Fellows - Round 10

Extraordinary Potential:

OBEHI JANICE, Company One Theatre, Boston, MA

Obehi will engage the audiences and artists connected to Company One Theatre to further cultivate and grow these relationships. The mission of Company One Theatre is to change the face of Boston theatre by uniting the city’s diverse communities through innovative, socially-provocative performance and developing civically-engaged artists. Company One Theatre serves an audience that is 55% people under the age of 35 and 31% people of color; with 31% self-identifying as low income (under $25,000 annually). Obehi will work closely with students in the theatre’s Stage One program through a series of master classes in creating original work through storytelling. The Stage One program is two-fold: there is an arts expansion program in the Boston Public School (BPS) system as well as an apprenticeship program for young artists. Master Classes will give BPS students close engagement with a working actor and writer and transferrable skills in storytelling and creative writing. Young artists in the apprenticeship program will have the opportunity to create new work and have capacity support for their "Don't Kill My Scribe" new play workshop. She will mentor the young apprentices by being available to observe and read their work as well as provide a listening ear and guidance to any and all questions about maintaining a career in theatre. Further, she will visit the Professional Development for Actors class as a guest artist to conduct workshops related to storytelling and self-identity. She will travel to East Africa to observe and train. In Uganda, she will attend the Kampala International Theatre Festival under the guidance of Deborah Asiimwe. In Zimbabwe, she will attend and train at the Zimbabwe Center of the International Theatre Institute under the guidance of Lloyd Nyikadzino. As a first-generation actor and writer in Boston, Obehi understands the value of connecting with artists and audiences who are traditionally underserved. Obehi will represent Company One Theatre locally and abroad as an ambassador, an educator, and a performer who deeply cares about the theatre’s mission and purpose.

Photo by Lia Chang

BI JEAN NGO, Lantern Theater Company,
Philadelphia, PA

Bi Jean will study classical text and voice through Linklater workshops as well as stage combat, Elizabethan dance, and movement during a month-long intensive workshop at the Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA. She'll also take part in a three-week workshop at Dell’Arte International in the summer of 2017, where she will learn mask, clown, and how to devise theatre through physical movement. Afterward, she'll teach both the classical and contemporary text and movement skills to her peers and mentees of the Philadelphia Asian Performing Artists Group, under the auspices of the Lantern Theater Company. Her plan is to be a vanguard for diverse representation onstage not only in Philadelphia, but in other regions. Her goal is to use her exposure to influence more leading theatre companies to choose plays written by Asians, featuring Asian actors, and directed by Asians, as well as to create and act in plays that reflect her own ethnic experience and the stories of her immediate community. By acquiring facility with classical theatre from Shakespeare & Company, Bi will be better equipped to add her voice to the company’s classical repertoire which is routinely performed throughout the region. The masterclasses that she will conduct after each residency will provide vital training opportunities for emerging Asian performers, helping to give them work and empower their creative voices.

Photo by Lia Chang

REGGIE WHITE, Berkeley Repertory Theatre,
Berkeley, CA

Berkeley Rep and Reggie White will combine White's experience as an actor in play productions and actor training with Berkeley Rep's knowledge of mentorship and new play development. They will work towards a common goal: creating a bridge between exceptional teen writers of color and the framework of institutional theatre. With this project, eight exceptional high school students of color in Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco that are interested in writing will have an opportunity to attend an immersive, year-long relationship with the theatre as playwriting apprentices. They'll participate in writing masterclasses and see some of the best new work being done by playwrights of color in the Bay Area. They will also have the opportunity to sit in on rehearsals for a new play in Berkeley Rep's season, observing how plays move from the brain of the playwright to the proscenium. Their apprenticeships will culminate in writing a play of their own, workshopped by professional actors, directors, and dramaturgs. Berkeley Rep's existing work with teens is focused on developing future arts leaders. Together with their claimyourARTS advocacy initiative, Teen Council leadership group, and other programs, this new project will add another avenue for teen participation outside of the normal pipeline for playwrights and arts leaders. The teens' presentations, occurring at the same time and with invited artists from The Ground Floor's Summer Lab, will raise national awareness of this work and the talent of these students.

Distinguished Achievement:

MARISSA CHIBAS, Bootleg Theater, Los Angeles, CA

Marissa will travel to Crete and research matrilineal caves and sacred sites in preparation for her first project at Bootleg, The Second Woman. This interdisciplinary performance draws from John Cassavetes' film Opening Night and Henry Rider Haggard's novel She, both of which share themes of the terror of aging and the mysteries of the feminine. Marissa will deepen and enhance her skills as a performer by taking intensive workshops in improvisation, clowning, Afro-Cuban dance, and vocal technique. These workshops will be conducted at Bootleg and made available to high school students from the downtown Los Angeles area. She will include community members in her process and encourage them to generate their own work through multi-disciplinary workshops. Training sessions related to The Second Woman will be opened up to community members free of charge to provide an opportunity to participate and witness the process of developing this play. She is also deeply invested in the women in her community and through this piece hopes to offer a ritual for embracing change and age.

BOBBIE STEINBACH, Actors' Shakespeare Project,
Auburndale, MA

Bobbie will embark on a series of trainings to stretch the boundaries of her physical work and explore new art forms, then integrate these practices into Actors' Shakespeare Project’s workshop of her one-woman show, In Bed with the Bard. She will also devise a piece with the women of ASP, I Am Lear, which she has been developing with ASP company member and former Fox Fellowship recipient, Paula Plum. This multi-media, movement and voice-based project looks at aging, loss, diminishment of power, and the subsequent gaining of clarity, truth and self-awareness. As part of the devising process Bobbie and colleagues will work with community seniors from the Newbridge Center in Dedham, MA and Miller's River Housing Group for Underserved Seniors in Cambridge, MA. This integrated project models the role an artist can play as a professional actor, mentor, director, teacher, and collaborator—something that sits at the heart of ASP's work. Bobbie will also create and run workshops for older actors, which will encourage them to take charge of their creative energy and find new ways to expand their professional skills.

JAMES A. WILLIAMS, Pillsbury House Theatre,
Minneapolis, MN

Pillsbury House Theatre (PHT) will host a two-year fellowship during which James A. Williams (J.W.) will build on his 30-year career as a text-based actor to further develop approaches for using music and movement in the creation of characters whose stories have roots deeper than text. Using the unsolved (and unspoken) 1932 murder of his own grandfather as a starting point, Williams will use new skills to explore death, abandonment, and secrecy as they apply to father-son relationships among African American men. Pillsbury House Theatre (PHT) focuses their work on the 23,000 people living in four adjoining underserved neighborhoods of South Minneapolis. The 2010 U.S. Census figures show the area includes 37% white residents (as compared to 64% citywide), 33% Hispanic or Latino residents, and 21% Black or African American residents. Over 20% of area residents live below poverty, and nearly one quarter are first-generation Americans. J.W.'s fellowship will give voice to the unspoken legacy of secrets that are handed down through generations of African American men and then bring the resulting work to workshop groups in the communities served by PHT. In the context of PHT's larger body of work, J.W.’s fellowship promises to strengthen PHT's ability to represent the experiences of people in the communities they serve.

 

An advisory selection panel evaluated the applicants and made their recommendations. The panel included: Mark Booher, Artistic Director, PCPA – Pacific Conservatory Theatre; Aaron Calafato, Actor; Leilani Chan, Artistic Director, TeAda Productions; Anne D'Zmura, Department Chair of Theatre Arts, CSULB; and Kent Gash, Founding Director of the New Studio on Broadway at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.