The Artists:

Syracuse-born, New York-raised. Los Angeles, Chicago, Florida-derived.

The founding members of Diverging Elements met during their time at the renowned Syracuse University School of Visual and Performing Arts whilst studying Drama. It wasn't until the group found themselves in New York City that they decided to collaborate using their unique style of storytelling-- employing movement, commedia del'arte, dance, and mis en scene-- drawing from countless other styles, techniques and medias.



Company Members

Sammy Lopez (Producing Artistic Director, Co-Founder)

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Sammy is excited to be in New York City creating and producing theatre with his friends at Diverging Elements! Currently, he is the Associate Producer for the new Broadway musical, BANDSTAND, now playing at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. Other productions he's worked on include Broadway's THE VISIT starring Chita Rivera, IT'S ONLY A PLAY, AVENUE Q, and MOTHERS & SONS. As a performer and teaching artist, he has worked with CO/LAB Theater Group, Cabrillo Stage, Syracuse Stage, The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and he has toured the country with TheatreWorks USA and the Syracuse Stage Regional Children's Tour. He is a graduate of the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University. For more, visit: sammy-lopez.com



Melissa Jessel (Executive Director, Co-Founder)

Melissa Jessel is from the tiny town Boxford, Massachusetts. Throughout her time at Syracuse University, pursuing her BFA in Musical Theater, Melissa discovered a serious passion for the physical theatre style introduced to her by Lauren Unbekant. Melissa completed her Capstone Project with Lauren, developing a fully-produced movement piece centered around her studies in Tokyo, Japan (Tokoyo). She also fell in love with the art of solo-pieces. Aside from Syracuse, Melissa’s credits include The North Shore Music Theatre, The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and The Awesome 80’s Prom, here in NYC. Most recently, Melissa was seen as Cosette, in Les Miserables, at Bristol Valley Theatre.





Daniel Burns (Co-Artistic Manager, Co-Founder)

Originally from South Florida, Daniel is now a New York-based actor. He has worked with countless educational theatre programs in New York and across the world. He has performed at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland as well as with Syracuse Stage's Educational Outreach program at both developmental and touring levels. Daniel originated the role of Nicholas Hodges in the World Premiere and West Coast Premiere of Conviction at Bay Street Theatre and Rubicon Theatre Company respectively. He has performed with numerous New York City-based theatre companies and taken part in many developmental and workshop readings. As a solo performer, Daniel has created countless fully-realized pieces across a broad range of mediums including commedia dell'arte and clown. He holds a BFA in Acting from Syracuse University and is a proud member of the Actors' Equity Association. danielburns.net



Erin Schmidt (Co-Artistic Manager, Co-Founder)

Erin Schmidt is NYC-based actor originally from the Chicagoland area. While pursuing her BFA in Acting from Syracuse University, she worked extensively with Lauren Unbekant and the Syracuse Stage Educational Outreach program. For three years she toured with two different shows, performing at schools in the Upstate New York area and leading occasional workshops with students. In addition to her Syracuse training, she studied and performed at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London, and in NYC as part of the Tepper Semester.





Additional Staff

Lauren Unbekant (Artistic Liaison)

Lauren Unbekant is a Movement Artist, Director, and Devisor. Currently she is the Director of Educational Outreach for Syracuse Stage and Adjunct Movement/ Devising faculty for Syracuse University Department of Drama. As a co-founder of the physical theatre company Gams On The Lam and a performing artist and director with MoveInk, she has performed nationally and internationally at such festivals as the Humorologie Festival in Belgium, The International Festival of Clown in Barcelona, The International Movement Festival in London, The Edinburgh Fringe Festival , The Festival of International Art in Leon and Puebla, Mexico, the Festival of Laughter in Singapore, and the HBO Comedy Festival in Aspen, Colorado. Recently Lauren was commissioned by Syracuse University, to devise a movement performance piece for The National Whistleblowers Symposium. Last spring she devised an original movement piece called Wolfskinder. A Master Teaching Artist and movement expert with nearly 20 years of experience connecting the artistic process with all kinds of learning, she has developed course work for educators in Critical Thinking Through the Arts, as well as developing and teaching her own codified methodology of movement and devising, Mis-en-scene Movement.

Kayliane Burns (Production Manager)

Born and raised in Syracuse, Kayliane is now a NYC-based stage manager. She is graduate of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University, where she received her BFA in stage management. Kayliane has worked on numerous shows both at Syracuse Stage, and at Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota. She has stage managed two regional children’s tours, and has worked as a child wrangler on a number of productions. In NYC, Kayliane has been a part of many workshops for new musicals, was a production assistant on Broadway’s Motown The Musical, and often works as a volunteer stage manager for Broadway Cares / Equity Fights Aids. She is a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association.

Spencer Lynn (Graphic Designer)

Max King (Website Design)

President and Co-Founder of The Actor Station, LLC, Max is an actor with a passion for design. He loves to help his fellow artists build an online space that matches their aesthetics and goals, to best represent their brand to the thirsty internet consuming public.  www.maxking.nyc   |   www.actorstation.com