Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company has launched Reset, a new, free digital assemblage of Black artistry featuring historical resources, excerpts, and video performances. Curated by six Black cisgender women theater artists, activists, and scholars, the collection is available on its own interactive website, woollyreset.net, until March 31, 2021.
In August 2020, the curators—Nicole M. Brewer, Faedra Chatard Carpenter, Jordan Ealey, Kristen Jackson, Leticia Ridley, and Nikkole Salter—were invited to identify culture creators and works that have deeply impacted them personally. What emerged was a universe of Black women’s artistry across history, genre, and theme.
Among the women Reset pays tribute to are poet Nikki Giovanni, producer and playwright Vy Higginsen, actress Hattie McDaniel, Black feminist group The Combahee River Collective, and Dr. Barbara Ann Teer, founder of the National Black Theatre. And just as the solar system is vast, so are the works of these selected women and the multitudes of many more women who could be included in the collection. The hope is that for readers, browsers, and viewers, Reset will be the beginning of a journey that continues on into deeper discovery.
Artistic Director Maria Manuela Goyanes said, “I love having the pleasure and honor of programming the artistic content at Woolly Mammoth, and I also acknowledge that my perspective need not be the only one always centered. The women celebrated in this project include names I had heard before, such as Audre Lorde, and also women I should have known about, like pioneering playwright Pauline Hopkins. Reset is an opportunity for all of us to learn about and lift up these extraordinary—and often unacknowledged—contributions to our culture.”
Seventeen artists brought the works in Reset to life, including Woolly Company Members Shannon Dorsey and Dawn Ursula, as well as longtime and new Woolly collaborators E. Faye Butler, Felicia Curry, Saidah Arrika Ekulona, Ricardy Fabre, Paige Hernandez, Ahmaya Knoelle Higginson, Asia Howard, Kristolyn Lloyd, Amiah McGinty, Natasha Ofili, Sisi Reid, Patience Sings, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Tyler Thomas, and Reggie D. White.
Reset’s multidisciplinary experience combines dramaturgy, history, performance, and digital production. Reset’s interactive website, designed specifically for this project, will ask users to connect stars revealing artist constellations that contain video, the curator’s reflections, and additional resources for further exploration. The website design was developed and created by students Deja Collins, Connie Dai, Jack Golden, Hannah Huie, Andrés Poch, Sean Preston, Zavier A.L. Taylor, Taylor Verrett, Carlo Antonio Villanueva, and Mark Williams, who are MFA candidates in Projection and Media Design at University of Maryland, College Park, under the guidance of their professor Jared Mezzocchi (Woolly Company Member).
Reset was line-produced by Sarah Cain, stage-managed by Rachael Danielle Albert, and assistant stage-managed by Leigh Robinette, with video editing by Ben Gunderson.
ABOUT THE CURATORS
Nicole M. Brewer is a passionate advocate for anti-racist theater. She’s dedicated the last ten years to refining and practicing an inclusive method of theater training and practices which she calls Conscientious Theatre Training (CTT). She has authored four articles about the need for the theatre industry to shift from racist and oppressive models to anti-racist and anti-oppressive. Why Equity Diversity and Inclusion Are Obsolete was reported by American Theatre as one of their top ten most read stories of 2019. Nicole is invited all over the US to teach and speak about CTT and facilitate anti-racist theater (ART) workshops. She’s also facilitated ART workshops in the UK providing workshops for The Globe and Cambridge University. Nicole is full time faculty at The Yale School of Drama and recently became a board member of Parent Artist Advocacy League (PAAL) where she works to shift how the industry can become more proactive to the needs of caregivers. Nicole is a member of the 2018 artEquity cohort and Black Theatre Network. She earned her M.F.A. in Acting from Northern Illinois University and her B.F.A. from Howard University. She has worked professionally as an actor, director and educator.
Faedra Chatard Carpenter is a theater and performance scholar, professional dramaturg, and cultural critic. An Associate Professor in the Department of Performing Arts at American University, Dr. Carpenter’s research and creative interests focus on the study of race, gender, class, and sexuality within both staged performances and in the performance practices of everyday life. As a professional dramaturg, Carpenter has worked on more than 50 performance projects at venues such as Center Stage, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Mosaic Theatre Company, Theater J, Dance Place, Crossroads Theatre Company, and Arena Stage. Carpenter is the author of the award-winning book, Coloring Whiteness: Acts of Critique in Black Performance, and her scholarly analysis can be found in a number of anthologies and peer-reviewed journals such as Diverse Dramaturgy,The Routledge Companion to Dramaturgy, The Cambridge Companion to African American Theatre,Theatre Survey, College Literature, Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, Theatre Topics, Women & Performance, and Callaloo. She earned her PhD in Drama from Stanford University, her Masters in Drama from Washington University, and her B.A. in English from Spelman College.
Jordan Ealey is a scholar, artist, and cultural critic who divides her time between Atlanta, Georgia and Washington, D.C. Jordan is a doctoral student in Theater and Performance Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park where she researches Black women composers of musical theater from the nineteenth-century to the present. Broadly, Jordan’s research expertise is in Black theatre and performance, musical theatre history, Black feminist theories and praxis, popular music, and Black girlhood studies. Her scholarly work has been published in The Black Scholar and Theatre Journal. Jordan’s creative and public practice focuses on dramaturgy, playwriting, and podcast production. As a dramaturg specializing in new play development, Jordan has worked with organizations such as Theatrical Outfit, Working Title Playwrights, Synchronicity Theatre, and Hush Harbor Lab. Her plays have been workshopped, developed, or presented at Out of Hand Theatre, The Keegan Theatre, Rorschach Theatre, and LiveArt DC. Along with Leticia Ridley, she created and co-hosts Daughters of Lorraine, a podcast about Black theater in the Washington, DC region for HowlRound Theatre Commons. She earned her M.A. in Theatre and Performance Studies from the University of Maryland and B.A. in Theater/English from Wesleyan College.
Kristen Jackson has served as the Connectivity Director at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company since 2014, where she identifies the civic questions at the heart of productions and creates opportunities for meaningful dialogue and understanding through creative programming and community partnerships. Under her leadership, Woolly’s Connectivity department launched the Core Partner Program during the 2020-21 season, which promotes equitable exchange with D.C.-area organizations that largely serve communities of color and/or share a commitment to inclusion, anti-racism, social justice, and the power of art as a tool for advancing those values. In 2016, Jackson was selected to participate in TCG’s inaugural Rising Leaders of Color program and is also a member of the 2016 artEquity cohort. She has also worked on- and off-Broadway for Ostar Productions and Playwrights Horizons in the areas of producing and casting; and as a teaching artist and performer for the regional theaters Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and Actors Theatre of Louisville. Kristen earned a B.A. in Theatre Studies and English from Duke University and an M.A. in Performance as Public Practice from University of Texas at Austin.
Leticia Ridley is a doctoral candidate in Theater and Performance Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park and an incoming Assistant Professor in the Department of Theater and Dance at Santa Clara University, where she will join in the fall. Her research interests include Black theatre and performance, American popular culture, Black feminist theory, and Black digital humanities. Broadly, Leticia’s research focuses on African American expressive culture on the theatrical stage and popular culture, with particular attention paid to the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality. Leticia’s scholarship has been supported by the Ford Foundation and the African American Digital Humanities (AADHUM). Along with Jordan Ealey, she created and co-hosts Daughters of Lorraine, a podcast about Black theater in the Washington, DC region for HowlRound Theatre Commons. She earned a B.A. in Communications from University of California, San Diego.
Nikkole Salter is an award winning actress, playwright, educator and arts advocate. For her work she has received an OBIE, an Outer Critics Circle Award, a Global Tolerance Award from the Friends of the United Nations, a Selfdes-Kanin fellowship from the Theatre Hall of Fame, and most recently a Lily Award for her contributions to the betterment of the theater field. Her writing has been produced on 3 continents in 5 countries, and been published in 12 international publications and has been featured on the WNET program “Theatre Close-Up.” Salter is an active member of the Actors Equity Association, the Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and the Actors Center; and sits on the Council of the Dramatists Guild and serves as Chair of the Board of the Theatre Communications Group. She is a graduate of Howard University and NYU’s Graduate Acting Program. She can be seen most recently recurring on NBC’s New Amsterdam. www.nikkolesalter.com
ABOUT WOOLLY MAMMOTH THEATRE COMPANY
Woolly Mammoth is “the hottest theater company in town” (Washington Post), priding itself on developing, producing, and making theater that disrupts conventional processes and stimulates transformative experiences. For almost four decades, Woolly has held a unique position at the leading edge of the American theater, earning a reputation for staying “uniquely plugged in to the mad temper of the times” (New York Times). The co-leadership of María Manuela Goyanes (artistic director) and Emika Abe (managing director) is supported by a core company of artists that holds itself to a high standard of artistic excellence. Woolly is relentless in its desire to take risks, experiment, innovate, interrogate, and create a radically inclusive community. Located in Washington, DC, Woolly Mammoth stands upon occupied, unceded territory: the ancestral homeland of the Nacotchtank whose descendants belong to the Piscataway peoples.