Lecturer; Resident Intimacy Choreographer and Cultural Consultant
Raja Benz (she/her) is a distinguished theatre-maker, cultural consultant, and intimacy professional recently relocated to the Metro-Detroit region. A proud Filipina-American Trans woman, Raja has established herself as a transformative voice in theatre through her advocacy and pedagogy which centers on highlighting the rich histories of queer of color praxis as the foundation for inclusive, authentic, consent-based approaches to intimacy for stage and screen.
Raja’s career has spanned a number of milestone projects, including serving as the cultural consultant for Pride as part of Tectonic Theatre Project’s Seven Deadly Sins under the direction of Moisés Kaufman. Raja’s work has been featured in collaborations with many other prominent theatre companies including Signature Theatre, Studio Theatre, Live & In Color, IRT NYC, and Virginia Repertory Theatre. Raja’s work was also featured on Swagger (AppleTV), where she was an intimacy coordinator for the second season.
Raja holds a Certificate in Performance from the legendary Moscow Art Theatre, as well as both a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting from Northern Illinois University, and a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Pedagogy from Virginia Commonwealth University, where her graduate studies focused on movement for stage, devised theatre, intimacy coordination & choreography, and gender studies. Her thesis, “QTIES: Queer & Trans Intimacy as Emergent Strategy,” focused on developing queer of color driven inclusive pedagogical practices for teaching performance in contemporary theatre training institutions. During her time as a Graduate Student, and in the years following, Raja served as an adjunct professor of movement & devising and worked professionally in the Richmond theatre community– ultimately serving as the Community Engagement and Outreach Manager at the Richmond Triangle Players, a professional theatre focusing on queer stories and artistry. Raja is a highly-sought after educator, and has had the honor of presenting her work through colleges, universities, and independent intimacy programs across the world including The Educator Advocacy Program, Intimacy Coordinators of Color, Randolph College, Oberlin College, Penn State, Villanova University, The University of South Carolina Upstate, and at University of California system at large through the Summer in the Arts program housed at Fresno State University. Raja’s work is proudly now housed across four departments at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance where she serves as the Resident Intimacy Choreographer and Cultural Consultant.
Raja is an Associate Faculty of Theatrical Intimacy Education, where she has developed curricula including Working With Trans & Non-Binary Artists, Staging Sex Beyond the Binary, Sex Work on Stage & Screen, and Non-Monogamy, Polyamory & Staging the Group. In addition, Raja teaches and assistant teaches a wide-range of workshops including Best Practices for Theatrical Intimacy, Staging Sex: Outercourse, Power Play, Consent in the Acting Studio, Stage Managers and Intimacy, and Foundations of Race, Intimacy and Consent. She is a contributing author in two upcoming publications, The Intimacy Coordinators Handbook and Queering the Stage.
In short, Raja’s work is deeply rooted in a history of queer people of color organizing and navigating issues of consent and autonomy that extends well beyond the existence of the intimacy field. To learn more, and to keep up with Raja, please visit RajaBenz.com or find her at @Raja.In.Rehearsal across social media platforms.