NEW YORK CITY: Theatre Communications Group (TCG) has announced the participants in the third round of the Rising Leaders of Color (RLC) Program. The program, which is supported by the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis, the Howard Gilman Foundation, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, provides professional development and networking opportunities to early-career leaders, as well as an arts journalist, based in St. Louis City/County and New York City.
“The members of this new cohort bring a diverse set of experiences and a shared commitment to equity at the heart of arts leadership,” said Teresa Eyring, executive director of TCG, in a statement. “We look forward supporting their individual journeys, as well as amplifying their collective impact as part of an ever-growing intergenerational network of leaders of color.”
The group will include Sophie Ancival, Rosalind Early, Ariel Estrada, Bryce Goodloe, Pia Haddad, Peter J. Kuo, Carl Overly Jr., Anna Skidis Vargas, Gabe Taylor, and Jacqueline Thompson. The year-long program will kick off at the TCG National Conference in St. Louis from June 11 to 17, where the cohort will participate in development workshops and events.
This year marks the second year the program will include a theatre criticism and journalism track. TJ Acena, an Oregon-based writer, served the role as part of last year’s Portland cohort. Rosalind Early will serve as this year’s writer and will work with American Theatre magazine to document and reflect on the field.
“TJ’s year working with us has exceeded our highest expectations,” said Rob Weinert-Kendt, American Theatre magazine’s editor-in-chief, in a statement. “And the selection of Rosalind as our next Rising Leader is fortuitous, as she has already covered St. Louis theatre in our pages. We look forward to working with her in a new capacity as part of RLC.”
Early is the associate editor for Washington University’s alumni magazine. After earning her bachelor’s degree, she traveled to Austria to teach English. She later earned a master’s degree in German literature from the University of Konstanz in Germany. She worked on staff at St. Louis Magazine for three years before joining the staff at Washington University. She has also written for American Theatre, Humanities: The Magazine for the National Endowment for the Humanities, and The Cambridge Companion to Boxing (forthcoming). She is currently working on a book with her dad about gentrification in Philadelphia.
Sophie Ancival is the outgoing producing fellow at Manhattan Theatre Club, having worked on Broadway and Off-Broadway productions including Saint Joan, In the Body of the World, and Sugar in our Wounds. A producer of Afro-Caribbean decent, Sophie’s work focuses on giving theatre access to a larger audience, caring especially for equity, diversity, and inclusion. Sophie holds a MBA from the Baruch College at the City University of New York and has a background in marketing. Following her fellowship at MTC, Sophie is transferring to the American Repertory Theater as their new assistant producer.
Ariel Estrada is an actor, arts advocate, and founder/producing artistic director of Leviathan Lab, a NYC-based creative studio for Asian American theatre artists. As an actor, Estrada has performed in television, film, commercials, industrials, digital media, and on, Off-, and Off-Off Broadway. As an arts advocate, he is the outgoing manager of communications and community engagement and interim manager of public programs for the Asian American Arts Alliance, and the incoming communications associate for the Tank NYC, as well as the 2018 marketing director for Planet Connections Theatre Festivity. He is also an accomplished grant writer and professional graphic designer.
Bryce Goodloe is an interdisciplinary artist focusing on the African diaspora, LGBTQ identity, and community activism. He currently works as the Analytics and Engagement Assistant for Shakespeare Festival Saint Louis. He holds degrees in Theatre Studies & Dramaturgy (B.A.) and Business Administration (B.S.) from Webster University. He is also a graduate of the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission’s Community Arts Training Institute.
Pia Haddad is a Lebanese-American producer and actor focusing on new work reflecting the diversity of our world. She is the founder of 3K² Productions, a N.Y.-based theatre and film production company dedicated to new projects created by multicultural artists. She has produced in NYC at HERE and is the associate producer of the interdisciplinary solo show Hope, which premieres at the Wild Project this fall. She is currently working on a documentary on the inclusion of LBGTQ in Catholicism and is developing a female-centric project based in Lebanon.
Peter J. Kuo is a New York-based director, producer, and writer focusing on raising the visibility of marginalized communities. Artistically, he’s worked at East West Players, South Coast Repertory, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and the Play Company, among others. His work advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion includes founding NSD: Affinity Groups, teaching Acting Beyond Marginalization at HB Studio, and coordinating the Asian American Directors List. He is a co-founder of Artists at Play and recipient of a Drama League First Stage Residency. This summer he is Directing Corps for the Williamstown Theatre Festival and assisting Rachel Chavkin on Lempicka, a world premiere. Kuo received his MFA from the New School For Drama.
Carl Overly Jr. hails from Maysville, Ky., and received his B.A. in Theater from Eastern Kentucky University. He was an intern with the Black Rep from 2005 to 2007. Carl was a co-producer for the Every 28 Hour Play Festival. Some of his favorite roles include Lennie in SATE Ensemble’s Of Mice and Men (Best Actor in a Drama nominee-2018 St. Louis Theater Circle Awards) and Macduff in ERA’s Trash Macbeth. Carl’s directing credits include ‘night, Mother and Prime’s 24 Hour Play Festival. Carl has worked with numerous companies, including Shakespeare Festival-STL, Theatre Nuevo, Upstream Theatre, Actor’s Studio, Unity Theater Ensemble, and is also a teaching artist with Prison Performing Arts.
Anna Skidis Vargas is the founder and artistic director of Theatre Nuevo. She holds a B.A. in Performance from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and is currently earning a Directing MFA at University of Texas – Austin. She has produced and directed This Is Not Funny, Orgullo, Acronyms, and HELL, all with Theatre Nuevo, and Luchadora! with Mustard Seed Theatre in collaboration with Theatre Nuevo. As an actor and singer, Anna has performed with several companies in Saint Louis, receiving two STL Theatre Circle Awards for outstanding performances in Lizzie (Lizzie Borden) with New Line and Spring Awakening (Ilse) with Stray Dog.
Gabe Taylor currently serves as the associate artistic director for both Theatre Nuevo and Equally Represented Arts (ERA). He has stage managed, acted, and directed with ERA, YoungLiars, Theatre Nuevo, New Line Theatre, among others. He most recently directed twelfth period and played Hubert in Snow White (ERA); designed lighting and sound for Theatre Nuevo’s HELL; and served as stage manager for YoungLiars’ Titus Androgynous. He’s currently the assistant director and stage manager for the regional premiere of Luchadora! with Theatre Nuevo and Mustard Seed Theater, and is directing a devised piece this fall as part of the 2018 Faustival, whither should I fly.
Jacqueline Thompson is an actor and director passionate about creating art that intersects racial equity and community engagement. In March, the St. Louis Post Dispatch recognized her as one of six women shaping St. Louis’ arts and entertainment. She was also noted as one of St. Louis’ most versatile performers. This year she received a St. Louis Theater Circle Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama as well as a fellowship from the Regional Arts Commission. Thompson holds an MFA from the University of Louisville and a B.A. from Clark Atlanta University. She is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association.
“We are proud to announce the participants in the third round of the Rising Leaders of Color program,” said Emilya Cachapero, director of artistic and international programs at TCG, in a statement. “Each year I am so excited and energized by these exceptional early-career leaders. The wealth of talent and perspectives within the cohorts reflects as new order in the theatre field that must be nurtured and supported. There are now 26 RLC participants across the country, including two journalists/theatre critics, each of them ensuring the vitality of the field through their commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion.”
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