Artists and Residence Bio

Artist in Residence Bio

Bonnie Wai-Lee Kwong is a poet, playwright, and performer whose work traverses seen and unseen geographies.  She has lived in nine states and two continents and creates in many languages: English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, ruby, and javascript.  Her work in poetry and fiction has garnered six Pushcart nominations.  Her first book of poetry, ravel, is a finalist for prizes by White Pine Press and New Rivers Press

Ravel delves into history through her family’s experiences, from the narrative poems describing her mother’s journey as an undocumented immigrant from mainland China to colonial Hong Kong to more abstract explorations, such as her Pushcart nominated poems on maps and motion, “Cartographies” and “A Portrait of Winds.”

The Oakland Asian Cultural Center has featured Bonnie in two poetry readings: the first with Janice Mirikitani, and again with Arlene Biala, for the first public delivery of Bonnie’s poem “Contraband” and the launch of OACC’s inaugural zine “I Am Here.”

Lately, Bonnie has been splitting her time between coding in Oakland for a progressive national political website and meeting collaborators in dance, theater, and music at Stanford for the outdoor staging of her theatrical adaptation of the Narcissus myth ‘Liriope’ in Spring 2018.    She is scheduled to deliver poetry performances at UC Berkeley in Spring and Fall 2018 as the recipient of a grant from the UC Critical Refugee Studies Collective.


Cleavon Smith is an Oakland Playwright and Professor in the English department of Berkeley City College. Cleavon Smith’s Vs. premiered in Berkeley, CA during the 2016-17 season at TheatreFirst. He won a PlayGround Emerging Playwright Award for his short play “You Eat What You Kill” in 2012 and has had new work featured in UC Berkeley’s New Play Reading Series and Ohlone Playwrights Festival. He has also published short stories and contributed to Nine Lives: Uncovering the Wealth of Life Stories Within Our Nursing Homes. Cleavon lives in Oakland and teaches English at Berkeley City College and is an artist mentor for Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Young Writers of Color Collective. His latest project, Just One Day a play inspired by the troubles stirred with the first national observation of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in a small town in Mississippi, will run in February 2018 at Live Oak Theatre in Berkeley.

Michael Mansfield’s interest focuses specifically on the intersection point of theater, ritual, and education; from there, he seeks to make art that does justice. He brings 40 years of dance and theater training, performing, teaching, writing, choreographing, and directing experience to his work. He taught, administrated, and created civic celebrations full-time in Oakland colleges and universities from 1994-2008. He currently administrates and teaches in the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies at the University of California Berkeley. His courses explore interactive theater, acting for social change, and Augusto Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed techniques and pedagogy. He directs Berkeley Interactive Theater, a team of actors/teaching artists, delivering countless dramatic programs to departments, colleges, libraries, medical schools, and conferences, addressing the complex arenas of race, class, sexuality, ability, status, and religion across the state. In the mornings, he teaches dance throughout the Bay Area as a guest artist in the schools with LEAP Arts in Education. In the evenings, he works with Aurora Theatre Company and The Marsh Theater with education programs and theater management. He has a kinesthetic bias.