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National Black Theatre Expands Program and Selects Five Artists for the SOUL Series LAB Residency Program

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The SOUL Series LAB consists of three signature programs: I AM SOUL Playwright Residency, SOUL Directing Residency, and SOUL Producing Residency. 

National Black Theatre Expands Program and Selects Five Artists for the SOUL Series LAB Residency Program

Dr. Barbara Ann Teer's National Black Theatre (NBT), celebrating its 52nd season (to be announced soon), has expanded its groundbreaking SOUL Series LAB (Liberating Artistic Bravery) Residency Programs to select five artists. Due to the impact of the pandemic on freelance artists, NBT wanted to deepen its investment in Black artists and support the professional development of key stakeholders of creative production within American Theatre. The SOUL Series LAB consists of three signature programs: I AM SOUL Playwright Residency, SOUL Directing Residency, and SOUL Producing Residency.

This year's residents are: Fedna Jacquet(I AM SOUL Playwright Resident), Kristen Adele Calhoun (I AM SOUL Playwright Resident), Nathan Yungerberg (I AM SOUL Playwright Resident), Josiah Davis (SOUL Directing Resident), and Lauren Marissa Smith (SOUL Producing Resident).

Since the inception of the SOUL Series LAB in 2012, NBT has strengthened the artistic relationship between historically Black theatrical institutions and cutting edge artists. As a creative laboratory and home for Black artists, the series of programs are dedicated to the acceleration and innovation of cultural production based on NBT's pedagogy. The goal of the SOUL Series Lab is to diversify the narratives, points of access, and possibilities developed and produced about Black lifestyle in American theatre. More details on the programs:

The I AM SOUL Playwright Residency is the only theatrical program in the nation dedicated solely to the development of Black playwrights, with a commitment to producing a workshop production of a new original text conceived over an 18-month process. Former recipients of this residency are Mfoniso Udofia (Her Portmanteau), Nambi E. Kelley (Blood), Aurin Squire (Zoohouse), Derek Lee McPhatter (Serious Adverse Effects), Angelica Chéri (Crowndation: I Will Not Lie to David), Dennis A. Allen II (Manhood), Lee Edward Colston II (The First Deep Breath), Eric Micha Holmes (Mondo Tragic), Darrel Alejandro Holnes (Bayano). The current residents are Tracey Conyer Lee (Retreat), Oya Mae Duchess-Davis, and TyLie Shider.

The SOUL Directing Residency is an 18-month program that supports one director, and is the only residency for Black directors that culminates in a mainstage production in New York City. Residents receive a mainstage slot within NBT's season to premiere a devised piece or reimagine an existing text. Former residents are Ebony Noelle Golden (125th & FREEdom) and current resident is Dominique Rider.

The SOUL Producing Residency is a 10-month residency to strengthen and hone the administrative acumen needed for producing a theatrical season in New York City. Especially in this time, the program centers what it means for a producer to generate courageous, sacred, and safe spaces for Black community members to heal and see each other. At the end of this residency, the resident acts as the line producer for one of NBT's productions or events within the season. Former recipients of this residency are Ngozi Anyanwu, Marie Cisco, Tola Ozim, Emana Rachelle, and TS Hawkins.

The residents were selected after a five-month competitive peer selection process managed by NBT for all three programs. This year's cohort of artists will officially start their residencies on Tuesday, September 1, 2020. Each resident receives a commission fee, professional development opportunities, as well as administrative and dramaturgical support in the creation of their work.

Read more about each artist below:

PLAYWRITING RESIDENTS

Fedna Jacquet was born in Boston to Haitian parents. She currently works out of NYC where she is a full-time writer and actor. She is a 2019 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in Playwriting/Screenwriting and a 2019-2021 Huntington Theatre Playwriting Fellow. Written plays include Pefeksyon (Playwright's Realm Finalist, DVRF Finalist, Studio Tisch), Inheritance (Classical Theatre of Harlem Playwright's Playground, Studio Tisch), and Gurlfriend (developed as a Huntington Fellow). BA: Brown University MFA: Tisch Grad Acting.

Kristen Adele CALHOUN is a playwright, performer, organizer and the founding Program Director of ArtChangeUS and co-producer of InterFest. Her play, Canfield Drive, had a rolling world premiere in 2019 at the St. Louis Black Rep and The National Black Theatre Festival. A native of Dallas, Texas, she is a graduate of the University of North Texas and the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. Kristen is currently reading, writing and living in Accra, Ghana.

NATHAN YUNGERBERG is a Brooklyn-based playwright and Afrosurrealist whose work has been developed or featured by The Cherry Lane Theatre, JAG Productions, LAByrinth Theater, Lorraine Hansberry Theater, and more. He is one of seven Black playwrights commissioned by The New Black Fest for HANDS UP: 7 Playwrights, 7 Testaments. Awards and honors include: 2017 Mentor Project with Stephen Adly Guirgis, Blue Ink Playwriting Award (Finalist), 2019 Djerassi Resident Artist, Ken Davenport 10-Minute Play Festival (Winner). www.nathanyungerberg.com

DIRECTING RESIDENT

JOSIAH DAVIS (he/him) is a director, choreographer, performer, designer whose work intersects expressive movement, live music, emerging technology, and ritual to breathe new life into physical storytelling. He is the Associate Artistic Director of On The Verge Theatre Company-Santa Barbara, a New York Theatre Workshop 2050 Fellow, a Theatre Lumina company member. He received an MFA from Brown/Trinity in Directing and a BA from UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television. josiah-davis.com | onthevergefest.com

PRODUCING RESIDENT

Lauren Marissa Smith is a writer, actor, and producer colliding movement, language, and imagery to celebrate Black womanhood. She studied acting at the Susan Batson Studio and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Spelman College. She currently serves as the Artistic Director of Brown Girls Burlesque (BGB) and its newly formed sister company Brown Girls Theater. Lauren is also the creator of the digital series Maybe it's Me which is set for release in 2021.

The L.A.B is being supported by the generosity of the Jerome Foundation, Ford Foundation, Andrew Mellon Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, Shubert Foundation, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, New York City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts. For more information about each of the residencies and alumni of the SOUL Series LAB, visit www.nationalblacktheatre.org and follow NBT on Facebook (@NationalBlackTheatre) and Twitter/Instagram (@NatBlackTheatre).



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