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Whitney White and Soyica Colbert. (Photos by Timothy Craig and Yu-Hsuan Chen)

Whitney White, Soyica Colbert Join Shakespeare Theatre Company

White and Colbert will work with Godwin and STC’s artistic staff as STC associate directors.

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Shakespeare Theatre Company has announced that director Whitney White and dramaturg Soyica Colbert will be joining STC as associate directors, working in collaboration with artistic director Simon Godwin and STC’s artistic staff on season planning and artistic development.

“We are honored to invite Whitney and Soyica to the Company,” said Godwin in a statement, “and I look forward to having meaningful conversations with them as we continue to expand the canon of classical theatre, redefine ourselves as an anti-racist institution, and work within—and for—our myriad communities. This development will continue to evolve as we invite more associate directors to join us, across a variety of fields, during upcoming seasons.”

Both White and Colbert were members of the creative team for STC’s production of James Baldwin’s The Amen Corner. Both now join STC as part of an associate director model that exists and the National Theatre in England, where Godwin is an associate artistic director. The model allows STC to extend creative relationships with artists and maintain artistic excellence for audiences. STC’s Alan Paul will continue in his role as associate artistic director.

“Meeting Whitney for the first time, I was immediately struck by her power, fierce intelligence, and disarming wit,” said Godwin in a statement. “Her production of The Amen Corner, as part of my first season at STC, was one of the high points of my life as a theatre maker. Whitney steered the production to astonishing heights. Here was a director with no limitations. Combining a fierce commitment to truth, an audacious grasp of spectacle and a deep fidelity to Baldwin’s text, Whitney embodied the core principles that, for me, define a great classical director. Since then, Whitney has continued to be a crucial part of my thinking as I plan for STC’s new chapter, and I am delighted that she has agreed to join my artistic team as an associate director.”

White is an Obie-Award and Lily-Award winning director, writer and musician originally from Chicago. She is a believer of alternative forms of performance, multi-disciplinary work, and collaborative processes. She is the current recipient of the Susan Stroman Directing award, is part of the Rolex Protegé and Mentorship Arts Initiative and is an Associate Artist at the Roundabout. Recent directing: The Amen Corner (Shakespeare Theatre DC), Our Dear Dead Drug Lord (WP Theatre and Second Stage, NYT Critic’s Pick), Aleshea Harris’ What to Send Up When it Goes Down (the Movement Theatre Company, Woolly Mammoth, American Repertory Theatre, the Public, NYT Critic’s Pick), An Iliad (Long Wharf), Canyon by Jonathan Caren (LA Times Critic’s Choice and recipient of the CTG Block Party Grant, IAMA), Jump by Charly Evon Simpson (National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere, PlayMakers Rep). Digital projects include: Finish the Fight by Ming Peiffer (the New York Times, 24K+ viewers), Animals by Stacy Osei-Kuffour (Williamstown Theatre and Audible) and Soft Light by Aleshea Harris (the Movement Theatre). Her original musical Definition will debut at the Bushwick Starr in 2021 and her five-part cycle deconstructing Shakespeare’s women and female ambition is currently in development with American Repertory Theater (Boston). Past residencies and fellowships: Sundance Theatre Lab, Colt Coeur, the Drama League, the Roundabout and the 2050 Fellowship at the New York Theatre Workshop. MFA Acting: Brown University/Trinity Rep, BA: Northwestern University.

“Soyica Colbert is a distinguished academic and a world authority on the works of James Baldwin and Lorraine Hansberry, two dramatists STC has already committed to producing,” Godwin said in a statement. “Her fantastic dramaturgical work on The Amen Corner helped the show to soar. Since my arrival at STC, Soyica has built up a brilliant rapport with the whole team, as we keep broadening our classical repertoire and championing works such as The Amen Corner and Les Blancs that have, for so long, been overlooked. Soyica will be a mighty asset to our theatre and I can’t wait to begin to work with her as associate director alongside our renowned resident dramaturg Drew Lichtenberg.”

Colbert, the Vice Dean of Faculty and Idol Family Professor of the College of Arts and Sciences at Georgetown University, has advised Arena Stage as a dramaturg for their productions of A Raisin in the Sun and Two Trains Running. Having received prestigious fellowships for the National Endowment for the Humanities, Mellon, and Woodrow Wilson, Colbert is the author of The African American Theatrical Body: Reception, Performance and the Stage and Black Movements: Performance and Cultural Politics. She edited the Black Performance special issue of African American Review and co-edited The Psychic Hold of Slavery. The co-edited Race and Performance After Repetition will be published on September 11, 2020 and a monograph Becoming Free: An Intellectual Biography of Lorraine Hansberry is forthcoming in 2021.

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