KST Blog

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Kelly Strayhorn Theater Presents: Dorothy R. Santos & Adrian Jones

Docu-Poetics and Creative (Flash) Non-Fiction Writing
EAST LIBERTY, PA — Kelly Strayhorn Theater and The Frank Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry bring together Dorothy R. Santos and Adrian Jones for a collaborative writing workshop at KST’s Alloy Studios on Saturday, March 11 from 3:00pm – 7:00pm. The workshop combines Santos’ expertise as a writer, artist and educator with Jones’ practice of combining art, history, and technology, and explores the process of writing creative non-fiction from the perspective of the documentarian and archivist. Participants will enjoy a hot meal, and are welcome to bring laptops, tablets or other digital devices to use in the workshop (laptops are not necessary for participation). 

What is creative nonfiction? The literary genre is an umbrella term for many different forms of writing that includes memoir, biography, narrative history, documentary, and personal essay. According to Creative Nonfiction Magazine, a literary journal dedicated to the form, “Writers who write creative nonfiction are very different in voice, orientation and purpose. But what they have in common is that they are, in one way or the other, writing true stories that provide information about a variety of subjects, enriched by relevant thoughtful ideas, personal insight, and intimacies about life and the world we live in. And this scope and variety is exactly what makes creative nonfiction significant and, these days, so incredibly popular.” — Creative Nonfiction Magazine

Jones and Santos operate within the writing subcategories of flash creative nonfiction and docu-poetics. Flash creative nonfiction prioritizes brevity, with works often coming in at under 750 words, which focus on a singular image or event. Meanwhile, documentary poems combine primary source material with poetry writing, and can be inspired by news articles, letters, photographs, dairies, court transcripts, medical records, and a variety of other public records. The four-hour event at KST’s Alloy Studios on March 11 will explore a way of writing that honors oral traditions through both poetry and experimental language. Jones and Santos will work through various approaches to recording, documenting, and archiving stories for workshop participants interested in contributing to a community-centered archive. A hot meal will be provided to fuel the discussion!

Adrian Jones’ creative work, scholarship, and writing are based on historical and archival research focused on Black life in East Liberty. As the creator and founder of Looking Glass, a digital archive, his work is at the intersection of documentary media, archives, and digital technologies. Through his use of augmented reality, mapping, and web-based softwares, Jones is committed to community-facing and participatory practices as a way of uplifting and revealing stories of the East Liberty community.

There is a pattern that has played out in this city over decades where ideas of renewal and revitalization are offered up as a pretext for projects that ultimately displace Black families, businesses and cultural institutions. It was important that Looking Glass begin with a focus on East Liberty’s history because this kind of disruption has yet to end in this neighborhood.

The enduring risk to homes and sites of memory calls for engaging in the work of recording and gathering stories. I believe there is power, healing and guidance to be found when we connect to the past. I hope Looking Glass as an archive that also maps stories to their points of origin will be a resource that facilitates this connection and reaffirms that the story of East Liberty cannot be rewritten.” — Adrian Jones

Dorothy R. Santos’ artistic practice, academic research, and writing focus on voice recognition, speech technologies, and assistive tech. Her fascination with oral history traditions coalesce with her desire to create new media works focused on upending the dominant linguistic forces that oftentimes aim to erase languages and accents outside the lingua franca of American and British englishes. She uses the practice of documentary poetry also known as docu-poetics as a modality for storytelling. Her work aims to shed light on the Filipino immigrant experience and being a child of the diaspora.

Together, Jones and Santos’ docu-poetics workshop is meant to work specifically with the East Liberty community to contribute to Looking Glass and to gain a broader, deeper, and expansive understanding of writing creative non-fiction. Santos’ collaboration with Jones was made possible through The Frank Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University and Kelly Strayhorn Theater with the hope of bridging and building connections between community members interested in sharing stories and new ways of crafting narratives. Dorothy R. Santos is an artist in residence at the STUDIO, and will begin their residency with a lecture on Thursday, March 2 at 5:30pm on the Carnegie Mellon Campus. It’s a great way for folks interested in the workshop to learn more about Dorothy R. Santos’ practice. Then, on March 7th, Santos will visit Duolingo as an invited scholar and deliver a lecture to the Duolingo cohort. They will remain in residence at the STUDIO through March 17th.

This workshop is made possible in part by Duolingo. Join KST and the artists on Saturday, March 11 at 3:00pm at KST’s Alloy Studios, 5530 Penn Ave. Tickets are Pay What Moves You, $0 – $25. For full season details, KST COVID policy updates, and tickets, go to kelly-strayhorn.org.

Access the pdf HERE


Dorothy R. Santos is a Ph.D. candidate in Film and Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz as a Eugene V. Cota-Robles fellow. She received her Master’s degree in Visual and CriticalStudies at the California College of the Arts and holds Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of San Francisco. Her work has been exhibited at Ars Electronica, Rewire Festival, Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the GLBT Historical Society. Her writing appears in art21, Art in America, Ars Technica, Hyperallergic, Rhizome, Slate, and Vice Motherboard. Her essay “Materiality to Machines: Manufacturing the Organic and Hypotheses for Future Imaginings,” was published in The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture. She is a co-founder of REFRESH, a politically-engaged art and curatorial collective and serves as the Executive Director for the Processing Foundation. In 2022, she received the mozilla Creative Media Award for her interactive, docu-poetics work The Cyborg’s Prosody (2022). She serves as an advisory board member for POWRPLNT, slash arts, and House of Alegria.

Adrian Jones is a Pittsburgh-based artist, historian, community organizer, and creative technologist. His practice is shaped by a commitment to those living in society’s margins. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Harvard University, his work in software development led him towards exploring the power of speculative imagination and intergenerational storytelling within digital spaces. Currently he is developing Looking Glass, an app-based archive of Black life in Pittsburgh. In January 2023, he was named Logic School’s inaugural Community Technologist.



Named after 20th century entertainment legends Gene Kelly and Billy Strayhorn, both natives of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Kelly Strayhorn Theater (KST) is reflective of the passion that its founders had for the arts. Today,  Kelly Strayhorn Theater carries on the legacy of its founders by fostering bold and innovative artistry with a global perspective. KST celebrates diversity in voice, thought, and expression, and upholds a firm commitment to inclusion. Furthermore, KST provides a safe and welcome space for dialogue and artistic expression for all who enter.

Kelly Strayhorn Theater has a dynamic footprint in Pittsburgh, with two venues running along Penn Avenue. KST’s Alloy Studios is a cultural hub in the heart of East Liberty, and the historic Kelly Strayhorn Theater is located in the thriving business district. More than 20 years after the founding of the theater, KST continues to use its broad reach to impact the contemporary arts and the community.


The Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University is a laboratory for atypical, transdisciplinary, and inter-institutional research at the intersections of arts, science, technology and culture. Founded in 1989 within the College of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), the STUDIO serves as a locus for hybrid enterprises on the CMU campus, the Pittsburgh region, and internationally. As a venue, a classroom, a laboratory and a commons the STUDIO boasts more than three decades of experience hosting interdisciplinary artists in an environment enriched by world-class science and engineering departments.

The Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry is a flexible laboratory for new modes of arts research, production and presentation. Through its research, residency and public programming, the STUDIO provides opportunities for learning, dialogue and production that lead to innovative breakthroughs, new policies, and the redefinition of the role of artists in a quickly changing world. The STUDIO’s general operating hours are 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday with extended open hours until 10 pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays while STUDIO monitors are on duty. The STUDIO is closed T/Th from 1:30 pm until 4:15 pm due to course instruction in the space, as well as 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm on Mondays for staff meetings.