Monica Hunken grew up on the coast of California and then skipped over to New York City in 2001, where she started her first day of acting school at NYU on September 11th, immediately politicizing her theatrical endeavors from then on. She started a radical street theater group, volunteered as an acting teacher at homeless shelters, organized anti-war rallies and teach-ins, began working with the bicycle advocacy organization- Time’s-Up! and the local rights performance community-Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping.
She received her BFA in Drama from the Experimental Theater Wing at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts with a Minor in Applied Theater in 2004, winning a Tisch Award for Community Connections and was selected for the ETW International Summer Program in Amsterdam. Before she attended grad school, Monica volunteered in Ranote, Thailand teaching English and helping repair a flooded school and in Bangalore, India where she taught at a boys’ orphanage for three months. Her first solo international travels created an appetite for adventure she has yet to satiate.
Monica received her MA in Educational Theater from NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education in 2005, in which she completed her Master’s with the Community-Engaged Theater Program at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. Monica continued to teach and design arts-in-education programs throughout NYC boroughs and then set out to further explore the world; starting with a tour across the US with the Reverend Billy Choir filming the Morgan Spurloch documentary, What Would Jesus Buy?, back to California and to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with Not Man Apart Theater Company touring a dance theater version of Shakespeare’s Pericles, creating puppet parades with Bread and Puppet in the farms of Vermont, to an international festival in Ecuador with The Living Theatre, biking across Portugal, Spain and Poland.
Monica has developed her personal process of generating performance material from her travel adventures. Her first solo show, Reading the Water, also a collaboration with Director, Laura Newman, came out of an investigative journey up California to learn about her scientist father who died mysteriously from chemical exposure at his work. It was initially accepted into and produced at HERE Arts Center’s American Living Room Festival, and has continued to be produced- at the Puffin Foundation Solo Festival, and most recently as part of the movement against toxic gas drilling. Monica has used the piece to inform audiences about the dangerous extraction process by pairing it with segments of Gasland- Josh Fox’s new documentary and collaborating with non-profit NYH2O with performances at The Living Theatre and upstate in Otsego County.
Her latest show, Blondie of Arabia,about Monica’s solo bike tour through four countries in the Middle East, was self-produced at the Living Theater for a sold out run with plans to show it again in the fall and tour it on bicycle through Europe in the Spring of 2011.
Monica’s next play is about her bicycle trip across Poland to find the story of her experimental theater director eccentric grandfather, an expedition which led to squatter punk encounters and a workshop from one of the last remaining members of Jerzy Grotowski’s original company.
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