Chinaka Hodge (Playwright) is a poet and playwright. Originally from Oakland, California, Chinaka graduated from New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study in May of 2006, and was honored to be the student speaker at the 174th Commencement exercise. She recently received her M.F.A. in Writing for Film and TV at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts.
Her first book of poems, For Girls With Hips, released in May 2006, is in its fourth publication. Chinaka was a member of the U.S. Artist Delegation to the World Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya in early 2007. Through The Living Word Project, she received co-writing credit for Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s Scourge, which opened in May 2005 in San Francisco. She was the Assistant Director of Suzan Lori Parks’ 365 Plays, 365 Days, at its San Francisco debut in November 2006. She also co-wrote The One Drop Rule: A War Piece, which debuted in Fall 2008. In that year, she was also named Best Poet of the East Bay by the East Bay Express. Her first independently written play, Mirrors in Every Corner, commissioned by SF’s Intersection for the Arts and The Living Word Project, is a 2010 Rockefeller MAP Fund grantee. She is the inaugural recipient of Intersection’s Changemaker Award, guaranteeing financial and artistic support from San Francisco’s oldest independent playhouse for the duration of her life.
In 2010 Chinaka received USC’s prestigious Annenberg Fellowship to continue her studies at the School of Cinematic Arts. In 2011/12 she represented USC as the CBS/NAACP Diversity Fellow in Writing. In the Fall of 2012 she received the San Francisco Foundation’s Jackson, Phelan and Tennenbaum Literary Award for emerging Bay Area talent. She is currently a 2012 Artist in Residence at The Headlands Center for the Arts in Marin, CA. as well as the 2013 Recipient of the Gerbode/Hewlett Playwright Award for Chasing Mehserle.
Her artistry, poems, editorials, interviews and prose have been featured in Teen People magazine, Newsweek, The San Francisco Chronicle, Theater Bay Area magazine, San Francisco Magazine, Scholastic magazine, Current magazine, The Annual Women of Color Film Festival, PBS, NPR, CNN, C-Span, and in two seasons of HBO’s Def Poetry.
Marc Bamuthi Joseph (Director) is one of America's vital voices in performance, arts education, and artistic curation. In the Fall of 2007, Bamuthi graced the cover of Smithsonian magazine after being named one of America's Top Young Innovators in the Arts and Sciences. He is the artistic director of the seven-part HBO documentary Russell Simmons presents Brave New Voices and an inaugural recipient of the United States Artists Rockefeller Fellowship (2006), which recognizes 50 of the country's "greatest living artists". He is the 2011 Alpert Award winner in Theater and in April 2012, he was one of 21 artists to be named to the inaugural class of Doris Duke Artists. Joseph was recently nominated for a 2013 New York Dance & Performance (Bessie) Award in the category of Outstanding Production (of a work stretching the boundaries of a traditional form) for red, black & Green: a blues. He currently serves as Director of Performing Arts at Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco.
After appearing on Broadway as a young actor, Joseph has developed several poetically based works for the stage that have toured across the U.S., Europe, and Africa. These include Word Becomes Flesh, Scourge, and the break/s, which co-premiered at the Humana Festival of New American Plays and the Walker Arts Center in the Spring of 2008. Joseph's Word Becomes Flesh was re-mounted in December 2010 as part of the National Endowment for the Arts' "American Masterpieces" series, and will tour throughout North America and Hawaii through 2013. In addition, he wrote the commissioned libretto, Home in 7 for the Atlanta Ballet in 2011, and directed Dennis Kim's Tree City Legends at Intersection for the Arts in 2012.
A gifted and nationally acclaimed educator and essayist, he has lectured at more than 200 colleges and universities, been a popular commentator on National Public Radio, and has carried adjunct professorships at Stanford University, Lehigh University, Mills College, and the University of Wisconsin. As the Artistic Director of Youth Speaks, he mentored 13-19 year old writers and curated The Living Word Festival and Left Coast Leaning. He is the co-founder of Life is Living, a national series of one day festivals designed to activate under-resourced parks and affirm peaceful urban life through hip hop arts and focused environmental action. His proudest work is with his family, raising his two children and spoiling two dogs with his incredible wife in Oakland, California. twitter.com/bamuthi
Evan Bissell (Scenic Designer) facilitates multi-disciplinary, community-based art projects for public installation and the internet that seek to spark radical imagination. Evan is the creator of knottedline.com, an online history of incarceration in use in schools and universities across the country, and freedoms-ring.org, an animated version of Martin Luther King's “I Have a Dream” speech. Evan created the sets, public workshop series, and collaborative mural for the world premier of Chinaka Hodge's Mirrors in Every Corner. He is a co-coordinator of the Transformative Arts Practice Space at the Allied Media Conference in Detroit, and artist-in-residence at the American Cultures Engaged Scholar Program at UC Berkeley and Intersection for the Arts. Evan has been awarded funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, Stanford University, San Francisco Arts Commission, East Bay Community Foundation and California Arts Council, among others. www.evanbissell.com