Ascend. created in collaboration with the cast, musicians, and creative team. Image of moon.
Meet the Creative Team of Ascend
Margarita Blush headshot


Margarita Blush is a Bulgarian-American theatre artist. She holds a BFA in Performance and an MFA in Directing for Puppet Theatre from the National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts (NATFA) in Sofia, Bulgaria, and a certificate in Lecoq-based Devised Physical Theatre and Pedagogy from Embodied Poetics in London, UK.

Margarita works internationally and has performed, taught, directed, and studied in Bulgaria, Macedonia, Turkey, Germany, France, the UK, Japan, and the US.

Mark Bruckner headshot

Composer/Music Director/Sound Designer/Musician | MARK BRUCKNER

Mark Bruckner is a New York Innovative Theater and Audelco Award-winning composer, musician, sound artist, and a Henry Hewes American Theatre Wing design nominee.  Known for his work in new play development, musical theatre adaptations and revivals, and the development of wearable sound technology for production, he has received commissions from off-Broadway, regional theaters, colleges, and producing organizations across the US. Now a Visiting Professor of Theatre Arts, Mark is honored to be collaborating with the artists who have brought the world of “Ascend” to life.

Christian Jay Santiago headshot


Christian Jay Santiago is a second-year scenic and lighting designer from Guam, USA. He has returned to the University of Iowa after a four-year hiatus and has previously designed the scenery for Cut & Run (NPF ’16),  as well as serving as Assistant Scenic Designer for Food & Fadwa. He designed lighting for Jarred and served as Properties Master for Iphigenia Crash Land Falls… and Arcadia. He recently served as Art Director for Effective.

Scenic Advisor | R. ERIC STONE*

Aella Rose-Hill headshot

Costume Designer | AELLA ROSE-HILL

Aella Rose-Hill is a fourth-year undergraduate costume designer with a minor in film and African-American history. They’ve most recently been the lead designer on Perils of the Flowerbed, We All Were Sunflowers, Palanquin, 6 by 6: Into the Night, and Sirens of the Field. They want to thank all of the people who have made productions during COVID-19 possible.

Nick Coso headshot

Lighting Designer | NICK COSO

Nick Coso is proud to be the Lighting Designer on Ascend. His previous work at Iowa includes the Associate Director and Lead Editor on Essential Workers: A Portrait, the Lighting Designer on Sweat and Polaris, and the Media Designer on Hit the Wall and Seven Spots on the Sun. Nick would like to thank his family and friends for their continued support.

Abigail Mansfield-Coleman headshot

Assistant Costume Designer | ABIGAIL MANSFIELD COLEMAN

Abigail Mansfield Coleman is a first year MFA candidate in costume design, mask and puppetry. She has been designing for over 12 years across the Carolinas and Georgia. Abigail has designed over 45 productions, including, Into the Woods (3 times!), Tuck Everlasting (2018 KCATCF Costume Design Nomination); and Exit the King (2017 KCATCF Nomination). Recent work at the University of Iowa includes Generation Candyland: A Fable and A Plant.

Alastair Sigala Ramirez headshot

Assistant Lighting Designer | ALASTAIR SIGALA RAMIREZ

Alastair Sigala Ramirez received his Associates in Theatre from Amarillo College and his BA from Texas Wesleyan University. He is a first-year design graduate focusing on costumes and lighting. Previous work with University of Iowa includes lighting design for A Plant and Generation Candyland, as well as costume design for 6 by 6: Collected Perspectives on Social Justice.

Spencer Clouse headshot

Stage Manager | SPENCER CLOUSE**

Spencer Clouse is a third-year stage management MFA candidate. UI productions: Hit the Wall (SM), Love and Information (SM), The Maids (SM), Bonnets: How Ladies of Good Breeding are Induced to Murder (SM). Regional: Forbidden Broadway (The Gateway, PSM), The Sound of Music (The Gateway, PSM) Million Dollar Quartet (Ogunquit Playhouse, PA). National Tour: The Producers (Swing Tech/Deck Carpenter), Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas (Head of Props), Christmas Carol (PSM).  Proud member of Actors Equity.

Elaina Irving headshot

Assistant Stage Manager | ELAINA IRVING

Elaina Irving is a third-year undergraduate and Iowa City native. She is studying theatre arts here at the university with a minor in rhetoric and persuasion. She has previously worked on amazing productions like Bigfoot Takes a Walk, but this is her first Mainstage show. Elaina would like to thank her best friend and roommate Molly for all her support and always leaving a light on for when she gets home late from rehearsal.

Hallie Patterson

Assistant Stage Manager | HALLIE PATTERSON

Hallie Patterson is a first-year stage management graduate student. She has a passion for devised, new, and experimental theatre and is excited to share Ascend with everyone. Enjoy the performance!


Musicians of Ascend
Jilly Cooke headshot

Musician | JILLY COOKE

Jilly Cooke is a percussionist and music education major. She is passionate about theatre, musical theatre, and puppetry. She has been involved in many local productions as an actor and a few as music director. She is excited to be part of this experience with you.


Laura Goddard is a multi-instrumentalist who enjoys the creative possibilities of musical and theatrical collaborations. Previous engagements with the Department of Theatre Arts include Northanger Abbey (keys/viola, October 2018), Sunday in the Park with George (keys, March 2019), and Razor Creek (music director/piano/keys/viola, April 2020, cancelled due to COVID). She has a degree in piano performance from the University of Iowa and spent eight years playing with her Americana band Slewgrass.  She works full-time as a staff member in the UI School of Music.

Adrian Gomez Hernandez headshot


Adrian Gomez Hernandez is a Cello Performance Doctoral student at the University of Iowa. Born in Spain, Adrian has performed with many professional orchestras in Spain and the United States, including the Spanish “Film Symphony Orchestra,” and the Missouri Symphony Orchestra. Adrian has also collaborated with the Department of Theatre Arts in the production of Sunday at the Park with George.


*Member of United Scenic Artists, Local 829.
**Member of Actors' Equity Association, The Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.