HERE Announces 2019 Recipients Of Multi-Year $100K Residencies

HERE welcomes composer and singer Gelsey Bell, OBIE and Doris Duke award-winning playwright Julia Jarcho, and NAACP-nominated theatre-maker Nia O. Witherspoon as new members of the HERE Artist Residency Program (HARP).

Created in 1999, HARP provides resident artists with commission funds, developmental support, career planning, and a full production, all within a collaborative environment of peers working across artistic disciplines, including theatre, dance, music, puppetry, visual art, and new media. With a $50,000 cash grant and $50,000 in space, equipment and services over each two to three year residency, HARP offers significant long-term support that is deeply rooted in creating an artist-centric process that is tailored to the needs of each resident artist.

Bell's residency will be focused on the development of m n (pronounced as mourning and morning ), an opera that inhabits a world in which all humans have disappeared from Earth. Inspired by Alan Weisman's The World Without Us, the piece is whimsical, fantastical, and playful while being rooted in scientific ideas and the dire political and ethical contradictions that structure current human relations with nature and other animals.

Jarcho, working alongside her company Minor Theater, will plunge headfirst into the misogyny at the heart of modern drama. Using a wild retranslation of Georg B chner's Woyzeck as a point of entry, Jarcho's adaptation starts from the perspective of Marie, Woyzeck's enigmatic, highly sexualized victim, building new narratives around the fragments B chner left behind.

Witherspoon will develop a new theatrical work, Priestess of Twerk, inspired equally by the 'bad bitches' of hip-hop, the reproductive justice movement, and the sacred sex workers that graced Egyptian temples. It presents women and trans folks of color with opportunities to re-encounter their sexualities through the lens of the sacred, in the hopes of increasing bodily autonomy and dispelling toxic masculinity.

Through HARP, HERE has developed such highly acclaimed works as Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues, Taylor Mac's The Lily's Revenge, Young Jean Lee's Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven, Basil Twist's Symphonie Fantastique, Trey Lyford and Geoff Sobelle's All Wear Bowlers, and James Scruggs' Disposable Men, among others. Since HARP's founding, HERE has supported the work and career development of 165 lead artists and hundreds of their collaborators.

HARP nurtures the development of nine to eleven artists, through a cross-disciplinary exchange, monthly meetings, peer-driven workshops, and panel discussions. Created 20 years ago to address a compelling need in the field the void of artistic, administrative, and financial support for artists with certain professional accomplishments, but without breakthrough recognition HARP assists artists who are developing distinct voices and experimenting with new approaches that expand the parameters of performance. HARP is unique by offering a meeting ground where artists from varied disciplines can share diverse perspectives and by developing work with a hybrid performance aesthetic.

About the 2019 HARP Resident Artists

Gelsey Bell is a singer, songwriter, and scholar. She has been described by the New York Times as a charismatic and fiercely intelligent performer, whose performance of her own music is virtuosic and glorious noise. She is a core member of thingNY and Varispeed, has received a 2017 Foundation for Contemporary Arts award for music/sound and has been an artist-in-residence at Roulette. Her works include Bathroom Songs, Scaling, Our Defensive Measurements, Prisoner's Song (with Erik Ruin), This Takes Place Close By (with thingNY), and the acclaimed adaptation of Robert Ashley's Perfect Lives (with Varispeed). She has also written and performed music for many dance performances including Anna Sperber's Wealth from the Salt Seas. Other performance highlights include Dave Malloy's Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812 (Broadway) and Ghost Quartet, Robert Ashley's Improvement and Crash, Matthew Barney and Jonathan Bepler's River of Fundament, Kate Soper's Here Be Sirens, and Gregory Whitehead's On the Shore Dimly Seen.

Julia Jarcho is a playwright and director from New York City with the company Minor Theater. She has won an OBIE for Best New American Play (Grimly Handsome), a Doris Duke Impact Award, and a Mark O'Donnell Award, and has been a MacDowell Fellow and an LCT New Writer in Residence at Lincoln Center. Her book Minor Theater: Three Plays is available from 53rd State Press and her first critical book, Writing and the Modern Stage: Theater Beyond Drama, is published by Cambridge University Press. She teaches at NYU.

Nia Ostrow Witherspoon is a black queer NAACP-nominated theatre-maker, vocalist/composer, and cultural worker investigating the metaphysics of black liberation, desire, and diaspora. Witherspoon is currently the Playwright-in-Residence at University of Massachusetts (Amherst), an AIR at BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange, and was a 2017-18 2050 Playwriting/Directing Fellow at New York Theatre Workshop. Her award-winning work has been featured by JACK, Playwright's Realm, BRIC, HERE, National Black Theatre, BAAD, Movement Research, BAX, Dixon Place, Painted Bride, 651 Arts, and elsewhere. As a performer, Witherspoon appeared in Sharon Bridgforth's River See (Links Hall), and in Cherr e Moraga's La Semilla Caminante/The Traveling Seed (Intersection for the Arts). She holds a B.A. from Smith College and a PhD from Stanford University in Theatre and Performance Studies, and has held tenure-track professorships at Florida State University and Arizona State University. Nia has recently been awarded a two-year Jerome Foundation Artist Fellowship.


Through HARP, HERE commissions and develops new hybrid works over multiple years. Throughout the year, HARP artists show works-in-progress, develop workshop productions, and mount full scale premieres. Current HARP projects in development include:

Set to premiere in November 2019, Writer/director Zoey Martinson's The Black History Museum According to the United States of America, will delve into the fraught relationship between Black bodies and the value America has placed on those bodies. Starting from the founding of this country traveling through modern day this immersive production will explore 'Blackness' from its constitutional conception to its currency.

Writer/director Gisela Cardenas' Hybrid Suite No. 2: The Carmen Variations, a devised theater opera inspired by Bizet's Carmen. Mixing opera, text, and movement, this project seeks to cross time and geographical borders to understand the potentially different faces Carmen might possess.

Choreographer Ximena Garnica and Video Artist Shige Moriya's A Meal, a choreographic ritual of preparing, serving and eating together experienced as part performance, part installation, part concert, and part dinner.

Puppetry artists Spencer Lott and Maiko Kikuchi's 9000 Paper Balloons, a new work of puppet theater about the mother and five children, who were killed by a bomb carried by a giant paper balloon launched from the Japanese coast in 1945, the only enemy inflicted casualty on the U.S. mainland during WWII.

Choreographer Raja Feather Kelly's The McCarthy Era (Working Title), a dance-theatre production that addresses the status of the artist in the McCarthy era, showing the ways in which, through a brutally effective mechanism, artists were directed to disengage from issues facing the real world.

Writer/director/hip-hop artist Baba Israel's Cannabis! (Working Title), a live multimedia performance telling the history of cannabis and tracing its impact on humanity by creating an up on your feet musical concert with spoken word, video, and immersive theatre.

Composer/singer Imani Uzuri's Songs of Sanctuary for the Black Madonna, a large choral and chamber orchestra work inspired by the iconic figure of the Black Madonna, a rare holy Marian figure visually depicted with Dark Skin and currently worshipped within the Catholic and Orthodox Marian pantheon but who can be traced back to pre-Christian pagan images.

Taylor Mac has been HERE's resident playwright since 2016 and is currently working on Socrate, which Mac envisions as an adaptation of The Apology of Socrates and Satie's Socrate. The piece is part of the playwright's continued quest in navigating the evil forces of the world with beauty and contemplation. Taylor Mac's Broadway debut, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus with Nathan Lane, Kristine Nielsen and Julie White, was commissioned by HERE and written by Mac as part of the HARP residency.

About HERE

The OBIE-winning HERE (Kristin Marting, Founding Artistic Director), named a Top Ten Off-Off Broadway Theatre by Time Out New York, is a leader in the field of producing and presenting new, hybrid performance viewed as a seamless integration of artistic disciplines theater, dance, music and opera, puppetry, media, visual and installation, spoken word and performance art.

HERE's standout productions include Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues, Taylor Mac's The Lily's Revenge, Trey Lyford & Geoff Sobelle's all wear bowlers, Young Jean Lee's Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven, James Scruggs' Disposable Men, Corey Dargel's Removable Parts, Kamala Sankaram's Miranda, Robin Frohardt's The Pigeoning, as well as premieres by Artistic Director Kristin Marting and Dream Music Puppetry Program Director Basil Twist.

HERE is also recognized nationally and internationally for the annual PROTOTYPE festival of opera-theatre and music-theatre, co-founded and co-produced with Beth Morrison Projects. Founded in 2013, PROTOTYPE commissions, develops, produces, and presents new 21st century works of contemporary opera and music-theater.

Since its founding in 1993, HERE and the artists it has supported have received 18 Obies, 2 Bessies, 5 Drama Desk Nominations, 2 Pulitzer Prizes, 4 Doris Duke Awards, and 2 MacArthur Fellowships.

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