(SARASOTA, FL) – Asolo Repertory theatre is pleased to announce that its first Ground Floor Playwright Commission will go to emerging Black playwright Ty Greenwood for a new work inspired by writer and activist James Baldwin.
The Ground Floor Series, established in February, 2020, is the programming series that fills Asolo Rep’s new, state of the art black box theater. Dedicated to fostering emerging writers and embracing the full spectrum of experiences, Ground Floor programming is an opportunity for Asolo Rep audiences to experience fresh theatrical events up-close as they are being developed. The Ground Floor Commission is intended to provide emerging playwrights the opportunity for artistic expression freed from the commercial pressures of criticism and to amplify BIPOC and other untapped voices. This commission in particular was inspired by conversations around the civil rights movement and the leaders of that movement’s relevance to the current state of racial equity in America.
A recent graduate of Carnegie-Mellon University’s MFA program in Dramatic Writing, Greenwood has a background in Media and a strong sense of community in his work, for which he was awarded the “Ubuntu” Emma Award from the Emma Bowen Foundation. Asked about his ambitions for this commission, Greenwood said “With this piece my goal is to capture the timeless essence of James Baldwin’s language and philosophy on race, sexuality and politics when it comes to being Black in America. I also promise to deliver a sense of hope and more importantly joy within the conversation of the Black experience.”
According to Celine Rosenthal, Associate Artistic Director at Asolo Rep, “Ty’s voice and vision is precisely what the Ground Floor is meant to celebrate. Bold, innovative theatrical works that tap directly into the current cultural moment.” The piece is slated for development through the new year with an invited reading as part of the Ground Floor Series sometime in June of 2021. “We are thrilled to provide the space and the developmental infrastructure to such an exciting artist,” said Rosenthal.
“The Idea emerged organically out of conversations regarding mutual influences,” said Producing Artistic Director, Michael Donald Edwards. “I was completely swept away by Ty’s passion and his ability to articulate the difficult and nuanced conversation around race in America today in a way that felt fresh and vigorous. This writer,” Edwards concluded “is squarely in the legacy of Baldwin and we cannot wait to see where his play takes us.”
Ty Greenwood Bio
The work of playwright Ty Greenwood, focuses on telling stories that are not damaging to the identity, existence and bodies of Black people, but are rather empowering, unapologetic and radical in nature. He holds a B.A. in Communication Arts with an emphasis in Rhetoric and Honors in Theatre from Washington & Jefferson College ‘17 and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Carnegie Mellon University ‘20, in Dramatic Writing. Ty’s recent work Nigga, Digress (CMU ‘19) & Death Dream (KST) were both choreopoetic expressions of the black experience. Nigga Digress, presented at City Theatre’s Hamburg Theater November 15, 16 & 19 (2019), explores the trauma Black bodies face in predominately white spaces and the mental exhaustion that comes along with it. Death Dream, a meditation on WEB Dubois “double consciousness” theory, serves as a PSA, that Black men are not valued and need to talk about mental health in the Black community even if it’s taboo. Currently, Death Dream is a part of Kelly Strayhorn’s Freshworks Series postponed until further notice.
In 2013, Greenwood landed a four-year scholarship/apprenticeship with KDKA TV- News Pittsburgh where he wrote anchor packages and helped produce the “Pittsburgh Today Live Show,” through the Emma Bowen Foundation, an organization that places college students with a corporate sponsor, with a goal of promoting diversity in the media. In 2016, his short film “Fuzzy on the Details” was entered into the British Film Festival. The same year he also received the “Ubuntu” Emma Award through the Emma Bowen Foundation for his sense of community, promotion of diversity and togetherness in his work, at Washington & Jefferson College and the media. He has presented his short play, “NOT A FAIRY TALE” and research “Protecting our Black Men: Black Masculinity and the use of the Black Body in “For Black Boys Who Have Considered Homicide…” at the Mid-America Theatre Conference ‘18. He developed and had a staged reading of his full length choreopoem play, “DEATH DREAM” at Alumni Theatre Company ‘19. Recently, he participated in City Theatre’s 2019 Momentum Festival: New Plays at Different Stages where he presented an excerpt of “Untitled Thesis Play” as part of the “In Their Own Voices” event.
ABOUT ASOLO REP
Now in its 62nd season, Asolo Repertory Theatre is recognized as one of the premier professional theatres in America and one of the largest in the Southeastern United States. One of the few select theatres in the nation that performs in true rotating repertory, Asolo Rep’s highly skilled acting company and extensive craftsmanship bring to life this unique performance method that gives audiences the opportunity to see multiple productions in the span of a few days. Asolo Rep presents up to 10 productions each season including contemporary and classic works and provocative musical theatre experiences. A theatre district in and of itself, Asolo Rep is committed to expanding its reach into the community, furthering its collaboration with the best theatre artists working in the industry today and cultivating new artists through its affiliation with the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training. Under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Michael Donald Edwards and Managing Director Linda DiGabriele, Asolo Rep’s ambitious theatrical offerings and ground-breaking education and community programming engage audiences and ensure its lasting legacy for future generations.