NEW YORK CITY: The Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation (SDCF) has announced Shá Cage and Elizabeth Carter as the inaugural recipients of the Lloyd Richards New Futures Residencies. The residencies pair mid-career directors and choreographers who are Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC) and are pursuing institutional leadership with forward-thinking artistic directors. This year’s residencies, which were funded and overseen by SDCF, were reserved for Black artists.
“By creating these alliances between artistic directors and stage directors and choreographers, these residencies answer the important call to create a pathway for BIPOC artists to assume institutional leadership,” said Anne Kauffman, SDCF trustee and chair of the committee that facilitated the awards, in a statement. “They take on heightened importance as our industry confronts great change and works towards new solutions as we emerge from the past year. It’s especially appropriate that this award is named for Lloyd Richards, whose extraordinary career was groundbreaking in so many ways. We’re proud to honor the legacy of this legendary leader of the American theatre.”
Cage’s year-long residency will take place in Los Angeles with Cornerstone Theater Company under artistic director Michael John Garcés. Cage will be a member of the company’s ensemble and senior artistic staff, having the opportunity to support, develop, and helm community-based artistic projects. Meanwhile, Carter’s residency will be with Oregon Shakespeare Festival and artistic director Nataki Garrett. Carter will similarly be immersed in the producing operation, using her artistic, curatorial, and educational work to build community access for digital work.
Both Cage and Carter will receive a $40,000 grant, a place at each theatre’s artistic table, and health insurance. Each theatre will also support an ongoing relationship with the residents by employing them to direct in a subsequent season. The selection process was overseen by SDC members Kauffman, SDCF president Mark Brokaw, Kent Gash, Wendy Goldberg, and Chay Yew. Scott Richards, son of Lloyd Richards, was also part of the selection process. Lloyd Richards, who died in 2006, was a founding member of SDC in 1959, former 32-year artistic director of the O’Neill Theater Center’s National Playwrights Conference, and former artistic director of Yale Rep and dean of the Yale School of Drama.
The residencies come on the heels of SDCF’s Next Stage report, which was created and spearheaded by the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) in partnership with SDCF. Among the report’s findings, SDCF found that mid-career directors or choreographers are only making an average of $17,000 annually for their contracted work, with artists of color paid two-thirds of what white members were paid, on average.
Shá Cage is a director, performer, cultural worker and writer based in Minnesota’s Twin Cities. Her work and activism has taken her across the U.S. and internationally to West and South Africa, Japan, France, Belgrade, England, the Netherlands, Canada, and more. She’s been called a change-maker, one of the leading artists of her generation, and a mover and maker. She is the founder of Catalyst Arts and a lead producer and consultant with Tru Ruts, a Black-led community organization with a 23-year history of advancing Black narratives. She was seen last onstage as Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet at the Guthrie, and recent directing credits include: African School Girls (2019, Jungle Theater), Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds (2020, the Children’s Theater), Buttafly Precinct ( 2020, BlackLives BlackWords), The Day You Begin (2020, Stages, paused due to COVID). Recent film credits include Underbelly (director), At the Corner of (director), Dickens Holiday Classic (producer), Jasmine Star (producer), Keon, and Your Home Now (director). Recent plays she has written include Buttafly Precinct (2020), Hidden Heroes (2019), and UGLY (2018). Cage is in the process of devising the fifth performance in her 10-year solo performance cycle on identity titled Summer of George. In 2020 she launched NuWay Consulting to help pilot a Twin Cities-wide anti-racism initiative. She is the recipient of several awards including an Emmy, Iveys, as well as McKnight and TCG/ Fox Fellowships. Her proudest work is community healing and transformation through art.
Elizabeth Carter is a Bay Area actor/director who most recently directed the virtual production of Feel the Spirit for both Shotgun Players and Colt Coeur. Her directing includes San Francisco Shakespeare Festival’s 2020 groundbreaking virtual King Lear; Bondage (honorable mention for the Relentless Award) with Alter Theater; Every 28 Hours Plays and A Place to Belong with American Conservatory Theatre; for colored girls…(Broadway World Best Local Play and TBA nominee Best Ensemble) with African American Shakespeare Co.; and Participants (TBA Best Anthology) for TheatreFirst. She has directed numerous productions for California Shakespeare Theater Conservatory and is currently the associate director of the Theatre Dept. at Ruth Asawa School of the Arts in San Francisco. As an actor she has been nominated for several San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards (SFBATCC) and Theatre Bay Area Awards (TBA) for her work in The Convert and Wittenberg, and she received an SFBATCC Award for Trouble in Mind. In 2019, her work in Eureka Day!, both in the Berkeley, Calif., world premiere and Off-Broadway, was critically acclaimed in The New York Times and The New Yorker. Carter also co-founded Oakland Public Theatre and served as the managing director from 1999 to 2004, producing new works and reimagined classics as well as theatre for young audiences in their library tour. She is an SDC Associate Member, a recipient of the Bridging the Gap Grant, and a Director’s West 2019 Alum. She is a graduate of Mills College.
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