We are thrilled to launch Soho Rep. Project Number One. Through this new job creation program, eight artists will become salaried staff members for the 2020/2021 season: Becca Blackwell, Shayok Misha Chowdhury, Stacey Derosier, David Mendizábal, Ife Olujobi, David Ryan Smith, Carmelita Tropicana, and Tow Playwright-in-Residence Jillian Walker.
It should not be a wild experiment to recognize the enormous benefit that artists offer society but given the dire lack of government support for arts workers during this pandemic, it is.
Over the last six months, a global health crisis and urgent calls for racial justice have exposed the intense unsustainability and inequities in our field. Moving forward with this amazing cohort, we will meet regularly together to reimagine what comes next for theater-making. Each artist will also create something to be shared with you throughout the season. Artists will receive a salary equivalent to the average staff salary at Soho Rep.: $1,250 per week plus health insurance.
Each of these artists has an utterly singular theatrical vision. They are also people with an interest in interrogating the relationship between artists and institutions; who integrate their values deeply into their creative practice; and show a generosity of spirit toward the work of other theater makers. They are also intergenerational and represent a range of disciplines—theatrical design, directing, acting, publishing, and playwriting.
As we live through this rupture together, we aspire to serve our mission more rigorously, ambitiously and experimentally than ever before. If our role is to provide meaningful opportunities to radical theater makers at critical junctures in their practice, then there has never been a better moment to more urgently increase our direct support of artists. We’ve also long been artist-led, and we’re excited to further center that distinctive aspect of our work and radically grow the number of artists in formal roles at the Soho Rep. for the coming year.
We’ve also been so inspired by the continuum of responses from folks who are activating the power they have to make a difference right now: from artists organizing mutual aid funds, to theaters awarding smaller grants to hundreds of arts workers; to those making work for people to enjoy at home.
We’re grateful for the emergency funding that Soho Rep. has received from individuals and organizations, and we are taking the strategic risk of paying this generosity forward to ensure that both our theater and our entire community comes out of this stronger than ever over the long term.
Becca Blackwell is an NYC-based trans actor, performer and writer. Existing between genders, and preferring the pronoun “they,” Blackwell works collaboratively with playwrights and directors to expand our sense of personhood and the body through performance. Some of their collaborations have been with Young Jean Lee, Half Straddle, Jennifer Miller’s Circus Amok, Richard Maxwell, Erin Markey, Sharon Hayes, Theater of the Two Headed Calf and Lisa D’Amour. Film/TV includes: “High Maintenance,” “Ramy,” “Marriage Story,” “Shameless,” “Deadman’s Barstool,” and “Jack in the Box.” They have toured their solo shows They, Themself and Schmerm and Schmermie’s Choice across the US. Blackwell was a recipient of the Doris Duke Impact Artist Award, the Franklin Furnace award and the Creative Capital Award.
Shayok Misha Chowdhury is a writer, director, and many-tentacled maker. He is the creator of VICHITRA, an experiment in queer South Asian imagination. The project has been commissioned by Ars Nova, The Bushwick Starr, HERE Arts Center, Joe’s Pub, Dixon Place, and National Queer Theater. Misha is a Resident Artist at HERE Arts Center, a member of the Devised Theater Working Group @ The Public, and an alumnus of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, Ars Nova’s Maker’s Lab, New York Theatre Workshop’s 2050 Fellowship, and residencies at BRIC, The Drama League, and SPACE on Ryder Farm. Recent: MukhAgni (Under the Radar); How the White Girl Got Her Spots and Other 90s Trivia (Joe’s Pub); Englandbashi (HERE Arts). Upcoming: The Other Other with Kameron Neal (Ars Nova), a queer Carnatic extravaganza (The Bushwick Starr), and a new collaboration with Aleshea Harris (New York Theatre Workshop). In progress: SPEECH with Lightning Rod Special; Antioch Mass with Troy Anthony. A Fulbright and Kundiman fellow, Misha has been published in The Cincinnati Review, TriQuarterly, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Asian American Literary Review, and elsewhere. shayokmishachowdhury.com
Stacey Derosier (NYC lighting designer). Credits include: Here We Are (Theater for One), School Girls, Or the African Mean Girls Play (Berkeley Rep), All the Natalie Portmans (MCC Theater), Stew (Page 73), How to Load a Musket (Less Than Rent), The Copper Children (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Men on Boats (Baltimore Center Stage), for all the women who thought they were Mad (Soho Rep.), White Noise conceived by Daniel Fish (NYU Skirball), the bandaged place (NYSAF Powerhouse), Playing Hot! (Pipeline Theater Company), The Climb (Cherry Lane – Mentor Project), Mies Julie & Dance of Death (Classic Stage Company), Novenas For a Lost Hospital, No One is Forgotten, Lewiston/Clarkston (Rattlestick Playwright’s Theater), The Revolving Cycles Truly & Steadily Roll’d (Playwright’s Realm) & was the 2018 Lilly Award recipient of the Daryl Roth Prize. www.staceyderosier.com
David Mendizábal is a director/designer, one of the Producing Artistic Leaders of the Obie Award winning The Movement Theatre Company, and the Associate Artistic Director of The Sol Project. Select directing credits include: Don’t Eat the Mangos (Magic Theatre/Sundance/Sol), On The Grounds of Belonging (Long Wharf), the bandaged place (NYSAF), Then They Forgot About The Rest (INTAR), The Maturation of an Inconvenient Negro (Cherry Lane Mentor Project), And She Would Stand Like This (w/ choreo. by Kia LaBeija), Look Upon Our Lowliness, and Bintou (The Movement), and Tell Hector I Miss Him (Atlantic / Drama League Nomination). He is a member of the Latinx Theatre Commons, alumnus of The Drama League Directors Project, LAByrinth Intensive Ensemble, NALAC, artEquity, and Lincoln Center Directors Lab. David was a participant in the TCG Leadership U: One-on-One program from 2017 – 2018, where he was the Artistic Associate at Atlantic Theater Company. BFA – NYU/Tisch @ PHTS | davidmendizabal.com | IG: @its_daveed
Ife Olujobi is a Nigerian American playwright and screenwriter from Columbia, Maryland. She is a 2019-20 New Voices Fellow at The Lark, a 2020-21 Resident Artist at Ars Nova, a member of Youngblood at Ensemble Studio Theatre, an alumnus of both the 2018-19 Emerging Writers Group at The Public Theater and the 2020 Sundance Institute Theatre Lab, and the recipient of a 2020 Sloan Foundation commission from Manhattan Theatre Club. Her plays include Jordans, Smoke, MARKETPLACE, and others, and her work has been seen at The Public, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Charity Randall Theater, Bishop Arts Theater Center, and more. She is also the founder and editor of Townies zine, managing editor of The Supplements at Soho Rep, and a former assistant editor at the Criterion Collection. She received her BFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2016.
David Ryan Smith Broadway: One Man, Two Guvnors; Passing Strange. Off Broadway: Where We Stand (Women’s Project) Passage (Soho Rep); A Midsummer Night’s Dream Henry V, Twelfth Night, Romeo & Juliet, The Comedy of Errors, Pericles (The Public Theater), Gone Missing (City Center/Encores! Off Center), Mankind (Playwrights Horizons), The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World (Signature Theater), The Glory of the World (BAM), #9 (59E59); The Rover (NY Classical Theater); Marat/Sade (Classical Theater of Harlem). Select Regional: Repertory Theater of Saint Louis, Shakespeare Theater Company, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Actors Theater of Louisville, Barrington Stage, American Conservatory Theater, Dallas Theater Center, Crossroads Theater Company. Film: The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Medal of Victory, Bee Season. Education: MFA, American Conservatory Theater, BFA University of Evansville. He is a member of the Young Partner Board at The Public Theater and teaches acting at Playwrights Horizons Theater School-NYU.
Alina Troyano aka Carmelita Tropicana has been performing in New York’s downtown arts scene since the 1980’s, straddling the worlds of performance art and theater with irreverent humor, subversive fantasy, and bilingual puns. Current works online include Pandemic Fight, Theater for One Project (2020) and Rad Women for Pandemic Times, 100 Years / 100 Women, The Park Avenue Armory (2020). Tropicana is a Guggenheim Fellow and Obie recipient in Theater. Select awards include Creative Capital, Anonymous Was a Woman, New York Foundation for the Arts. Publications include Memories of the Revolution: The First 10 Years of the Wow Café Theater, (2015) edited with Holly Hughes and Jill Dolan and Carmelita Tropicana: Performing Between Cultures (2000). Tropicana was an original member of the WOW collective, served on the Board of Directors of PS New York, formerly PS 122 (1998 – 2016) and New York Foundation for the Arts (2015 to date).
Jillian Walker writes and performs sacred texts for the theatre. Her work has taken the form of plays, musicals, lecture-sermon-concert gatherings, and self-reflective space for remembrance and liberation. She draws deeply on her training as a dramaturg (MFA Columbia), Black Spiritual wisdom, and the ongoing work of Black feminist thinkers to bring process-driven performance to life. Some of her work(ings) include SKiNFoLK: An American Show, co-presented by The Bushwick Starr and National Black Theatre (NY Times Critics’ Pick, Kilroys List, Antonyo Award), Sarah’s Salt., and Songs of Speculation. Jillian is currently co-conspiring with The TEAM as a writer/performer on Reconstruction, and Soho Rep., where she is the 2020-21 Tow Playwright-in-Residence. She is a 2020 Lilly Award recipient who also enjoys co-conspiring with the readers of her monthly newsletter, The Free List. www.thisisjillianwalker.com