Round 11

Exceptional Merit:

KHANISHA FOSTER, Chance Theater, Orange County, CA

Khanisha’s long-term goal as an actor is to build and perform roles where she can inhabit all the parts of herself as a mixed race, comedic woman of color who code switches her way towards her authentic voice. At 1.6 million, California has the biggest population of mixed- race people in the United. The Chance Theater community, specifically housed in Anaheim, is a blend of cultural and economic diversity and the company itself is run by multi-cultural leadership and parents of multi-cultural children. Khanisha will lead a code- switching workshop series hosted at Chance Theater to create a training ground for the multi-cultural actor. Khanisha and the Chance community will work with a linguistic expert, and will additionally include clown and physical transformation workshops, digital-storytelling workshops, and story- mining workshops. The series will foster an environment where she and community members can train in a space that understands the multi-identity voice and will prepare her to create innovative work for the stage.

TAOUS CLAIRE KHAZEM, Mixed Blood Theatre, Minneapolis, MN

Taous’ primary goal with her host theatre is to expand Mixed Blood’s neighborhood programming by recreating a project she developed in Algeria called The Kabyle Folktale Project. She will work with the Somali community in Mixed Blood Theatre's Cedar Riverside neighborhood on an intergenerational folktale project. She and the theatre will invite community elders to share the folktales they remember from their childhoods, capturing and celebrating the community's oral tradition. She will offer physical storytelling and performance skills that develop into an original play created by the young actors and performed at Mixed Blood. Taous will also be a resident actor, performing extensively in Mixed Blood's upcoming season, and will sharpen her skills in singing and interpreting classical texts. Taous was a recipient of the 2017 and 2015 Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative grant. She has taught in many areas of Algeria working with the U.S. Embassy of Algiers, French Cultural Center, and British Council. She plays "Maria" on the Algerian sit-com Sultan Achour 10.

BOBBY MORENO, Ensemble Studio Theatre, New York, NY

Bobby will develop a one-man show about his journey to sobriety. His hope is that by creating a frank, brutally honest, and deeply personal theatre piece, others who are struggling will know they're not alone. During the fellowship, he will cultivate relationships with multiple communities in an effort to help give people the perspective and strength to live free from addiction. Over the past year he has had the immense fortune of working with suicide survivors at the Bellevue clinic and he would like to continue to volunteer there not only to be of service, but to have multiple perspectives of addiction to infuse his work. He and Ensemble Studio Theatre will utilize their development process of readings and rewrites with the aim of a workshop production. He will then take his one-man show to college campuses to show young people who are inundated with excess that there are different choices they can make. Additionally, he will use this fellowship to take a series of classes in varied disciplines that will liberate and cultivate his mind, body, and soul. Bobby received an Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play Nomination from the Drama Desk Awards for his performance in Year of the Rooster and a Best Featured Actor Nomination by the League of Cincinnati Theatre. He has acted at New York Theatre Workshop, Playwrights Horizons, Clubbed Thumb, New Georges, and Playwrights Realm, among others.

VANESSA SEVERO, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Kansas City, MO

Through her fellowship work, Vanessa will further her artistic growth through Laban movement training, develop her one-woman show, Frida: A Self Portrait, and strengthen the bridge between Kansas City's community of diverse actors and KC Rep by offering a series of professional actor training sessions which will create a pipeline of access to local professional auditions for actors of color or with disabilities. Kansas City has a diverse community that is growing at a fast pace, and Vanessa’s goal is to strengthen that community by supporting Kansas City artists of color to address a serious gap which exists for actors of color in Kansas City. Because of patterns of production, selection and casting, actors of color have fewer performance opportunities citywide. As a result, many actors of color arrive at auditions with less experience under their belts. Vanessa will use this Fellowship to build a master class that offers regular training sessions for actors of color, specifically addressing auditions and monologues. She will work with KC Rep's education director, Mindy McCrary, and associate artistic director, Jason Chanos, to create a path for these actors. Participation in her master class will guarantee students one season audition with KC Rep, and KC Rep will commit to involving the students in public events like their Monday Night Playwright Series (which offers free staged readings of new scripts), and give them other access points to their staff, rehearsals, and other resources throughout the season. Vanessa has worked with The Living Room Theatre, The Unicorn Theatre, The Coterie Theatre, Off Center Theatre, among others. Vanessa is currently directing Shipwrecked! for Spinning Tree Theatre.

Distinguished Achievement:

MIA KATIGBAK, Ma-Yi Theater Company, New York, NY

The immediate driving force powering Mia is the need to face the physical and artistic challenges of a mature actor tackling a rigorous performance schedule. She will train to augment the stamina and resources she already has as she explores new avenues for creativity. She will spearhead the implementation of a series of master classes at Ma-Yi with a small group of advanced-level Asian American actors doing text analysis and scene work, working on a diverse repertory that will include classic and new plays. The master classes will be led by invited theatre artists - directors, actors, teachers - to offer as many varied approaches as possible. The classes will be intergenerational and include mature actors and those approaching a mature age so that they are equipped for opportunities ahead that NAATCO (National Asian American Theatre Co.) and Ma-Yi are working to provide. Mia is the 2016 recipient of the Lilly Award for Trailblazing, Obie Award for Performance, Lucille Lortel Award through League of Professional Theatre Women, and Charles Bowden Actor Award, among others. She is co-founder and artistic producing director of the award-winning company NAATCO and founding director of CAATA (Consortium of Asian American Theaters and Artists).

LUVERNE GERALD SEIFERT, Ten Thousand Things, Minneapolis, MN

Luverne Seifert will travel to Switzerland and France to deepen his skills and training with two classically trained legendary clowns in order to prepare to co-create and perform in a devised comedy for Ten Thousand Things (TTT). Inspired by the lives of poor workers stuck in small towns, Park and Lake will look at a car wash in a resort community servicing wealthy visitors. Examining income inequality, the play will ask audiences to choose an ending - one of change or stasis. Luverne will hold pre-performance workshops at low-income centers throughout Minnesota, casting a few participants in small roles. The communities that will experience this production are TTT’s traditional ticket-paying audiences and TTT's non-traditional audiences such as the incarcerated, immigrants, homeless and rural Minnesotans. In addition to the performances, the workshops that he conducts will provide opportunities for community performers to gain skills in areas that are not accessible to them. Luverne is recipient of the 2009 Ivey Award for outstanding performance in Twin Cities Theatre, a McKnight Fellow Artist for Theatre, and multiple Minnesota State Arts Board awards and grants. He has acted with Theatre de la Jeune Lune, Children’s Theater Company, Berkeley Rep, Guthrie Theater, and Workhaus Collective, among others. Luverne has been an instructor at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Theater Arts and Dance for the past 15 years and is co-founder of Sod House Theater.