Meadows Prize-winning playwright and performer Will Power has been named to a new position as Artist-in-Residence in the Division of Theatre in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, beginning with the Fall 2012 semester.
A veteran of theatre, film and television, Power has won multiple awards for his work, which bridges the gap between the spoken word of hip-hop and traditional theatre. Power spent four weeks at SMU last fall as a winner of the 2010 Meadows Prize, the international arts residency launched by the Meadows School in Fall 2009. During his visits to SMU, Power worked with Meadows student actors and designers to create a new theatre work from the ground up. The play, Alice Underground, gave a modern spin to the tale of Alice in Wonderland and was performed in the Margo Jones Theatre.
Power also led workshops for students at L.G. Pinkston High School in West Dallas, working with a group of teens on break dancing, rhyming and emceeing; the students learned how to use their art as a means to uplift and inspire.
Power’s work in Dallas as a Meadows Prize winner was a partnership between the Meadows School of the Arts and the Dallas Theater Center (DTC). This winter, he returned to Dallas to begin working with the DTC to write and develop a new theatre piece, Stagger Lee. He also gave a public talk at SMU as part of the Meadows School’s new Forum for Art and Urban Engagement, and met with local arts and culture leaders to talk about how artists can best engage with their communities.
As an artist-in-residence, Power will teach in the Division of Theatre and continue to work with community groups. “I’ve had a great experience working with the students in Dallas, and have been really impressed with the city and the opportunities it offers for artists,” says Power. “I’m excited to continue to engage the SMU community and the Dallas theatre community.”
“We are thrilled to have Will Power join us as an artist-in-residence,” says Meadows Dean José Bowen. “During his Meadows Prize residency, he demonstrated that it is possible to work with a community, bring multiple art forms together, experiment and also produce great art. Will helped students both at SMU and Pinkston understand that they can take risks and speak in their own voice.”
A veteran of theatre, film and television, Power has been called “the best verse playwright in America” (New York Magazine) whose work “…combines the complexity of serious drama with the visual and sonic arsenal of MTV” (The New York Times). His drama Fetch Clay, Make Man, starring Ben Vereen, had its world premiere at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton in January 2010 under the direction of Tony Award-winning director Des McAnuff. Power’s adaptation of the Greek tragedy Seven Against Thebes, retitled The Seven, enjoyed a successful Off-Broadway run at the New York Theatre Workshop in 2006 and The La Jolla Playhouse in 2008. His solo show FLOW was featured in New York’s Hip Hop Theater Festival before touring nationally and internationally to critical acclaim. Power was the 2010-2011 AETNA New Voices Fellow at Hartford Stage, where he is also under commission.
Power’s awards include a United States Artist Prudential Fellowship, a Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical, the TCG Peter Zeisler Memorial Award, a Jury Award for Best Theatre Performance at the HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, a Drama Desk Award nomination, and the Trailblazer Award from The National Black Theater Network. Power’s numerous film and television appearances include The Steven Colbert Report (Comedy Central) and Bill Moyers on Faith and Reason(PBS).
Originally from the Fillmore District in San Francisco, Will Power will be moving to Dallas from Beacon, New York, with his wife Marla and their two children.