Stage & Stanza


Sheilah London and Ira Eugene McKinley

September 23, 7:00pm

A virtual program, join at this link.

The Theatre Institute at Sage and Opalka Gallery, in partnership with local poet and playwright, Carol Durant, will host the fifth installment of their bimonthly theater and poetry series, Stage & Stanza, to highlight local and national figures in the theatre and poetry fields whose work has meaningful connections to current events. On Thursday, Sept. 23 at 7:00 p.m. Stage & Stanza honors two people making a difference in the Capital Region: actor and director Sheilah London and director and writer Ira Eugene McKinley. A cast of local performers, poets, and writers will help celebrate the honorees.

About Sheilah London:

Sheilah London, Board President of Black Theater Performance Troupe of Upstate New York. Sheilah is one of the Capital Region’s very own gems. She is a recent retiree of the New York State Department of Health after 38 years of public health service. Sheilah is the proud mother of two: a son Darryl and daughter Ariel, who are the center of her joy!

Sheilah is no stranger to the arts, in addition to acting she is actively involved in music ministry and leadership at Sweet Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, her home church of 20 yrs, located in Albany, New York. Sheilah is a valued and active member of Black Theatre Troupe of Upstate New York formerly known as “Soul Rebel Performance Troupe” (SRPT) since the spring of 2011. Sheilah has executed many roles: actor, assistant director, make-up, stage/props management, vocal coach, PR, and administrative duties. Sheilah has performed throughout the Capital Region, surrounding cities, and New England markets, performing in both on and off-stage productions, commercials, infomercials, voice overs and stage readings. One of her favorite and most memorable stage performances was a dual role and vocal soundtrack with Capital Repertory Theater’s production of “The Trip to Bountiful.”

Sheilah’s love and joy for the arts both off and on stage is linked with the mission and vision of (BTTUNY) shared by our board members, to highlight and promote inclusiveness, educational performance and theatrical pieces by artists of color in Upstate NY, exposing them to all the many aspects of theatre. Making sure that there is a space for young people of color to learn and perfect their craft, while gaining the necessary basic experience needed to succeed.

About Ira Eugene McKinley:

Ira Eugene McKinley is a filmmaker, producer, director, documentarian and activist. His first film, The Throwaways is his impactful story of mass incarceration, police brutality, homelessness and long term activism. Filmed prior to the events in Ferguson, Missouri and the Black Lives Matter movement; it features Michelle Alexander, esteemed author of the tome, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness 

In 2013, The Throwaways won The Martin Luther King Jr. & Coretta Scott King, Recognition Award For Non Violent Activism given by Siena College. Mr. McKinley has also won Producer of the Year from Northampton Community Television in Northampton, Massachusetts and an ACLU award for activism.

Ira has a brand new documentary called Outta the Muck. It’s the story of a black family with their struggles and achievements in Pahokee, Florida. Outta the Muck is another directorial collaborative effort with another talented filmmaker Bhawin Suchak of Youth FX. Mr. McKinley is currently editing his film for PBS and writing his memoir.

About Stage & Stanza

Carol Durant is a poet, author, playwright and event host. She is an actor and stage manager most recently with the Black Theatre Troupe of Upstate New York. She has a M.A in Africana Studies from University at Albany. She is the founder and host of Outliers Poetry Brunch, which is a monthly poetry brunch at Eden Cafe in Loudonville and online. She is a longstanding board member of Capital Region Sponsor-A-Scholar. Durant’s newest book is Cold Pressed and Just Brewed Poetry. Her first book, Whole Phat and Gluten Free Poetry was published in 2017. Her play, Center of Lying Down was recently cast and performed on Zoom by Quarantine e-Theater, as a wildly successful fundraiser for Black Theatre Troupe of Upstate New York.

David Baecker is Managing Director of the Theatre Institute at Sage and Associate Professor of Theatre at Russell Sage College. He is also a communications coach with the New York State Defenders Association. Locally, he has directed readings and/or productions for Saratoga Shakespeare Company, the Rensselaer County Historical Society, Troy Foundry Theatre, Theater Voices, and the New York State Theatre Institute. Baecker has an M.F.A. in Acting from Florida State University and a B.A. in Theatre from Washington University in St. Louis.

Theatre Institute at Sage. Established in February of 2011, the Theatre Institute at Sage is dedicated to providing quality live theatre and arts-in-education programming to Capital Region youth, educators and residents. The Institute also provides opportunities for Russell Sage students as performers, technicians and teachers.