ARTS & THEATER

The Theatrical Jazz Conference | HowlRound Theatre Commons


Pillsbury House and Theatre (PH+T) is thrilled to present panels from the Theatrical Jazz Concert at The University of Minnesota that celebrates and extends the legacy of groundbreaking artists Laurie Carlos, Sekou Sundiata, Ntozake Shange, and numerous others who revolutionized the American theater by invoking elements of classic jazzsuch as call-and-response, polyphony, syncopation, and improvisationas theatrical language. The Theatrical Jazz Conference has opportunities to be hands on in a workshop environment, to participate in conversation through dialogue, to witness and experience artistic presentations and performance, and to collaborate and engage with other people as well as contribute to the archiving process for the field. Our amazing lineup of presenters includes Sharon Bridgforth, Ananya Chatterjea, Douglas Ewart, Ebony Noelle Golden, Vicki Grise, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Zell Miller III, Sonja Parks, Sage Ni’Ja Whitson, Talvin Wilks, and many more. The conference culminates with a captivating Blue Note Address by award-winning artist/scholar Dr. Omi Osun Joni L. Jones, whose words promise to resonate and inspire long after the event.

Dramaturg’s Roundtable 
9:15 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) / 11:15 a.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 12:15 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4)
Panelists: Talvin Wilks + Megan Monaghan Rivas + Alexis Pauline Gumbs 
Moderator: Priscilla Maria Page

Director’s Roundtable
1:45 p.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) / 3:45 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 4:45 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4)
Panelists:  Signe V. Harriday + Regina Victor + Ebony Noelle Golden 
Moderator:  Awotunde Judyie Al-bilali

Bios

Talvin Wilks is a playwright, director and dramaturg based in Minneapolis and New York City. His plays include Tod, the boy, Tod, The Trial of Uncle S&M, Bread of Heaven, An American Triptych, Jimmy and Lorraine: A Musing, and As I Remember It with Carmen de Lavallade. He is a co-writer/co-director for Ping Chong’s ongoing series of Undesirable Elements and Collidescope: Adventures in Pre- and Post-Racial America, and a member of the Ping Chong + Co. Artistic Leadership Team. Directing Credits: The White Card, This Bitter Earth, Benevolence, The Ballad of Emmett Till (Penumbra Theatre), The Peculiar Patriot (National Black Theatre/Woolly Mammoth), Parks (History Theatre), Cannabis: A Viper Vaudeville (HERE Arts/La Mama), Locomotion (Children’s Theatre Company) and The Till Trilogy (Mosaic Theatre). Dramaturgy Credits: for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enough (2022 Broadway Revival), Dreaming Zenzile (New York Theatre Workshop/National Black Theatre), An American Tail (Children’s Theatre Company), Between the World and Me (The Apollo), Scat!, Walkin’ with ‘Trane, Haint Blu  (Urban Bush Women), ink, Black Girl: Linguistic Play, Mr. TOL E. RanCE (Camille A. Brown and Dancers), In a Rhythm, A History, Necessary Beauty, Landing-Place, Verge (Bebe Miller Company), Radicals in Miniature, Relics and Their Humans (Ain Gordon/Pick Up Performance Co.). He is an associate professor in the Theatre Arts and Dance Department, University of Minnesota/Twin Cities and is a 2020 McKnight Theater Artist Fellow and a 2022 McKnight Presidential Fellow. He was a researcher/co-curator/dramaturg for the Sekou Sundiata Retrospective, Blink Your Eyes, the Aunt Ester Cycle at the August Wilson Center, and continues research on the ongoing book project, Testament: 40 Years of Black Theatre History in the Making, 1964-2004.

Megan Monaghan Rivas joined the University of Connecticut as artistic director of Connecticut Repertory Theatre and department head of Dramatic Arts in 2021 after serving as interim head of the School of Drama at Carnegie Mellon University, where she served on the faculty starting in 2013. In prior years she served as literary manager of South Coast Repertory Theatre, and as literary director of the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta and Frontera @ Hyde Park Theatre in Austin, TX. She oversaw the artistic programming for playwrights at the Lark Play Development Center in New York City and The Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis. She has freelanced with the New Harmony Project, the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, the Geffen Playhouse, Quantum Theatre, Aurora Theatre, the Salt Lake Acting Company, TheatreSquared, Actors Express Theatre, and Horizon Theatre. She is the author of an original gender-bending adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ Three Musketeers, and a separate original play riffing on Dumas’ characters set among women workers in the French Resistance, entitled Three Musketeers: 1941. Megan has been honored with the Elliott Hayes Prize in Dramaturgy.

Alexis Pauline Gumbs is cherished by a wide range of communities as an oracle and a vessel of love. Drawing on over 25 years of experience as a writer and facilitator, her inclusive practice finds us and brings us into the ceremonies we have always needed. Her books include: Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals (AK Press 2020), Dub: Finding Ceremony (Duke Press, 2020), M Archive: After the End of the World (Duke Press 2018), Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity (Duke Press, 2016) and Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines (PM Press, 2016). Alexis was honored to be the dramaturg for the world premiere of Sharon Bridgforth’s Dat Black Mermaid Man Lady, directed by Ebony Noelle Golden in 2018 and for the world premiere of Bull Jean and Dem/dey back, directed by Daniel Alexander Jones in 2023. Alexis recently won the 2023 Windham-Campbell Prize in Poetry. In 2022 Alexis was honored with a Whiting Award in non-fiction and was lauded for creating “modern fables that offer new methods of feeling,” and was also a 2022 National Endowment of the Arts Creative Writing Fellow. In 2020-2021 Alexis was awarded a National Humanities Center Fellowship. Alexis and her partner Sangodare have received many honors, including an Advocate 40 under 40 feature for their decade of work to create an intergenerational living library of Black LGBTQ brilliance called Mobile Homecoming. Alexis lives in Durham, North Carolina where she nurtures and is nurtured by a visionary creative community while scheming towards her dream of being your favorite cousin. Her new biography Survival is a Promise: The Eternal Life of Audre Lorde arrives from Farrar, Strauss and Giroux on August 20th of this year!

Priscilla Maria Page, PhD is a writer, performer, dramaturg, and faculty member in the Department of Theater at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she also directs the Multicultural Theater Certificate. Her research includes Latinx Theater and Contemporary Native American Performance. She is currently writing about Latinx theater history in Chicago. Her publications include “Crafting Latinx Culture on Chicago’s Stages” in the Routledge Companion to Latine Theater and Performance (2024); “Contextualizing ­Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights and Hamilton Within ­Hip-Hop Theater History” in Hamilton, History, and Hip Hop: Essays on An American Musical (MacFarland, 2024); and “Collidescope 2.0: Performing the alien gaze” in Casting a Movement: The Welcome Table Initiative, edited by Claire Syler and Daniel Banks (Routledge, 2019). She co-edited and contributed to Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light: A Play and A Circle of Responses with Joy Harjo, (Wesleyan Press, 2019). Her short essay titled “Our Dad is in Atlantis: Border Crossings as Latinx Theater Practice” appears on www.latinxtalk.org (March 2020). And her essay “My World Made Real” appears as the afterword in El Grito de Bronx and Other Plays by Migdalia Cruz (No Passport Press, 2010).

Signe V. Harriday is a fierce visionary and powerful storyteller who crafts theatre that awakens our individual and collective humanity. As a director, multidisciplinary artist, activist, and facilitator, she uses theatre as a catalyst to ask questions about who we are and who we are in relation to each other. Senior Artistic Producing Director of Pillsbury House Theatre. Co-founder of Million Artist Movement, a collective of artists committed to Black liberation. Co-founder of the award-winning synchronized swimming team, The Subversive Sirens.  Founder of Rootsprings Coop, a retreat center for BIPOC artists/activists/healers. Co-founder of MaMa mOsAiC, a women of color theater company whose mission is to evoke positive social change through female centered work. Core team member of REP Community Partners an abolition project.  She earned her MFA in Acting at the Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at the American Repertory Theatre at Harvard and Moscow Art Theatre and is a Hermitage Fellow. Recent theatre projects: Director of Bridgforth’s bull-jean stories, Harris’ What to Send Up When it Goes Down, Co-Director of Chen’s PASSAGE, and Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower Opera by Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johson Reagon, Choreography for Love of Silver Water, Playwright for Dysmorphia. Other directing credits: Dining with the Ancestors, Fannie Lou Hammer Speak On It, Hidden Heroes, Cardboard Piano, Agitators, and various workshops. Website.

Regina Victor (they/pharaoh) is a nomadic multidisciplinary artist from Oakland, CA, based in Chicago IL. Using the divinatory tools of tarot, storytelling, and the framework of theatrical jazz, they employ the blk and trans radical imagination to transmute the past, reflect the present, and co-create possible futures. Theatre is their dominant practice, working most frequently as a director, dramaturg, and actor. Victor is a producer for the Bombay Beach Biennale, a non-traditional, radical hospitality interdisciplinary arts festival in California. pharaoh has developed new plays at The Playwrights Center, Long Wharf Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and more, and trained under prolific directors such as Daniel Alexander Jones, Raelle Myrick-Hodges, and Phylicia Rashad. Victor founded their arts criticism outlet, Rescripted.org, in 2017, and was placed in the ‘23 and ‘24 New City Magazine Hall of Fame for their work. As a freelance critic, Victor has written for The Chicago Reader, American Theatre Magazine, Playbill, Howlround, and more. Pharaoh has piloted several cultural initiatives, including McCarter Theatre’s Bard at the Gate, UChicago’s Arts & Public Life Critics’ Table, the Howlround Theatre Commons’ National Advisory Council, and the Artistic Caucus. Regina’s website. Rescripted’s website.

Ebony Noelle Golden is a theatrical ceremonialist, culture strategist, entrepreneur, and public scholar. In 2009, Ebony founded Betty’s Daughter Arts Collaborative, a culture consultancy that devises systems, strategies, and social justice solutions nationally. In 2020, she founded Jupiter Performance Studio, a space to study and practice Black diasporic performance traditions. Winner of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education’s Transformational Practice Award, Golden works to incite and ignite the creative capacity of everyday folks in service of liberation and collective wellbeing. Her practice is rooted in community-design, ritual performance, and leadership development through a womanist and Black feminist praxis. Invoking messy, magical, and medicinal processes, Ebony and her collaborators, work to conjure a better world. Website.

Awotunde Judyie Ella Al-Bilali is a theater artist, writer and arts educator. She has performed and directed off-Broadway, at regional theaters, and is the Artistic Godmother of Re/Emergence Collective based in New England. Currently Professor of Theater for Social Transformation at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, she has taught internationally, notably as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa where she founded an Applied Theater company, Brown Paper Studio. While travelling around the world on a ship to eleven countries in the Caribbean, South America, Africa and Asia, she taught her innovative process as Semester at Sea faculty. A trademarked methodology, Brown Paper Studio is part of UMass Theater’s curriculum. Her work is featured in the award-winning publication Black Acting Methods: Critical Approaches. Judyie is the author of For the Feeling: Love & Transformation from New York to Cape Town, a self-published memoir and Halcyon Days, a book of haiku poetry published by Indian Hill Press. Her newest book and performance project, Between Tattoos: A Biomythography charts the journey of a Black woman theater artist though the years 2019 to 2021, the pivot point towards Earth’s positive future she comes from the future to herald. Judyie’s plays, The Death of Black & White, Ice House and Savior’s Day have been produced at community and college theaters. She lives on the island of Nôepe also known as Martha’s Vineyard, located in Wôpanâak territory.  She acknowledges Nôepe’s lands, waters, plants and animals as a source of inspiration and expresses her gratitude to the Wôpanâak people for their continuous role as the traditional stewards of their ancestral home. Website.

Sincere thanks to our generous contributors…
University of Minnesota Institute for Advanced Study Department of Theatre Arts + Dance Department of Gender, Women + Sexuality Studies School of Music George Mason University College of Visual + Performing Arts School of Theater University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Humanities and Fine Arts Faculty Research Fund Department of Theater Pillsbury House + Theatre, Minneapolis Rhythm Visions Production Company, DC Minnesota Transform Jerome Foundation





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