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Drewcella Davis Named 2020-22 Apothetae & Lark Playwriting Fellow

Fellow Drewcella Davis, a Finalist for the 2018-20 Fellowship, was selected from a pool of 70 applicants by a committee comprised of Apothetae and Lark artistic staff.

Drewcella Davis Named 2020-22 Apothetae & Lark Playwriting Fellow

The Apothetae, a theater company committed to the production of works that explore and illuminate the "Disabled Experience," and The Lark, a play development lab devoted to equity, community, and the power of an individual artistic voice, have announced Drewcella Davis as the 2020-22 Apothetae and Lark Playwriting Fellow. The Fellowship, made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ford Foundation, and the Howard Gilman Foundation, includes a two-year residency for a Deaf/Disabled writer, a cash award of $40,000, plus a $5,000 Opportunity Fund for project-related expenses, and control over a $10,000 Production Enhancement Fund, to be allocated to a producing theater in support of a full production of one of the Fellow's plays. The Fellowship also includes access to a wide range of Lark and Apothetae resources, including artistic program participation, office and rehearsal space, and staff support.

Two Finalists for the award, Nikki Brake-Sillá and A.A. Brenner, were chosen as inaugural recipients of the Jody Falco and Jeffrey Steinman Award which offers each $5,000. Brake-Sillá and Brenner will also participate in Lark artistic programs.

Fellow Drewcella Davis, a Finalist for the 2018-20 Fellowship, was selected from a pool of 70 applicants by a committee comprised of Apothetae and Lark artistic staff, alongside individual artists aligned with the program's mission. Members of the committee included Brian Balcom (Chicago-based Director), Andrea Hiebler (Director of Scouting and Submissions, The Lark), Tim J. Lord (Inagural Apothetae & Lark Playwriting Fellow), Gregg Mozgala (Founder and Artistic Director, The Apothetae), and Krista Williams (Roundtable and Casting Director, The Lark).

"My plays are a conjuration spell for Disabled Black communities," said Drewcella. "I want to dismantle white supremacy by taking their perceived ideologies of otherness and flip them on their heads with Black magic. I'm excited to be a part of a community where I believe these ideas will be honored, nurtured, and encouraged."

The Apothetae and Lark Playwriting Fellowship is the centerpiece of a broad Apothetae and Lark Initiative, designed to provide an unprecedented platform of financial and artistic support and advocacy for d/Deaf and Disabled Artists, and to promote the generation of new plays with the power to revolutionize the cultural conversation surrounding Disability.

The Fellowship and Initiative were born directly out of conversations with members of the Disabled and d/Deaf Communities, held at The Lark in May of 2015 and January of 2016. At both convenings, three major needs were expressed: more material, more opportunities (which are perpetuated by the creation of more material), and more convening as a community. The Apothetae and The Lark have been working in partnership, to address these needs, as well as the profound underrepresentation and oppressive misrepresentation of people with disabilities that persists throughout our cultural media.

"The Lark is beyond grateful to Drewcella Davis, A.A. Brenner, and Nikki Brake-Sillá for bringing their command of craft, arresting talent, and singular world views to our community as the Fellow and Finalists for The Apothetae and Lark Playwriting Fellowship," said Krista Williams, Roundtable and Casting Director at The Lark. "These three artists, through their statements and scripts, immediately made themselves known, not just as formidable artists, but as visionary thinkers. Fellow Drewcella Davis's brilliant and elegiac play contends with the darkness of grief, with an incongruous incandescence as she forms a powerful coalition between the demands of the present, the ghosts of the past, and the aspirations of the future. Finalist A.A. Brenner's writing brings an irreverent, canny eye to the ecosystems of identity and society, and politics and art. Finalist Nikki Brake-Sillá's incisive narrative grapples with the multiplicitous and deeply rooted systems at work in a single, tender relationship. As we enter this second cycle of this Fellowship, we are thrilled to support these three artists. We are in awe of their writing, we honor their vision, and we cannot wait to get to know them as people."

The Apothetae and Lark Playwriting Fellowship is a critical component in The Lark's acclaimed portfolio of fellowships, designed to engage a diverse community of extraordinary playwrights at various places in their careers, who represent, collectively, a contemporary national vision. The Lark believes that targeted support is essential to a culture of equity, access, and inclusion, and a national theater that represents the vibrancy and complexity of our collective, cultural voices.

"It has been a difficult year," said Gregg Mozgala, Apothetae Founder and Artistic Director. "Our field has essentially been brought to a stand-still by a killer virus that feeds on the very things that make gathering and being in community with one another to make and enjoy theatre so unique. It is with no small amount of gratitude that, despite all the hardships of this year, we are able to offer a second cycle of The Apothetae and Lark Playwriting Fellowship and Initiative, and to announce a new Fellow and cohort of Finalists."

"This program has not only allowed our two organizations to expand our knowledge of the incredible artists within the Deaf/Disabled communities," said Mozgala. "As the only Fellowship of its kind, it has also enabled us to offer exceptional support to ensure that these artists can find a place in the larger theater community to connect with other artists and ultimately share their plays with a wider audience."

ABOUT THE FELLOW
Drewcella Davis (They/Them) has been a weaver of tales since they could speak their apparitions into existence. Their muse for storytelling comes from their Afrocentric ancestry. They pull inspiration for their stories from Santeria mythology. They're compelled to conjure folklore so that they can cultivate black joy. Playwriting allows them to grab an audience and hold space for laughter, rejoicing, and revolutionary love. Their artistic mission is to bring life onto the stage that reflects the black youth in their community. In doing so they hope to provide a service of communal engagement that reminds us of the glory and heartache of our past but propels us toward a revolutionary future. Drewcella was a 2016 Many Voices Mentee at The Playwrights Center. Their play, SKIN, was part of the 2017 Twin Cities Horror Festival. It was the first in the festival's nine-year history to have a sellout run. In 2019 they were awarded the I AM SOUL residency at The National Black Theatre. Their play WADE IN THE WATER was part of The Great Divide Series at Pillsbury House + Theatre. They're so excited to begin their journey as a Fellow at The Lark Theatre.

ABOUT THE FINALISTS
A.A. Brenner (they/them) is a playwright, dramaturg, and New Yorker. Their writing blends naturalistic dialogue with heightened realism to explore queer, Jewish, and disability themes, challenging both societal power structures and theatrical form. A.A.'s plays have been produced or commissioned by La Jolla Playhouse, National Disability Theatre, CO/LAB Theatre Group, Shakespeare Theatre Company (Fellows Consortium), Three Muses Theatre Company, Young Playwrights Inc., The Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts, Columbia University, and The Hangar Theatre Lab Company, among others. Their play for all audiences, EMILY DRIVER'S GREAT RACE THROUGH TIME AND SPACE (co-written by Gregg Mozgala), was featured on the 2020 Kilroys List. Currently, A.A. lives on the Upper West Side and is a third-year MFA candidate at Columbia University School of the Arts. They are thrilled and honored to be a Finalist for the 2020-22 Lark and Apothetae Playwriting Fellowship, and to officially join The Lark community as a playwright and artist. www.aabrenner.com.

Nikki Brake-Sillá is a playwright and filmmaker. She is the Founder of DrAW (Dramatists At War) and an inaugural member of Jouska Play Works. Nikki's full length plays include Trouble of the World, Finalist (Space on Ryder - Family Residency), Semi-Finalist (O'Neill, Bay Area Playwrights Festival), Dear Ann, Residency (The Mitten Lab), Semi-Finalist (Premiere Stages), In Defense of Ourselves, Commission (Philadelphia Women's Theater), and GTFOH. Her full-length narrative, A Weathering was a Semi-Finalist (Middlebury Scriptlab) and Second Round Selection (Sundance Narrative Lab). She has received funding from The Princess Grace Foundation, the Leeway Foundation and the Regional Center for Women Artists. Nikki received her M.F.A. from the City College of New York and her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild and Directors Gathering. www.ginifilms.com.



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