BLACK THEATRE UNITED AND WILLIAMSTOWN THEATRE FESTIVAL ANNOUNCE PARTICIPANTS, VISITING LUMINARY ARTISTS, AND GUEST PROFESSORS FOR THE INAUGURAL EARLY CAREER BLACK, INDIGENOUS, AND PEOPLE OF COLOR (BIPOC) THEATRE-MAKERS PROGRAM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, PLEASE
BLACK THEATRE UNITED
WILLIAMSTOWN THEATRE FESTIVAL
VISITING LUMINARY ARTISTS, AND GUEST PROFESSORS
FOR THE INAUGURAL
EARLY CAREER BLACK, INDIGENOUS, AND PEOPLE OF COLOR (BIPOC) THEATRE-MAKERS PROGRAM
OFFERING EARLY CAREER BIPOC THEATRE-MAKERS
WORK & LEARN EXPERIENCE AT THE FESTIVAL
New York, NY (June 2, 2021) – Black Theatre United (BTU) and Williamstown Theatre Festival (WTF) announce the participants, visiting luminary artists, and guest professors participating in the inaugural Early Career Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Theatre-Makers Program, a central new component of the Festival’s training program. Launched with the support of a generous lead gift from the Tiger Baron Foundation, the Early Career BIPOC Theatre-Makers Program represents the first piece of a new structure that seeks to eliminate systems of racism at the Festival.
This unique program puts early career BIPOC theatre-makers at the heart of Festival operations and in the company of BTU mentors, provides them with instruction and access to affinity groups, and prepares them for careers in the American theatre.
Each participant will be embedded in a specific WTF department this summer, working alongside seasoned practitioners while also learning as a cohort in a classroom setting combining seminars, panels, and structured mentorship with founding members of BTU. Together, both BTU and WTF have built a program that provides each participant with room, board, and a stipend of $2,500.
The 2021 participants and their departments are Veshonte Brown (community works), Isaac Castillo (lighting/electrics), Penzi Hill (development), Jahquale Mazyck (literary), Shaun McBride (producing), Joy Nesbitt (production management), Edmond O’Neal (stage management), Anthony Shepard (audience engagement), Madeleine Winter (costumes), and Raven Zhan (props). Jason B. Lucas is program coordinator.
Visiting luminary artists include director Saheem Ali (Dangerous House at WTF), Tony Award-winning actor Brian Stokes Mitchell, two-time Pulitzer Prize® winning playwright Lynn Nottage, Tony Award®-winning designer Clint Ramos, and casting director Destiny Lilly and other representatives from The Telsey Office. Each of the visiting luminary artists will offer participants seminars throughout the summer giving them unique insight into their lives and career in the theatre.
This year’s guest professors, who will offer rigorous, curriculum-based lectures spanning a variety of disciplines with an emphasis on Black performance, are Rashida K. Braggs, PhD; E. Patrick Johnson, PhD.; Javon Johnson, PhD.; and WTF Trustee LeRhonda S. Manigault-Bryant, PhD.
ABOUT BLACK THEATRE UNITED
In response to the murder of George Floyd and countless other Black citizens, Black Theatre United states, “As members of the Black theatre community, we stand together to help protect Black people, Black talent, and Black lives of all shapes and orientations in communities across the country. Our voices are united to educate, empower and inspire through excellence and activism in pursuit of justice and equality. We will tell our stories, preserve our history, and ensure the legacy of Black theatre as American culture. Join us.”
Black Theatre United (www.blacktheatreunited.com) has served the community through a series of events that have sought to educate, uplift, and give voice to the issues that have led to the disenfranchisement of communities as well as to present pathways to empowerment. We began by presenting a town hall hosted by Audra McDonald with the incomparable Sherrilyn Ifill who helped to streamline many of the issues plaguing Black and Brown communities while encouraging people to get involved to create change. We followed that up with another town hall event, hosted by Viola Davis, where leader Stacey Abrams and leader Jeanine Abrams-McLean spoke to the power of being counted in the census and the power of our vote.
The work to address and dismantle systemic institutionalized racism within our industry is ongoing as we begin a partnership with Williamstown Theatre Festival. There is much work to be done and we are thrilled to partner with WTF as they, too, pick up the mantle on this journey to join us and create change.
ABOUT WILLIAMSTOWN THEATRE FESTIVAL
Few institutions have as profound an impact on the American theatrical landscape as the Tony Award-winning Williamstown Theatre Festival. For over six decades, Williamstown Theatre Festival has brought emerging and professional theatre artists together in the Berkshires to create a thrilling summer festival of diverse, world premiere plays and musicals, bold new revivals, and a rich array of accompanying cultural events.
In response to the unprecedented challenges of 2020, Williamstown Theatre Festival continued its long history of artistic innovation, collaborating with Audible, the leading creator and provider of premium audio storytelling. The Festival’s initiative ensured the voices of artists could be heard loudly and clearly around the globe during an extraordinary moment when theatre’s power to inspire, move, and heal was most needed. The result – the WTF Season on Audible – is a complete collection of new and reimagined works defined by artistic excellence, cultural diversity and relevance, and unbounded reach and crafted by some of the most influential and provocative American theatre artists of today.
For 67 years, artists have been drawn to Williamstown Theatre Festival to make great theatre in an environment conducive to artistic risk-taking. Matthew Broderick, Audra McDonald, Dominique Morisseau, Mary-Louise Parker, Susan Stroman, Uma Thurman, and Blair Underwood are just a few of the luminous theatre artists who have worked at the Festival. Many others, including Chris Pine, Kate Hudson, Paul Giamatti, Allison Janney, Brie Larson, George C. Wolfe, and Kiefer Sutherland, began their careers at the Festival.
In addition, Williamstown Theatre Festival continues to grow new programs. Among the thriving new initiatives are COMMUNITY WORKS – a one-of-a-kind community-engaged theatre program – and the Andrew Martin-Weber New Play and Musical Commissioning Program, through which new work is created year-round by theatre artists including Jocelyn Bioh, Nathan Alan Davis, Halley Feiffer, Justin Levine, Matthew Lopez, Jiehae Park, Benjamin Scheuer, and many others.
Productions and artists shaped at the Festival fill theatres in New York City and around the world. In the abbreviated 2019-20 theatrical season alone, Williamstown Theatre Festival was represented or scheduled to be represented on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and regionally by The Sound Inside and Grand Horizons, both of which received Tony Award nominations for Best Play, The Rose Tattoo, Seared, Selling Kabul, Unknown Soldier, Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow, and Lempicka. Cost of Living, which was developed and premiered at Williamstown Theatre Festival, was awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Learn more about Williamstown Theatre Festival at www.wtfestival.org.
# # # #