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The residency program is named after William S. Yellow Robe Jr., the late Assiniboine actor, author, director, educator, playwright, and poet.

Sound Theatre Seeks Applicants for Yellow Robe Playwright Residency

The Making Waves William S. Yellow Robe Jr. Playwright Residency Program will provide a stipend and training for a playwright to develop new work with an intersectional lens.

SEATTLE: Sound Theatre Company is currently accepting applications for its first playwright residency program, the Making Waves William S. Yellow Robe Jr. Playwright Residency Program, designed to develop a new canon of intersectional plays for a changing world. The new residency is named after the late award-winning playwright William S. Yellow Robe Jr. (Assiniboine), whose body of work often integrated his mixed Black and Native ancestry, and, late in his career, a disability lens.

“Our intention is to invite playwrights to create narratives that draw from their own authentic lived experiences, while deepening their understanding of those of others,” said Sound Theatre founding artistic director Teresa Thuman in a statement. “We expect this to be unique to each individual; thus we ask you to share your personal understanding of intersectionality and how it informs your work.” 

Applications are now open and due by 11:59 p.m. PST on July 6. Playwrights at any stage of their careers and in any part of the U.S. are encouraged to apply. The program’s first six-month cycle will run from September 2022 to March 2023. Finalists will be invited to a Zoom interview during the first week of August. 

The selected playwright resident will receive a $10,000 stipend, separate from paid mentorship and training, as well as in-house support in developing and presenting a project. If non-local, the resident will receive reimbursement for travel and up to two weeks of housing in Seattle.

With its unique focus on developing plays from an intersectional lens, Sound Theatre’s residency is based upon an understanding of intersectionality as described in Skin, Tooth, and Bone: The Basis of Movement is Our Peoplea scholarly text written by Sins Invalid, a disability justice performing arts organization, which reads in part: 

This principle says that we are many things, and they all impact us. We are not one identity; we are each coming from a specific experience of race, disability, class, sexuality, age, religious background, geographical location, immigration status, and more […] we all have areas where we experience privilege, as well as areas of oppression. The term “intersectionality” was first introduced by feminist theorist Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. 

Sound Theatre will pilot a hybrid residency model with digital and in-person collaboration. The selected resident will develop a project through an independently driven process that may include dramaturgy, table reads, and/or workshops, with the option to present a public reading of new work. The resident will also complete cultural competency training in an area of interest in order to foster new creative possibilities in their work and lead a playwriting workshop for writers in underrepresented communities. This workshop will culminate in a publicly presented showcase of student playwrights’ ten-minute plays.

This residency’s launch marks a 10th anniversary milestone of Sound Theatre’s Making Waves New and Experimental Works program, which provides opportunities to develop and present innovative work. Since 2012, Making Waves has presented over 40 readings of scripts by playwrights. Now the program hopes to provide even more support through a formal artist residency.  

“By creating this residency, Sound Theatre hopes to amplify and support traditionally underrepresented voices,” said board vice president and residency planning committee member Andrea Kovich in a statement. “New work is vital to producing relevant theatre that speaks to the present time and is inclusive of all identities. In a changing theatre world, programs like this are urgently needed to respond to evolving conversations.”

The Residency Program is made possible through the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts, the City of Seattle Neighborhood Economic Recovery Fund, and the Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation. 

Sound Theatre Company is a nonprofit theatre based in Seattle. The company aims to empower artists to amplify the diversity of the human experience as a way of moving audiences toward a more just and compassionate world. Founded in 2006, Sound Theatre has built a shared leadership model as well as a community of more than 400 artists, engaging 4,000 audience members annually. As of 2019, Sound Theatre Company had a budget of approximately $147,300.

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