Fellows - Round 14

Exceptional Merit:

LEILA BUCK, En Garde Arts, New York, NY

Leila’s fellowship will focus on the development of her piece Mix & Match, commissioned by En Garde Arts - a theatrical event that invites the audience into the journey of two families - one Lebanese and (mostly) Muslim, one Irish and (mostly) Catholic - being joined in marriage. As guests at the wedding, and witnesses to the families' struggles before, during, and beyond, audiences are invited to eat, dance and engage in an immersive, interactive exploration of the challenges and joys of connecting across all kinds of borders. Leila will continue writing the piece in collaboration with director Tamilla Woodard and the team, and develop the role she will play as M.C./HOST– the audience’s guide between time, place, reality, memory and dreams. She will also hone her vocal and musical training and Arabic language skills, travel to Lebanon for research and study expressive arts therapies in service of this piece and all of her work as an actor, writer, facilitator and educator. Leila has performed and developed her work and others at The Public Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, Cleveland Public, Brooklyn Museum, Mosaic, Arena Stage, the U.N., and the Wilma (Barrymore Award) and across the U.S., Europe, China, Australia, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon. Her other current projects include American Dreams - a theatrical game show directed by Tamilla Woodard where the audience decides who will be the next U.S. citizen - which begins touring this fall, and 1001 Nights (A Retelling), a California Shakespeare Theater commission co-written with and directed by Evren Odcikin. Leila is a member of the Public’s first Emerging Writers Group, a Usual Suspect with NYTW and an adjunct professor at NYU. www.leilabuck.com

SHANNON DORSEY, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Washington, DC

The Fox Fellowship will support Shannon's dedication to understanding, deeply connecting and reflecting the vast, varying, African parts of her Black Womanhood. Shannon will learn different aesthetics and physical theatre practices within the African Diaspora through time and immersion directly on the continent. She will study intimacy work with a mentor and with different organizations focusing on the best ways to stage theatrical intimacy. She will also invest in sharpening her physical, vocal, language and puppetry skills within the spectrum of her performance artistry. This experience will contribute to her personal healing and growth, as much as it will contribute to her career. The Fellowship will provide this support and help give her the tools needed to become an intuitive and effective intimacy choreographer/director, especially for Black Women. Through Woolly Mammoth, she will host a series of workshops focused on actors of color and other marginalized performers. She looks to give performers the gift of movement, touch, combat and violence in a story without jeopardizing their personal sense of safety and integrity. Shannon received dual degrees in theatre (SCAT) and African American studies (AAS) from Temple University. Shannon has also trained in many styles of dance and physical theatre. A DC native, she performs with Woolly Mammoth Theatre, where she is a Company Member. She has also performed at 777 Theatre (Off Broadway), NYC Central Park SummerStage, Arena Stage, Cincy Playhouse, Round House, Ford's, Kennedy Center and Studio Theatre. She has received several Helen Hayes Award nominations, including one for Outstanding Lead Actress, two for Outstanding Supporting Actress, and jointly won an Outstanding Ensemble Award. www.shannd.com

MOSES GOODS, Honolulu Theatre for Youth, Honolulu, HI

Moses' long-term project Two Ships will follow the two lineal journeys that converge to form his unique identity. One journey begins on an ancient Polynesian voyaging canoe navigating the waters of the Pacific, and the other in the bowels of a slave ship crossing the Atlantic. This fellowship will take place in three distinct phases. First, Moses will return to the source of his Black heritage by connecting with family and roots in the Southeastern United States. Based in Hawaiʻi, Moses’ current body of work is rooted almost entirely in Hawaiian culture and has thus far been void of representation from his Black heritage. Phase two will be to connect with other Black artists and theatres nationally and to explore various Black artforms. The third phase will be to establish relationships within Hawaiʻi’s Black community and develop work based on those relationships. Moses will work with Honolulu Theatre for Youth to create a piece documenting the history of Black people in Hawaiʻi. The population of Black people in the islands has never exceeded 4%, but historically there have been a number of significant Black figures who have lived in Hawaii. Moses is one of Hawaiʻi’s most prominent theatre artists. His career began in the University of Hawai‘i’s Department of Theatre and Dance in 1998. Since then he has traveled the globe performing his original work to a wide range of audiences. His body of work ranges from full length plays to theatrical storytelling pieces. www.actormosesgoods.com

Distinguished Achievement:

AYANNA BERKSHIRE, Artists Repertory Theatre (ART), Portland, OR

Ayanna will focus her fellowship on advanced education and research related to career success for performers of color, examining racial identity and the success inhibitors which may be specific to theatre professionals of color working in predominantly white communities. With the support of Artists Rep and local theatre professionals, she will design workshops and initiative groups to further the discussion of racial identity in the performing arts in Portland, Oregon. Ayanna will channel these discussions into the development of devised works. Ayanna currently resides in Portland, Oregon, where she is a Resident Artist at Artists Repertory Theatre. She enjoys creating community in the theatre and film industries and teaching actors how to build large careers in smaller markets. In addition to theatre, Ayanna has over 50 film and television credits, including one of her most popular roles to date, playing Cora in the movie Twilight. Theatrical highlights include performing in The Scottsboro Boys by Kander and Ebb, directed by Susan Stroman and originating the role of Robin in the world premiere of Wolf Play by Hansol Jung. www.ayannaberkshireinfo.com

TONIA JACKSON, True Colors Theatre Company, Atlanta, GA

Tonia will use the fellowship to study movement for the aging actor as well as immerse herself in Shakespeare, storytelling and voice/dialect techniques to gain more skills and employment as an actor. Her new studies will allow her to mount master classes and panel discussions with other veteran actors, allowing young performers to gain knowledge and mentorship. She will deepen her relationship with True Colors Theatre Company and offer artistic input in their process. Her ultimate goal is to build a bridge between young disenfranchised African American youth and the world of theatre at two critical stages of their lives: their first introduction to theatre and starting a career. Tonia will provide a safe space for actors of color to learn to connect their personal narrative and physicality to plays that are foreign to their experiences and use art as a means for social change, healing and self-discovery. Tonia attended the Goodman School of Drama. She has been a company member at Penumbra Theatre for over 20 years. She has worked at Steppenwolf Theatre, Guthrie Theatre, Mixed Blood Theatre, American Stage, Lorraine Hansberry, True Colors Theatre, Magic Theatre, Alliance Theatre, Center Stage, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Pan Asian Theatre and Trinity Rep. She’s a five-time Suzi Bass nominee, winning one for best ensemble for Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery at Horizon Theatre. She was also nominated for a Jeff Norton Award for Frankie and Johnny. www.toniajackson.com

STEPHAN WOLFERT, Syracuse Stage, Syracuse, NY

As a military veteran turned classical actor, Stephan Wolfert's fellowship will focus on healing-centered engagement with the veteran community and their families. At the crux of this project will be community engagement events and workshops centered around theatre as a means to create space for and support veteran voices and experiences. Stephan will also rehearse, workshop and perform an adaptation of Shakespeare's Richard III, as well as his critically-acclaimed and award-winning solo show CRY HAVOC! for the community. CRY HAVOC! has been performed over 500 times for thousands of veterans and their families in six countries and is part of the DE-CRUIT program, which Stephan founded to help treat trauma in military veterans through Shakespeare and science. For this work, he has received numerous awards from the mental health community and has been published in the fields of both theatre and psychology while lecturing and performing throughout the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, Italy and The Netherlands. Stephan will continue research on the role of trauma on veterans and how touring adaptations of theatrical works can best engage veteran communities across the nation. Stephan brings over two decades of professional experience to his fellowship at Syracuse Stage. After receiving his Master of Fine Arts degree from Trinity Rep Conservatory in 2000, Stephan helped create the military segments for Twyla Tharp and Billy Joel’s Tony Award-winning Broadway hit Movin’ Out. Learn more about Stephan’s work, using theatre as medicine, at www.DECRUIT.org.

 

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