ALP Grant Recipients and Finalists

2022

Renee´ Flemings

A venerable multi-hyphenate, Renee´ Flemings is a playwright, actor, singer, author, and filmmaker. She has also been a teaching artist/ facilitator with numerous cultural institutions working in classrooms with students grades K-12 as well as undergraduate and graduate students. 

Renee´ is a recent recipient of the 2020 (2021) Quick Silver Theatre Company’s POC Summit. Her most recent plays include: empty spaces, What Did You Do? Fact Checking, The Brotherhood and Strange Weather (an O’Neill Finalist) with readings at Roundabout Theatre Company (NYC), New Federal Theatre, The New Professional Theatre and Centenary Theatre. Additional plays include Rendered, Daddy’s Home, Coyote Calls, Monsters, Secondhand Smoke, Legend, BFFS,Scars (Sam French Finalist) and The Jam (Genesis Festival @ Crossroads Theatre and The Blank Theatre in L.A.) Additional Works: Love Rose (Book and lyrics): Transgressions (Festival of New Works); and a full-length multi-media work about the Little Rock Nine, With All Deliberate Speed. Renee´ is also the writer/performer of a number of solo shows including From the Front Porch, “…secrets…” , The Bible Belt, and Women Power & The Bard. She is also the producer/director of the award -winning short film adaptation of her play, The Brotherhood. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild, SAG-AFTRA, AEA and Honor Roll.

This is a full-length play that includes video projection and movement as integral elements of the storytelling. empty spacesfocuses on the journey of Mara, a Black female in her early forties working at a niche telecommunications company and mother to Jazmine, her only child who is fourteen. Initially, Mara is overwhelmed by the changes on her job when a new supervisor arrives, and it becomes clear he is there to eliminate personnel, focusing primarily on the Black and Brown members of staff. She is frustrated as one by one her co-workers and friends begin to disappear from the site creating empty spaces in her world. Shortly afterwards Mara’s world shifts into a completely different level of fear and anxiety because Jazmine is missing. She and her husband Franklin struggle to find support in the media and with law enforcement to take Jazmine’s disappearance seriously. Over the next few months Franklin and Mara’s relationship becomes tense and leads to opening old wounds. Meanwhile, due to the frustrations of trying to find Jazmine, and hang onto her job as more and more people are let go, Mara begins to drink excessively. As the story unfolds Mara continues her search and a search to rediscover herself as well.

It will allow me much more time to write instead of freelancing as often as I have in the past. Additionally, I am in the beginning stages of a new play (REAL beginning) and it requires much research, so it will allow me to spend time on this project, instead of wondering how am I going to sustain myself while trying to do the research. To be honest, it would also feel like an encouragement to continue with writing and to write as much as possible. I believe I’m not alone in feeling discouraged sometimes when I plan on writing, but I’m so exhausted or stressed out from work that sitting at my laptop and my mind just shuts down. In short, it would provide breathing room to continue to create with less, much less outside challenges.

Diana Burbano (she/Ella) is a Colombian immigrant, a  playwright, an Equity actor, and a teaching artist at South Coast Repertory and Breath of Fire Latina Theatre Ensemble. 

Diana’s play Ghosts of Bogotá won the Nu Voices festival at Actors Theatre of Charlotte in 2019. Ghosts was commissioned and debuted at Alter Theater in the Bay Area in Feb 2020. Sapience was a Playground-SF 2020, Winner and was featured at Latinx Theatre Festival, San Diego Rep 2020. Fabulous Monsters, a Kilroys selection, will premiere at The Public Theatre of San Antonio, featuring the music of FEA in 2023.She was in Center Theatre Group’s 2018-19 Writers Workshop cohort and the Geffen’s Writers Lab in 20-21. She has worked on projects with South Coast Repertory, Artists Repertory Theatre, Breath of Fire Latina Theatre Ensemble and Center Theatre Group, and Livermore Shakespeare Festival. Diana recently played Amalia in Jose Cruz Gonzales’ American Mariachi at South Coast Repertory and Arizona Theatre Company, and Marisela in La Ruta at Artists Repertory. You can also see her as Viv the Punk in the cult musical, Isle of Lesbos. She is the current Dramatists Guild Rep for Southern California.

Beheading Columbus follows two sisters down a trail of DNA deception and makes them face race and colorism in the Latinx community and in their own family. Lana is white passing, Susi isn’t, and that’s been a point of conflict their whole life. Through DNA testing they discover that Lana has a white father. The DNA test also reveals that Susi, who is mixed race, has the genes for Alzheimers that are destroying their mother. Add to that, they discover that the previously unknown other father is a fertility doctor who has sired at least 40 mixed race children. Through love and a massive sense of humor, the sisters work at decolonizing themselves from the inside out.

Thank you for asking this question, and thank you for making the grant available. Money equals room to breathe, room to write, room to maybe not take that second or third survival job and just concentrate on the work. Perhaps it would pay for a trip that would get me in front of some producers, or perhaps it will enable me to get groceries. It’s been a tough couple of years for freelance artists, as I’m sure the committee is well aware. Arts and artists are so under-supported in this country that it’s as if we’ve been forgotten and completely discounted. Getting this grant would enable me to continue teaching my writing classes for free at Breath of Fire Latina Theater Ensemble, to take time off work to write. Space to write, knowing that the rent will be paid for a few months is HUGE.

Diana Burbano

Marlow Wyatt

Marlow Wyatt is a writing artist, actor and community advocate. Marlow was born and raised in America’s heartland; nurtured by a large and colorful family of urban linguists and storytellers who intimated their experiences in dive bars and beauty shops. Inspired by their truth and authenticity, she learned to capture the complexities of the seemingly ordinary lives of disenfranchised people while connecting to the commonalities of all humanity.

Marlow received her BFA (magna cum laude) in Acting from Howard University College of Fine Arts. Her thirst to share the richness and beauty of Black culture manifested into playwriting.  She believes stories that spotlight Black culture are American stories and must be normalized and included in the canon of American Theater without question. Marlow has been fortunate enough to share her creative expression through works that include: SHE (2022 World Premiere Latino Theater Company, Long Beach Playhouse New Works Winner, HUMANITAS Finalist) Robbin, from the Hood (2021 Eugene O’Neill semi-finalist, 2021 New Works Pipeline/SBT), Red Ribbons (2022 Voices for Victory Reading Series, 2021 Headwaters New Play finalist), Mourning of the Sons (LACMA-Theater at the Museum), Sweetie’s Confession (Fade to Black, NESONA Festivals) and Say Something (AWOT Festival, Moving Arts). Marlow also founded The Girl Blue Project-a free empowerment intensive for low-income teen girls and girls in foster care. She developed a curriculum utilizing the performing arts, yoga, group therapy and money management to build self-esteem and teach life skills to girls 14- 18 years old, writing 10 showcases for the program.

A play within a play, Listen, A Black Woman Is Speaking highlights the psychological and emotional effects that history, racism and misogyny have on Black women in America. Up- and- coming playwright Penelope Weintraub is angst-ridden. Her spirit is crowded with characters waiting for her to give them a voice. All of them Women. All of them Black. She is unaware but she is them; they are her. For the first time in her career, Penelope received a large advance to read her work at a conservative women’s luncheon.  Just two days before she is scheduled to speak Breonna Taylor is murdered. Triggered by the tragedy Penelope is overcome with anxiety prompting her characters to come to life and ignite her to perpetrate the most courageous crime a Black woman can commit- speak her truth. Listen, A Black Woman Is Speaking utilizes 4 Black female actors; the Writer and 3 actors who play roles that range from 3 to 70 in age as well as male and female characters.

This ALP grant will give me artistic freedom. It will yield me time. In a society that does not value or fund artists as I believe it should, grants like these are necessary and impactful to me both fundamentally and artistically. As a Black, female artist over 40 who is not married, I rely on commissions and funding like the ALP grant to render me the possibility to create and contribute to society as a writing artist instead of simply surviving. The ALP grant will provide me the opportunity to thrive doing what I love. That means everything to me.

2022 ALP Finalists

Take a look at our 2022 ALP finalists! 

 

Deborah Ferguson   |   Ilknur Ozgur   |   Janki Mody   |   Seshat Walker   |   Sikivu Hutchinson   |   Thelma de Castro   |   Yvette Heyliger 

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