Aetna And TheaterWorks Announce New Fellowship Opportunity.

Aetna And TheaterWorks Announce New Fellowship Opportunity.

Aetna and TheaterWorks announced today their artistic partnership, BREAKING BARRIERS, a pilot fellowship program providing opportunity for female directors of color in theater. The only one of its kind, the fellowship addresses the lack of parity in artistic leadership positions in the theater, particularly as it relates to women-identifying people of color.

Rob Ruggiero, Producing Artistic Director said, "We are inspired by our partnership with Aetna and recognize that we have the ability through this program to give greater voice to critically important storytellers. We appreciate Aetna's vote of confidence and trust in choosing to build this fellowship with us. This is a national program that acknowledges industry wide deficiencies while creating opportunities that can begin to elevate these essential voices."

Further, Ruggiero said he is pleased to name Taneisha Duggan as the inaugural recipient of the 2018 Breaking Barriers Fellowship. Taneisha is an actor, director, producer and arts administrator. She began her performance training at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts and continued on to SUNY-Purchase College in The School of Theater Arts and Film. Taneisha has appeared on regional stages in Connecticut and New York, including TheaterWorks, Long Wharf, LaMama, and social justice theater HartBeat Ensemble. As a director, Taneisha is committed to using theater as a convener for community and elevating marginalized bodies and voices. She is attracted to new works, and is diligent in ensuring her creative teams are fully representative - aspects she advocates for in her role as Producing Associate at TheaterWorks.

"Aetna is thrilled to partner with TheaterWorks to provide incredible women directors of color an opportunity for their voices to be heard, their vision to be explored. We are delighted to have Taneisha Duggan as our inaugural director. Her spirit is relevant, her direction is provocative and her perspective captures the essences of community through the soul of the playwright," says Floyd W. Green Vice President and head of Community Activation and Local Marketing at Aetna.

This pilot partnership between TheaterWorks and Aetna is an important alliance aimed at shifting the landscape of the American theater. TheaterWorks is proud to join such industry leaders as The Lilly Awards Foundation, The Kilroys, and BOLD Theater Women's Leadership Circle in offering a platform of increased visibility for female artists. Future recipients will be chosen from a national pool based on their potential to lead the field and their interest in using their work to strengthen community. The fellowship period is aligned to TheaterWorks season and involves directing a production slated for the theater as well as a commitment to community engagement. More information is available by emailing TheaterWorks at

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