Next Door at NYTW provides a home for companies and artists who are producing their own work. Meeting the artists where they are in their process, this initiative provides each project with subsidized resources and space for development and performance in the newly renovated Fourth Street Theatre. As part of an ongoing effort to expand support for artists at every stage of their careers, this series will serve nearly 100 additional artists in the first year alone.
A team of artists who were never greeted inside the hallowed halls of the Art Institute of Chicago, decide to introduce themselves. They paint a fifty-foot graffiti piece on the towering wall of the New Modern Wing, asking us to reconsider what art is and where it belongs while bringing dire consequences on themselves. They are marginalized young men of color willing to risk everything to make their voices heard and prove that another paradigm is possible. This acclaimed and controversial play, THIS IS MODERN ART, commissioned by Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago and written by Idris Goodwin and Kevin Coval, makes its New York premiere under the direction of Jessica Burr.
Idris Goodwin is an award winning playwright, poet/performer and essayist. His play How We Got On, developed at the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, premiered in Actors Theater’s 2012 Humana Festival and is being produced at theatres across the country. His play Hype Man was awarded the 2017 Blue Ink Playwriting Award, and And In This Corner Cassius Clay received the 2017 Distinguished Play Award from The American Association of Theater and Education. Other widely produced plays include Blackademics and Bars and Measures. The Way The Mountain Moved, commissioned as part of Oregon Shakespeare’s groundbreaking American Revolutions Series, will world premiere in 2018. Goodwin is one of seven playwrights featured in the widely presented HANDS UP!, an anthology commissioned by The New Black Fest and published by Samuel French. He has work commissioned by or in development with The Public Theater, Steppenwolf Theater, The Kennedy Center, Seattle Children’s Theater, Berkeley Rep’s Ground Floor Program, La Jolla Playhouse, The Lark Playwriting Center, The Playwrights’s Center and New Harmony Project. He’s received support from the NEA and Ford Foundation, and is the recipient of InterAct Theater’s 20/20 Prize. These Are The Breaks (Write Bloody Press, 2011), his debut collection of essays and poetry, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Goodwin’s poetry has featured on HBO, The Discovery Channel, Sesame Street and National Public Radio. Goodwin is an assistant professor in The Department of Theatre and Dance at Colorado College. idrisgoodwin.com.
Kevin Coval is the poet/author/editor of seven books including The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop. Founder of Louder Than A Bomb: The Chicago Youth Poetry Festival and the Artistic Director of Young Chicago Authors, Coval teaches hip-hop aesthetics at The University of Illinois-Chicago. He is a four-time HBO Def Poet and has written for a wide variety of publications including CNN.com, Huffington Post and Fake Shore Drive. The Chicago Tribune’s called him “the voice of the new Chicago” and the Boston Globe says he’s “the city’s unofficial poet laureate”. His forthcoming collection of poems, A People’s History of Chicago drops in the Spring of 2017 on Haymarket Books.
Jessica Burr is the founding artistic director of Blessed Unrest, for whom she has directed and choreographed for over 17 years. She teaches and directs at universities across the country. Burr was honored with the 2011 Lucille Lortel Award from the League of Professional Theatre Women, and the 2013 NY Innovative Theatre Award for Outstanding Choreography/Movement (nominee for the same in 2015). She was a featured panelist in the 2016 Brave Summit, a forum of women leaders, experts, and scholars to drive cultural change.
Burr has directed and choreographed numerous productions and workshops for Blessed Unrest since 1999 including Body: Anatomies of Being (New Ohio/IRT Theatre Archive Residency), Lying (2015 IT Award nominee), A Christmas Carol, Eurydice’s Dream (2013 IT Award winner), Doruntine (First Prize, 2016 Secondo Festival, Switzerland) and The Sworn Virgin (in NYC and on international tours, co-directed with Florent Mehmeti of Teatri Oda, Kosovo), The Storm, ArtCamp SexyTime FootBall, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Measure for Measure, and the 365Days/365Plays Festival (with The Public Theater).
Blessed Unrest is in its 17th season of generating original theatre in NYC and touring internationally. They create safe environments where dangerous things can happen, producing dynamic, disciplined and exuberant new works for the stage with their diverse ensemble. They teach their approach to physical and devised theatre at universities across the country. Among their awards are four New York Innovative Theatre Awards (twelve nominations) including the Cino Fellowship for Sustained Excellence, the LPTW Lucille Lortel Award, and first prize at the Secondo Theatre Festival (Switzerland) 2016. blessedunrest.org.