CHICAGO—American Blues Theater announces the addition of a new Ensemble member and three new Artistic Affiliates. Joining the Ensemble is playwright Darren Canady whose world-premiere commission TRANSit is currently playing in repertory with Dutchman. Joining American Blues’ family of Artistic Affiliates is lauded director Chuck Smith, who directed Blue’s current production of Dutchman, as well as Nathan Singh, assistant director of TRANSit. Finally, critically-acclaimed playwright and performer Rohina Malik, who is currently working on a new play commission for Blues about the Muslim-American experience, has also been named an Artistic Affiliate.
“We’re thrilled to announce our commitment to these exceptional artists. While working with each of them, we felt their artistry and collaborative spirit would greatly enhance our growing American Blues family,” said Producing Artistic Director Gwendolyn Whiteside.
About the Artists
Darren Canady is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater. Currently his world-premiere commission TRANSit is playing in repertory with Dutchman at American Blues Theater. His work has been produced at the Alliance Theatre, Congo Square Theater, Horizon Theatre, London’s the Old Vic Theatre, M Ensemble, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, American Blues Theater, and others. His awards include the Alliance Theater’s Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Award, Chicago’s Black Excellence Award, the Black Theatre Alliance Award, the American Theatre Critics Association’s Osborn Award, and Joseph Jefferson Award nomination. His play You’re Invited appeared in The Best American Short Plays 2010-2011. His work has been developed at the Fremont Centre Theatre, Premiere Stages, and Penumbra Theatre. He is an alum of Carnegie Mellon University, New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, The Juilliard School, and is a former member of Primary Stages’ Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group. He is also an artistic affiliate of Congo Square Theatre. He currently teaches playwriting at the University of Kansas.
Rohina Malik is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater. She is commissioned by Blues to write a play about the Muslim-American experience. She’s a critically acclaimed playwright and solo performance artist. She was born and raised in London, England, of South Asian heritage. Her one-woman play UNVEILED had its world premiere at the 16th Street Theater, where it received critical acclaim. Rohina’s second play THE MECCA TALES was produced by Chicago Dramatists in 2015 and nominated for a Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work. Her new play, YASMINA’S NECKLACE, had its world premiere at the 16th Street Theater in January 2016, and was recently nominated for a Jeff Award for Best New Work. She is a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists, an Artistic Associate at American Blues Theater, 16th Street Theater and Voyage Theater Company in NYC. Her plays have been produced at the 16th Street Theater, Victory Gardens Theater, Crossroads Theater, Next Theater, Brava Theater, Voyage Theater Company, Silk Road Rising, Theater Project Baltimore and Mustard Seed Theater. UNVEILED was recently presented in two South African Theater festivals: The Grahamstown Arts Festival and the 969 Festival in Johannesburg. Rohina is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild of America.
Chuck Smith is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater. He recently directed Dutchman at American Blues Theater. He is member of Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees and is Goodman Theatre’s Resident Director. He is also a resident director at the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe in Sarasota, Florida. Goodman credits include the Chicago premieres of Pullman Porter Blues; By the Way, Meet Vera Stark; Race; The Good Negro; Proof; and The Story; the world premieres of By the Music of the Spheres and The Gift Horse; James Baldwin’s The Amen Corner, which transferred to Boston’s Huntington Theatre Company, where it won the Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE) Award for Best Direction; A Raisin in the Sun; Blues for an Alabama Sky; August Wilson’s Two Trains Running and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom; Ain’t Misbehavin’; the 1993 to 1995 productions of A Christmas Carol; Crumbs From the Table of Joy; Vivisections from a Blown Mind; and The Meeting. He served as dramaturg for the Goodman’s world-premiere production of August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean. He directed the New York premiere of Knock Me a Kiss and The Hooch for the New Federal Theatre and the world premiere of Knock Me a Kiss at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater, where his other directing credits include Master Harold… and the Boys, Home, Dame Lorraine, and Eden, for which he received a Jeff Award nomination. Regionally, Mr. Smith directed Death and the King’s Horseman (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Birdie Blue (Seattle Repertory Theatre), The Story (Milwaukee Repertory Theater), Blues for an Alabama Sky (Alabama Shakespeare Festival), and The Last Season (Robey Theatre Company). At Columbia College he was facilitator of the Theodore Ward Prize playwriting contest for 20 years and editor of the contest anthologies Seven Black Plays and Best Black Plays. He won a Chicago Emmy Award as associate producer/theatrical director for the NBC teleplay Crime of Innocence and was theatrical director for the Emmy-winning Fast Break to Glory and the Emmy-nominated The Martin Luther King Suite. He was a founding member of the Chicago Theatre Company, where he served as artistic director for four seasons and directed the Jeff-nominated Suspenders and the Jeff-winning musical Po’. His directing credits include productions at Fisk University, Roosevelt University, Eclipse Theatre, ETA, Black Ensemble Theater, Northlight Theatre, MPAACT, Congo Square Theatre Company, The New Regal Theater, Kuumba Theatre Company, Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre, Pegasus Players, the Timber Lake Playhouse in Mt. Carroll, Illinois, and the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He is a 2003 inductee into the Chicago State University Gwendolyn Brooks Center’s Literary Hall of Fame and a 2001 Chicago Tribune Chicagoan of the Year. He is the proud recipient of the 1982 Paul Robeson Award and the 1997 Award of Merit presented by the Black Theater Alliance of Chicago.
Nathan Singh is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater. He recently assistant directed TRANSit at American Blues Theater. Currently pursuing his MFA in Directing at The Theatre School at DePaul University. He recently directed The Children’s Hour, In The Blood, Women, and The Great God Pan at The Theatre School. In April, he will be directing Wig Out! in their Fullerton Theatre.
About American Blues Theater
American Blues Theater is the premier American theater producing visceral theatrical works while engaging its audience in missions of local service agencies. American Blues Theater illuminates the American ideas of freedom, equality, and opportunity in the plays produced and communities served.
The multi-generational and interdisciplined artists have established the second-oldest professional Equity Ensemble theater in Chicago. The 37-member Ensemble has 532+ combined years of collaboration on stage. As of 2016, the theater and artists received 186 Joseph Jefferson Awards and nominations that celebrate excellence in Chicago theater and over 31 Black Theatre Alliance Awards. The artists are honored with Pulitzer Prize nominations, Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, Emmy Awards and numerous other accolades.
The American Blues Theater Ensemble includes all four Founders Ed Blatchford, Rick Cleveland, James Leaming, and William Payne with Dawn Bach, Matthew Brumlow, Manny Buckley, Kate Buddeke, Sarah Burnham, Dara Cameron, Casey Campbell, Darren Canady, Brian Claggett, Dennis Cockrum, Austin Cook, Laura Coover, Ian Paul Custer, Lauri Dahl, Joe Foust, Cheryl Graeff, Marty Higginbotham, Jaclyn Holsey, Lindsay Jones, Nambi E. Kelley, Kevin R. Kelly, Steve Key, Ed Kross, Warren Levon, Michael Mahler, Heather Meyers, John Mohrlein, Christopher J. Neville, Suzanne Petri, Carmen Roman, Editha Rosario, Sarah E. Ross, and Gwendolyn Whiteside.