The Artists

Gemma Cooper-Novack (book, lyrics), Gemma Cooper-Novack is a writer, writing coach, and arts educator who lived in New York, Chicago, and Pokuase, Ghana before moving to Boston. Her play Blindside, directed by Laura Blegen, was produced in Chicago in 2008. In the spring of 2008 Gemma was one of seven playwrights who created American Theatre Company’s inaugural Chicago Chronicle Project, and her adaptation of The Book of Esther for children was a staple of young people’s Purim celebrations at Chicago’s Anshe Emet Synagogue for several years. Her poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in more than a dozen journals, including Amethyst Arsenic, Ballard Street Poetry Journal (Pushcart Prize nomination), Cider Press Review, Hanging Loose, Lyre Lyre, NASPA Knowledge Communities, Printer’s Devil Review, The Saint Ann’s Review, Santa Fe Writers’ Project, Spry, and Tampa Review Online. She has been awarded artists’ residencies Can Serrat Centro de Actividades Artísticas in Catalonia, the Betsy Hotel Writer’s Room in Miami Beach, and betterArts in northern New York, and enjoys baking cookies and walking on stilts in her spare time.

Joshua Tyra is the composer of numerous songs and instrumental pieces and is active in theater as a musical director, arranger, and piano accompanist. At the age of 17, he wrote the book, music, and lyrics for Four Points to Live By: A Sophomoric Musical, which was produced by his high school drama club in 1997. His second musical The Romance of the Rose (2001, revised 2006) received a workshop production at the University of Chicago’s University Theater and won the Elsie F. Filippi Memorial Prize in Poetry. He provided musical direction and additional vocal and orchestral arrangements for The Pirates of Penzance (2013), produced and directed the inaugural workshop production of Sense and Sensibility: A Comic Opera (2012), and played piano/keyboard for She Loves Me (2011) and The Fantasticks (2010), all at Trinity International University. He lives in Deerfield, Illinois, where he is currently pursuing a PhD in Hebrew Bible and ancient Near Eastern languages at TIU. He teaches French, Arabic, and assorted other ancient and modern languages, and his research interests include comparative Semitic and Ancient Egyptian linguistics.