The League of Chicago Theatres announces The Samuel G. Roberson Jr. Resident Fellowship, a grant to fund a residency for early to mid-career Black theatre artists based in Chicago for a one-year partnership with a Chicago area theatre. This fellowship is funded by the McMullen & Kime Charitable Trust and administered by the League of Chicago Theatres.
Each year, the Fellowship will be focused on a particular area of concentration in Theatre Arts—Directing, Artistic Leadership or Education, for example. The focus of the 2020 Samuel G. Roberson Jr Resident Fellowship Award is Playwriting.
The artist and host theatre recipients will work together toward a public performance of a play, performance piece, or other performance endeavor. Each year, an artist will be awarded $20,000 for participation in the program. The host theatre will be awarded $7,500 for its support of the artist.
Application and eligibility requirements can be found at leagueofchicagotheatres.org.
The spirit of this award encourages a relationship to be developed between the artist and the theatre that benefits the development of the artist’s career. The project should be driven by the needs, artistic growth, and professional development of the artist. Host theatres are expected to support the artist through the development of the work and the end of the timeline is not expected to be the end of the relationship.
Priority will be given to host theatres that have a stated mission to produce work by Black or BIPOC artists.
Executive Director of the League of Chicago Theatres Deb Clapp comments, “The grant from the McMullen & Kime Charitable Trust is a generous gift to the Chicago theatre community and a fitting tribute to the late Samuel G. Roberson, Jr., a respected teacher, actor, director, Artistic Director and champion of social justice theater. Sam was a beloved collaborator and friend to the Chicago theatre, and the League of Chicago Theatres is honored to administer this Fellowship in his name to support the work of Black theatre artists.”
“The League has served an important role in helping us fine tune both the vision and the details of this grant,” said Melinda McMullen and Duncan Kime, in a joint statement. “Through our work with the League, we discovered there is a gap in funding for new and emerging Black artists, and this Fellowship is one way to begin to address that gap. While the award money is significant, this is not just about money. The goal of this award is to create an environment in which a Black artist can work in partnership with a host theater to create new work and foster a relationship that will last well beyond the year-long period of the Fellowship.”
About Samuel G. Roberson Jr.
Samuel G. Roberson Jr. was Artistic Director of Congo Square Theatre and a teaching artist with Victory Gardens Theater, Steppenwolf Theatre, American Theatre Company, Northlight Theatre, and 16th Street Theatre. As an actor, his Chicago stage credits include: Samuel J and K (Steppenwolf), Civil War Christmas (Northlight), The Colored Museum and Sanctified (Congo Square), Living Green and The Lost Boys of Sudan (Victory Gardens), and The Ballad of Emmett Till (Goodman Theatre). As a director, credits include The Scottsboro Boys (Porchlight Music Theatre) and Twisted Melodies (Congo Square Theatre).
Samuel founded an Education and Outreach initiative with Congo Square Theatre Company called Y-BOOM (Young Brothers Owning Our Mission), a literacy-based leadership program that provided a safe environment for adolescent African American men. As a two-time leukemia survivor he always had a passion for giving back and started a non-profit organization, called Make Me A Match Project, dedicated to saving the lives of patients in need of a bone marrow transplant. He used theatre as a means to raise awareness about leukemia, blood related diseases, and the need for more people to join the marrow donor registry. A graduate of Howard University, he began his theatre career with an apprenticeship at The Children’s Theatre of Minneapolis, where he spent three years defining his desires for acting, writing, directing, and social justice theater.
Chicago lost a beloved, brave and committed truth teller when Sam lost his life-long battle with Leukemia on May 21, 2017. We are most pleased to honor his memory in this way.
About Chicago theatre
Chicago theatre is the leader in the U.S. with more than 250 theatres throughout Chicagoland, comprising a rich and varied community ranging from storefront, non-union theatres to the most renowned resident theatres in the country, including 5 which have been honored with Regional Tony Awards, and the largest touring Broadway organization in the nation. Chicago’s theatres serve 5 million audience members annually and have a combined budget of more than $250 million. Chicago produces and/or presents more world premieres annually than any other city in the nation. Last year alone Chicago theatre companies produced more than 100 world premiere productions and adaptations. Each year Chicago theatres send new work to resident theatres across the country, to Broadway, and around the world.
The McMullen & Kime Charitable Trust
Melinda McMullen and Duncan Kime serve as advisers to the McMullen and Kime Charitable Trust. They have been involved in Chicago theater for two decades. McMullen has served on the boards of Congo Square and Lookingglass Theatre Company. The Trust has been particularly active in supporting the work of Black artists, including HeLa at Sideshow Theater, Thaddeus and Slocum: A Vaudeville Adventure and most recently Her Honor Jane Byrne, both of which were produced at Lookingglass Theatre Company.
League of Chicago Theatres’ Mission Statement
Theatre is essential to the life of a great city and to its citizens. The League of Chicago Theatres is an alliance of theatres which leverages its collective strength to support, promote, and advocate for Chicago’s theatre industry. Through our work, we ensure that theatre continues to thrive in our city.