Fellows - Round 9

Extraordinary Potential:

SHA CAGE, Penumbra Theatre Company, St Paul, MN

Sha will sharpen her skills in voice, movement and text. She will work intensively with Penumbra's Summer Institute teens towards developing their new works and artistic voices. She will train in le jeu, clowning and improv and will use these skills to add dimension to the work. She will also study African drumming as a cultural call to action with Fode Bangoura to integrate techniques with the teens in their storytelling. Sha has performed at the Guthrie Theater, Ten Thousand Things, Frank Theater, Mixed Blood Theater and Theatre de La Jeune Lune, among others. She is the recipient of a Mcknight Theater Artist Fellowship, a NPN New Works Commission & Creation Fund, a regional Emmy and was named a Change-maker by the Women’s Press.

 

Photo by Lia Chang

HEATHER LITTEER, La MaMa E.T.C., New York, NY

Heather will create a new solo work called A Rabbit: HerStory and in High Heels composed of dance, music, storytelling, puppetry and poetry. She will engage in intensive acting, dance and vocal training led by Robert La Fosse for movement and ballet, Master Puppeteer Basil Twist with a focus on Silks, Nick Hallet vocals rooted in the Bel Canto technique and Barbara Maier Gustern for voice and mentored by Nicky Paraiso of La MaMa. She will travel to La MaMa Umbria’s Playwriting retreat in Italy. In addition, Heather will work with young women of the Lower East Side in a workshop using theatre to encourage self-expression, strength and confidence. Heather has been a core member of Big Art Group since 2004 performing in France, Austria, Germany, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Canada and throughout the US and has acted at La MaMa, Wild Project, Bruno Walter Lincoln Center, Producers Club, Abrons Art Center and The Jackie 60 Playhouse, among others. Heather Litteer, La MaMa E.T.C. (New York, NY), will create a new solo work called A Rabbit: HerStory and in High Heels composed of dance, music, storytelling, puppetry and poetry. She will engage in intensive acting, dance and vocal training led by Robert La Fosse for movement and ballet, Master Puppeteer Basil Twist with a focus on Silks, Nick Hallet vocals rooted in the Bel Canto technique and Barbara Maier Gustern for voice and mentored by Nicky Paraiso of La MaMa. She will travel to La MaMa Umbria’s Playwriting retreat in Italy. In addition, Heather will work with young women of the Lower East Side in a workshop using theatre to encourage self-expression, strength and confidence. Heather has been a core member of Big Art Group since 2004 performing in France, Austria, Germany, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Canada and throughout the US and has acted at La MaMa, Wild Project, Bruno Walter Lincoln Center, Producers Club, Abrons Art Center and The Jackie 60 Playhouse, among others.

Distinguished Achievement:

MIRIAM LAUBE, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, OR

Miriam will study the classic forms of Ovid’s poetry and Indian classical ragas to create a song cycle based on Ovid’s Heroides in collaboration with women actors of the OSF acting company. She will undertake courses at the Ali Akbar College of Music in San Francisco, private study with Myra Melford, associate professor of Music, UC Berkeley, and John Fyler, professor of English, Tufts University and travel to India to do an intensive course in Indian classical music in conjunction with Theatre Mitu. Miriam hopes her work will foster a connection with a South Asian community who might be drawn to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Miriam has worked with OSF for eleven seasons as an actor, director, educator and fundraiser. Acting in professional theatre for 21 years, she has performed in productions at The Guthrie Theater, Berkeley Repertory Theater, Public Theater, Dallas Theater Center, among others. Miriam will play the role of Cleopatra in Bill Rauch’s production of Antony and Cleopatra and has appeared in the world premieres of Family Album and Party People.

GAVIN LAWRENCE, Center Stage, Baltimore, MD

Gavin will develop his skills as a solo performer and, through collaboration with playwright Daniel Alexander Jones and director/choreographer Laurie Carlos, he will create a solo performance piece. He will study at Susan Batson studio to craft distinct characters based off of community members he interviews. He will consult with solo performers Roger Guenveur Smith and Danny Hoch and work under the mentorship of historian Peter Rachleff. Gavin’s goals are to create theatre that could embolden the African American residents in Baltimore, MD. Gavin has performed at Steppenwolf, Goodman Theatre, Milwaukee Rep, Mixed Blood Theatre, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, among others. His play, Cut Flowers, won five Black Theatre Alliance Awards, including the Lorraine Hansberry Award for Best Writing of a Play. He won the Audelco Award for Outstanding Lead Actor and his grants and fellowships include a Cultural Community Partnership grant from the NEA and MN State Arts Board and a Many Voices Fellowship from the Playwrights’ Center.

SONJA PARKS, Children's Theatre Company, Minneapolis, MN

Sonja will explore Theatrical Jazz aesthetic and “jazz acting” methodology by spending time in Lagos, Nigeria to study the practice of Oriki (Yoruba ‘praise poetry’); she will learn from the Gullah people of the South Carolina Islands who employ a vocal polyrhythmic mastery to increase her vocal dexterity; she will participate in Shamanistic healing circles in the American Southwest; and will travel to Reykjavik, Iceland to observe Skalds who fuse traditional sagas with digital storytelling. Utilizing the Theatrical Jazz aesthetic, she will aid the children in Minneapolis, MN and Lagos, Nigeria in telling their own stories and sharing their stories firsthand via Livestream and/or Skype. Sonja was an original member of poet/playwright Sharon Bridgforth’s root wy’mn theatre company and toured nationally with them for 3 years. She has performed at The Public Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, The Kennedy Center, The Royal Shakespeare Company, among others. Sonja is the recipient of an NEA Grant, a 2002 and 2013 Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship, a McKnight Artist Fellowship, two Minneapolis Ivey Awards. She currently teaches acting at the University of Minnesota.

KEITH RANDOLPH SMITH , Alliance Theatre, Atlanta, GA

Keith will create a one-man show based on letters between him and his son, who was incarcerated. He will attend the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee. He will take a course in criminology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and sit in on classes with legendary performers, Joan MacIntosh and Deb Margolin. The play will be shaped under the guidance and direction of Kent Gash. Keith intends his story to speak to community members who have been affected by the prison industrial complex and will engage in dialogues to present options and hope while addressing the realities of addiction. Keith has acted on- and off-Broadway and regionally at Circle in the Square, Samuel Friedman Theatre, Classic Stage Company, Second Stage, Manhattan Theatre Club, Old Globe Theatre, Yale Repertory, among others. He has a New Dramatist Charles Bowden Award, an Audelco Award Best Actor Nomination for Holiday Heart, an Elliot Norton Award Nomination for Outstanding Solo Performance for Looking Over the President’s Shoulder, and a Black Theatre Alliance Award Nomination, Best Actor in a Play for Jitney.

JOE WILSON, JR., Trinity Repertory Company, Providence, RI

Joe will expand his ability to create character and develop his skills in conceiving new work. He will evaluate the evolution of his acting and master new techniques in order to enhance his performance and flourish as a member of an acting company. He will develop a play centered on the life and work of Duke Ellington’s composer, Billy Strayhorn, under the guidance of Kent Gash and he will continue his vocal and physical training in The Margolis Method. Joe, an actively engaged artist activist, who has received honors for his advocacy of the arts, education, marriage equality and underserved youth, will use his fellowship to empower himself to become a stronger catalyst for his community by telling the story of Billy Strayhorn, an openly gay, African-American man and civil rights activist. Joe has appeared on Broadway, Off Broadway and regionally, working in nearly 30 different roles at Trinity Rep. He has taught at Brown University, University of Minnesota and Tulane University and is a recipient of the Siseretta Jones Award for Cultural Literacy and the Arts, the Pell Award and received citations in 2012 and 2010 from U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, RI Governor, RI Speaker of the House and Providence Mayor for representing achievements and aspirations in the RI, Providence and African American communities and as an outstanding actor.

 

An advisory selection panel evaluated the applicants and made their recommendations. The panel included: Tisa Chang, Artistic Producing Director, Pan Asian Repertory; Nataki Garrett, Associate Artistic Director, Calarts Center for New Performance; Loretta Greco, Producing Artistic Director, Magic Theatre; Eric Rosen, Artistic Director, Kansas City Repertory Theatre; and Gerard Stropnicky, Founding Member Emeritus, Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble.