Rochara Knight, Executive Director
Rochara Knight has been active in the Columbia theatre community since 2009. She has served on the Talking Horse Productions board for 3 years as Vice President and Fundraising Committee Chair prior to stepping in as Executive Director. She holds a MPA in Non-Profit Management from University of Missouri-Columbia.
Rochara has been involved with several theatre projects over the years not only as a performer, but has also served on production teams as an assistant director, stage manager, and costumer. Her most recent roles include Vera Stark in By the Way, Meet Vera Stark, Jacklyn in Rasheeda Speaking, Othello, in Guerl-rilla Theatre’s production of Othello, and Pearl Johnson in Black Pearl Sings. Along with her executive duties, Rochara also assists in producing THP’s annual touring children’s show with Dana Bocke, and is the co-founder and producer of Cabaret for a Cause with friend and fellow performer, Audra Sergel.
Rochara hopes to use her education and experience to continue the mission and vision that Talking Horse was founded on, as well as make sure that the theatre is always an open and welcoming space for all creatives, offering opportunities to those who haven’t had the chance to display their talents in the past.
In addition to her time spent with Talking Horse, Rochara is also a singer and songwriter with her band, The Honey Doves, and works for St. Raymond’s Society, a non-profit organization that assists young mothers in becoming self-sufficient.
Adam Brietzke, Artistic Director
Adam Brietzke returned to Columbia in 2016 for the first time since graduating from Rock Bridge High School in 2004. An actor all his life, Adam participated in community theatre growing up and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Acting from Missouri State University. In addition, Adam also holds accreditations for stage combat and stunt coordination from Fight Directors Canada.
Upon returning to Columbia after a decade spent in multi-unit retail management, Adam was eager to put his leadership and degree to work in Columbia's vibrant performing arts scene. Adam came to Talking Horse Productions in 2016 to portray Cal in Mothers and Sons under the direction of Carol Esty and instantly fell in love with the theatre's mission to produce artistic, thought-provoking, contemporary drama in the heart of Missouri.
Similar to Talking Horse Productions founder, Ed Hanson, Adam is particularly interested in new, original works and projects having originated two roles in 2018: Louie in Louie, Louie and Le Dolce Vita and Eric in The Wedding Present. Adam is always looking for new opportunities and partnerships for the theatre such as independent cabarets and children's theatre.
In addition to his time with the theatre, Adam also works with the non-profit group Institute for People, Place, & Possibility (IP3) where he assists other non-profit groups locate and research data for their organizational needs.
Ed Hanson, the founder of Talking Horse Productions, has called Columbia, MO home since 1978. A retired music educator, Ed launched his professional acting career in 2008 and began THP in late 2011. He holds two degrees from the University of Missouri: a B.S. in Music Education and an M.M. in Vocal Performance.
Since starting professional work in the theatre, Ed has worked for companies in Missouri, Kansas, Arizona, Mississippi, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. While his formal training is in singing, he loves acting in dramas and comedies as well as musicals. New, original projects are of special interest to Ed. He originated the role of THE MAN in a new musical called “Generation Why” for the Journeyman Theatre Co. in Kansas City back in August of 2011. Since starting THP, Ed has performed the role of Horace Vandergelder in HELLO, DOLLY! with the Oxford Shakespeare Festival in Oxford, MS in June of 2013, and is occasionally seen as a Guest Artist at Stephens College and the Lyceum in Arrow Rock, as well as on the Talking Horse stage.
Back in the 1980s, Ed managed Maplewood Barn Community Theatre, a Columbia outdoor theater-in-the-park. His duties included handling publicity, scheduling, programs, advertising sales, box office, grant writing, and other assorted tasks. This experience is now being used as the Executive and Artistic Director for Talking Horse Productions. Our venue is located at 210 Saint James Street, in the North Village Arts District in Columbia. An intimate 70-seat black box facility, Talking Horse Theatre provides a terrific setting for a variety of theatre and other artistic projects.
Art Smith, President
Serves on the board of directors and is a commercial photographer in Columbia, MO. He grew up on the East coast (New York and Pennsylvania), and went to school at the University of Delaware, where he picked up a B.S. and M.S. in Chemistry and an M.S. in Computer Science. He met his wife, Amanda, there (square dancing, of all things!) and they were married in 1983. After school, Art and Amanda moved to St. Louis where Art worked as a programmer for two small companies. During most of the 23 years Art spent as a programmer, his photography itch sat dormant, but that changed when Amanda got him a (then) new-fangled digital camera in 2001. The interest became a hobby, and then something more serious when a room of the house was converted to a photo studio, and Art started accepting paying photo shoots on a part-time basis. In late 2007, with the economy looking good, some windfalls coming through, and 50 staring him in the face, Art started making plans to quit his job at the University and pursue photography full time. Since that time, the economy has tanked and started to recover, the windfalls have been consumed and forgotten, and 50 has come and gone, and, somehow, Art is still taking pictures at his downtown Columbia studio, and, more amazingly, his wife is still with him. In addition to his work, Art enjoys reading and writing, and music. He has been a municipal liaison for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for the last two Novembers and hosts weekly write-ins at the studio year-round, and also plays tuba with the ShowMe Brass Band, a ten-to-twelve piece brass ensemble. He serves on the board of the VistA Expertise Network, a Seattle-based non-profit organization which assists hospitals and other organizations that have adopted VistA, the VA’s health information system which is publicly available. He is also a member of Columbia Northwest Rotary. A fan of all performing and visual arts, Art is the photographer for Talking Horse Productions and also for the Maplewood Barn Theatre, and is a member of the Columbia Art League. Art and Amanda live in Millersburg (ten miles east of Columbia), and have one adult son, Michael, living in Nashua, NH.
Lorrie Evelyn Furrer, Secretary
Lorrie Evelyn Furrer has been a Board member since 2013. Lorrie has acted in and directed shows in St. Louis and mid-Missouri, including several stage appearances at Talking Horse. Her backstage activities include costume construction, props, set dressing, stage management, fundraising, and box office duties. Lorrie is particularly proud of serving on the committee for the Starting Gate New Play Festival since its inception in 2015. She obtained her degree in Theatre Literature from Smith College in 1980, taught children’s theatre classes at the Theatre Guild of Webster Groves, and was a member of the Board of River City Theatre in Rocheport, Missouri. She has worked in radio broadcasting, has taught middle school English and preschool, and now works in Community Relations for the City of Columbia. Lorrie is thoroughly committed to advancing the Talking Horse mission of producing high-quality, character-driven plays that allow the audience to connect with the actors and the storylines in rich and meaningful ways.
Tim Ireland, Treasurer
Serves on the board of directors and is a professor of business at Columbia College, right up the street from the Berlin Theatre. He has been at Columbia College since 1990. Tim is a lover of the Arts, although he doesn’t profess to any talent whatsoever. This is his first stint as a board member of an arts organization, and he is loving it! He primarily teaches courses in accounting and international business.
Meg Phillips Crespy, Board Member
Serves on the board of directors and is a writer, director and performer. Directing credits include Rent, the Diary of Anne Frank, Bent and Other Desert Cities. Favorite roles include Susy in Wait Until Dark, Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors and the Baker's Wife in Into the Woods, for which she received a Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival nomination. As a playwright, Meg has had works performed in regional theatres across the county and as part of Cherry Lane Theatre's Tongue Series in New York. For THP, Meg has been a performer and set designer, and she wrote THP's fall 2014 children's touring play. Her newest full-length play, Mostly Sweet, had its world premiere at THP in June, 2015.
Monica Palmer, Board Member
Monica Palmer is pleased to have found her creative home at Talking Horse Productions. In addition to playing Alice in last year’s Clever Little Lies, Monica also appeared in the ensemble of Sweeney Toddand 2017’s The Lyons as Rita. You may also have seen Monica perform with The Stable Boys, THP’s Long-Form Improv troupe. In real life, Monica is the Communications Manager for Feeding Missouri, the association of food banks in Missouri. Monica gives much love to her family for supporting her theatre habit, and endless thanks to her cast and crew for their passion and artistry through this process.
Nathan O'Neil, Board Member
Carol Denninghoff, Board Member
Carol Denninghoff, a native Missourian, has lived in Columbia since 1958 and has been an active member of the real estate community since 1975. She is a founding partner of House of Brokers Realty, Inc. and is a member of the Columbia and National Boards of Realtors. Over her years as a Realtor, she has earned the designations of Certified Residential Specialist, and Accredited Buyer's Representative. In her spare time, Carol enjoys attending plays, concerts and movies, traveling, playing bridge, and is involved in the music and art community in Columbia. She has one daughter, Caroline Casati, who lives and works in New York.
Alana Barragan-Scott, Vice President
Alana Barragan-Scott grew up in St. Louis and has lived in Columbia since the 1980’s when she met her husband to-be in a class at MU. She is a lawyer and worked for the State of Missouri in the executive and judicial branches for almost 24 years. She has also taught at the MU School of Law and most recently served the Federal judiciary branch. She became involved in mid-Missouri theatre after seeing how much her three children enjoyed it, and has acted and sung in almost three dozen plays, musicals, and singing ensembles. When she is not in a show, she enjoys reading, and her latest hobby, learning to play the violin. She previously served for six years on the Board of the Maplewood Barn Community Theatre, and is happy to have joined the Talking Horse Board in 2016.