Studio Theatre, in collaboration with Studio Artist-in-Residence Psalmayene 24, is launching Psalm’s Salons at Studio, a three-part digital dance party and conversation series. The virtual salons are an online gathering space to highlight the work of Black creatives, signal-boost local and Black-owned businesses, kick back to live music, and promote a sense of community.
“When we cancelled our production of Antoinette Nwandu’s Pass Over that Psalm directed, we had to cut off a conversation before it even got started,” said Studio‘s Artistic Director David Muse. “We‘ve reflected together on what space Studio can make to connect in this time of social distancing. What we need now is to dance, to be together (even separately), and to celebrate art and music from great Black artists. So we‘ll be inviting people to our YouTube channel to dance, listen, celebrate, and learn.“
“I’m thrilled to be partnering with Studio Theatre for this online salon series during this critical moment in American history,” said Psalmayene 24. “The original intention was to do the salons live at Studio, and then have a dance party after each conversation. When the pandemic hit, we obviously had to pivot. While the platform is different, the goal is still the same: brilliant guests, a strong sense of community, and a celebratory vibe. I can’t wait to share this experience with Studio’s audience.”
Salons will be hosted beginning June 25 at 5:00 PM, and will feature a rotating panel of guests. Psalmayene 24 will host, and DJ Nick tha 1da will provide original music, sampling from the Library of Congress‘s Citizen DJ tool. Cocktail recipes and recommendations for local food to enjoy during the salon will be shared on Studio’s social media prior to the event, so that audience members can join in on the interactive party vibe. Events in the series are free to view, and will be streamed live on Studio Theatre’s Facebook and YouTube pages.
The first guest on Psalm’s Salons will be playwright James Ijames, a Philadelphia-based, Studio-commissioned artist. Ijames was last in DC for a reading of his play-in-development, Good Bones, for the theater’s Studio R&D: Works in Process series. The two Black theater artists will discuss their careers, artistic inspirations, favorite productions, and the role of theater during this moment of racial unrest. The forum will then be open to audience questions.
Upcoming Psalm‘s Salons are:
Thursday, June 25 at 5 p.m. with guest Playwright James Ijames
Thursday, July 23 at 5 p.m. (guest TBA)
Thursday, August 20 at 5 p.m. (guest TBA)
Psalm‘s Salons are supported by a capacity-building grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation‘s (DDCF) Building Demand for the Arts program. The program funds artists and arts institutions working to forge long-lasting relationships with diverse audiences. Studio, working with Psalm, has committed to expand on its efforts to forge meaningful connections with Black millennial audiences in DC. DDCF‘s Building Demand for the Arts program supports organizations and artists in joint efforts to ignite interest and engagement in jazz, theater, and contemporary dance. They believe that artists are key connectors to communities, and that artists and organizations can work together in imaginative new ways to attract and engage audiences. These grants also promote deeper partnerships, longer relationships, and new kinds of conversation and cooperation between organizations and artists.
About the Artists
Psalmayene 24 (host) is an award-winning director, playwright, and actor. Directing credits include Native Son by Nambi E. Kelley at Mosaic Theater Company, Word Becomes Flesh (recipient of five 2017 Helen Hayes Awards, including Outstanding Direction of a Play) by Marc Bamuthi Joseph at Theater Alliance, and The Shipment by Young Jean Lee at Forum Theatre. He has received commissions from the African Continuum Theatre Company, Arena Stage, Imagination Stage, The Kennedy Center, Theater Alliance, Solas Nua, and Mosaic Theater Company. His one-man play, Free Jujube Brown!, is published in the anthology Plays from the Boom Box Galaxy: Theater from the Hip-Hop Generation (TCG).
Nick “tha 1da“ Hernandez‘s (DJ/Sound Design) recent work includes The Hip-Hop Children‘s Trilogy with playwright Psalmayene 24 (Imagination Stage), Fences (Ford‘s Theater), Native Son and Les Deux Noir (Mosaic Theater), Word Becomes Flesh (Helen Hayes Award, Outstanding Production) at Theater Alliance, Long Way Down and Darius & Twig (The Kennedy Center), and Havana Hop and All the Way Live with sibling Paige Hernandez (Discovery Theater). Additionally, Nick has produced for Hot 97 FM, Red Bull, Big Tune, Netflix, DC Public Library system, and Smithsonian Associates.
James Ijames is a Philadelphia-based performer and playwright. His plays have been produced by Flashpoint Theatre Company, Orbiter 3, Theatre Horizon (Philadelphia, PA), The National Black Theatre (New York City), and Ally Theatre Company (Washington, DC), and have been developed by PlayPenn New Play Development Conference, The Lark, Playwrights Horizons, Clubbed Thumb, Villanova Theatre, Gulfshore Playhouse, The Wilma Theater, Azuka Theatre, and Victory Gardens. James is the 2011 F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Artist recipient, and he also received two Barrymores for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play for Superior Donuts and Angels in America, and one Barrymore for Outstanding Direction of a Play for The Brothers Size with Simpatico Theatre Company. He is a 2011 Independence Foundation Fellow, a 2015 Pew Fellow for Playwriting, the 2015 winner of the Terrance McNally New Play Award for WHITE, recipient of the 2015 Kesselring Prize honorable mentions for The Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial of Miz Martha Washington, and a 2017 recipient of the Whiting Award. James is the 2018 recipient of the Kesselring Prize for Kill Move Paradise. James is a founding member of Orbiter 3, Philadelphia‘s first playwright producing collective, and a mentor for The Foundry. He received a BA in Drama from Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA, and an MFA in Acting from Temple University. James is Assistant Professor of Theatre at Villanova University, and resides in South Philadelphia.
Studio Theatre is Washington’s premier venue for contemporary theater,“where local audiences will find today’s edgiest playwrights“ (Variety). One of the most respected midsized theaters in the country, Studio produces exceptional contemporary drama in deliberately intimate spaces. Drawing inspiration from great ensembles—where people work together with a spirit of generosity and professional rigor—Studio brings characteristic thoughtfulness and daring to its work onstage and off, through its new work incubator and engagement, education, and workforce training initiatives. Studio serves nearly 75,000 people each year, including more than 1,000 youth and young adults through community engagement initiatives. Since Studio’s founding in 1978, the quality of its work has been recognized by sustained community support, as well as 72 Helen Hayes Awards for excellence in professional theater.
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