Since 2010, we have produced 15 world premieres by local playwrights of color, including Utah's first world premieres by an Asian playwright (WALLACE by Jenifer Nii & Debora Threedy, 2010), a Black playwright (MAMA by Carleton Bluford, 2015), and Latina & Persian playwrights (...OF COLOR by Olivia Custodio, Bijan Hosseini, Iris Salazar & Darryl Stamp, 2019)..
In June of 2017, we hosted the first-ever gathering of Theatre Artists of Color in Salt Lake City. We had three goals: (1) to get to know each other and create a stronger network, (2) to provide a space to discuss the challenges of working as theatre artists of color in and around Salt Lake City and (3) to dig deep to see what stories we are able to authentically explore onstage in future seasons and how we can diversify who writes them, who tells them onstage and who designs them. Fifty-one artists attended that gathering. The desire to tell stories was at the forefront of the conversation.
This was something we could take action on immediately: create an opportunity for first-time playwrights of color to develop work and see it produced.
So we organized the Theatre Artists of Color Writing Workshop for the attendees who expressed interest. The Workshop was taught by Utah’s most produced playwright, Julie Jensen, in November and December of 2017. There was much discussion regarding whether a white playwright should teach this workshop - it was unanimously agreed that each potential participant was anxious to learn the craft specifically from Julie. She taught the basics of the craft; the writers wrote; a private showing was held in December of 2017.
Then we, as a group, decided to continue the Workshop with quarterly meetings, now under the direction of Artistic Director Jerry Rapier, where each playwright enjoys regular opportunities to share work with the group.
The Theatre Artists of Color Writing Workshop is a true community of color, one where those who often feel voiceless are creating the conversation. The work of its members is increasingly integral to each of our programs. Darryl Stamp and Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin will conduct a year-long, K-6 playwriting residency at Open Classroom, a Title I school, during the 2021/22 school year. Iris Salazar will premiere her first full-length play, AFTERSHOCK, on our 2021/22 Subscription Series. Darryl Stamp will have his first full-length play read as part of our 2021/22 Script-In- Hand Series. Brandan Ngo is under commission to create the 2022/23 episode of Radio Hour. Tito Livas is under commission to create the 2023/24 Free Elementary School Tour. And Tatiana Christian and Bijan Hosseini are working on their first full-length plays, to be workshopped in our 2021/22 quarterly meetings.
Three pieces were then selected as the final reading of the 2017/18 Script-In-Hand Series: DRIVER'S LICENSE, PLEASE by Olivia Custodio, YOU KNOW? by Bijan Hosseini and ROAR by Darryl Stamp.
Two pieces were selected for one of the three slots of the 2018/19 Script-In-Hand Series as part of the 10th Annual Edward Lewis Theatre Festival: GUISE by Chris Curlett and DoLs by Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin (yeah, we know, GUISE & DoLs). The playwrights and casts then had the opportunity to share and discuss these pieces with students of color from all over the world, grades 9-12, at Utah International Charter School as part of our In the Classroom program. TACWW members have continued to serve as UICS teaching artists during the 2019/20 and 2020/21 school years.
The February 9, 2020 Script-In-Hand Series slot featured WHERE ARE YOU FROM? by Brandan Ngo as part of the 11th Annual Edward Lewis Theatre Festival.
Four pieces comprised the final production of the 2018/19 Season, ...OF COLOR: DRIVER'S LICENSE, PLEASE by Olivia Custodio, THE FRAILEST THING by Bijan Hosseini, AMERICAN PRIDE by Iris Salazar, and ROAR by Darryl Stamp, which included the first world premieres in Utah history by Latina and Persian playwrights.
SPACE CATS by Tatiana Christian, THE KIDS by Olivia Custodio, APHASIA by Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin, SHINE A LIGHT by Tito Livas, STRANDED by Brandan Ngo, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT by Iris Salazar, and MIS EN PLACE by Darryl Stamp were commissioned to create new plays as part of the national Play at Home initiative as a response to the isolation brought on by Covid-19. Click here to download our free app to access the scripts under Play at Home.
Four pieces comprised the final production of the 2020/21 Audio-Only Subscription Series, LOCAL COLOR: SUICIDE BOX by Tatiana Christian, GUISE by Chris Curlett, DoLs by Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin, and ORGANIC by Tito Livas.
LOCAL COLOR premiered as part of the National New Play Network's Bridge Program and the State of Utah's Thrive 125 Statehood Celebration.
Click here for the full history of plays read in the Theatre Artists of Color Writing Workshop.
The members of the Theatre Artists of Color Writing Workshop are Tatiana Christian, Chris Curtlett, Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin, Bijan Hosseini, Tito Livas, Brandan Ngo, Iris Salazar, and Darryl Stamp. Alumni: Emilio Casillas, Olivia Custodio, Shane Mozaffari and Peihui Wu.
We invited Theatre Artists of Color based in Utah to join the Theatre Artists of Color in Salt Lake City Facebook group!