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The League of Chicago Theatres Announces the 2022 Samuel G. Roberson Jr. Resident Fellowship

Applications are due November 15, 2021.

By: Oct. 04, 2021
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The League of Chicago Theatres Announces the 2022 Samuel G. Roberson Jr. Resident Fellowship  Image

The League of Chicago Theatres has announced the 2022 Samuel G. Roberson Jr. Resident Fellowship, an annual grant awarded to a Black Artist to fund a residency with a Chicago area theatre. This year the award will go to a director.

Application and eligibility requirements can be found at Applications are due November 15, 2021.

Each year, the Fellowship is focused on a particular area of concentration in Theatre Arts. In 2021, when the Fellowship launched, the focus was playwrighting and was awarded to Kristiana Rae Colón and Congo Square Theatre for a one-year residency for Colón at the theatre.

This year's recipient and host theatre recipient will work together to produce a workshop or full-scale production of a new play or musical. The Director will be awarded $20,000 for the residency; the host theatre will receive $7,500 to support the Director's work and residency.

The spirit of this award encourages a relationship to be developed between the artist and the theatre that benefits the development of the artist's career. The project should be driven by the needs, artistic growth, and professional development of the artist. Host theatres are expected to support the artist through the development of the work and the end of the timeline is not expected to be the end of the relationship.

Priority will be given to host theatres that have a stated mission to produce work by Black or BIPOC artists.

The fellowship is administered by the League of Chicago Theatres and funded by the McMullen & Kime Charitable Trust.

Executive Director of the League of Chicago Theatres Deb Clapp comments, "Samuel G. Roberson was a beloved collaborator and friend to the Chicago theatre, and the League of Chicago Theatres is honored to administer this Fellowship in his name to support the work of Black theatre artists. Now in its second year, this award from the McMullen & Kime Charitable Trust, which will be given to a Chicago director this year, is a generous gift to the Chicago theatre community and a fitting tribute to Sam, a respected teacher, actor, director, artistic director and champion of social justice theater."

"As the host theatre for the first Samuel G. Roberson Jr. Fellowship, Congo Square Theatre was honored to collaborate with Kristiana Rae Colón this past year on her new play," said Charlique C. Rolle, Executive Director of Congo Square. "This Fellowship in Sam's name was especially meaningful because it brought Kristiana back into the Congo fold and brought the cumulative artistic and social justice efforts of Sam and Kristiana full circle."

About Samuel G. Roberson Jr.

After graduating from Howard University's Theatre Arts Department in 2005, Samuel G. Roberson Jr. began his theatre career with an apprenticeship at The Children's Theatre of Minneapolis, where he spent three years defining his desires for acting, writing, directing, and social justice theater. During this time, he began writing and using his artistry to draw attention to issues important to him. He successfully wrote and produced two plays, And They Said I Wouldn't Make It: A story of Hope, an autobiographical one man show about his fight with cancer as a child. And Same Difference, a 2 man show that deals with black male identity, and the pressures one experiences to act, sound and look a certain way in order to fit in to society.

After his success in Minneapolis, Sam made the move to Chicago where he continued pushing boundaries within the arts and within himself. Through his work with several prominent Chicago Theatres, including Steppenwolf, The Goodman, Northlight, Victory Gardens, Writers Theatre and Congo Square, as well as Spike Lee's film, Chiraq, Sam made a name for himself not just as an artist but as an activist and leader within the theatre community. In addition to continuing to produce and perform his one-man show, Sam also founded the Make Me A Match Project (M3P), a non-profit organization focused on raising awareness about the need for bone marrow donors within the African American community. Through his efforts with M3P, he helped register donors that resulted in bone marrow matches.

In 2013 he was elected the Artistic Director of Congo Square Theatre. Under his leadership, Congo Square presented the world premiere and subsequent remount of Kelvin Roston's award winning and Jeff-nominated Twisted Melodies, both productions directed by Sam. He created Congo Square's signature conversation series, Owning Our Worth, which has hosted culturally specific theater leaders of color in public dialogue for talks on issues relevant to the theatre community at-large. He felt very strongly that it was his duty as an influential member of the community to advocate for more diverse work and casting throughout the Chicago Theatre scene. He also helped bring together a cohort of artists to create Chicago Artists Against Injustice using his artistry as a way to start difficult conversations around issues that often divide us. Wanting to spread his work to Chicago's youth, Sam founded Congo Square's Education program, Y-BOOM (Young Brothers Owning Our Mission), a literacy-based leadership program that provides a safe environment for adolescent African American men. It was his work with Y-BOOM that garnered the attention of the 3Arts organization who awarded him a 3Arts award for service and leadership as an artist in his community.

For all of Sam's accomplishments and contributions, there was much more that he had hoped to achieve before succumbing to pneumonia in 2017. But he lived everyday he was given to his fullest, and gave all that he could of himself in hopes of inspiring others to do the same. When asked once, "What wakes you up in the morning?," he responded, "Knowing that at some point in my day, I am going to have a positive impact on someone, somewhere." We are most pleased to honor such a beloved, brave and committed truth teller through the Samuel G. Roberson Jr. Resident Fellowship.


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