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David Zum Brunnen and Serena Ebhardt Reimagine Making Theater in Schools Amidst a Pandemic

Hear what Serena Ebhardt and David Zum Brunnen (EbzB Productions) have to say to Beltline to Broadway about their storied careers and more.

About the Guest

David Zum Brunnen: When asked in recent years how best to describe himself, David has simply replied, “You could say I’m a bit of an impresario…at times, I’ve been a professional actor & a producer; a sometime political activist; I’m a storyteller, and a host of other things…I do what I need to do to keep food on the table, and to keep the family warm & dry.”

David’s discovery of the power of a story and storytelling has held him since childhood, and has led him to pursue such endeavors as acting, producing, numerous collaborative projects, and other creative endeavors over the years. He fell asleep on stage in his very first role as a resting shepherd in the church kindergarten Christmas play in a small North Carolina town, and he’s felt at home on the stage ever since – and the belief in the power of telling a story has led him to stage, film, and broadcast appearances throughout the United States, and also in Canada.

On Stage: David has appeared in a variety of roles on stage over the years – in the US and Canada. Under the auspices of EbzB Productions, a production team comprised of Serena Ebhardt and himself, he’s toured nationally with several projects and continues to do so. In the Triangle region (Raleigh/Durham, NC), he appeared in the widely praised Deep Dish Theatre production of David Hare’s Via Dolorosa at the Stoneleaf Theatre Festival in Asheville, NC, and in Chapel Hill, NC. Along with productions such as War BondsThe Wrights of Passage, and others, he has also appeared as Charles Dickens in Elliot Engel’s The Night Before Christmas Carol in countless venues in the United States. His many regional theatre credits include such roles as Nicholas in Nicholas Nickleby, Jesu in Unholy Trinity, Mortimer in Arsenic and Old Lace, Hotspur and other roles in Henry IV – Parts I & II, and Mercutio in Romeo & Juliet. In the Triangle region of North Carolina, he took on the role of Henry Carr in the acclaimed Burning Coal Theatre Company production of Tom Stoppard’s Travesties (which went on to enthusiastic reviews at Charleston’s Picolo Spoleto). Over the years, he has also appeared with several companies in addition to Deep Dish Theater & Burning Coal, among them PlayMakers Repertory Company, the StreetSigns Center for Literature and Performance, & Temple Theatre.

Under the auspices of EbzB Productions, David’s work has been seen on two public television broadcasts of the company’s work – aired to millions through national and international networks & distribution – Elliot Engel’s The Night Before Christmas Carol and War Bonds: The Songs & Letters of WWII. His portrayals over the years with EbzB include Charles Dickens; author, playwright & social justice advocate Paul Green in Native; and countless others on stages in North Carolina, throughout the U.S, coast to coast, and in Canada.

Serena Ebhardt: Serena is an award-winning actress, director, playwright and teaching artist. She holds her BA in Dramatic Art from the University of North Carolina, where she was a Paul and Elizabeth Green Scholarship recipient. Serena has received training as a teaching artist from The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The Lincoln Center Institute and The National Center for Creative Aging. Ebhardt is also the co-founder and Artistic Director of EbzB Productions (www.ebzb.org), whose mission is to develop original works that promote integrity, self-discovery and positive transformation of artists, audiences, individuals, and communities.

EbzB’s productions of Eliot Engel’s The Night Before Christmas Carol and War Bonds: The Songs & Letters of World War II tour nationally and may be seen on public broadcasting stations across the United States and abroad. Serena’s own performing and teaching career has taken her across the US, Europe, and Canada. She is the recipient of the Cantey Venable Sutton Award from Raleigh Little Theatre and The International Television and Video Association’s Silver Reel Award. Additionally, Serena is a charter inductee of the YWCA’s Academy of Women and a member of Actors’ Equity Association and Canadian Actors’ Equity Association. 

Ebhardt’s direction includes world premieres and national tours including Nnenna Freelon’s The Clothesline Muse, Tim Tyson’s Blood Done Sign My Name, EbzB Productions’ Native, Brown v. Board of Education, Life Is So Good by George Dawson, and Mike Wiley Productions’ Dar He: The Lynching of Emmet Till. 

In 2003, Ebhardt was commissioned by the North Carolina Association of Educators to write and direct Wrights of Passage, which continues to tour and has now been seen by over one hundred thousand students nationwide. Through the North Carolina Arts Council, Serena designs and teaches professional development workshops for teachers using dramatic art to support national and state standards, as well as 21st Century Skills. 

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