Our Team



Kelley nicole girod

Executive Director & Founder

Kelley Nicole Girod is the founder and Executive Producing Director of Obie Award winning, The Fire This Time Festival.  She is a 2008 graduate of Columbia's MFA playwriting program where she was a Stein and Liberace Fellow, as well as a John Golden Fellow. Her plays reflect the rich world of her native Louisiana and include Ambrosia, Straight on til Morning, Poetics of the Creative Process, Parabolas, and Watching. She was named Nytheatre.com Person of the Year for her work on TFTT, and is a part of the Indie Theatre Hall of Fame. As a producer her credits include Israela Margalit's Get Me A Guy, and Night Blooming Jasmine (both at Horse Trade Theater); Louisiana Mon Amour (Women Center Stage at Culture Project); Thais Francis's Outcry (Horse Trade Theater, Jack). She is a mother to two beautiful daughters, Penelope Evelyn and Noelle Anamaria. 




Zhailon Levingston is a performing artist, writer and producer living in New York City. He received his BFA in Musical Theatre from AMDA college in Los Angeles where he co- wrote and produced the musical "16 Bars".   Zhailon made his professional stage debut in the Los Angeles premier of The Christians (pastor Joshua u/s) at the Mark Taper Forum. He made his NY stage debut in the 2016 New York Musical Theatre Festival performance of Illa: a Hip Hop Musical. After the death of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille, Zhailon started an arts and activism campaign called "Words on White". It's journey can be followed on his website, Youngamazingsouls.com, an online space for millennials he started this year. Zhailon can be seen in the Warby Parker ad campaign "A Thousand Pieces of Candy" and the independent film, The Stand.


Germono Toussaint

Founding Playwright

Germono Toussaint is a playwright, composer, arranger, lyricist, and the founder of A Mile In My Shoes Inc. In 2005, Germono wrote and produced Caged, a theater piece based on interviews he conducted with thirteen women in a halfway house. Caged premiered at the Broadway Theater Center in Milwaukee and was featured in the Not for Broadway Theater Festival in New York City in 2006. Germono’s play The Anointed was featured in The Fire This Time Festival in 2010. As an active composer and arranger, Toussaint has transcribed original music for Katori Hall, Inc, Daniel Beaty Productions, Inc, Dr. Dorothy Productions, and Common Thread Theater. He has composed music for Skylight Opera Theatre, Handful Players, Fishgrease Productions, Diversity Players of Harlem, and New Dramatist’s Nocturnal Commissions. Toussaint has a BFA in composition. 



Cezar Williams

Artistic director

Cezar Williams is a director, actor, dramaturge, and producer.  Stage directing credits include the Off-Broadway premiere of Dancing on Eggshells (Billie Holiday Theatre), Free Will (The Arthur Seelen Theatre), Ghost Town and Tailypo (Detroit NY Festival), Lunchtime in Heaven (48 hours in Harlem), Nightfall and Slow Gin Fits (The Fire This Time Festival). He has worked at venues including The Actor’s Studio, Williamstown Theater Festival, 59 e.59 Summer Shorts, La Mama, The Cherry Lane, Bleeker Street Theater, The National Black Theatre Festival, The New York International Fringe Festival, Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, HERE Performing Arts, The Cell Theatre and the Kraine Theater. Cezar is a proud graduate of New York University where he was a Martin Luther King Jr. Scholar award winner. He is also the co-founder of Robinson Williams Productions, a theater production company based in Yonkers, NY. For professional inquiries contact him at cezar@cezarwilliams.com.



Cynthia G. Robinson

Director of TFtT New Works Lab

Cynthia G. Robinson is a Playwright, Educator, and Producer.
Plays include: Dancing on Eggshells (The Billie Holiday Theatre);
Peola’s Passing (New Perspectives Theatre Company); Nightfall (The
Fire This Time Festival); Gold Star Mother (EstroGenius Festival);
Ascension (National Black Theatre Festival; FringeNYC); Thunder: A
Musical Memoir (FringeNYC); When Night Falls (Inktank/Rising
Circle Theater Collective). Honors include: Semi-finalist, Eugene
O’Neill National Playwrights Conference 2017; AUDELCO
Recognition Award for Excellence in Black Theatre; Finalist, Samuel
French Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival; Calvin B. Grimes
Scholar-in- Residence (NYU); Tribeca All-Access Open Stage; Best
New Play IRNE nomination (Ascension). Member of League of
Professional Theatre Women and Dramatists Guild of America, Inc.


Derek Lee Mcphatter

Founding Playwright 

Derek Lee McPhatter is a dramatic writer, producer and part of the artistic leadership of Under the Spell Productions (co-producer). Plays include: Undercover on Another Day of Absence (featured in Harlem 9's 2011 48 Hours in Harlem Festival); The Lattice Crashes (The Tank / Harlem Stage), Bring the Beat Back (Freedom Train Productions), A Better Destiny for Bethany (Horse Trade's The Drafts Fest); and two Fire This Time Festival plays, Citizen Jane and On Troubled Waters. He is a Harlem Arts Alliance/Columbia University Dramatic Writing Fellow, in partnership with New Heritage Theatre. He holds a BA in English from Morehouse College, and a Master's in Humanities from NYU. 






Associate Producer & Director of TFTT new works lab

A.J. Muhammad has a background in audience development, arts administration, dramaturgy and library public services. He has dramaturged many productions directed by the educator, activist and director Dr. Daniel Banks in New York City, regionally and internationally. Along with Neyda Martinez he co-developed and implemented the pilot phase of the New Audience Project, an initiative to develop and train Latina cultural ambassadors in support of Latino arts institutions through arts immersion, workforce development and micro-entrepreneurism. The New Audience Project received a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation and was incubated at The Fire This Time Festival's East 4th St. neighbor Teatro Circulo. A.J. also completed the Artist Manager Program (AMP) training program at The Field. 




James Masciovecchio is a Brooklyn Based Director. Recent Credits include 'The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui', 'Gruesome Playground Injuries', 'Touch, and 'Row After Row' all for Cave Theatre Co. Where he serves as Artistic Director. He has spent the past three years as the Production Manager for The Fire This Time Festival. www.JamesMasciovecchio.com

Kevin R. Free

Consulting Producer

Kevin R. Free is a writer-performer who has told stories on NPR, Dana Rossi's the Soundtrack Series and on the mainstage at The Moth. He has also performed Off-Broadway at The York, The Gramercy, and The New Federal Theatre, and regionally at CENTERSTAGE, The Kennedy Center, Paper Mill Playhouse, and in concert with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. An alumnus of the New York Neo-Futurists, he wrote over 60 short plays for Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind, and 2 full-length Neo-Futurist plays, (Not) Just A Day Like Any Other, (co-written with Christopher Borg, Jeffrey Cranor, and Eevin Hartsough), and You are in an open field (co-written with Adam Smith, Marta Rainer, Eevin Hartsough, and Carl Riehl). His 10-minute plays, ...in which Bishop Eddie Long loses a battle with his demons... and The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual premiered at Sticky at Bowery Poetry Club and The Fire This Time Festival, respectively. He was just named a 2012 New Black Fest Playwriting Fellow. One of nytheatre.com's People of the year in 2010, his full-length plays, Face Value and A Raisin in the Salad: Black Plays for White People, were published by indietheaternow.com.

Twitter: @kevinrfree.








Erez Ziv

Erez Ziv (Co-Founder/Managing Director) has joyfully dedicated over a decade of his life to creating an entirely self sustaining off-off-Broadway theater company in New York City. He is very happy to have helped to firmly establish Horse Trade's reputation in the downtown theater scene and to create a well respected, self sufficient organization that has created and continues to create a home for some the New York City's most innovative, talented, and hard working theater artists. Thankfully the World keeps providing him with both fresh and refined talent to let loose on NYC. Erez is also a father. 

Frigid NYC

Founded in 2007, FRIGID is an open and uncensored theatre festival that gives artists an opportunity to let their ingenuity thrive in a venue that values freedom of expression and artistic determination. In true support of our Indie Theater Community, 100% of box office proceeds will go directly to the artists whose work is being presented. FRIGID is here to chill out the New York independent theatre scene’s ideas of what a theatre festival can be!