Posts Tagged Maxwell Collyard

Announcing the 2019 Artist Fellowship Recipients

Program aims to increase the pipeline for under-represented artists

Saint Paul, Minn., March 13, 2019 – Flordelino Lagundino, Park Square Theatre’s John W. Harris Artistic Director, has announced the eight recipients for the pilot year of a new Artist Fellowship program at Park Square: Ricardo Beaird, Ernest Briggs, Mary Capers, Maxwell Collyard, Ashawnti Sakina Ford, Sophie Peyton, Lindsey C. Samples, DJ Kool Akiem Scott.

“Fellowships gave me an inside track at some of the best theatres in the country, advancing my artistry and building my network,” says Lagundino. “We were delighted to receive 58 applications this year. It’s important to me that in our work at Park Square we find ways to open doors and build a pipeline for all early career theatre artists, especially for marginalized communities such as indigenous, people of color, and LGBTQA artists, in order to create a greater sense of belonging for everyone in our community.”

The first year of the new theatre fellowship program is made possible by major grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and Saint Paul’s Cultural STAR program. Fellows will deepen and develop new skills over the upcoming year in residence by participating in projects which will connect them to Park Square and the Saint Paul/larger Twin Cities’ community.

For the 2019 fellowships, there were five assistant directing tracks and three assistant designer tracks assigned (design may be in any theatrical design medium: set, costume, lights, props, sound, or projections). Each fellow will assist on two shows from early stages through final production, and will have a voice in production meetings, planning, rehearsals, and direct collaboration with lead production staff and the Artistic Director.

Collectively, the fellows will form a self-directed cohort of emerging leaders and may participate in the various department functions at Park Square in areas such as casting, season planning, carpentry, electrics, wardrobe or run crew, and in budgeting, human resources or marketing. Additionally, there will be opportunities to meet with artistic leaders at Park Square’s partner theatres as well as other area theatrical institutions. To involve the fellow cohort with the wider community, staff support, and dedicated resources will be provided to help each fellow create an engagement experience as a part of Park Square’s mission to center artmaking within the ongoing dialogue we have with our community.

At the end of the fellowship year, the cohort will participate in an Evening Cabaret Performance in which Twin Cities Artistic Leaders will be invited. This culminating event will be co-hosted with the MN Theatre Alliance. Feedback will be considered for the planning of future iterations and development of the program.

Park Square’s community partners in this program include Springboard for the Arts, the MN Theatre Alliance, the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, Theatre Mu, the History Theatre, PRIME Productions, and the East Side Freedom Library.

Headshots of recipients HERE  BIOS follow below.

Ricardo Beaird [Director Track] is a theatre maker and teaching artist from Nashville who recently performed at Park Square in Dot and Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery. Currently, Ricardo is an actor/presenter at the Science Museum of Minnesota. This year, he was selected to be a Red Eye Theater Works-In-Progress artist with his collaborator, Megan Burns.

Ernest Briggs [Director] is a professional actor and Twin Cities native who has worked in Minneapolis, Chicago, Los Angeles and Florida. Ernest received his Master of Fine Arts in Acting from the University of Florida. He has worked locally as an actor with Mixed Blood Theatre, Park Square Theatre, Girl Friday Productions, Minnesota History Theatre, Artistry Theatre, Children’s Theatre Company, Teatro Del Pueblo, Pillsbury House Theatre, Turtle Theatre Collective, South Coast Repertory (CA), Tilted Windmills Theatricals (FL) and various feature films. He has also directed productions for the Minnesota Fringe Festival, Nimbus Theatre and various short films.

Mary Capers [Design] is a wig designer from South Jamaica Queens, New York. She has a Bachelor of Arts from SUNY Fredonia and a pending Master of Fine Arts in Theatrical Design and Production from Brooklyn College. She has worked at various theatres around the country and is happy to finally call the Twin Cities home.

Maxwell Collyard [Design] is an interdisciplinary theatre/film artist based in the Twin Cities working mainly with digital content and live performance. Maxwell designed projections for Turtle Theater Collective, Theatre Novi Most, Frank Theatre, and the Playwrights’ Center. He also works as a cinematographer/editor for various fundraisers, Mixed Blood Theatre/Project 154, and with Fox and Coyote, Annie and the Bang Bang, Daniel Bonespur, and Porno Wolves to create music videos. He enjoys making movies in his spare time and is currently preparing a feature-length film for festivals. Maxwell also works as an actor and assistant director for theatres in the Twin Cities.

Ashawnti Sakina Ford [Director] is an actress, teaching artist, improviser, playwright, poet and director born and raised in the Twin Cities. Her work is typically centered in social change and arts accessibility. She recently co-founded The Black Ensemble Players theatre company to give rising black artists the opportunity to work on classical and new theatre. She is also a member of Blackout Improv which was recently recognized as a Minnesota Change-maker by MPR. Ashawnti has been seen on stages including the History Theatre and the Guthrie Dowling studio and has worked with companies including Full Circle Theatre, Sandbox Theatre and Combustible.

Sophie Peyton [Director] is a freelance director, dramaturg, and community engagement coordinator. Originally from Boston, she moved to Minneapolis to further her career in new play development and artistic administration. She holds a B.A. from Temple University and has worked on the administrative and producing staff at McCarter Theatre Center, Wilma Theater, and PlayPenn: New Play Development Conference. Regional credits include Minnesota Opera, Trademark Theater, History Theatre, Park Square Theatre, McCarter Theatre Center, and Wilma Theater. She’s had the pleasure of assisting directors Emily Mann, Adam Immerwahr, Jamil Jude, Peter Rothstein, and Doug Scholz-Carlson.

Lindsey C. Samples [Director] is a multidisciplinary theater artist. She believes art is a critical ingredient in fostering a healthy society and creating necessary social change. As a director, performer, teaching artist, and arts administrator, she has used theater as a bridge to be in conversation across communities, geography, cultures, languages, abilities, and identities. Lindsey holds a B.A. in Theater from Loyola University Chicago and an M.Ed. in Youth Development Leadership from the University of Minnesota.

DJ Kool Akiem Scott [Design] is an educator, teaching artist, renowned DJ, composer, sound designer, and producer. Widely recognized as a pioneer of the Twin Cities Hip-Hop community, he’s produced for the legendary Micranots, was DJ for MF Doom’s domestic and European tours, and has performed with artists such as Public Enemy, De La Soul, The Roots, Grandmaster Flash, and Jazzy Jeff. Kool Akiem has produced seven albums, many of which are critically acclaimed that released on Rhymesayers Entertainment, Subverse Records, and Mental Madness Wreckords. He has held DJ residencies in New York and Atlanta, and hosted radio shows including The Panther Power Hour on WRFG (Atlanta) and WEQY (Saint Paul). His expertise and philosophies on Sampling and Hip Hop pedagogy have been featured in several books including Five Percenter Rap by Felicia Miyakawa and Making Beats by Joseph Schlosh. He composed original scores for the award-winning stage play Kung Fu Zombies vs Cannibals (Theater Mu), was DJ for Illyria (Theater Latte Da), a sound designer for The Two Kids That Blow Shit Up (Theater Mu) and was recently commissioned to compose the theme song for Kung Fu Zombies vs Shaman Warrior (Smithsonian). He taught Hip Hop Music History at McNally Smith College of Music and conducts DJ and recording residencies and workshops for all ages as a teaching artist through COMPAS, East Metro Integration District and Intermedia Arts.

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PARK SQUARE THEATRE. 20 W. Seventh Place, Saint Paul. Ticket Office: 651.291.7005. parksquaretheatre.org

Michael Hanna in a Play with Heart

In Park Square Theatre’s production of DOT, Michael Hanna plays Adam, partner of Richard Beaird’s character, Donnie Shealy. This puts him squarely into the Shealy family dynamics as he accompanies Donnie to matriarch Dot’s home for their Christmas gathering. Not only must Adam and Donnie navigate their own relationship but also face Dot’s decline into Alzheimer’s disease.

Recently, Michael answered questions posed to him about being in DOT and a bit about himself, too:

1. What were your personal ideas as to how you’d approach your character in Dot before rehearsals, and how did they evolve in the rehearsal process?

I think there’s a beautiful fluidity to Adam; he’s very adaptable. He seems to roll with the punches, which is essential in the Shealy family. As rehearsal continued, I started to realize how interwoven he is into the family dynamic. And while he might not have the same amount of history as the siblings and Dot have, because of his love for Donnie, he has a tremendous amount at stake.

2. Often I will seek an interview with cast of plays before the rehearsal process begins. Some do not like to be interviewed until rehearsals have begun, but others do not mind. Your response was that interviewing for a show before rehearsals usually “hasn’t been terribly fruitful.” But in my experience as an interviewer, that actually has not been the case.  How did your opinion from the actor’s side form as a result of what you’ve experienced throughout your career?

I think the reason I say that is because, for me, the way a character jumps off the page when you first read a play is only 25% of the equation of playing the character. I imagine the cast as the colors on a palette: if any of those colors are changed, while the shape of what you’re creating may remain the same, the hue of it will be drastically different. It’s when I get into the room and realize the other actors who I’ll be playing with that I realize how to approach the play. Some of my original instincts get thrown out or recycled into something new. For me, the Adam I’m playing is hopefully one that is based very much off of what Ricardo as Donnie is bringing to the table and informed by every other interaction.

L to R: Michael Hanna (Adam), Ricardo Beaird (Donnie), Maxwell Collyard (Fidel) and Yvette Garnier (Shelly)
(Photo by Petronella J. Ytsma)

3. Why do you want to play Adam?

He’s smart, expressive and charmingly flawed. It’s fun to play characters that can be both kind and cruel in a single page.

4. What will be the biggest challenge for you in this role?

This play has a huge heart! Playwright Colman Domingo has tapped into that quality of messy love that I think most families create. Finding ways to access the love of this play, of this character, while also realizing that this family rarely holds back with each other, is one of the bigger challenges. If the underlying love doesn’t come across, even when Adam might want to strangle one of the other characters, I think I’d be missing the mark. It’s a fine line to walk, though a fun one!

5. If you were not already in DOT, why would you choose to see it?

Because its about familial love, which I never get tired of exploring.

Because it talks about Alzheimer’s, a disease that is attached to an unhealthy stigma. We need to discuss this disease and all of the people it affects, both directly and indirectly.

Michael Hanna as Romeo, and Christian Bardin as Juliet 
(Photo by Petronella J. Ytsma)

6. As an usher for student matinees, I’ve seen you play Romeo in Park Square’s Romeo & Juliet over and over again, but a real highlight is watching the actors then come out to talk to the students. What would you say to someone who wants to pursue acting as a career?

The beautiful thing about being an actor is that it pulls from your entire life. I don’t think it’s healthy to get too myopic about being a performer. Go out and develop other interests. Study how the world works with as little judgement as possible. Your regular and creative life will thank you.

 

Tickets and more information for DOT here

Cynthia Jones-Taylor is Dotty

In Colman Domingo’s comedy/drama DOT, Cynthia Jones-Taylor plays the title character, Dotty, the widowed matriarch of a middle-class black family slipping into memory loss and dementia. It’s Christmastime as all her grownup children gather at her West Philadelphia home, each carrying their own personal baggage as they try to come to terms with their mother’s Alzheimer’s disease. Here is Cynthia to talk about DOT and her own background:

 What do you look forward to most about being in DOT?

What I most look forward to about being in this production is telling this story and having even a small hand in possibly changing perspectives and educating about this awful disease and the trauma that it creates for its victims and their families.

What will be your biggest challenge in playing Dotty?

I think the biggest challenge is trying to create the stages of this disease in such a short amount of time. We only get a couple of hours onstage to show the stages of decline in this woman’s state, so trying to find a believable arc for her illness is the biggest challenge.

Maxwell Collyard as Fidel; Cynthia Jones-Taylor as Dotty
(Photo by Petronella J. Ytsma)

Did you do any special preparation for this role?

I did. I visited various convalescent centers, watched tons of videos and have hours and hours of internet research under my belt. Also, in college I’d worked at a convalescent care center where I had the opportunity to work with the elderly. Many of the residents were afflicted with this disease.

Watching DOT will be especially poignant for me because our beloved neighbor, Dorothy (aka Dot), has been in steady decline with Alzheimer’s. How does DOT personally resonate with you?

As I’d mentioned in the previous question, I had worked at a convalescent center in college. I fell in love with a few of the other people there; one in particular, Irene, had dementia, but she would be lucid every now and then and had a wicked sense of humor. We would converse every now and then, and she would tell me stories and we would laugh. She didn’t have anyone to visit her, so I spent a lot of time in and out of her room and sitting by her bedside. I remember Irene when I step into DOT.

L to R: Cynthia Jones-Taylor as Dotty; Yvette Ganier as Shelly; Anna Letts Lakin as Jackie

How did you end up being an actor? What was your personal journey?

I have always loved the arts throughout high school and onward. But I am a veteran; I was in the United States Army and close to my departure from the service at Fort Lewis, Washington, when I went to a production that was traveling around military posts. I saw a play called Five on the Black Hand Side, and I was just fascinated and blown away by the actors in the production–one actor in particular, the lead. After the production I went backstage and eventually, making a long story extremely short, I ended up joining his company, going to college and marrying him. After almost 40 years later, we still haunt the boards.

 

Tickets and information here