National Black Theatre Announces 2018 Resident Artists
Dr. Barbara Ann Teer's National Black Theatre (NBT) has selected the resident artists for two of its signature programs: I Am Soul Playwright Residency and the Soul Producing Program. The I Am Soul Playwright Residency is the nation's premier theatrical program dedicated solely to the development of Black playwrights, and committed to providing a workshop production of their new works. Eric Micha Holmes and Lee Edward Colston II were chosen for the fifth year of the program as part of a competitive national selection process for the 18-month residency that will focus on the creation of a new play to be produced in 2019. Tola Ozim will be the recipient of the Soul Producing Program, a 9-month residency aimed to training the next generation of producers, general managers, and curators of the future. NBT also announces the 19 playwrights to gain support through the Keep Soul Alive Reading Series.
"With our 49th season's theme, "Black To The Future," it is vital that NBT continue to provide professional and fertile spaces that encourage and support a new generation of story-tellers and arts administrators. Throughout Soul Series Lab, NBT is providing a necessary space for Black artists to sit in the center of cultural production that will continue to spread the legacy of Black Theatre through innovation," said NBT Director of Theatre Arts Jonathan McCrory. "It is with honor and excitement that we award this honor on Lee, Eric and Tola, three unique artists who use their work to complicate, celebrate and redefine the notion of Blackness not traditionally seen in mainstream America."
Lee Edward Colston II is a Philly native, who recently graduated from Juilliard. As a former prison guard Colston uses his craft to help combat injustice. His play 'SOLITARY' was a winner of the 2008 Philadelphia Theater Workshop and 'ROOST' won the 2010 Life Media Award in the Philadelphia Urban Theater Festival & the 2013 Hidden River Arts Award for best new play.
Eric Micha Holmes's mono-play, "Walking Next To Michael Brown" was commissioned by The New Black Fest, toured with the Barrymore Award nominated "Hands Up: 7 Playwrights/ 7 Testaments," and featured in a radio adaption on BBC Radio 4. His work has been seen and developed at The New Black Fest, MCC Theater, New York Theater Workshop, and The Lark Play Development Center.
Tola Ozim is an attorney who has worked in PR and marketing and assisted non-profit organizations at a programmatic level. She has been involved in performing arts - on stage and behind the scenes - as a dancer and choreographer, singer, producer, and fashion assistant.
On Friday, September 1, 2017, these artists will officially start their residencies. Each will receive a fee as a resident, administrative and dramaturgical support in the creation of their work. Each I Am Soul residency will conclude with a public showing of the developed work as a limited engagement workshop production in February/March 2019 as part of NBT's 50th season. Through this program, NBT is able to strengthen the artistic relationship between historic Black theatrical institutions and Black playwrights and administrators to help diversify the narratives being developed and produced about Black lifestyle.
Keep Soul Alive Reading Series is a program dedicated to reading new plays by 20 Black playwrights who are developing new work. This year's lineup includes: Zhailon Levingston, Leslie Caldwell, Bryan Glover, Darrell A. Holnes, Bleu Beckford Burrell, Calvin Ramsey, Mai Matshushita, Naomi Harris, Andre Jones, Nathan James, Cynthia Robinson, Lekeitha Dalcoe, Frank Dunham Jr. , Renee Rankin, Osiris Khepera, Germano Toussaint, Keelay Gibson, Adrienne Dawes, Jerome Parker, and Marcus Scott. The readings will happen on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month at 7:30 pm. These readings will be free to the public with a suggested donation of $10. Our desire for this program is to attract compelling and complex stories by African American Playwrights and to share these stories with the community.
ABOUT THE RESIDENTS
Eric Micha Holes, (I AM SOUL PLAYWRIGHTS RESIDENT) is a playwright whose work has been seen and developed at The New Black Fest and MCC Theatre ("Pornplay; or, Blessèd Are The Meek "), New York Theatre Workshop ("Nimpsey Pink"), and The Lark Play Development Center ("Jackets In May" and "Wolf/Paper/Sky") among others. Former residencies and fellowships include: Space At Ryder Farm, LaGuardia Performing Arts Playwriting Lab, a The Lark Playground Initiative. His mono-play, "Walking Next To Michael Brown: Confessions Of A Tragic Mulatto" was commissioned by The New Black Fest and has toured with Barrymore Award Nominated "Hands Up: 7 Playwrights / 7 Testaments" to theatres across the country including: The National Black Theatre, The Brooklyn Museum Of Art, The Red Door Theatre, Crowded Fire Theatre, The Museum Of The Moving Image, The Hansberry Project, and Flashpoint Theatre. A radio adaptation of Hands Up was presented on Afternoon Drama on BBC Radio 4 which won the Sarah Lawrence Audio Fiction Award and The New York Festivals Award.
Lee Edward Colston II, (I AM SOUL PLAYWRIGHTS RESIDENT) is a Philly native, former prison guard turned actor, playwright, director, acting teacher, writing coach, & author. Selected acting credits include: Intimate Apparel, The Color Purple (Nat'l tour), Seven Guitars, Hoodoo Love, In Arabia We'd All Be Kings, Hadestown (New York Theater Workshop), The Sign In Sydney Brustein's Window, The Winter's Tale, Uncle Vanya, Merchant of Venice, Othello, Avenue X, and Sweat (The Public Theater, reading). Television credits include: The Black List: Redemption (NBC), Mr. Robot (USA). Playwriting: plays include Roost, Solitary, The First Deep Breath, and This Is My America. His play 'SOLITARY' was winner of the 2008 Philadelphia Theater Workshop. His play 'ROOST' won the 2010 Life Media Award in the Philadelphia Urban Theater Festival & the 2013 Hidden River Arts Award for best new play. As a teaching artist, he trains actors (and writers) in both one on one and classroom settings with a special focus on classical training and preparing actors and writers for the industry as well as undergrad & grad school audition preparation. MFA: The Juilliard School.
Tola Ozim, (SOUL PRODUCING FELLOW) is an attorney who teaches legal professionals about the current federal tax system in the United States. However, her professional capabilities and interests extend well beyond the law. She has previously worked in PR and marketing and has assisted non-profit organizations at a programmatic level. Tola has been involved in performing arts - on stage and behind the scenes - as a dancer and choreographer, singer, producer, and fashion assistant. She is a creative, analytical, collaborative partner who believes in art that is revelatory and revolutionary. With the understanding that art gains its universality in specificity, she is excited to help create work that opens a door not only to the American experience but to the specific black experience. Tola holds a BA in sociology from the University of Virginia and a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School.
ABOUT NATIONAL BLACK THEATRE
Founded by visionary Dr. Barbara Ann Teer in 1968, National Black Theatre (NBT) is a nationally recognized cultural and educational institution. Dr. Teer pioneered "the healing art of Black theatre as an instrument for wholeness in urban communities where entrepreneurial artists of African descent live and work." In 1983, Dr. Teer expanded the vision of NBT by purchasing a 64,000-square-foot building on 125th Street and Fifth Avenue (renamed "National Black Theatre Way" by local law in 1994). This was the first revenue-generating Black arts complex in the country, an innovative arrangement through which for-profit businesses who shared NBT's spiritual and aesthetic values rented retail space to subsidize the arts. Out of her vision, NBT houses the largest collection of Nigerian new sacred art in the Western hemisphere and is considered the authentic representation of a model whose time has come. NBT is partially supported by grants from the City Council of New York, City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs, Ford Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts and private donations. Follow NBT on Facebook (www.facebook.com/NationalBlackTheatre) and Twitter/Instagram (@NatBlackTheatre).