February 2, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Kevin Kopjak | Charles Zukow Associates | 415-296-0677 |
THE BREATH PROJECT
ANNOUNCES RECIPIENTS OF NEW PLAY COMMISSION INITIATIVE
SAN FRANCISCO (February 2, 2021)— The Breath Project, a new theatrical initiative formed by Artistic
Director and Co-Founder Gamal Abdel Chasten and Co-Founder Marieke Gaboury in response to the
current global spotlight on racial injustice against Black people, announced the recipients of the New
Play Commission Initiative. Building on the success of last fall’s inaugural The Breath Project Virtual
Festival, which featured 24 world premiere works—all 8 minutes and 46 seconds in length—from
multidisciplinary theater artists of color from around the country, the New Play Commission Initiative
will provide five of those works with $17,000 commissions each to develop full-length plays based on or
inspired by their original festival submission. A sixth commission will be awarded in spring 2021. In
addition, each recipient will receive dramaturgical and new play development support from one of The
Breath Project’s partner theaters.
“We are forever grateful to the generous donors who have allowed The Breath Project to expand
opportunities for theater artists of color and further our mission of building a more equitable theater
community,” said Chasten. “With assistance from our nationwide partner theaters, we are thrilled these
selected artists are able to expand on their original works and experience the new play development
process firsthand. We look forward to seeing the finished projects on stage soon.”
The recipients of the New Play Commission Project grants are (in alphabetical order):
• Giovanny Camarena
This young L.A.-based playwright represents a young generation of writers in our country who
have left behind much of the biases of the past. His proposal was thoughtful and detailed in a
way that conveyed a laser focused attention to the times we are living through. The Breath
Project is commissioning Giovanny’s play, Don’t Be Afraid. The play will largely take place in a
Downtown L.A. taco shop. Giovanny would like the structure of the piece to be reminiscent of
Lynn Nottage’s Sweat, and serve as a fictional documentation of the times we are living
Link to bio and 8:46 submission: www.thebreathproject2020.com/dont-be-afraid
• Gamal Chasten, in collaboration with Palo Alto Children’s Theatre
Gamal will be working on a youth piece based on his 8:46 submission, Say Hello, Stewart, in collaboration with Palo Alto Children's Theatre, and other youth programs across the country. His new play will explore the life of a young boy who, left alone during the long days of COVID lockdown, dreams of becoming the first Indian superhero.
Link to 8:46 submission: www.thebreathproject2020.com/say-hello-stewart
• Tyharra Cozier
Tyharra is a poet, actor, and activist from Portland, Oregon who uses poetry and storytelling to create a healing space to share with her audiences. Her work is deeply rooted in activism and action. Having taken to the streets of Portland during last year's protest, her piece Outside of Space and Time will look to be approximately 90 minutes in length, incorporating original poetry, music and storytelling with some reimagined soul/r&b/hip hop songs. Outside of Space and Time will be an intimate invitation to a soulful conversation, developed in collaboration with the musical collective We Are People Music (Dani Danger, Charlie Brown III, Samuel Eisen-Meyers).
Link to bio and 8:46 submission: www.thebreathproject2020.com/supermoon
• El Colectivo de Dramaturgos de Puerto Rico
An ensemble of eight playwright/actors from Puerto Rico whose strength lies in their multi-generational make-up and perspective. The play will take place in NYC and Puerto Rico, and will be a direct extension of their 8:46 submission. Due to the complex and inequitable relationship that the U.S. has with Puerto Rico, the voice of the Puerto Rican artist is essential in painting a more complete picture of our struggle with ourselves as a country. Together, the eight playwrights will develop the characters who inhabit an interwoven narrative, and cross one another’s paths in life-altering ways, as they search for acceptance, love, meaning and redemption in the time of COVID.
Link to bio and 8:46 submission: www.thebreathproject2020.com/inhala-exhala
• Derek J. Snow
Derek’s new play Silas the Uninvited will be inspired by his powerful 8:46 submission The Ballad of the Dying Body, one of the few pieces in The Breath Project archive that was filmed on a theater stage during our country’s lockdown. After Silas is lynched in the 1930s, his undead spirit encounters a ghostly stranger who offers him the chance at a new life in the same skin, if—after visiting 1960, 1990, and 2020—he finds a time more equitable than 1930. An established playwright from Cincinnati, The Breath Project is excited to offer Derek the chance to see his work performed in from of audiences from different communities, as well as having the opportunity to connect with other theater-makers around the country.
Link to bio and 8:46 submission: www.thebreathproject2020.com/theballad