jakub | May 6, 2023

AMERICAN THEATRE | Six Artists Receive theurbanX.org International Residencies


Brisa Areli Muñoz, UGBA, Zhailon Levingston, Diego Alejandro González, William Carlos Angulo, and Iyvon E.

NEW YORK CITY and MEXICO CITY: A new international arts residency program called theurbanX.org is seeks to connect Black and brown artists across the diaspora through the lens of urban culture. The pilot program officially launches this month with six New York-based creators who will conduct artistic residencies in Mexico City. The inaugural cohort will include Brisa Areli Muñoz, UGBA, Zhailon Levingston, Diego Alejandro González, William Carlos Angulo, and Iyvon E. A second cohort of Mexican creators will be selected in fall 2023 for a series of residencies in New York City.

“As a Black queer creator who has been in dialogue with the global artistic community for decades, I am deeply curious about what connects us,” said Bryan Joseph Lee, the program’s executive artistic director and CNTR ARTS founder, in a statement. “What does it truly mean to be a part of the global majority? What technology do we have to share with and learn from our siblings around the world? Across borders and boundaries, Black and brown folks have used culture as a means of creative expression and a lever for social change. I’m thrilled to launch theurbanX.org as a platform for artistic expansion and a resource for creative changemaking around the world.”

theurbanX.org’s mission is to harness the power of urban culture and the arts to build bridges across borders, share knowledge and resources in community, and empower creators of the global majority. Multidisciplinary and intersectional by design, the inaugural cohort of six U.S.-based artists will use hip-hop, poetry, playwriting, choreography, dramaturgy, music, and healing ritual as modes of creative expression.

The core of theurbanx.org’s program model focuses on three areas: expansion, connection, and exchange. Through a series of fully funded international micro-residencies, participants will receive time, space, and the opportunity to see themselves and their work in a global context. Participants will also engage with like-minded creatives in their host city, and spark collaborative conversations with artists of their choosing. Opportunities for creative exchange will be designed by each participant, and may include public sharings, listening sessions with local artists and community leaders, masterclasses, workshops, performances, and more.

Brisa Areli Muñoz is a Chicane theatre director, healing practitioner, and cultural worker based out of New York City. She is the artistic director of Musical Theatre Factory, an organization that develops changemaking new musicals in a joyous, collaborative community. Brisa is also the artistic director of One Nation/One Project’s collaboration with the city of Edinburg, Texas. ONOP is a national arts and wellness initiative designed to activate the power of the arts to repair the social fabric of our nation and heal our communities. She has directed and facilitated workshops on Broadway, nationally and internationally, and is passionate about using art as a tool to motivate, activate, and transform institutions, organizations and communities to become more inclusive and just.

Ungrateful Black Artist (UGBA) is a queer poet, rapper, playwright, actor, and activist based out of Brooklyn, NY. UGBA is the founder/host of CEREMONIES—a Brooklyn based monthly Black queer artist showcase held in honor of Essex Hemphill. UGBA is also the founder of “Dark-Skin Support Group,” a virtual support network for dark-skin Black Americans in need of a space to discuss the realities of colorism. In 2020, UGBA was named a “Black LGBTQ+ playwright you need to know ” by Time Out NY. UGBA is the current script assistant for the Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway play Fat Ham. He is an alumnus of the Public Theater’s #BARS program and a current member of The Public Theater’s Emerging Writers Group 2020-2023 cohort. UGBA is a 2023 Artivism Fellow through Broadway Advocacy Coalition, a 2022 MAP Grant recipient, a 2020-2021 BAM Resident, and the current artistic director at NY Writers Coalition.

Zhailon Levingston is a Louisiana-raised storyteller, director, and activist. A board member for the Broadway Advocacy Coalition, he co-created and taught the Theatre of Change course at Columbia University, which is going into its third year. He is a Music Mentor Fellow and has done work with Idina Menzel’s A BroaderWay Foundation. His directing credits include Neptune, The Years That Went Wrong, The Exonerated, Chariot Part 2, and Mother of Pearl. He is the associate director of Primer for a Failed Superpower, and Runaways at the Public Theater. Zhailon is the original resident director of Tina: The Tina Turner Musical on Broadway and the associate director of Hadestown in South Korea. Most recently, Zhailon directed Patience by Johnny G. Lloyd at 2nd Stage Uptown, and Chicken and Biscuits by Douglas Lyons, which premiered on Broadway last fall. 

Diego Alejandro González is an NYC-based director, playwright, community builder, and theatremaker by way of the México-Texas border. This year, Diego has co-founded The Borderlands, a cultural arts company, and MUXE Creative, an indie creative agency. Diego served as the associate artistic director for Thirteen O’Clock Theater in the Rio Grande Valley and has held various positions at Ars Nova, the Public Theater’s Public Works, Dance Lab New York, Roundabout Theater Company, and Tectonic Theater Project. They have collaborated with WP Theater, The Sol Project, Musical Theater Factory, The Civilians, ¡OYE! Group, and Abrons Arts Center. Directing Credits include new works and regional premieres at Thirteen O’Clock Theater, 24 HR Musical, and All Star Theater. Documentary credits include What Do I Stand For? and Revolution. They have co-led marketing strategy and consulting with the teams at Baltimore Center Stage and Dance Lab New York.

William Carlos Angulo is a director, choreographer, playwright, and arts educator based in New York City. His work in theatre and dance has premiered in 15 U.S. states and Puerto Rico, as well as in Poland, France, Germany, Croatia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina. William created the first professional training program at Goodman Theatre in Chicago and was an original instructor for Broadway Across Borders through the U.S. Department of State. He created the NextGen Choreography Apprenticeship in partnership with Dance Lab New York, where he mentors gifted young choreographers. He has choreographed for Grammy-winning recording artists like Breland, LOCASH, Florida Georgia Line, and more, and his choreography has been hashtagged on TikTok and Instagram over 17 million times. William is currently creating two new Broadway musicals, Hombres and Shout Sister Shout. He is a proud member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) and the Alliance of Latine Theatre Artists (ALTA).

Iyvon E. is an award-winning Nigerian American creative producer, dramaturg, and administrator from Brooklyn. She is the artistic director of the Parsnip Ship, a new-play development company that features a radio-play platform amplifying underproduced playwrights. Additionally, she is the director of artistic programs at Signature Theatre (NYC), where she leads the LaunchPad Residency Program and SigSpace, a free lobby program. Iyvon is a recipient of the Fulbright International Scholarship and Gilman International Scholarship (both to Italy) and the 2019 Mark O’Donnell Prize recipient, and is a W.P. 2020-2022 Producers Lab member and an affiliate dramaturg with Beehive Dramaturgy Studio.

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