The Front Porch Arts Collective and
Commonwealth Shakespeare Company
An On-Line Training Program
for BIPOC Actors
Boston, MA — The Front Porch Arts Collective (a Black theatre company committed to advancing racial equity in Boston through theater) and Commonwealth Shakespeare Company (CSC) are partnering in the piloting of Co-Lab, an online training program focused on and taught by artists of color, linking the heightened language of William Shakespeare, August Wilson, and other contemporary writers of color. The program runs August 10th – August 15th and is being presented digitally in this first iteration. It is free of charge to invited participants.
Guest artists participating include John Douglas Thompson, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Cote de Pablo, Seth Gilliam, Nikkole Salter, Nehassaiu deGannes and Pascale Florestal with masterclasses and artist Q&A’s.
The program is a six-day intensive for BIPOC actors to activate their authentic voices focusing specifically on the works of William Shakespeare, August Wilson, and Black Women playwrights and poets. The program, held over Zoom runs Monday, August 10 to Saturday, August 15, 2020.
The program consists of voice and text classes; facilitated conversations with highly esteemed BIPOC theater professionals; coaching sessions with nationally recognized BIPOC actors; and optional participation in a recorded showcase of the actors that will be made available to industry professionals, friends and family, and others interested in supporting future iterations of this program.
“This is an experiment to see if we can simultaneously deepen our practice of performing Shakespeare while addressing how this work has been used to uphold Eurocentric ideologies, oftentimes preventing BIPOC actors from being able to fully show up in the work. By exploring Shakespeare’s text in conversation with August Wilson’s and other BIPOC writers, we hope to create a space where BIPOC actors can explore breathing fully into language of a playwright who wrote without us in mind alongside playwrights who did.” – Maurice Emmanuel Parent, Executive Director, The Front Porch Arts Collective
“CSC was founded to provide people from all walks of life access to great theater. Moving forward, we are committed to understanding how ‘classical theater’ – and specifically CSC – has excluded BIPOC artists; to transforming the existing structures that perpetuate that exclusion; and to collaborating with artists, artisans, and administrators who will advance our work and our community. We are so honored to be partnering with Front Porch on Co-Lab, an integral part of our efforts to make CSC a stronger, more equitable company.” – Steven Maler, Artistic Director, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company
The Front Porch Arts Collective is a new black theatre company committed to advancing racial equity in Boston through theater. Founded by Maurice Emmanuel Parent and Dawn Meredith Simmons, The Porch is a communal gathering place committed to serving communities of color and producing art that is inclusive of all communities and welcoming to all audiences, to inspire a more tolerant and inclusive Boston. Their vision is to examine the interactions between race, culture, economics, ability, gender, and sexuality from the lens of people of color; challenge the biased narratives of people of color in America; retain diverse talent by increasing representation on stage, backstage, in the office, and in the boardroom; train the next generation of people of color theater artists ready to address social change through theater; and produce exciting theatre with integrity and high artistic standards.
Commonwealth Shakespeare Company (CSC), best known for its annual free performances on Boston Common, is a non-profit theater organization founded in 1996, dedicated to artistic excellence, accessibility, and education. CSC’s Free Shakespeare on the Common has served over one million audience members over its 25-year history and has become a beloved summer tradition enjoyed by over 50,000 people annually. Due to the continued effects of COVID-19 on Boston and its community, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company recently postponed its production of The Tempest on the Boston Common to July 2021 (utilizing the same artistic and design team). Instead of the annual production on the Common, CSC presented an online script-in-hand performance as a benefit to support CSC’s 2021 production on the Boston Common, with the previously announced cast led by John Douglas Thompson in the role of Prospero. The event was watched by 3,500 people in 26 states. CSC also presents fully-staged indoor productions including past productions of the world premiere of Our American Hamlet, Beckett in Brief, Death and the Maiden, Old Money, Caryl Churchill’s Blue Kettle and Here We Go, and Naomi Wallace’s adaptation of William Wharton’s novel Birdy. In 2018, in partnership with Google, CSC created a Virtual Reality (VR) experience of William Shakespeare’s classic play Hamlet, entitled Hamlet 360: Thy Father’s Spirit, released in partnership with Boston public media producer WGBH; it can be viewed exclusively on the WGBH YouTube channel. The video has been shown at multiple venues and educational institutions in the US and abroad. CSC also produces “Theatre in the Rough,” semi-staged readings featuring some of the most acclaimed actors of our time, including Paul Rudd, Cote de Pablo, Denis O’Hare, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Chris Cooper and Marianne Leone Cooper, Tony Shalhoub and Brooke Adams, Anthony Mackie, Charles Busch, and Leslie Uggams, among others. CSC fulfills its educational mission with actor training programs for pre-professional and professional actors through the summer Apprentice Program and CSC2, as well as its Stage2 performance series for middle and high school audiences. To learn more, visit commshakes.org or call 617-426-0863.