have these intersections among historical, social, political, cultural and personal contingencies been so movingly and provocatively realized in staged performances as they are in “Sacred Passage”.

The ten cast members are: Emily Grodzik, Marisa Carr, Lara Trujillo, Siddeeqah Shabazz, Allen Malicsi, Matthew Thompson, Song Kim, John Stephens, Katelin DeLorenzo and Marcos Lopez.

About Full Circle Theater

Full Circle was founded in the spring of 2015, by co-artistic directors Rick Shiomi and Martha Johnson. The mission of Full Circle is to produce heartfelt groundbreaking theater that artfully addresses issues of diversity and social justice for 21st century audiences. One of our core values is to produce theater that is multiracial and multicultural in its representation of life, and theater that is deeply inclusive of artists of color who share in the artistic leadership of the company. We also value theater that is deeply aware of feminist perspectives, that cultivates emerging artists, and that incorporates intergenerational artistic collaboration. We further value the creation of theater pieces based on personal narrative.

Full Circle Artists/Playwrights

Rick Shiomi (co-artistic director) received the 2015 McKnight Distinguished Artist Award and the Ivey Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2012, and was a founding member and the artistic director of Mu Performing Arts for twenty years.

Martha Johnson (co-artistic director) was co-artistic director of 21st Street Players in the 1980s, was a founding and core member of Mu Performing Arts, and directed and taught theater at Augsburg College for many years.

James Williams (artistic associate) is an award winning actor who has performed on Broadway and at major regional theaters and for several decades in Twin Cities theaters such as Penumbra, Mixed Blood, and the Guthrie. He has received several Ivey Awards and a 2015 McKnight Theater Artist Fellowship.

Lara Trujillo (artistic associate) has performed with numerous Twin Cities theater and music theater companies including the Minnesota Opera, the Ordway, Pantages, Mu Performing Arts, History Theater and Teatro del Pueblo.

Stephanie Lein Walseth (artistic associate) has worked as artist, educator, scholar, and administrator at such theaters as Penumbra, Mixed Blood, and Mu Performing Arts. She was an August Wilson Fellow at Penumbra Theatre and recently received her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in Theatre Historiography. She is the Director of Inquiry at Penumbra Theatre.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that the arts are a catalyst for public dialogue and that shared cultural experiences contribute to a sense of place and communal identity. To learn more, visit

About Community Venues

Amherst H Wilder Foundation   April 12

451 Lexington Parkway North | Saint Paul, MN 55104

The Amherst H. Wilder Foundation is a non-profit community organization that helps children, families and older adults in the greater St. Paul and East Metro area through direct service programs, research, leadership development and community building. The performance will be for the Youth Leadership Initiative program.

Center for Hmong Arts and Talent (CHAT) April 14

995 University Ave W, Suite 220, Saint Paul, MN 55104

The Center for Hmong Arts & Talent (CHAT), the first Hmong arts organization in the United States, exists to nurture, explore and illuminate the Hmong American experience through artistic expressions.CHAT envisions a vibrant community where Hmong American artists are inspired to share their perspectives, valued for their creative contributions, and empowered to challenge life’s boundaries.

East Side Freedom Library April 17 – Performance Open to the Public, 4:00 p.m.

1105 Greenbrier St., St. Paul. MN 55106

The East Side Freedom Library (ESFL) mission is to inspire solidarity, advocate for justice and work toward equity for all. ESFL has its home in the former Arlington Hills library, one of St. Paul’s historic Carnegie library buildings at 1105 Greenbrier Street, located in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood. The library houses non-circulating research collections that appeal to interested general learners as well as scholars, with innovative databases and finding aids that make using the collections fun and vital.

Neighborhood House   April 19

Wellstone Center, 179 Robie Street East · St. Paul, MN 55107

Neighborhood House helps people with basic needs, education, multiple youth programs, and health and well-being. Its mission is to help people, families and organizations develop the skills, knowledge and confidence to thrive in diverse communities. Its Youth Leadership Programs offer new opportunities to develop skills, supportive relationships, and a positive self-image in a safe, nurturing setting. The Teen Resource Center (TRC)is where youth, ages 12-18, develop positive relationships with adults, find homework help, a positive social network, and support for whatever is happening in their lives.

Dreamland Arts April 22 -24 – Performances Open to the Public (see below for dates)

677 Hamline Ave. N., St. Paul, MN 55104

The mission of Dreamland Arts is to build a healthy community through the arts. Its goals are to provide high quality arts programming in an intimate, accessible, community-friendly environment. It offers arts-related activities to a neighborhood that is committed to having more of it and seeks to operate a dynamic business built around their individual talents and skills as performers, teachers and producers.

Purchase Dreamland Arts Tickets At:


Listing of Dreamland Arts Shows:

Friday, April 22 at 7:30 pm

Saturday, April 23 at 7:30 pm

Sunday, April 24 at 2 pm


Full Circle Theater Company, Contact Rick Shiomi at 612-327-5223

Theater: A Sacred Passage,
is supported by a Knight Arts Challenge grant from the
John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Snapshots from Fresh Traditions IX Fashion Show

Missed out on this year’s Fresh Traditions Fashion Show​? Or want a review of the designs?

The designs are available for viewing, thanks to Elle Photography!

Visit the link below:

IN CONVERSATION: An Artist Talk with Kao Lee Thao, Tou Yia Xiong & Sieng Lee




Illustration, Graphic Design, Animation, Sculpture, Installation, Public Art. These are the varied artforms practiced by three Hmong American Artists whose work holds a common tendency to push boundaries while honoring cultural roots. Join and listen as they present their work, and converse about the current and future state of Digital, Technology-Based, and Public Art in the Hmong Community.
In Conversation; An Artist Talk with Kao Lee Thao, Tou Yia Xiong & Sieng Lee
When? Thursday, November 19 at 7PM
Where? CHAT Studio 220, 995 University Ave (Second Floor), Saint Paul, MN
This is a free event. All ages are welcome.
Light snacks and beverages will be served.
RSVPing is recommended.  Do so @
ABOUT KAO LEE THAO: Kao Lee Thao began her journey when her mother crossed the Mekong River while she was cradled in her womb. Her family escaped to America in 1976 with only $5 in their pocket to begin a new life; settling in La Crescent, Minnesota. Kao Lee’s arrival to the world created another journey for her mother across the Mississippi River to give birth in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Water and travel have become central ideas in her paintings. Her work is infused with an expressively fluid style that allows viewers to travel into the past and see the echo of Hmong folktales, themes, and patterns passed down verbally from generation to generation in the Hmong culture.
“Art is an inspired Echo of human existence.”
For more information about Kao Lee Thao, visit
ABOUT TOU YIA XIONG: Tou Yia Xiong is an illustrator and designer working across multiple creative disciplines. He has experience in graphic design, game development, and product design. By day he is an award-winning children’s toy designer at The Manhattan Toy Company. By night, he is a creative ninja, doing freelance work, exploring art community engagements, and tinkering on personal and collaborative projects. When he is not creating, he enjoys playing frisbee with his dog Momo!
For more information about Tou Yia Xiong, visit
ABOUT SIENG LEE: Sieng Lee is a graphic designer and current MCAD graduate student. His focus is on identity and utilizing the principles of graphic design, such as empathy in his self exploration through art.
Recently Sieng was one of the featured artist who participated in a local art show called The Travelers, displaying his work with other contemporary Hmong American artist in the twin cities metropolitan area. Sieng poses many cultural questions of identity and existence to young Hmong Americans such as himself who are in the midst of cultural transition.
For more information on Sieng Lee, visit
ABOUT CHAT: CHAT exists to nurture, explore and illuminate the Hmong American experience through artistic expressions. CHAT envisions a vibrant community where Hmong American artists are inspired to share their perspectives, valued for their creative contributions, and empowered to challenge life’s boundaries.
For more information about CHAT, visit
ABOUT Northern Lights is a roving, collaborative, interactive media-oriented, art agency from the Twin Cities for the world. It presents innovative art in the public sphere, both physical and virtual, focusing on artists creatively using technology, both old and new, to engender new relations between audience and artwork and more broadly between citizenry and their built environment.
Northern Lights supports global and local artists working particularly at the intersection of disciplines to freely create new work that excites the senses, explores ideas that matter, and re-imagines ways of energetic engagement among artists, institutions, sites, and audiences.
For more about, visit
Brought to you by Center for Hmong Arts & Talent (CHAT),, and the Jerome Foundation.