FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 13, 2022 || PRESS CONTACTS: Corinna Schulenburg, email@example.com, 212-609-5941
Theatre Communications Group Announces Recipients of
2022 Rising Leaders of Color Program
Cohort includes Pittsburgh-based BIPOC leaders in all theatre disciplines
New York, NY – Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for theatre, is pleased to announce the participants in the seventh round of its Rising Leaders of Color (RLC) Program. The participants will form a cohort of six highly talented early-career BIPOC leaders based in Pittsburgh, PA who are in the U.S. not-for-profit theatre and related sectors, and who demonstrate the potential to impact the field in a positive way. Rising Leaders of Color 2022 is supported by Opportunity Fund and Walt Disney Imagineering. Alumni activities are supported in part by Howard Gilman Foundation.
“We can’t wait to meet this next cohort of BIPOC leaders at our hybrid National Conference in Pittsburgh, PA later this month,” said Teresa Eyring, executive director of TCG. “We look forward to working with this next cohort to continue supporting an intergenerational network of BIPOC leaders, and together lead for a just and thriving theatre ecology.”
"We are thrilled to launch the seventh round of the Rising Leaders of Color program.” said Emilya Cachapero, director of grantmaking programs. “More than ever, as this country wrestles with its legacy of racism and inaction, it is essential to uplift and support BIPOC leaders who have exhibited their commitment to creating a more just society. Pittsburgh has a vibrant arts community and we’re looking forward to highlighting such a talented group of BIPOC leaders based in this community. Undoubtedly they will be at the forefront of shaping our national theatre field’s future.”
"What does it mean to be a leader in American theatre?” asked Jake Goodman, executive director, Opportunity Fund. “This is a question that the early-career and visionary leaders in the Pittsburgh cohort of this fabulous program are going to answer in coalition as they learn together, gain national recognition, and reinforce the already-forming movement of BIPOC leaders who are shaping American culture."
The members of the new cohort are:
Chanel Blanchett (she/her) is a multi-disciplinary artist dedicated to creating visibility for those who are unseen by the social-cultural movements they create and the societies they exist within. In addition to her current role as Programming Manager at Kelly Strayhorn Theater, she is a writer, director, and teaching artist with a focus in devised performance. Chanel’s work both creatively and administratively centers around making space for diverse voices and bodies in more rooms, with a special interest in empowering and creating opportunities for black women and black youth. As a freelance director and creator, she has worked with a range of organizations from the Creator’s Collective to Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte, to universities and colleges. Chanel’s creative work is focused through the lens of rage as a catalyst for action. Her most recent full-length work, [in]bodied, is an exploration of the rage and grief of black womanhood. The play uses devised movement, created language, and rhythmic text to create an absurdist world where the silencing of black voices creates monsters, and the release of those voices shifts the seen dynamics. Chanel earned her MFA at Sarah Lawrence College. You can learn more about her work at www.chanelblanchett.com.
Parag S. Gohel (he/him) has been steeped in the Pittsburgh arts community, working in various roles including actor, designer, visual artist, director, writer, coach, producer, and educator. His interdisciplinary journey has cultivated an unwavering passion for arts education. Currently serving as the Director of Education & Engagement for Pittsburgh Public Theater, Parag has created curriculum and launched new programs for a host of regional education programs including The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's Arts Education Department, Bricolage Production Company's Midnight Radio Education Program, City Theatre's Young Playwrights Institute, and both Pittsburgh Public Theater's Creative Dramatics program and Shakespeare Monologue & Scene Contest. Parag also served as Education Director for Quantum Theatre, where he led several residencies and forged new community partnerships. He has produced work for Pittsburgh's First Night, Children's Festival, Three Rivers Arts Festival, and Festival of Firsts, and also showcased work in Philadelphia, New York, and internationally. He was selected as one of six regional teaching artists working with the Arts Ed Collaborative (AEC) to co-develop a model that addresses regional challenges facing teaching artists and graduated from AEC’s 2021 Leadership Academy. Parag holds a BS in Psychology and a BA in Theatre Arts from the University of Pittsburgh, where he teaches performance.
Justin Lucero (he/him) is on faculty at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama, as Assistant Professor of Directing for The John Wells Directing Program. Prior to his appointment at CMU, Justin was the inaugural Cynthia Woods Mitchell Fellow in Directing & Theatre Studies for the University of Houston’s School of Theatre & Dance and an Artist-in-Residence for the University of Texas at El Paso. Justin is the recipient of a Directing Fellowship with Asolo Repertory Theatre, a Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation Observership at South Coast Repertory, a FAIR Assistantship with Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and a Directing Attachment at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre (London’s West End). He was named to the 2021-2022 BIPOC Leadership Circle by artEquity, in partnership with the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale. Justin also serves as Artistic Director of El Paso Opera for which he has stage directed and produced numerous productions (including Cruzar la Cara de la Luna and the upcoming Frida). Recent directing engagements include Abingdon Theatre Company, Kane Repertory Theatre, Live & In Color, City Theatre, Pittsburgh Festival Opera, and Point Park University. Training: London’s East 15 Acting School (MFA in Directing with Distinction). Website: justinlucerodirector.com.
SJ Porter (they/she) is an artist, entrepreneur, and student of life. SJ began performing at a young age in their mother’s church choir. They were always enamored with music, movies, and imagination. At a young age, they were encouraged to pursue creative writing by an attentive teacher, and in doing so, SJ began to shape their voice. SJ is grateful to have served as an actor with Stage 62 (Hairspray) and Pittsburgh Classic Players (Much Ado About Nothing); producer with LT4 Productions (Fatherless 2020 and Minos upcoming Fall 2022) and Stage 62 (Disney’s Descendants: The Musical); and assistant director with the Pittsburgh Public Theater (Robin Hood) and LT4 Productions (Minos upcoming Fall 2022)). SJ was born and raised in Pittsburgh and received both their Bachelor's and Master of Social Work degrees from the University of Pittsburgh. In their free time, SJ loves singing 80s power ballads and exploring Pennsylvania’s back roads. They currently serve as the Interim Board President of Ujamaa Collective, a local non-profit, which promotes creative entrepreneurship among women of Africana descent, and is always happy to talk about social entrepreneurship and classic horror films.
Sasha Schwartz (she/her) is a theater scenic designer and artist inspired by family and how spaces tell stories. Selected designs: Heisenberg (Northern Stage Company), the dance floor, the hospital room, and the kitchen table (Kelly Strayhorn Theater & Contemporary Arts Center NOLA), Off Peak (Hudson Stage Company), Bruise & Thorn (Pipeline Theatre Company), How the Light Gets In, On the Exhale, Agent 355 (Chautauqua Theater Company), pato, pato, maricón (Ars Nova ANT Fest), Young Playwrights Festival (City Theatre Company), Terminer (New Hazlett Theater), Men on Boats (Fordham University), The Amateurs (Willamette University). Recognition: 2019 USITT Young Designers and Technicians Forum, 2019 Lloyd Weninger Award for Stage Design, 2021 Exhibited Fine Artist at Pittsburgh MuseumLab (Mixed Family Portrait). Sasha is especially interested in new work, arts education, and projects that showcase diversity of identity while tackling relevant social issues. She is an advocate for inclusivity and accessibility within theater teams and more representation of BIPOC and queer voices in the arts industries. She considers her design process empathetic, crafty, and ultra-collaborative. Education: BFA Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama. www.sashaschwartzscenic.com
Shae Wofford (he/him) graduated from Point Park University in 2017 with a Bachelors of Science in Sports, Arts, and Entertainment Management. He started his career in Arts Management when offered a position as an Arts Management Fellow with Alumni Theater Company. Originally a member of the company, starting in 2012, Shae always had a creative eye for the planning and educational side of the arts. He also always wanted to make sure as many young people were able to be involved in the arts as possible. As the Programming Director, Shae hopes to be able to create fun and exciting programming for members to not only help them grow as a performer but also enrich their understanding of the history of the arts.
The 2022 RLC Program will combine practical skills building with professional connections and opportunities to develop empowering relationships, as well as tools and resources to navigate a career in the theatre field as a BIPOC leader. Activities include:
- Two-Part orientation meeting.
- Professional development workshops and events in Pittsburgh during the 2022 TCG National Conference.
- Individual coaching, full cohort meetings, and professional development webinars on topics selected specifically for the needs of the cohort.
Please visit https://circle.tcg.org/2022pittsburgh/home for the full agenda of the TCG National Conference.
RLC builds on the learnings and momentum of the Young Leaders of Color Program (YLC) and the SPARK Leadership Programs. From 2008-2013, YLC brought 79 leaders of color to TCG National Conferences. RLC expands and re-envisions that community as part of an ongoing national network of leaders of color. During 2014-15, the SPARK Leadership Program assembled a cohort of ten leaders of color for a focused, year-long professional development curriculum. Through RLC and SPARK and its other professional development programs, TCG has supported a variety of learning opportunities and networking programs to meet the diverse needs of BIPOC theatre leaders at various stages of their career.
To learn more about the program, please visit: https://circle.tcg.org/resources/grant-professional-development-programs/rising-leaders-of-color.
The Opportunity Fund is a Pittsburgh-based private foundation that awards grants to small to midsize arts organizations, and organizations and initiatives that advance social and economic justice, with at least 75% of grants benefiting the greater Pittsburgh community. The foundation seeks grantees who champion the rights of our communities’ diverse citizens, treasure the arts and support the lives of artists, pursue social and economic justice, and proactively provide safety net resources for those in need.
Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for theatre, leads for a just and thriving theatre ecology. Since its founding in 1961, TCG’s constituency has grown from a handful of groundbreaking theatres to over 700 Member Theatres and affiliate organizations and over 7,000 Individual Members. Through its programs and services, TCG reaches over one million students, audience members, and theatre professionals each year. TCG offers networking and knowledge-building opportunities through research, communications, and events, including the annual TCG National Conference, one of the largest nationwide gatherings of theatre people; awards grants and scholarships to theatre companies and individual artists; advocates on the federal level; and through the Global Theater Initiative, TCG's partnership with the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics, serves as the U.S. Center of the International Theatre Institute. TCG is North America’s largest independent trade publisher of dramatic literature, with 19 Pulitzer Prizes for Drama on the TCG booklist. It also publishes the award-winning American Theatre magazine and ARTSEARCH®, the essential source for a career in the arts. TCG believes its vision of “a better world for theatre, and a better world because of theatre” can be achieved through individual and collective action, adaptive and responsive leadership, and equitable representation in all areas of practice. TCG is led by executive director and CEO Teresa Eyring and deputy director and COO Adrian Budhu. tcg.org
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