John and Eric at West High School

Lead Deviser: John Cruz completed his Bachelor’s in Marketing at Universidad Central Colombia in 2004, his Master’s in Spanish Literature from St. John’s University in 2012, where he also earned a Graduate Certificate in Latin American and Caribbean Studies in 2013. He is now a Ph.D. candidate in Contemporary Latin American Literary and Cultural Studies at OSU. His main areas of research are visual culture, consumer culture, gender issues, and performance, with emphasis on gender-based violence, and media. He brings an interdisciplinary approach to the study of gendered violence in film and visual culture in Latin America. He is also a performer, having participated in theater and other performing arts from a young age in Colombia.

Co-Deviser: Eric Brinkman is a PhD candidate at Ohio State, practicing Buddhist, and Shakespeare nerd. He recently co-directed The Comedy of Errors for the Ohio State Theatre department and is returning to London this summer to interview several Shakespeare directors, but his current scholarly work focuses on using affect and queer theory to open up the interpretive possibilities of Shakespearean production to be more inclusive of sexual, racial, and gender difference.

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John explains that the West High group has been exploring, “issues related to safety, opportunities, and diversity.” John recounted there were some unique challenges in trying to engage high school students in a performative project, especially in a year of lockdowns and increased tension due to shooting and violence in schools. John reflects that it has been difficult to gain their trust, because “teenagers really need someone that truly cares about them, who will really listen to them.”

Community Partner: West High School (179 S. Powell Avenue Columbus, OH 43204) West High is the Home of the Cowboys. In their own words: “The West High School community is united to honor diversity and to inspire innovative student exploration, in a trusting and collaborative environment.” School Motto: Bring Your Best to West EVERY Day! (

Workshop photos and post created by Josh Truett.