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Contributors

The Healing Art of Synthia SAINT JAMES

Black Bone China Dinner

COMING UP:  Tuesday, April 27, 2021: Join us for a conversation over dinner celebrating the launch of the second phase of Regina Taylor’s the black album project, mixtape. The first course will include a virtual meal served on black bone china that has been handcrafted by student artists. For dessert, enjoy a lively discussion on arts activism and technology moderated by Theatre Forward’s Carl Sylvestre and featuring Executive Artistic Director of Actors Theatre of Louisville Robert Barry Fleming, Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s sixth artistic director Nataki Garrett, artistic director of the National Black Theatre Jonathan McCrory.

Robert Barry Fleming

Fleming is the Executive Artistic Director of Actors Theatre of Louisville. Fleming previously served as Associate Artistic Director at Cleveland Play House and as Director of Artistic Programming at Arena Stage. World premieres commissioned, developed and championed during this tenure at Arena include the 2017 Best Musical Tony Award winner Dear Evan Hansen, Mary Kathryn Nagle’s Sovereignty, John Strand’s The Originalist, Katori Hall’s Blood Quilt, Karen Zacarías’s Destiny of Desire, and the 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner, Sweat, by Lynn Nottage.

Fleming was an Associate Producer for the Off-Broadway premiere of The Two-Character Play by Tennessee Williams and was a tenured professor and Chair of the University of San Diego Theatre Arts and Performance Studies Department. His Actors Theatre Direct new media credits include COVID-Classics: One-Act Plays for the Age of Quarantine, Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End and Romeo & Juliet: Louisville 2020. Live event directing and choreography credits include Are You There? and Once On This Island (Actors Theatre of Louisville), Next to Normal (Tantrum Theater), The Royale and Between Riverside and Crazy (Cleveland Play House), Destiny of Desire (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), and Caroline, or Change (Tantrum Theater). Professional acting credits include stints on Broadway, OffBroadway, television (Emmy-winning Disney Channel series Adventures in Wonderland, Family Matters, The George Carlin Show) and in films (Academy Award-winning L.A. Confidential and Twilight of the Golds).

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Nataki Garrett

Nataki Garrett is the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s sixth artistic director. Since her appointment in April of 2019, she has guided the organization through numerous transitions and crises, all while building toward a more sustainable producing and fundraising model. The COVID-19 pandemic forced OSF to close five productions only six days after opening, in what was supposed to be Garrett’s first full season as artistic director. Shortly thereafter, Garrett oversaw the process to shrink expenditures at OSF while maintaining a humane connection to the OSF’s company as furloughs and layoffs ensued.

Over the next six months, Garrett raised $6 million for the company while also supporting the successful hiring and onboarding of OSF’s fourth Executive Director, David Schmitz. Together they led the company during Southern Oregon’s Almeda fire, which devastated nearby communities, and mobilized relief efforts including an onsite donation center and short- and long-term housing for those impacted by the fires. During this time, Garrett, together with a cohort of Oregon arts leaders, secured $8 million for the state’s performing arts organizations from the federal relief fund package that Oregon received. She is currently leading the charge to mobilize theatre organizations across the nation to procure long-term federal government support to ensure the theatre industry’s reemergence post-pandemic.

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Jonathan McCrory

A two Obie Award-winning, Harlem-based artist who has served as Artistic Director at National Black Theatre since 2012 under the leadership of CEO, Sade Lythcott. He has directed numerous professional productions and concerts.  He has been acknowledged as an exceptional leader additionally through Craine’s New York Business 2020 Notable LGBTQ Leaders and Executives. In 2013, he was awarded the Emerging Producer Award by the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston Salem, North Carolina, and the Torch Bearer Award by theatrical legend Woodie King Jr.

He is a founding member of the collaborative producing organizations Harlem9, Black Theatre Commons, The Jubilee, Next Generation National Network and The Movement Theatre Company. McCrory sits on the National Advisory Committee for Howlround.com and was a member of the original cohort for ArtEquity. A Washington, DC native, McCrory attended the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and New York University’s TISCH School of the Arts. To learn more, please visit www.jonathanmccrory.com.

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Carl Sylvestre

Currently the Director of Development at Theatre Forward, a membership organization of 19 prominent regional theatres.

Prior to joining Theatre Forward, Carl worked with numerous arts and social service nonprofits both in staff positions and in his consulting practice, including the Metropolitan Opera, St. Ann’s Warehouse, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York Theatre Workshop, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Carl has an M.B.A from the University of Glasgow Adam Smith Business School, an M.A. in Theatre History from Hunter College and a B.A. in Comparative Literature and Culture from Columbia University.

He has also served as a board member in a leadership capacity at three nonprofit organizations. He has lectured on Arts Management at Teachers College Columbia University, New York University, and Brooklyn College. In October 2017, he was awarded a New York City Council Award for his philanthropic and community services.

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Roundtable Panelists: Change Agents

Troy Osborne Pryor

An American producer, host, and actor. His collaborations have led to award-winning projects and content with ABC, Warner Brothers, TruTV, HGTV, DIY Network, TV One, and Aspire TV.A Chicago native, Troy is an advocate for connecting local, undiscovered diverse talent to mainstream content and media platforms through his production network, Creative Cypher and the various brands under his chief company, Pryor Holdings. Troy was the youngest person ever to be elected to SAG-AFTRA Chicago’s Board of Directors and was a mentor for President Barack Obama’s White House project, A Call to ArtsHis with SAG-AFTRA.

As a former collegiate athlete, Troy was a record-breaking powerlifter and linebacker for the University of Illinois. As a Chicago Scholars 35 Under 35, Ariel Investments/WVON 40 Game Changer, Black Enterprise TCX Fellow, and ADColor nominated Innovator of the Year, Pryor has a tenacity for innovation and big-picture, strategic thinking.Still very much grounded in the values of his church family, he continues to spend his time ministering, mentoring, and coaching as he strives daily to reach his full potential.

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Dr. Ian Smith

The author of the #1 New York Times bestselling books, SHRED: THE REVOLUTIONARY DIET, SUPER SHRED: The Big Results Diet,BLAST THE SUGAR OUT, The Clean 20, THE ANCIENT NINE, CLEAN & LEAN, and eleven, other books with millions of copies in print. His newest book—THE UNSPOKEN, the first installment of his Ashe Cayne mystery series,will be released on October 1st, 2020. He is currently the solo host of the nationally-syndicated, Emmy award-winning television show, The Doctors,  and a longtime medical contributor to Emmy award-winning The Rachael Ray Show.

Dr. Smith’s work has been honored by several organizations, including the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for his coverage on the momentous events of September 11th, 2001. He is also very active in charitable causes. Dr. Smith has also served on the boards of the American Council on Exercise, the New York Mission Society, the Prevent Cancer Foundation, The New York Council for the Humanities, and The Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity.

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Louis Carr

With BET Networks for 35 years, serving as the President of Media Sales for the last 19 years. During his tenure with the company, Carr has transformed the multicultural space for some of the world’s biggest brands. Through strategic partnerships with corporations like Procter & Gamble, Unilever, McDonald’s, General Motors, Facebook, Apple, and many more, he has been a guide and a consultant on opportunities that exist within black and brown communities. Through his deep understanding of linear TV and digital and social platforms, he has made BET Networks the number one brand and choice for Black consumers. Carr’s mantra, “Be led by data and insights,” has driven BET to have the largest repository of information on Black consumers than any other media company worldwide. His understanding of this data has inspired him to create content and messages that help marketers sell products and services and help them become good corporate citizens.

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Xavier Hernandez

Principal / Owner of management venture capital firm XD Technology, oversee the day-to-day growth and expansion of 4 companies. Bringing 25 years of business experience in managing fortune 500 companies, creating and overseeing training projects, talent acquisition, grant writing, sales growth and expansion.

As an active workforce fiduciary for fortune 500 companies and private investment firms, Xavier works with businesses of all sizes that want to grow or expand operations in the age of digital disruption. He puts the welfare and best interests of the operation and its shareholders above his own personal or other business interests.

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Roundtable Panelists for Shape Shifters

Octavio Solis

Author of over 20 plays, Octavio Solis is considered by many to be one of the most prominent Latino playwrights in America. With works that both draw on and transcend the Mexican-American experience, he is a writer and director whose style defies formula, examining the darkness, magic and humor of humanity with brutal honesty and characteristic intensity.

His imaginative and ever-evolving work continues to cross cultural and aesthetic boundaries, solidifying him as one of the great playwrights of our time. Octavio Solis is a playwright and director.

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Carl Hancock Ruxis

Carl Hancock Ruxis an American poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, actor, director, singer-songwriter. He is the author of several books including the Village VoiceLiterary Prize-winning “Pagan Operetta,” the novel, Asphalt, and the Obie Award-winning play, Talk. Rux is also a singer/songwriter with four CDs to his credit, as well as a frequent collaborator in the fields of dance, theater, film, and contemporary art .

 

Notable collaborators include Nona Hendryx, Toshi Reagon, Bill T. Jones, Ronald K. Brown, Nick Cave, Anne Bogart, Robert Wilson, Kenny Leon, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Jonathan Demme, Stanley Nelson Jr., Carrie Mae Weems, Glenn Ligonand others. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Doris DukeAward for New Works, the Doris Duke Charitable Fund, the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) Prize, the Bessie Awardand the Alpert Awardin the Arts, and a 2019 Global Change Maker award by WeMakeChange.Org.[1]His archives are housed at the Billy RoseTheater Division of the New York Public Library, the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institutionas well as the Film and Video/Theater and Dance Library of the California Institute of the Arts. Mr. Rux is also co-Artistic Director of Mabou Mines.

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Chay Yew

As playwright, his work has been produced at the Royal Court (London), Public Theater, Mark Taper Forum, Manhattan Theatre Club, Long Wharf, La Jolla Playhouse, Intiman Theatre, Wilma Theatre, Portland Center Stage, East West Players, Dallas Theatre Center, Cornerstone Theatre Company, Studio Theatre, Fattore K (Naples), La Mama (Melbourne), Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center (Shanghai), Four Arts (Kuala Lumpur), TheatreWorks, Singapore Repertory Theatre, Toy Factory, Checkpoint Theatre, (Singapore), amongst others. For his plays, he received the London Fringe Award for Best Play, George and Elisabeth Marton Playwriting Award, GLAAD Media Award, and Robert Chesley Award.

 

His plays are published by Grove/Atlantic. As a director, his New York credits include the Public Theater, Playwrights Horizon, New York Theatre Workshop, Signature Theatre, Playwrights Realm, Rattlestick, Ensemble Studio Theatre, National Asian American Theatre, and Ma Yi. Regionally, he directed for the Humana Festival, Goodman Theatre, AmericanConservatory Theatre, Berkeley Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, South Coast Rep, Huntington Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Seattle Rep, Woolly Mammoth, Long Wharf, Denver Theatre Center, Tanglewood, amongst others. He is a recipient of the OBIE Award for Direction. An alumnus of NewDramatists, he edited an anthology of Asian American plays, Version 3.0, for TCG Publications. From 2011 to 2020, he was the Artistic Director of Victory Gardens in Chicago. For his leadership, he was awarded the Iris Award for Outstanding Commitment to Connecting Chicago Communities and the Arts, and the Impact Award for Bold and Inclusive Artistic Leadership.

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Dianne McIntyre

Dancer choreographer, director, historical researcher established her dance/music company Sounds in Motion in 1972 –touring internationally and operating a studio in Harlem which was a hub for artists of all disciplines to gather. She choreographs for concert dance, theatre, opera and film. Her idiosyncratic movement style rises from dance training, collaborations with prominent “jazz” musicians and growing up in Cleveland where everyone in the community danced.Besides her own companiesshe has set works on Dance Theatre of Harlem, Dancing Wheels, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, and numerous university ensembles. Signature dance works include: Take-Off from a Forced Landing, Life’s Force, Deep South Suite, Their Eyes Were Watching God.Theatre choreography: Broadway, London’s West End, New YorkPublic Theater, New Federal Theatre, Karamu House, Crossroads Theatre Company and over40 regional theatres.

 

Her screen choreography includes Belovedand Miss Evers’ Boys, receiving an Emmy Award nomination. Other awards include a Doris Duke Artist Award, Guggenheim Fellowship, Doris Duke United States Artists Fellowship, and honorary degrees from SUNY Purchase and Cleveland State University.McIntyre creates dance-driven dramas developed through her interviews: I Could Stop on a Dime and Get Ten Cents Change (stories from her father) and Open the Door, Virginia!(1950s Virginia civil rights). Celebrated artist in music, theatre and film she has worked with include Olu Dara, Lester Bowie, Amina Claudine Myers, Cecil Taylor, Regina Taylor, August Wilson, Ntozake Shange, Bartlett Sher, Marion McClinton, Douglas Turner Ward, Des McAnuff, Oz Scott, Irene Lewis and Jonathan Demme.Her recent film choreography is Hal Kingand recent opera,Intimate ApparelbyLynn Nottage and Ricky Gordon for Lincoln Center Theater.

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Nikkole Satler

Hailed by Variety as “thoroughly convincing”, Los Angeles-born, OBIE Award-winning actress and writer Nikkole Salter arrived onto the professional scene with her co-authorship and co-performance (with Danai Gurira) of the Pulitzer Prize nominated play, IN THE CONTINUUM (ITC). For its Off-Broadway run at Primary Stages and the Perry Street Theatre and for its US State Department and Bloomberg sponsored inter-national tour, Ms. Salter received an OBIE Award, and the NY Outer Critics Circle’s John Gassner Award for Best New American Play, the Seldes-Kanin fellowship from the Theatre Hall of Fame, and the Global ToleranceAward from the Friends of the United Nations to name a few.

 

Ms. Salter also received Helen Hayes and Black Theatre Alliance nominations for Best Actress for her performance. ITC, published by Samuel French, was pronounced by New York Times, Newsday and New York Magazine as one of the best plays of 2005 and was featured in numerous esteemed media outlets including Essence Magazine, American Theatre Magazine, theLos Angeles Times and NPR’s Leonard Lopate Show. ITC has received over 20 productions across the worldto date.

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