Last year, we made the commitment to commission 3 Writers/Scholars to witness Reconstruction‘s process and analyze our work with an eye towards internal accountability with the plan to publish this work publicly. We are pleased to share that we have selected our 3 Writers/Scholars. Scroll down to learn more about these fabulous humans.
Melanie George is the founder and director of Jazz Is… Dance Project and an Associate Curator and Director of Artist Initiatives at Jacob’s Pillow. As a dramaturg, she has contributed to projects by David Neumann & Marcella Murray (on the Obie Award-winning Distances Smaller Than This Are Not Confirmed), Raja Feather Kelly, Ephrat Asherie, Susan Marshall & Company, Machine Dazzle, Kimberly Bartosik/daela, and Urban Bush Women, among others. Melanie is featured in the documentary UpRooted: The Journey of Jazz Dance, and founded the global advocacy website jazzdancedirect.com. Publications include Imbed/In Bed: Two Perspectives on Dance and Collaboration” for Working Together in Qualitative Research (Sense Publishers) and chapters in Jazz Dance: A History of the Roots and Branches and the forthcoming Rooted Jazz Dance: Africanist Aesthetics and Equity in the Twenty-First Century (University Press of Florida). She is the former Dance Program Director at American University and has guest lectured at Harvard University, the Yale School of Drama, and The Juilliard School.
DR. TAWNYA PETTIFORD-WATES
Tawnya Pettiford-Wates, Ph.D. Professor of Acting and Directing Pedagogy at Virginia Commonwealth University and the Co-Artistic Director & Founder of The Conciliation Lab, a non-profit social justice theatre company www.theconciliationlab.org. Dr.T is a playwright, director, actor, poet, and writer. She has appeared in the New York Shakespeare Festival’s Broadway production of “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the rainbow is enuf” performing in both the national and international touring companies. Her television, film, industrial, voice-over, and commercial credits are extensive. Favorite directing projects include “uncle tom: deconstructed” for The Conciliation Project www.theconciliationproject.org, PASSING STRANGE for Firehouse Theatre, “The Niceties” for The Conciliation LAB, and FENCES for the Virginia Rep all to critical acclaim. Fun fact: She’s featured voice talent for the video game HALO. She’s a featured scholar in Black Acting Methods: critical approaches, a best seller on Amazon. Recently her chapter “The Conciliation Project as a Social Experiment: Behind the Mask of Uncle Tom-ism and the Performance of Blackness” was featured in an anthology titled, African American Arts, Activism, Aesthetics, and Futurity, edited by Dr. Sharrell D. Luckett. Dr.T is a columnist for Urban Views Weekly, www.urbanviewsrva.com other articles, presentations and workshops can be found at www.coveringtheground.com
NIA OSTROW WITHERSPOON
Nia Ostrow Witherspoon is a Black Queer theatre-maker, vocalist and composer, and cultural worker investigating the metaphysics of Black liberation, desire, and diaspora, in the context of sacred ecologies. Described as “especially fascinating” by Backstage Magazine, and featured by NPR for her curation of BlackARTSMatter, Witherspoon is NEFA/NTP recipient, a Creative Capital Awardee, a Jerome New Artist Fellow, an artist in residence at HERE Arts Center and BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange, and was a 2017-18 2050 Playwriting/Directing Fellow at New York Theatre Workshop. Her works, MESSIAH, YOU MINE, THE DARK GIRL CHRONICLES, and PRIESTESS OF TWERK have been or will be featured by The Shed, JACK, La Mama ETC, Playwright’s Realm, BRIC, HERE, National Black Theatre, BAAD, Movement Research, BAX, Dixon Place, Painted Bride, 651 Arts, and elsewhere. Witherspoon has been recognized by the Mellon Foundation, NYFA, the Wurlitzer Foundation, Lambda Literary, and Theatre Bay Area, and most recently NEFA/NTP. She holds a BA from Smith College and a PhD from Stanford University in Theatre and Performance Studies, and her writing is published in the Journal of Popular Culture; Imagined Theatres; Women, Collective Creation, and Devised Performance; and IMANIMAN: Poets Writing in the Anzaldúan Borderlands. Witherspoon has held tenure-track professorships at Florida State University and Arizona State University taught at Fordham and University of Massachusetts (Amherst), and is currently working on a manuscript tentatively titled NATION IN THE DARK: A Black femme spell for justice.
We’re so excited to share that Live From Mount Olympus, our Greek Myth Podcast created in partnership with Onassis Foundation, has been renewed for Season 2. The new season will premiere in early 2022 so in the meantime, we’ll be releasing monthly “Mythlets” to tide fans over. Listen to the first mythlet, which focuses on Adamantine’s Sword here.
The TEAM is looking for a new part-time Assistant Producer to join our administrative team. Information is below. Please apply by July 23, 2021.
Assistant Producer Status: Hourly, Part-Time Location: Brooklyn Start Date: mid-September, 2021 Reports To: Producing Director Salary: $20 per hour; 16 hours per week Benefits: $200 per month health insurance contribution Schedule: Weekly schedule is flexible in consultation with the Producing Director and workload ebbs and flows with our programming.
The TEAM seeks a dynamic and motivated individual for a part-time Assistant Producer. The Assistant Producer will work in partnership with the TEAM’s Producing Director and Producing Manager. In this role, the Associate Producer will help advance the company’s mission to create new work about the experience of living in the United States today.
ABOUT THE TEAM
The TEAM is a 16-year-old internationally recognized theatre company. Our mission is to collaboratively create new works about the experience of living in the United States today. Combining aggressive athleticism with emotional performances and intellectual rigor, our work crashes characters from history and mythology into modern stories, drawing unexpected connections across time to touch the raw nerves of the current moment. Our work is rooted in place-based research, and by returning to the places we visit with the finished work, we hope to create a genuine exchange between different communities in America. Led by Tony-award winning Artistic Director Rachel Chavkin, we have created and toured 11 works, including Mission Drift, RoosevElvis, and Primer for a Failed Superpower.
As an organization, we acknowledge that collective liberation is not a state, but an ongoing struggle to do better, be more just, interrogate our practices and assumptions, and be willing to make regular changes to how we do things in the face of what we find we’re doing well or poorly. With our project Reconstruction (Still Working but the Devil Might Be Inside), we’ve been experimenting with putting these values into practice and endeavoring to create a space that is not only anti-racist but actively pro-Black, through strategies like hiring an anti-racism facilitator to lead workshops and act as a “process chaplain” while embedded full-time in the rehearsal room, having a team comprised equally of Black/BIPOC identifying artists and white-identifying artists, engaging in daily constituency groups, and participating in rituals of healing and mourning. We are currently working with our board and community of artists to reflect these commitments at all levels of our institution; click here to learn more about our ongoing commitments and work.
The Assistant Producer will work in close collaboration with the Producing Director, Artistic Director and Producing Manager in handling the day-to-day operations of the TEAM, an internationally-renowned devised theatre company. The position will have responsibilities in the areas of fundraising, marketing, line producing, company management, and general administration. This position is geared primarily towards early career producers who are looking for an opportunity to strengthen their line producing, general management and fundraising skills through hands-on working experience.
Current TEAM programming includes but is not limited to: the development of our newest mainstage work Reconstruction (Still Working but the Devil Might Be Insides) which includes a writing team of 23 artists, 14 of whom are artists of Color and 9 of whom are white-identifying; The Petri Project’s Program, an artist-driven new work development lab; the recording and distribution of Live From Mount Olympus, a Greek-Myth Podcast aimed for audiences aged 9-13; Devising within a Democracy Workshops to emerging and mid-career artists; and the touring of existing TEAM repertoire. The Associate Producer will be a key employee within our small institution and the position will allow for extensive skills-building and learning in many different areas of not-for-profit producing, as well as the opportunity to build relationships with industry stakeholders across the globe. We seek a thought partner to help the company innovate with regard to program delivery, as we endeavor to serve our artists and community.
The position is part-time, but will allow the Associate Producer to take leadership roles on various projects, and to receive one-on-one mentorship from the Producing Director, Artistic Director, Producing Manager and TEAM Board.
As art makers and as an organization, we want to center historically underrepresented voices, in particular communities of Color, people from working class backgrounds, LGBTQ+ people, and the differently abled. We strongly encourage applications from people from these or other historically underrepresented communities. The TEAM was founded by white artists and our current staff members are all white-identifying. However, we are working in partnership with facilitators rooted in anti-oppression work to disrupt white-supremacist and colonial structures within our institution. This includes meetings with our Reconstruction Process Chaplain to dream about new structures for our institution, as we have abolished our ensemble structure. Additionally, TEAM staff, including this role, will be supported by monthly meetings with facilitators focusing on anti-oppression practices.
Development & Fundraising Support
Manage day to day individual and institutional fundraising records
Assist in grant applications and reports for institutional funders
Help design individual fundraising campaign, such as an annual end of calendar year campaign, with a focus on visual design
Coordinate logistics for fundraising events such as volunteer sign-ups, scheduling, décor, catering drop-offs, etc.
Create design collateral for workshops, fundraising campaigns, Petri Projects, and TEAM mainstage work
Collaborate with Producing Manager to execute social media tasks for the TEAM, including the planning and creation of content
Lead Produce a selection of Petri Projects (budgets ranging from $5-10k) through our Petri Projects Program
Attend virtual recording sessions and coordinate logistics for the Live from Mount Olympus podcast
Help with company management tasks for mainstage development work including employee paperwork, rehearsal and travel logistics, etc.
Order supplies, marketing collateral, and office equipment as needed
Training, Data entry and support of Salesforce database
You are curious, creative, and adaptable.
You can manage deadlines and prioritize for yourself and others.
You can see the big picture and the details simultaneously and keep a close eye on both.
You’re going to make mistakes. We’re going to make mistakes. You are willing to try anyway.
A strong team player.
A commitment to anti-racism and anti-oppression principles and practices.
Social media savvy with experience working across social media and communications platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Mailchimp or other e-blast services
Excellent written and oral communication skills
This job is executed on the following platforms: Microsoft Excel, Word, Zoom, Dropbox, Quickbooks, Salesforce etc. Experience with these platforms is a plus.
Basic knowledge of design platforms, such as InDesign, Canva, Adobe Spark, etc. is also a plus
This position has the flexibility to work at the TEAM’s office at ART/NY’s South Oxford Space in Fort Greene or virtually.
TO APPLY: Send cover letter and resume with two references to Alexandra Lalonde, Producing Director at firstname.lastname@example.org, by July 23, 2021.
“Somewhere in Nebraska. More Specifically. A payphone in Dansbury, NE. Amelia is sitting on the back of a pickup truck smoking…” Check out some #BTS pictures from development work on Libby King and Zhailon Levingston’s Petri Project. We supported a few writing residencies for them to flush out their script that features Amelia Earhart, Radio DJs, and Golf Ball Size hail.
The TEAM is commissioning 3 independent writers (scholars and/or creative) who identify as Black, Mixed-Race, or as a Person of the Global Majority, to witness, analyze and critique the process of creating our production Reconstruction (Still Working but the Devil Might Be Inside), including our attempts to create a pro-Black space within a white-led institution, and to decolonize our practice and create a genuinely organic, “horizontal”, and creatively verdant room comprised of Artists of Color and white-identifying artists.
Reconstruction (Still Working but the Devil Might Be Inside) is a new theatrical work with a live musical score about different forms of intimacy — including but not limited to interracial intimacy between Black-identifying and white-identifying individuals, self-intimacy, and Black interiority — within the historical and present-day context of a violently anti-Black United States. Our goal is to make and tour a work that is as useful to racially diverse audiences as the process has been to us as individuals and as a company.
Inspired by Hortense Spillers’ statement “Without freedom, love and intimacy don’t matter,” Reconstruction will look at attempts for genuine INTIMACY in the United States, particularly between Black peoples, between white peoples, and within relationships that seek to bridge the binary. Reconstruction will unfold in a series of interlocking chapters, each focused on a different question of intimacy in the context of different relationships: It will also ask whether Black and white individuals can share true intimacy in the USA? If so, how? Should that even be a goal?
This work is being built by 23 artists aged 27-96, 14 of whom are artists of Color and 9 of whom are white-identifying. It is being co-directed by Rachel Chavkin and Zhailon Levingston and collectively edited by a self-selected “Weaver Committee” of 8 artists (6 POC artists and 2 white-identifying). We are creating Reconstruction via our consensus-driven, horizontal writing process that involves group research and the generation of material via improvisation and writing, with creative prompts offered by any member of the ensemble. We began development in March 2018 with an “Undoing Racism” workshop facilitated by Milta Vega-Cardona from the People’s Institute of Survival and Beyond. We have since contracted Milta as our Process Chaplain, and she has been integral in helping us create a room rooted in anti-racist and anti-colonial practices. She works to ensure that the artists of Color leave the room as whole as when they entered it, and helps us form daily rituals, such as ending everyday with constituency groups.
We plan to premiere the work at the Round House Theatre in Fall 2022, pending the state of the COVID-19 pandemic. We want the work to be moving, funny and provocative. We also want it to be useful to racially diverse audiences in thinking about intimacy through the lens of racial analysis. We plan, in partnership with presenters and our Process Chaplain, to facilitate anti-racism workshops and town halls alongside the presentation of the work.
For more information on the process of creating Reconstruction, we invite writers to watch this video conversation “Finding Intimacy in the Reconstruction Room: The role of our Process Chaplain”.
What are we looking for?
Three writers who identify as Black, Mixed-Race, or as a Person of the Global Majority, including at least one writer who identifies as part of the African Diaspora, to track our progress from here forward in creating a verdant, horizontal, and pro-Black development process and subsequent production. Together with the writers, we would work to ensure their independence in witnessing, analyzing, and critiquing both what is successful and unsuccessful about our attempts to de-colonize ourselves and our institution. While the racial makeup of the artistic company of Reconstruction is majority Black and Artists of Color, it is important to note that the organization of the TEAM is still largely white-led. We will make the writers’ work available to the wider field by partnering with relevant publications, with the goal that it will be of use to other institutions and ensembles, as well as provide value in our continued work. Our primary interest is in partnering with publications accessible to the majority of theatre practitioners (e.g. American Theatre and HowlRound) but are also interested in collaborating with academic journals beyond the theatrical field. We believe that our experiences – successes and challenges – might have implications and applications beyond our field, as historically white-dominant institutions across disciplines seek to create more inclusive environments at a minimum and beyond that to work seriously to center the voices of Black and Indigenous Americans, and People of the Global Majority.
We would like the writers to observe full-company development on Reconstruction moving forward. This will include residencies in the New York City area, as well as other cities such as Santa Monica, CA; Chapel Hill, NC; and Washington DC. Full company development is currently virtual with plans for work in Montgomery, AL in November 2021. Ideally, all writers would observe all or part of all residencies and future stages of the project, but with flexibility to account for scheduling challenges. The TEAM has partnered with the COVID-19 Theater Think Tank to create rigorous safety and testing protocols to ensure safe work during the pandemic.
The TEAM is looking for writers whose research and/or creative interests may include but are not limited to:
African American Literature, Film and Cultural History
Slavery, Emancipation, and Reconstruction
Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies
Ethnicity, Race, and Indigenous Studies
Race, Class, and Gender
Writers will each create a journal-style piece that explores the successes and failures of our process, to be published at a date to align with the premiere of Reconstruction (tentatively scheduled for fall, 2022).
When observing the work of the Reconstruction ensemble, the TEAM offers a weekly salary of $800, on a most-favored-nations basis with the rest of the ensemble.
For the work of writing a critical analysis of the TEAM’s process in creating Reconstruction, we offer a fee of $3,000.
About the TEAM
The TEAM is a 16-year-old internationally recognized Brooklyn-based theatre ensemble. Our mission is to collaboratively create new work about the experience of living in the USA today. Combining aggressive athleticism with emotional performances and intellectual rigor, our work crashes characters from history and mythology into modern stories, drawing unexpected connections across time to touch the raw nerve of the current moment. This process has often brought us to different parts of the US, from post-housing crash Las Vegas in 2010 to politically divided Southern Appalachia in 2016. For Reconstruction, we’ll travel to Montgomery, AL for a residency at Alabama Shakespeare Festival where we’ll work and meet with the Equal Justice Initiative.
Though we are led by Tony Award-winning Artistic Director Rachel Chavkin, we have been slowly working towards a model where authority is decentralized and our resources are invested into Collective Visioning. This has led to the abolishment of our “membership” structure: we are in thrilling new territory as a (re)emerging collective led by a mixture of founding artists and new TEAM artists from the Reconstruction company. We are dreaming about care committees, family-based structures, and other models to question how power is distributed and equity maintained throughout our institution and programming. This process has been intentionally slow, as we convene meetings facilitated by facilitators, including Reconstruction Process Chaplain, Milta Vega-Cardona.
FOR INTERESTED WRITERS: Send letter of interest and curriculum vitae or resume to Alexandra Lalonde, Producing Director at email@example.com by July 23, 2021.
“Between the rivalries and the affairs, it’s everything tweens catch between the morning bell and sixth period, with the added bonus of fantastical landscapes and magical happenings. But there is also heft to these stories, which represent a belief system and vision of the world that no longer exists as a reality for a community of people, but nevertheless survives.” New York Times
Actors André De Shields and Divine Garland sit down with Allison Stewart in All of It WNYC to discuss their work on Live from Mount Olympus. All of It WNYC
Wired ranks Live from Mount Olympus “Top 12 Best Podcast for Kids“
The National Herald features Live from Mount Olympus. “It has been such a gift to, within these COVID times of isolation, still be able to visit worlds new and old through the prevailing gift of the imagination and the willingness of everyone to bring their most optimistic and joyful selves to the project,” said Zhailon Levingston, Co-Director. “I hope it touches every young listener who hears it.”
RSVP for an upcoming in-progress showing of MERCEDES, Modesto “Flako” Jimenez‘s Petri Project! Flako and his team have been hard at work developing the project over the past few weeks and we’re excited for this opportunity to see into their process! The showing is next Friday, February 5th at 7pm through the BricLab. Learn more here.
We are thrilled to finally announce the secret project we’ve been working on! The Onassis Foundation and the TRAX podcast network for tweens from public media organization PRX Present ‘Live from Mount Olympus,’ a New Podcast Co-Produced with the TEAM and Co-Directed by Tony Winner Rachel Chavkin and Zhailon Levingston! Debuting free on-demand to audiences everywhere on Tuesday, February 2, with new episodes each Tuesday through March 9, this show combines the magic of audio and contemporary theatre with the power of Greek myth. Check out the audio trailer that’s available now.