jakub | February 12, 2024

AMERICAN THEATRE | Charlotte Brathwaite and Sunder Ganglani to Lead Cornerstone Theater Co.

Charlotte Brathwaite (Photo by Malick Welli) and Sunder Ganglani. (Photo by Francisca Benitez)

LOS ANGELES: Cornerstone Theater Company has named Charlotte Brathwaite and Sunder Ganglani co-artistic directors. They will succeed Michael John Garcés, who stepped down in June after 17 years of leadership. Longtime collaborators Brathwaite and Ganglani applied to lead the organization together. They will join managing director Megan Wanlass in a leadership triumvirate. Tom O’Connor Consulting Group assisted with the search process.

“On behalf of the search committee, composed of Cornerstone board, staff, ensemble, and community members, we are proud and excited to welcome Charlotte and Sunder to the company,” said board member Mark Valdez in a statement. “These are two artists of great talent and generosity who will lead us into a new epoch of community-engaged art-making. As only the third artistic directors in our 37-year history, this represents a milestone moment for us, and we couldn’t be happier to enter this new era with these two wonderful humans.”

Charlotte Brathwaite is a creator and director of original works that seek to illuminate the realities and dreams of those whose stories have been marginalized, silenced, and ignored. Her trans-disciplinary inquiry manifests as immersive rituals of the body, color, and music in collaboration with artists such as Meshell Ndegeochello, Jacqueline Woodson, adrienne maree brown, Abigail DeVille, Justin Hicks, Ayesha Jordan, and more.  She has received major grants, awards, and fellowships including Doris Duke, United States Artists, Art Matters, Creative Capital, and the Princess Grace George C. Wolfe Award. Her work has been presented at festivals and venues across the globe. Charlotte is also an educator of the arts and has an MFA in directing from Yale University.

Sunder Ganglani is an artist who works in collaboration among music, theatre, civil disobedience, pedagogy, and performance. As a former co-artistic director of the Foundry Theatre in New York City, he has created work with various artists that has toured nationally and internationally and won multiple awards. As a dramaturg he’s made operas and new experiments in music with Esperanza Spalding, Helga Davis, Justin Hicks, and Darius Jones. As a musician, composer, and organizer he’s grateful to have a creative home with The Stop Shopping Choir community in New York City where he works with Billy Talen, Savitri D, and the 45-member choir as chosen family. He’s received grants, fellowships, and been awarded residencies. He studied anthropology at UMass Amherst, dramaturgy at Yale, and was raised in Salem, Mass. by parents from opposite ends of the earth, along with a sister and brother.

“We’re honored to be invited to join the Cornerstone community and excited to map its future,” said Brathwaite and Ganglani in a joint statement. “Cornerstone asks questions that shouldn’t be so radical but they are—what do we make when we really know each other, when our artforms are modes of care not commerce, when we put ourselves on the line and consent to being transformed by what we don’t understand? These questions are still radical and necessary to ask, and answer again and again—over and over again in as many ways as possible—right now, in real time. For over a decade, the center of our creative partnership has been asking questions that challenge understanding—of ourselves as human beings and the world at large. This work creates new worlds from collective inquiry, it dissolves boundaries of form and genre, and like Cornerstone’s work, it opens new ways of knowing each other. We’re filled with gratitude to find an institutional home at Cornerstone, to keep going, to question, to listen, to transform and be transformed, to imagine on beautiful and exciting terms our common liberation by rehearsing the worlds we imagine and making them real.” 

Cornerstone Theatre Company is a performing arts organization in Los Angeles that collaborates with communities, bringing together an ensemble of professional artists and community members to produce works of excellence based on the stories, concerns, and issues of a given community. The theatre aims to advance a more compassionate, equitable, and just world. As of 2022, Cornerstone had an approximate budget of $831,000.

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