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First things first. None of this would be possible without an incredible team. I must give a special shout out and thank you to the National Theater Project (NTP) team members – Meena Malik, Senior Program Manager; Derek Schwartz, Program Coordinator, as well as our Tech team, in particular Elizabeth Timmerman, Technology & Data Coordinator, and Jane Preston, Deputy Director, Programs. And of course, our amazing Advisors. Thank you for your patience and tenacity. Zoom meetings are hard and five days of Zoom panel meetings are extra hard!
The NTP advisors met in early May to decide which projects will be invited to complete a final application for the NTP Creation and Touring Grant. NTP advisors take the decision and feedback process very seriously. We hope that by providing feedback on a particular project, unsuccessful applicants will have a stronger proposal if they decide to apply for funding in the future. Of course, as the applications get better each year, the decisions get that much harder.
As always, the Advisor discussions were spirited and informative, and ultimately resulted in a very strong list of 26 final applicants this year. While the world is still dealing with the effects of a global pandemic, racial reckonings, and the artistic community is dealing with great uncertainty about where theater and touring are headed, we remain committed to supporting artists and will again be reallocating unused meeting and travel expenses to provide Artist Development Grants of $10,000 to the 16 final applicants who do not receive the Creation and Touring Grant.
For the 2021 preliminary application round, NTP advisors were responsible for reading 108 proposals in advance of the five days of online project discussions. By the end of those five days of discussion on Zoom, 26 projects were moved forward. To submit a strong final proposal, each finalist works with an NTP advisor and the NTP team. The role of the Advisor is crucial to the NTP process. Advisors may relay feedback on the initial application, and offer guidance on the narrative, budget, work sample selection, and strategies for tour planning and community engagement. This relationship building is one way that NTP moves beyond a transactional relationship with applicants. Good communication between artist and Advisor means that when the application comes up for discussion during the final panel meeting the application is put forward in the best light possible. The Advisors become an advocate for that project in the panel room and often form ongoing relationships with their Advisees. These relationships often last many, many years whether or not the proposal is funded by NTP. We also realize that the last two years have been difficult for the Advisor/Advisee relationship. In past years, we supported Advisor travel to do some of their advising in person. The inability to do that in-depth/in-person relationship building has been keenly felt by Advisors and Advisees, and we look forward to next year when we hope that it will be able to resume. While the lesser amount of travel has allowed us to be flexible and support the other applicants through the Artist Development Grant, it is not sustainable without reallocating cost savings, and our ability to continue supporting the field through those grants is dependent on securing other funding.
Since 2010, NTP has supported 75 projects through convenings, networking, and grants. This year’s ten awardees will receive Creation and Touring Grants, ranging from $80,000 to $130,000, providing funds for the development and national touring of new work. The grants also include an additional $10,000 to support the administration necessary to create and tour the project. Overall, since its inception, NTP has infused over $8.59 million into the field.
I am happy to share the projects which made it to the final round. They have just submitted their final applications and will be waiting to hear whether they have received Artist Development Grants or Creation and Touring Grants. Regardless of which projects ultimately receive funding, these are projects to watch - and I hope that other artists, funders, and presenters will look closely at all of the 26 NTP finalists. We believe them to all be worthy of funding and some of the most exciting devised, ensemble theater maker in the country. We look forward to announcing the awardees in August.
Please Note: As one extension of NEFA’s land acknowledgment practice, we believe it is important to provide space for artists/companies to uplift the original caretakers of the lands they reside and/or create on. You will notice that this may be represented differently for each NTP Finalist. We respect the varied choices made by artists/companies in honoring and recognizing the original caretakers of the land and the relationships that exist and are being fostered through these projects. In addition, project descriptions below represent the current understanding of the project by the artist/company and are subject to change as part of the full proposal submission.
This performance work is based on BLACK CYPRESS--a book for hard times that was communally authored by the Black communities of the Arkansas Delta. Given the pandemic and current uprisings around the country, the book offers culturally-specific knowledge on surviving and healing from this moment together and will be transformed by Arkansas local artists into interactive performance and installation pieces.
Notch Theatre Company is on the tribal lands of the Munsee Lenape though the program, as it travels throughout the south and mid-Atlantic, will be crossing through many territories. The work originates in Elaine, Arkansas, which are native lands of the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, Chikashsha Yaki (Chickasaw) and Chahta Yakni (Choctaw).
Inspired by the past year, Capsule is an autobiographical, theatrical rock concert written and performed by Peter Mark Kendall and Whitney White and directed and produced by the wife-and-husband team of Taibi Magar and Tyler Dobrowsky. The piece is based on real texts, zoom recordings and phone calls between Whitney and Peter, as it charts their friendship over the course of the pandemic -- from the lockdowns of mid-March, the protests for civil rights sparked by the murder of George Floyd, through the election and subsequent insurrection on January 6th.
Land acknowledgement: We acknowledge that we live and work on the traditional homelands of the Narragansett people, specifically on Kodtuhkoag (the high places throughout Rhode Island including the top of College Hill in Providence). We acknowledge the ancestral Lenape homelands, and that New York City currently has the largest urban population of Native people in the United States. We also acknowledge the Mohegan, Mashantucket Pequot, Eastern Pequot, Schaghticoke, Golden Hill Paugussett, Niantic and the Quinnipiac and other Algonquian speaking peoples of what is now called the state of Connecticut.
Constant State of Otherness is a multidisciplinary performance project exploring the feelings of isolation and displacement that come from a sense of not fitting in. Through a rich creation and community engagement process weaving storytelling, taiko and Japanese folk dance to work with adults and youth, and culminating in a full theatrical production, this project provides artistic and social dialogs that will question, challenge, and disrupt the mainstream narrative of identity, especially within the current American landscape.
Land acknowledgement: Recognizing our history, we want to acknowledge and pay respect to the ancestral land where our creative project has resided at the confluence of the Columbia River and Willamette River where the Multnomah, Wasco, Cowlitz, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Bands of Chinook, Tualatin, Kalapuya, Molalla, and many other tribes who made their homes. We honor the indigenous people on whose traditional land we gather, practice, live and work on.
F/Punk Junkies is an ensemble-driven dance theater piece by Teo Castellanos D-Projects with choreography by Augusto Soledade. This piece brings the company's continued development of "AfroRican Punk" aesthetic to the forefront. The work's text is based on Orisha Mythology, Puerto Rican myths, and driven by Black punk music.
Land acknowledgement: We acknowledge that we stand on the land of the Tequesta, Miccosukee, and Seminole peoples. We stand in solidarity with them, and we honor and respect the ancestors, elders and descendants of these tribes.
Feast of Ghosts is a Felliniesque ghost story in four tales representing the four directions, four narratives, four directors and one master director overseeing all. The piece is a haunted house outdoors that is a circus, a pageant, with characters suspended between earth and sky. In the wake of COVID-19, Native communities and individuals across the nation have been disproportionately impacted by the virus. We lost a founding and important ensemble member, to the virus in spring, Kevin Tarrant. We asked ourselves how do we artistically mourn?
Land acknowledgement: Manhattan has always been a gathering and trading place for many Indigenous peoples, where Nations intersected from all four directions since time immemorial. It was a place to gather and sometimes to seek refuge during times of conflict and struggle. We pay respect to all of their ancestors past, present, to their future generations. We acknowledge that our work, is situated on the island of Manhattan (Menohhannet - On the Island) traditional lands of the Munsee Lenape, the Canarsie, Unkechaug, Matinecock, Shinnecock, and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. We respect that many Indigenous people continue to live and work on this island and acknowledge their ongoing contributions to this area.
GIZHIBAA GIIZHIG | Revolving Sky approaches astronomy from an Indigenous perspective. This experience takes three forms: interactive multimedia installation, performance, and community story circle. Utilizing personal narrative and Anishinaabe storytelling traditions, GG|RS draws connections between past and present to explore the intersection of science and sacred knowledge. Through this work, All My Relations Collective uses embodied Indigenous Futurism to amplify Two-Spirit/Indigi-Queer individuals and note that indigeneity is still thriving today!
Land acknowledgement: Give the Land Back! We are a collective of artists from different nations, cultures, and identities. We reside in the ancestral homelands of the Lenape Peoples’, colonially known as New York City - the current home to one of the largest urban Indigenous communities in Turtle Island (North America). We have created Gizhibaa Giizhig | Revolving Sky on other stolen lands. We pay gratitude to the Shoshone, Paiute, Goshute, and Ute Nations, on whose lands we have been able to continue our work during a global pandemic by accessing technology that is not available in many Native/Indigenous Communities. #landback
HTY’s professional ensemble will devise an original piece of theatre around Native Hawaiian practices and perspectives of healing. The piece will be broken into four chapters, each chapter will contain story, ritual, a participatory or interactive engagement and design. Each chapter will be told using a mix of distinct theatrical tools; chant, movement, puppetry, dance, music, projections, discussion and time for reflection. The structure of the performance will not follow a traditional performance followed by talkback structure, but rather each section will ask the multi-generational audience to collectively engage in a curated mix of scripted content, shared ritual, discussion and reflection.
Land acknowledgement: Honolulu Theatre for Youth is located on the grounds of the Cathedral of Saint Andrew in the ahupuaʻa (region) of Pauoa. The land that it is situated on was historically used by farmers of sweet potatoes and yams and was in close proximity to at least three heiau (temples of worship). In 1862 King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma dedicated the land to the benefit of the Kānaka Maoli, the indigenous people of Hawaiʻi. We find inspiration in the name of our ʻili ʻāina (land division), Kewalo, roughly meaning “to call or to resonate,” in the hope that the spirit of our work echoes their generosity and love for their Kingdom that continues to be illegally occupied.
Imagine our world as a sanctuary—a brilliant, bioluminescent, biome for Black thriving. This is catalytic vision guiding In The Name Of…, the second in a tryptic of processional performances by Ebony Noelle Golden and collaborators, which foregrounds historic Black communities as sites of prismatic liberation. Fueled by concepts of “generative apocalypse,” In The Name Of... is a theatrical ceremony composed of dance, music, and story. The piece centers a congregation of “watercarriers,” ocean stewards who, after a catastrophic climate rupture, activate a polyphonic practice of world-making and communal repair in the wake of a new day.
Land acknowledgement: Ebony Noelle Golden lives and works in what is now called Harlem on the island of Manhattan (Mannahatta), the lands of the Munsee Lenape/Lenapehoking people. This work is also being conjured on the lands of the Canarsie, Nipmuc, Wabanaki, Pocumtuc, Wappinger, Yamassee, Muscogee, Eno and the Occaneechi. It is with respect and public acknowledgement to the ancestors and descendants of these lands and the countless peoples of African descent whose blood, bones, bodies, brilliance, and unpaid labor who continue to make it possible for me to be an artist in these rich and complex spaces, places, and times. I am indeed grateful.
Iphigenia is an operatic collaboration 'debased' on the plays be Euripides, between saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter and bassist/composer/vocalist Esperanza Spalding. The opera, which features improvisation as a metaphor for agency and choice, is nearing completion with plans to premiere in fall 2021 followed by a national tour and international presentations.
Land acknowledgement: Iphigenia was primarily composed and written on the unceded land of the Tongva people
Lost & Found is an outdoor participatory performance made in collaboration with artists, communities who have experienced ambiguous loss, and practitioners of healing arts and ritual; based on community stories transformed into ceremony by artistic movement, sound, and objects. This project will integrate communities and techniques of Wonderlust’s past work into a new event that builds and celebrates our capacity for resilience in the face of unresolvable loss and includes storytelling, story-sharing, and the safely-designed participation of the audience.
Land acknowledgement: This project will be developed and first presented in the City of St. Paul, near the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, known as Bdote and considered the sacred center of the world to Dakota people. These lands were stolen during the genocide and forced removal of Dakota and Ojibwe tribal communities - people whose descendants still live, work, and fight to maintain their tribal sovereignty here.
Marie It’s Time is a bloody love triangle with songs, staged as a rock show. A scrappy feminist remix of Georg Büchner’s Woyzeck, it features Julia Jarcho and Jenny Seastone as the doomed Marie and Kedian Keohan as the dreamy Major and asks: why can’t we stop telling sexy stories about our own destruction? Post show talks continue the conversation on desire with other women and queer artists.
Land acknowledgement: Minor Theater works on the land of the Lenape people. We honor the Indigenous caretakers of this land and affirm their past, present, and future sovereignty here.
MARIOLOGY is a multi-modal performance which explores the Virgin Mary as a source of faith and comfort--especially in these harrowing times--and as a weapon of control and colonization. A mythical fifth grade schoolroom is the setting for a dynamic spectacle of live music, movement, text, and video, as indoctrination gives way to fantasy and rebellion. MARIOLOGY disrupts ingrained knowledge and inspires imagination about Mary's roles in systems of gender, power, and faith, in order to open possibilities for personal liberation and agency. An interactive installation houses an archive of community stories about the Virgin, and a constellation of ancillary events engages audiences through many different lenses.
Land acknowledgement: The unceded homeland of the Tongva/Gabrielino people who were the original caretakers of the land currently named Los Angeles. We pay our respects to their elders past, present, and emerging, and we acknowledge the violence, displacement, migration, and settlement that bring us here today. See Mapping Indigenous LA website (https://mila.ss.ucla.edu), an invaluable resource for the layered stories and histories of Indigenous Los Angeles.
Ocean Filibuster is a genre-crashing music theater piece that invites audiences into an intimate relationship with the ocean, revealing ocean and human systems to be intricately entwined. Set in a future Global Senate, Jenn Kidwell embodies both Mr. Majority– Senate leader, proposing a bill to end the ocean as we know it– and The Ocean, appearing in human form to defend itself. The show uses large-scale video projection and an “ocean choir” to implore audiences to examine life out-of-balance: out of balance with the earth and with each other.
Land acknowledgement: The show is being developed in many places: we have worked specifically on the unceded lands of the Lenape, Wappinger, and Munsee in NY; the Wangunk in Middletown, CT; the Pawtucket in Cambridge, MA; the Karankawa, Sana, and Coahuiltecan in Houston, TX; and the Houma, Choctaw and Chittamacha in Southern Louisiana.
Priestess of Twerk will merge stories from strip clubs, street corners, and dimly lit basements with cross-cultural indigenous cosmologies. In this work, several women and trans sex workers who have gone through black feminist monastic training preside over an interactive, multi-disciplinary, and ceremonial event that strives to eradicate white capitalist heterosexist patriarchy in its embrace of all radical forms of femme sexuality and agency -gender reassignment, pregnancy, menstruation, orgasm, birth control, and yoni steams.
Land acknowledgement: Nia Witherspoon creates work on the lands of the Lenape/Canarsie peoples.
PURPLE: A Ritual in Nine Spells, is an evening length choreopoem devised and performed by the SLMDances collective. PURPLE illuminates the power of “deep sisterhood for social change” through ritualistic dance-theater. This ensemble work is multigenerational, iterative, based in oral & embodied herstories, centers sacred ritual, honors feedback and collective decision-making, and inspired by beloved ancestor Ntozake Shange. Development activities include documenting oral histories, story circle, creative movement workshops, archival research, work in progress showings.
Land acknowledgement: Sydnie L. Mosley Dances creates its work on the land of the Munsee Lenape people.
Writer/director Ain Gordon, composer/writer Josh Quillen, dramaturge Talvin Wilks, and light designer Jennifer Tipton conjure two real-life couples of Dover OH: Jerry and Sue Quillen and "Mooney” & Frida Warther. Sourcing journals and interviews Relics… details Jerry’s three-year journey with ALS while Sue battled to keep him at home, alongside Mooney’s regionally legendary carved replicas virtually obscuring Frida’s vast “button art” murals. A sonic portrait of two couples, three miles & 23 years apart.
Land acknowledgement: Lands of the Kaskaskia People, the Osage Nation People (Dover, OH), and Lands of the Munsee Lenape People (New York, NY)
Riding the Currents of the Wilding Wind is a concept album and concert about displacement and freedom inspired by Helena Maria Viramontes’s novel, Their Dogs Came with Them. This new work centers music as a driving narrative force, drawing on the theatrical possibilities of a concert to create a sonic landscape and rich visual world steeped in symbolism and poetry. Devised in collaboration with musical director Martha Gonzalez of the Grammy Award–winning band Quetzal, writer Virginia Grise, director Kendra Ware, and designer Tanya Orellana.
She Came Home, will be sequel to 2017’s, She Went to War, an autobiographical performance by four female military combat veterans. She Came Home, will follow the same four women through the next phase: the return to civilian society; the conflicts, negotiations and adjustments ensuing; to where they find themselves now.
Land acknowledgement: She Came Home, is a group of four women and two men, Black, Latinx, Chinese, and White, from six different regions, who came together for the first time on the banks of the Messipi (Ojibwe) or Mahawakpa (Lakota), on land originally cared for by the Ojibwe and Lakota people.
Song of the North is a cinematic “live animation” combining the manual art of shadow play with digital components to tell the fantastic tale of Manijeh, a Persian heroine who rescues her beloved from a perilous predicament of her own making and helps prevent war between rival kingdoms. The production employs an ensemble of masters who share their talents and skills and push the ideas of unity, collaboration and experimentation through form and content. It challenges the Eurocentric worldview of art and storytelling and highlights how the West has benefitted from centuries of Eastern influence, without real acknowledgement of their contributions.
Land acknowledgement: Land of the Munsee Lenape People (Brooklyn, NY), part of the Delaware Nation who were forced off their lands and relocated to assigned lands in Oklahoma and Canada.
Tales of Clamor is a theatre-based, hybrid performance project utilizing aerial arts and archival footage of the 1981 Commission Hearings on Wartime Relocation & Internment of Civilians to connect past/present notions of cultural and institutionalized silence and what it takes to break cyclical trauma and create collective clamor to find justice and healing.
The TOC project includes extensive community engagement - prioritizing partnership with community members in the creative process; and spaces to facilitate creative response to the material
Land acknowledgement: PULLproject Ensemble is based on the unceded land of Tongva, Gabrielino, Acjachemen people, neighboring the land of the Chumash people. And over the past year and a half we have developed our work and relations via Zoom, which is based in San Jose, CA on Muwekma Ohlone land. We make these acknowledgements not only as a lesson of a history of genocide, stolen land and forced removal - but to continue (re)learning how we interact in the present with the land and with the communities of Indigenous folks still here, living and thriving, while struggling for their sovereignty. We approach land acknowledgements as part of a larger commitment to realizing new possibilities for a future actualized in genuine accountability to our interconnectedness, and in reparations & repair from and reckoning with the foundations, institutions, and systems of this country.
In 1976, multiple communities in eastern Kentucky were "inundated” - submerged completely under water - to make room for what is now Carr Creek Lake. Almost fifty years later, tensions still circulate around this sequence of events. Roadside Theater’s original work will tell the story of the creation of Carr Creek Lake, exploring through storytelling, song, and character relationship the complexity inherent in “community development opportunities.” By whose metric is development defined?
Land acknowledgement: Roadside Theater/Appalshop recognizes the Shawnee, Cherokee, and Tsoyaha/Coyaha as the original people of our home in eastern Kentucky. Many of these communities were removed from the region through violence, political and economic displacement, and forced migration, perpetuated on their populations by colonists. We are grateful for the land, labor and resources these peoples stewarded long before Europeans arrived on the continent, and acknowledge these communities are not relegated to the history of this area but are vital to and present within the continuing knowledges of this place. We are committed to acknowledging the legacies of violence, displacement, migration, and settlement that bring us all together from our many walks of life, and we work together to uncover such truths at any and all public events.
The Deposition of Moss Rose ponders crucial issues of futurity based on a radical proposal from the past: Shulamith Firestone’s utopian — and problematic — 1970 manifesto, The Dialectic of Sex. Gathering a diverse group of performers working across disciplines ranging from poetry to sound art, each one will respond to Firestone’s “revolutionary demands” for gender abolition, artificial reproduction, pansexual polyamory, child liberation, and cybernetic communism.
Land acknowledgement: Participants are working from Lenapehoking (New York), on the stolen lands of the Munsee Lenape and Canarsie Peoples; from Tovaangar (Los Angeles), land stewarded by the Gabrielino/Tongva People which was violently colonized by Spain and then Mexico before the United States expanded its territories via militarism; and from the Island of Borikén (Puerto Rico) which was originally cared for by the Taíno people before Spanish colonization, followed by American acquisition, and to which the inhabitants currently live in a continued colonial relationship of disenfranchised citizenship to the United States of America.
DNAWORKS is adapting Joseph Conrad’s 1909 queer novella THE SECRET SHARER into a mixed-media performance. This devised work is an exploration of fragility, tenderness, and intimacy in times of societal danger and discrimination. In response to both an increase in hate crimes and the visibility of LGBTQQ2SPIAA+ youth suicides worldwide, THE SECRET SHARER provides a queer-centered space for resiliency and healing with audience members sharing their own stories during the performance, interspersed at critical moments in the narrative.
Land acknowledgement: DNAWORKS is located on the unceded lands of multiple Native American nations, including Cherokee, Muscogee (Creek), Seminole, Kickapoo, Shawnee, Caddo, and Wichita, who were forcibly removed from their homes by settler colonialism and from which non-Native people now benefit.
Those With Two Clocks (T2C) is a comedic theatrical trio in which the creators -Jess Conda, Jenn Kidwell and Mel Krodman (aka Tall Order)- use body-based absurd humor to critique the patriarchal status quo and in so doing, offer a new way of being outside our inherited systems. In partnership with a community of advocates working against gender-based violence as well as to dismantle patriarchy, i.e., sex workers, burlesque performers, doulas, facilitators, and tech entrepreneurs, we are building a pleasure-based, radical, time-defying praxis encompassing live performance and the development of a smartphone app.
Land acknowledgement: Tall Order recognizes we exist and thrive on land that was never ceded by the Lenni Lenape people and within constructs -material and metaphysical- built by exploitation and extraction.
Performing roles of shamanistic time-travelers chronicling the hidden history of a nation that seduces its citizenry to embrace forgetting, Jose Torres-Tama & ArteFuturo Productions' ensemble of Black and Brown performance poets investigate a forgotten legacy of laws from Fugitive Slave Act (1793), to Operation Wetback (1954), to the recent Zero Tolerance Policy of 2018, and expose a U.S. narrative of official legislation strategically written to "dispossess people of color" from their inalienable constitutional rights and criminalize their liberated bodies.
Land acknowledgement: The Euro-centric plantation and Catholic Slave Port City of New Orleans is on lands once inhabited by the Atakapa, Chitimacha, Caddo, Choctaw, Houma, Natchez, and Tunica people, and it was called Bulbancha, land of many tongues.
If we could send a message into the future, what would it be? How do we imagine the future in which this message would be received? Utopian Hotline chronicles Mitu’s collected response to these questions, using call-in telephone hotlines and interviews. The work consists of a live theatrical production, interactive sculpture, and original album. Developed with Brooklyn Independent Middle School, The SETI Institute, and ASU’s Interplanetary Initiative
Land acknowledgement: Theater Mitu develops, performs, and curates work at MITU580, the company's 2,400 square foot multi-use art space that stands on traditional Munsee Lenape and Canarsie land.
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