The Artistic Training Exchange is at the core of Almasi’s pillar of collaboration and principle of education. We wish to bring experts in various components of the dramatic arts from the United States to train, mentor and educate our Zimbabwean dramatic artists. Our goal is to professionalize the Zimbabwean dramatic arts sector and bring deeply needed and desired education to talented but untrained Zimbabwean artists.

ADAM IMMERWAHR WORKSHOP

In July 2016 Almasi presented an arts management workshop at Alliance Francaise, Harare. Facilitated by Adam Immerwahr the workshop had the participation of 12 professionals from arts organisations, community groups and training institutions. Over the course of the workshop, the group worked on strategic planning and fundraising strategies. They gained a better understanding on how organizational structure and resources are crucial to the planning process, as well as effective ways of fundraising for an organisation.Through facilitator-led sessions, the group made a sample current assessment of the Zimbabwean dramatic arts sector, discussed what an ideal Zimbabwean dramatic arts sector entailed and then discussed strategies on how to get there. They also assessed what sources of funding are there in Zimbabwe.In July 2016 Almasi presented an arts management workshop at Alliance Francaise, Harare. Facilitated by Adam Immerwahr the workshop had the participation of 12 professionals from arts organisations, community groups and training institutions. Over the course of the workshop, the group worked on strategic planning and fundraising strategies. They gained a better understanding on how organizational structure and resources are crucial to the planning process, as well as effective ways of fundraising for an organisation.Through facilitator-led sessions, the group made a sample current assessment of the Zimbabwean dramatic arts sector, discussed what an ideal Zimbabwean dramatic arts sector entailed and then discussed strategies on how to get there. They also assessed what sources of funding are there in Zimbabwe.

Among the group’s activities were: practicing “the ask” for funds with each other and the facilitator; working on goals, objectives, action plans and evaluation for their individual organizations; discussing vision, mission, and values statements; SWOT analysis for their organizations; discussing resource analysis; and discussing the Telling-Selling-Consult-Join system.

Among the group’s activities were: practicing “the ask” for funds with each other and the facilitator; working on goals, objectives, action plans and evaluation for their individual organizations; discussing vision, mission, and values statements; SWOT analysis for their organizations; discussing resource analysis; and discussing the Telling-Selling-Consult-Join system.

web-portrait-adam ADAM IMMERWAHR

Adam Immerwahr is a director and producer. Off-Broadway directing credits include: The Chimes (SPF—The Public Theater) Missing Celia Rose (SPF—Theater Row). Other world premieres he has directed include: Hannah (Premiere Stages); The Thing About Air Travel (Hangar Theatre); Spirit Sex (Ensemble Studio Theatre—Going to the River Festival); Bacteria, Ground and Some Old Black Man (Theatre Masters—The Wild Project and Aspen CO); Blood: A Comedy, Trenton Lights, Love and Communication, Slippery as Sin, Blessed Are…, and Roundelay (Passage Theater), and Not Just Surviving…, About Family, and You Win Some, You Lose Some (CWW On Stage). Additionally, he has directed productions and workshops for McCarter Theatre’s Youth Ink! and First Stage Festivals, Passage Theater’s Play Lab and State Street Festivals, Hangar Theatre, Philadelphia Artists’ Collective, Playwrights Theater of NJ, Luna Stage, PlayPenn, Princeton Summer Theater, Westminster Choir College, Interlochen Center for the Arts, and Brown University. Adam serves on the artistic staff of McCarter Theatre as the Associate Producer. He is the Resident Director at Passage Theater and the Artistic Director of CWW On Stage, an ensemble of senior citizens who collect and perform the stories of their community. Associate Director for Emily Mann (The Convert at McCarter, Goodman, and CTG; also assistant director for Miss Witherspoon at McCarter, Playwrights Horizons), Assistant director for Tina Landau (A Midsummer Night’s Dream at McCarter and Papermill Playhouse) and Michael Unger (A Christmas Carol at McCarter) | adam@almasiarts.org

ROSS MARQUAND WORKSHOP

From the 18th to the 20th of March, 2015, Almasi Collaborative Arts held a Vocal Accent Variation workshop, led by accomplished television, film, theatre and voiceover artist Ross Marquand. Marquand taught Almasi artists various techniques in order to have better elocution and varied vocal and accented expression. The participants worked on specific pieces and were taken through a series of physical and vocal exercises and discussions in order to improve their vocal delivery. The group really enjoyed and benefited greatly from their time with Marquand as expressed by participant Jerullah Muchiuro:

“It was a really good experience that made the language that we know become new. We learned the differences between the Zimbabwean and American dialects and got a better understanding of our scripts. We also learned how to trust in our work and not to overthink the script, everything we need is already within us.” – Jerullah

The workshop is another in a long line of Almasi programs that supports our desire to equip Zimbabwean artists with the tools to compete on a global stage.

web-portrait-ross ROSS MARQUAND

Ross Marquand, a native Coloradan, received his BFA in Theater from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Los Angeles where he quickly garnered attention in numerous film and television projects. He played the late Paul Newman on “Mad Men” and his breakout role came as Aaron on AMC’S “The Walking Dead.” Marquand has provided his unique vocal talents for countless projects. His celebrity impersonations of Harrison Ford, Brad Pitt, Matthew McConaughey and countless others have brought him high acclaim. While known for his celebrity voice-matching work, his primary focus is dialect coaching and accent work. He will also star in producer Rainn Wilson’s “Impress Me” opposite Jim Meskimen premiering this season on Pop TV. Marquand recently appeared in the world premiere production Danai Gurira’s “Familiar” at Yale Repertory Theater. He currently resides in Los Angeles, California.

ACTOR'S TRAINING INTENSIVE Part 2

American actor Nyambi Nyambi facilitated the 2nd installment of Almasi’s master acting course to deeply promising Zimbabwean actors over the course of several weeks. The course utilized the texts of August Wilson and William Shakespeare as tools of dramatic engagement and delved into deepening the artist’s craft, process and literary understanding through these dramatic giants.

Almasi foresees a time when the Zimbabwean artist has constant access to training and constant opportunity to deepen their skills and create great artistic works. This course is part of that vision, providing the Zimbabwean artist with an invaluable resource in Mr Nyambi, whose esteemed career speaks for itself in what he imparted and invested in the Zimbabwean actor.

This exchange in collaboration with HIFA was conducted in July 2014.

web-portrait-nyamby NYAMBI NYAMBI

Versatile Shakespeare theatre thespian, Nyambi Nyambi, returns to the 3rd season of CBS’s hit Emmy-Nominated television series, “Mike and Molly”. Nyambi plays the hilarious and breakout role of “Samuel,” the Senegalese waiter to whom dieting is a foreign concept, in the diner where “Officer Biggs” and his partner “Officer McMillan” (Reno Wilson) frequent. ”. Theater veteran, Nyambi, has shared the stage with Hollywood legend Al Pacino in the productions “The Merchant of Venice” for the New York City Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park. As a member of both the LAByrinth Theater Company and the Classical Theater of Harlem, Nyambi’s other theater credits include the first Broadway revival of August Wilson’s “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone”, “The Tempest” opposite Mandy Patinkin for the Classic Stage Company and “Coming Home.” The Oklahoman native was born to Nigerian parents and grew up in Houston & Dallas, TX as well as Fairfax, Virginia. He attended Bucknell University on a basketball scholarship playing for the Division-1 Bisons, and subsequently earned his MFA from the Graduate Acting Program at NYU. In a constant effort to challenge himself, he will be attending the University of Oklahoma in the Fall to obtain his Master’s Degree in Administrative Leadership. A self-proclaimed basketball junky, Nyambi collects vintage basketball jerseys from all of his “hometowns.” He also plays basketball in the Entertainment League Productions, Hollywood’s most private and elite sports league where stars like Jamie Foxx, Dean Cain, Joel McHale, Adam Sandler and Zac Efron stars play for charity. Nyambi enjoys donating his time coaching basketball at teen camps. A true film buff, Nyambi sought out to watch 365 movies in 365 days in 2011 and succeeded! Nyambi is also currently working to develop the Almasi Collaborative Arts theatre company, sharing his passion to provide resources to artists in underprivileged communities around the world.

ACTOR'S TRAINING INTENSIVE Part 1

Andre Holland is an esteemed American actor of TV, Stage and Film. He conducted Almasi’s first Actor’s Intensive from April 30th to May 16th 2014 with a focus on August Wilson and Shakespeare. He had an astounding impact on our students, with many of them making wonderful strides in technique, performance, and comprehension of great texts. We received emails from the actors too, raving about their experience in the room with him:

Hi Danai, Just wanna take this time to thank you for having me on this programme… I am having the time of my life while learning sooooo much… Andre is a great teacher… Don’t ever stop… Nyasha M.

We asked Gideon Jeph Wabvuta how the ACTORS TRAINING INTENSIVE differed from the other Almasi workshops he’s attended. Here’s what he had to say:

“The master acting intensive has been different from all other workshops I’ve done with Almasi in that the facilitator Andre Holland has a distinctively unique approach which is quite amazing. Also, I had never tackled Shakespeare. That’s been nothing short of an exciting experience as Shakespeare has been demystified and made clear for all to see. The number of participants has also made it more exciting as the last time there were half the number. The more we are the more the collaboration seems possible and brilliant ideas always pop up. This partnership with Reps Theatre has also worked for the good as we don’t have to move from one venue to the next. Being located in the same place saves time and grounds you. I really welcome this stability.”

web-portrait-andreANDRE HOLLAND

Andre Holland is an alumnus of Tisch School of Arts NYU’s Graduate Acting Program. Since receiving his MFA in 2006, Andre has appeared in numerous plays, films, and television shows. His recent stage appearances include, All’s Well That Ends Well, Measure for Measure, Much Ado About Nothing and As You Like It (all at the NY Public Theatre/Shakespeare in the Park); The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet (with the Continuum Company); The Whipping Man (ManhattanTheatre Club); Wig Out (Vineyard Theatre); The Brother/Sister Plays (NY Public Theatre); Blue Door (Playwrights Horizons Theatre); Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (Lincoln Center: Broadway). Andre has also appeared on television in Burn Notice, 1600 Penn, Friends with Benefits and Law and Order, among others and recently co-starred in the Warner Brothers film “42” in which he portrayed sportswriter Wendell Smith who chronicled Jackie Robinson’s career. Andre just wrapped production on the first season of a new HBO/Cinemax series called “The Knick”, directed by Steven Soderbergh where Andre stars opposite Clive Owen.

THE CONVERT ZIMBABWE PRODUCTION

The Convert had its Zimbabwe Premiere in December 2013. Almasi welcomed Adam Immerwahr, American director and producer at Tony Award Winning Mcarter Theater, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ. Adam was the associate director of the World Premiere, Award winning co-production of The Convert in the US. The co-production premiered at Mcarter and moved on to be produced at the Goodman theater in Chicago and Center Theater Group’s Kirk Douglas in Los Angeles. The Convert is the multi award-winning play about colonial Zimbabwe written by ALMASI co-founder Danai Gurira. ALMASI was thrilled to host this Teaching Cultural Exchange, where the Zimbabwean actors, producers and designers involved in the Convert production were mentored by Adam while he directed the play’s first production in the land of its inception. Adam also mentored a Zimbabwean aspiring Director while in Zimbabwe who operated as the Assistant Director of the Production.

Here’s what Adam had to say about his most memorable moment in Zimbabwe: “I’ll never forget the first performance of THE CONVERT in Zimbabwe. I had seen American audiences respond to this play in Princeton, Chicago, LA, and Philadelphia. I have probably seen somewhere around 40 performances of the play, and my one night with a Zimbabwean audience was revelatory. Listening to what the Harare audience listened to, responded to, and discovered was thrilling. Scenes that in America function as exposition (where a US audience is learning about Zimbabwean history and the politics of turn of the century Zimbabwe) were transformed into character development in Zimbabwe (where the audience, knowing the history, learned something about the characters from the perspectives that they shared). It was an incredible experience to feel the play take on whole new meaning and resonance, and to watch with such pride as this extraordinary company of Zimbabwean artists brought Danai Gurira’s story to life.”



web-portrait-adam ADAM IMMERWAHR

Adam Immerwahr is a director and producer. Off-Broadway directing credits include: The Chimes (SPF—The Public Theater) Missing Celia Rose (SPF—Theater Row). Other world premieres he has directed include: Hannah (Premiere Stages); The Thing About Air Travel (Hangar Theatre); Spirit Sex (Ensemble Studio Theatre—Going to the River Festival); Bacteria, Ground and Some Old Black Man (Theatre Masters—The Wild Project and Aspen CO); Blood: A Comedy, Trenton Lights, Love and Communication, Slippery as Sin, Blessed Are…, and Roundelay (Passage Theater), and Not Just Surviving…, About Family, and You Win Some, You Lose Some (CWW On Stage). Additionally, he has directed productions and workshops for McCarter Theatre’s Youth Ink! and First Stage Festivals, Passage Theater’s Play Lab and State Street Festivals, Hangar Theatre, Philadelphia Artists’ Collective, Playwrights Theater of NJ, Luna Stage, PlayPenn, Princeton Summer Theater, Westminster Choir College, Interlochen Center for the Arts, and Brown University. Adam serves on the artistic staff of McCarter Theatre as the Associate Producer. He is the Resident Director at Passage Theater and the Artistic Director of CWW On Stage, an ensemble of senior citizens who collect and perform the stories of their community. Associate Director for Emily Mann (The Convert at McCarter, Goodman, and CTG; also assistant director for Miss Witherspoon at McCarter, Playwrights Horizons), Assistant director for Tina Landau (A Midsummer Night’s Dream at McCarter and Papermill Playhouse) and Michael Unger (A Christmas Carol at McCarter) | adam@almasiarts.org

ALMASI COLLABORATIVE ARTS PLAYWRIGHT INTENSIVE

Playwright Nikkole Salter worked with a selected number of playwrights who demonstrated great potential and talent. From the works they developed at her hand they garnered plays that were then developed by Almasi over the course of 2014, through Almasi’s New Zimbabwean Works Play Reading Series, an extension of Almasi’s Play Reading Series. Almasi proceeded to professionally produce the most developed and well crafted work in the late part of 2014.

Almasi asked Nikkole, “What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far?” Here’s what she said:

It was an inspirational moment to reach our first week’s benchmark where participants presented their ideas for the plays they would begin to develop in the following weeks. After a jam-packed week of fundamentals it was rewarding to see them all immediately applying their knowledge to their story outlines. It’s going to be exciting to see them manifest their explorations on karma, moral duty, romantic love, justice and dreams on the page… and eventually on the STAGE!

The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far is how much white supremacy and western values dominate my perspectives on the world and Africa… how American I am….and how important travel and first-hand experience helps to dispel (or to give a more thorough picture of) the stereotypes and single-stories perpetuated. It brings me shame to know I harbor such thoughts on a subconscious level and such gratitude for the opportunity to work with Almasi. I’ve also learned how technologically dependent I am – talk about withdrawal!

web-portrait-nikkoleNIKKOLE SALTER

Los Angeles-born, OBIE Award-winning actress and writer Nikkole Salter arrived onto the professional scene with her co-authorship and co-performance of the wildly successful play, IN THE CONTINUUM (ITC). For its Off-Broadway run and international tour, Miss Salter received an OBIE Award (2006), and the NY Outer Critics Circle’s John Gassner Award for Best New American Play (2006), the Seldes-Kanin fellowship from the Theatre Hall of Fame, and the Global Tolerance Award from the Friends of the United Nations to name a few its accolades. As an actor she has acted across the US in stage, film and TV. As a dramatist, Ms. Salter’s most recent work, CARNAVAL, was selected to be a part of The New Black Fest 2011-2012 season and received its world premiere production at Luna Stage to great acclaim. In 2012, her play REPAIRING A NATION was completed as a part of NYU’s 2012-13 Writer’s Roundtable and she mounted the workshop production of her piece OF GREAT MERIT (commissioned by the Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati, OH) at the Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati. She is currently working on commissions from Luna Stage and the University of North Carolina. Ms. Salter is the founder and Executive Director of THE CONTINUUM PROJECT, INC., a non-profit organization that creates innovative artistic programming for community empowerment and enrichment. She is an active member of the Actors Equity Association, the Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and the Dramatists Guild. She received her BFA in theatre from Howard University and her MFA from New York University’s Graduate Acting Program | nikkole@almasiarts.org

MEMBERSHIP PROGRAM AT MCCARTER THEATER

Co-founder and Zimbabwean based director/producer Patience Tawengwa traveled to the United States in August 2013 to shadow Tony Award winning director/producer and Artistic Head of the McCarter Theater, Emily Mann. This was one of the most valuable exchanges for ALMASI. Patience, who used to run the Zimbabwe operations of ALMASI received the opportunity to gain direct mentorship from one of the most iconic and decorated figures in American theater. Emily Mann is a multi-award–winning Artistic Director and resident playwright for the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, New Jersey, where she has overseen over 85 productions. This is her 23rd season as Artistic Director. Under Ms. Mann’s leadership, McCarter Theatre was honored with the 1994 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theater. A winner of the Dramatists Guild of America Hull-Warriner Award and the Edward Albee Last Frontier Directing Award, Ms. Mann is a member of the Dramatists Guild and serves on its Council. In 2002 she received an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Princeton University. In 2011 Ms. Mann was named the National Theatre Conference’s Person of the Year. Ms Mann directed the Award winning World Premiere production of Co-founder Danai Gurira’s ‘The Convert’ in 2012. Ms Mann directed Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Proof” by David Auburn during Patience’s stay. Under her mentorship, Patience honed her own directing and producing skills as she shadowed the development of dramatic work, direction of top quality productions, and methods of sustaining quality and excellence in an artistic institution. Click here to find out more about the McCarter Theater.

web-portrait-patienceEMILY MANN

Multi-award-winning Director and Playwright Emily Mann is in her 23rd season as Artistic Director of McCarter Theatre. Under Ms. Mann’s leadership, McCarter was honored with the 1994 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theater. Most recently at McCarter, Ms. Mann directed the world premieres of The Convert by Danai Gurira (also at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago and CTG in Los Angeles; six Ovation Awards, including Best Director of a Play and nominated for thirteen; also nominated for three Jeff Awards including Best Production), Phaedra Backwards by Marina Carr, Sarah Treem’s The How and the Why, and Edward Albee’s Me, Myself & I (also at Playwrights Horizons). Among the plays she directed at McCarter are: Nilo Cruz’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Anna in the Tropics (also on Broadway), the world premiere of Christopher Durang’s Miss Witherspoon (also off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons), All Over (also off-Broadway at The Roundabout; 2003 Obie Award for Directing), Three Sisters, A Doll House, The Glass Menagerie, and Mrs. Warren’s Profession. Last spring, Emily directed A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway with Blair Underwood, Wood Harris, Nicole Ari Parker, and Daphne Rubin-Vega. Emily’s plays include Execution of Justice (Guggenheim Fellowship; Helen Hayes and Joseph Jefferson Awards; Drama Desk and Outer Circle Award nominations); Still Life (six Obie Awards); Greensboro (A Requiem); Meshugah; and Annulla, An Autobiography. Ms. Mann wrote and directed Having Our Say, adapted from the book by Sarah L. Delany and A. Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth (Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle nominations; NAACP and Joseph Jefferson Awards; Peabody and Christopher Awards for the screenplay). A collection of her plays, Testimonies: Four Plays, has been published by TCG. Her latest play, Mrs. Packard, was the recipient of the 2007 Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award and was published by TCG in spring 2009. Her adaptations include: three Chekhov plays (Uncle Vanya, The Cherry Orchard, and a free adaptation of The Seagull: A Seagull in the Hamptons) and House of Bernarda Alba (recently staged in London). A winner of the Dramatists Guild Hull-Warriner Award and the Edward Albee Last Frontier Directing Award, Emily is a member of the Dramatists Guild and serves on its council. She is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Princeton University and was named the 2011 Person of the Year from the National Theatre Conference | emily@almasiarts.org

web-portrait-patiencePATIENCE TAWENGWA

Patience Gamu Tawengwa is a leading Zimbabwean theatre and film director. In 2012 Patience was recognized and honored by the University of Zimbabwe theatre arts department as one of the most inspirational women working in the male dominated Zimbabwean theatre industry. In 2010 Patience was also profiled in the book “Theatre Sudlich de Sahara/Theatre in Sub-Saharan Africa” by Rolf Hemke as one of the emerging outstanding directors in Sub-Saharan Africa. Patience has won numerous awards, including the National Arts Merit Award (NAMA) Outstanding Theatrical Production Award (2009), Zimbabwe Theatre Association – Best Production Award (2011) and University of Zimbabwe Theatre Arts Award (2012). Her theatrical work, which includes the plays “Loupe”, “Allegations, Ebony & Ivory,” and “Comrades” have been showcased at the Harare International Festival of the Arts (2008,2009) to name a few… Patience has also won the Zimbabwe International Film Festival Best Short Film Project Award (2008) and the International Images Film Festival Short Film Award (2008) for her work in film. In 2008, Patience was one of 35 African filmmakers chosen to participate in the Berlinale Talent Campus in Berlin, Germany. She resides in Harare, Zimbabwe where she is the co-founder of a dramatic arts organization, Almasi Collaborative Arts.

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The Artistic Training Exchange is at the core of Almasi’s pillar of collaboration and principle of education. We wish to bring experts in various components of the dramatic arts from the United States to train, mentor and educate our Zimbabwean dramatic artists. Our goal is to professionalize the Zimbabwean dramatic arts sector and bring deeply needed and desired education to talented but untrained Zimbabwean artists.

ADAM IMMERWAHR WORKSHOP

In July 2016 Almasi presented an arts management workshop at Alliance Francaise, Harare. Facilitated by Adam Immerwahr the workshop had the participation of 12 professionals from arts organisations, community groups and training institutions. Over the course of the workshop, the group worked on strategic planning and fundraising strategies. They gained a better understanding on how organizational structure and resources are crucial to the planning process, as well as effective ways of fundraising for an organisation.Through facilitator-led sessions, the group made a sample current assessment of the Zimbabwean dramatic arts sector, discussed what an ideal Zimbabwean dramatic arts sector entailed and then discussed strategies on how to get there. They also assessed what sources of funding are there in Zimbabwe.

Among the group’s activities were: practicing “the ask” for funds with each other and the facilitator; working on goals, objectives, action plans and evaluation for their individual organizations; discussing vision, mission, and values statements; SWOT analysis for their organizations; discussing resource analysis; and discussing the Telling-Selling-Consult-Join system.

web-portrait-adam ADAM IMMERWAHR

Adam Immerwahr is a director and producer. Off-Broadway directing credits include: The Chimes (SPF—The Public Theater) Missing Celia Rose (SPF—Theater Row). Other world premieres he has directed include: Hannah (Premiere Stages); The Thing About Air Travel (Hangar Theatre); Spirit Sex (Ensemble Studio Theatre—Going to the River Festival); Bacteria, Ground and Some Old Black Man (Theatre Masters—The Wild Project and Aspen CO); Blood: A Comedy, Trenton Lights, Love and Communication, Slippery as Sin, Blessed Are…, and Roundelay (Passage Theater), and Not Just Surviving…, About Family, and You Win Some, You Lose Some (CWW On Stage). Additionally, he has directed productions and workshops for McCarter Theatre’s Youth Ink! and First Stage Festivals, Passage Theater’s Play Lab and State Street Festivals, Hangar Theatre, Philadelphia Artists’ Collective, Playwrights Theater of NJ, Luna Stage, PlayPenn, Princeton Summer Theater, Westminster Choir College, Interlochen Center for the Arts, and Brown University. Adam serves on the artistic staff of McCarter Theatre as the Associate Producer. He is the Resident Director at Passage Theater and the Artistic Director of CWW On Stage, an ensemble of senior citizens who collect and perform the stories of their community. Associate Director for Emily Mann (The Convert at McCarter, Goodman, and CTG; also assistant director for Miss Witherspoon at McCarter, Playwrights Horizons), Assistant director for Tina Landau (A Midsummer Night’s Dream at McCarter and Papermill Playhouse) and Michael Unger (A Christmas Carol at McCarter) | adam@almasiarts.org

ROSS MARQUAND WORKSHOP

From the 18th to the 20th of March, 2015, Almasi Collaborative Arts held a Vocal Accent Variation workshop, led by accomplished television, film, theatre and voiceover artist Ross Marquand. Marquand taught Almasi artists various techniques in order to have better elocution and varied vocal and accented expression. The participants worked on specific pieces and were taken through a series of physical and vocal exercises and discussions in order to improve their vocal delivery. The group really enjoyed and benefited greatly from their time with Marquand as expressed by participant Jerullah Muchiuro:

“It was a really good experience that made the language that we know become new. We learned the differences between the Zimbabwean and American dialects and got a better understanding of our scripts. We also learned how to trust in our work and not to overthink the script, everything we need is already within us.” – Jerullah

The workshop is another in a long line of Almasi programs that supports our desire to equip Zimbabwean artists with the tools to compete on a global stage.

web-portrait-ross ROSS MARQUAND

Ross Marquand, a native Coloradan, received his BFA in Theater from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Los Angeles where he quickly garnered attention in numerous film and television projects. He played the late Paul Newman on “Mad Men” and his breakout role came as Aaron on AMC’S “The Walking Dead.” Marquand has provided his unique vocal talents for countless projects. His celebrity impersonations of Harrison Ford, Brad Pitt, Matthew McConaughey and countless others have brought him high acclaim. While known for his celebrity voice-matching work, his primary focus is dialect coaching and accent work. He will also star in producer Rainn Wilson’s “Impress Me” opposite Jim Meskimen premiering this season on Pop TV. Marquand recently appeared in the world premiere production Danai Gurira’s “Familiar” at Yale Repertory Theater. He currently resides in Los Angeles, California.

ACTOR’S TRAINING INTENSIVE Part 2

American actor Nyambi Nyambi facilitated the 2nd installment of Almasi’s master acting course to deeply promising Zimbabwean actors over the course of several weeks. The course utilized the texts of August Wilson and William Shakespeare as tools of dramatic engagement and delved into deepening the artist’s craft, process, and literary understanding through these dramatic giants.

Almasi foresees a time when the Zimbabwean artist has constant access to training and constant opportunity to deepen their skills and create great artistic works. This course is part of that vision, providing the Zimbabwean artist with an invaluable resource in Mr Nyambi, whose esteemed career speaks for itself in what he imparted and invested in the Zimbabwean actor.

This exchange in collaboration with HIFA was conducted in July 2014.

web-portrait-nyamby NYAMBI NYAMBI

Versatile Shakespeare theatre thespian, Nyambi Nyambi, returns to the 3rd season of CBS’s hit Emmy-Nominated television series, “Mike and Molly”. Nyambi plays the hilarious and breakout role of “Samuel,” the Senegalese waiter to whom dieting is a foreign concept, in the diner where “Officer Biggs” and his partner “Officer McMillan” (Reno Wilson) frequent. ”. Theater veteran, Nyambi, has shared the stage with Hollywood legend Al Pacino in the productions “The Merchant of Venice” for the New York City Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park. As a member of both the LAByrinth Theater Company and the Classical Theater of Harlem, Nyambi’s other theater credits include the first Broadway revival of August Wilson’s “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone”, “The Tempest” opposite Mandy Patinkin for the Classic Stage Company and “Coming Home.” The Oklahoman native was born to Nigerian parents and grew up in Houston & Dallas, TX as well as Fairfax, Virginia. He attended Bucknell University on a basketball scholarship playing for the Division-1 Bisons, and subsequently earned his MFA from the Graduate Acting Program at NYU. In a constant effort to challenge himself, he will be attending the University of Oklahoma in the Fall to obtain his Master’s Degree in Administrative Leadership. A self-proclaimed basketball junky, Nyambi collects vintage basketball jerseys from all of his “hometowns.” He also plays basketball in the Entertainment League Productions, Hollywood’s most private and elite sports league where stars like Jamie Foxx, Dean Cain, Joel McHale, Adam Sandler and Zac Efron stars play for charity. Nyambi enjoys donating his time coaching basketball at teen camps. A true film buff, Nyambi sought out to watch 365 movies in 365 days in 2011 and succeeded! Nyambi is also currently working to develop the Almasi Collaborative Arts theatre company, sharing his passion to provide resources to artists in underprivileged communities around the world.

ACTOR’S TRAINING INTENSIVE Part 1

Andre Holland is an esteemed American actor of TV, Stage and Film. He conducted Almasi’s first Actor’s Intensive from April 30th to May 16th 2014 with a focus on August Wilson and Shakespeare. He had an astounding impact on our students, with many of them making wonderful strides in technique, performance, and comprehension of great texts.
We received emails from the actors too, raving about their experience in the room with him:

Hi Danai,
Just wanna take this time to thank you for having me on this programme… I am having the time of my life while learning sooooo much… Andre is a great teacher…
Don’t ever stop… Nyasha M.

We asked Gideon Jeph Wabvuta how the ACTORS TRAINING INTENSIVE differed from the other Almasi workshops he’s attended. Here’s what he had to say:

“The master acting intensive has been different from all other workshops I’ve done with Almasi in that the facilitator Andre Holland has a distinctively unique approach which is quite amazing. Also, I had never tackled Shakespeare. That’s been nothing short of an exciting experience as Shakespeare has been demystified and made clear for all to see. The number of participants has also made it more exciting as the last time there were half the number. The more we are the more the collaboration seems possible and brilliant ideas always pop up. This partnership with Reps Theatre has also worked for the good as we don’t have to move from one venue to the next. Being located in the same place saves time and grounds you. I really welcome this stability.”

web-portrait-andreANDRE HOLLAND

Andre Holland is an alumnus of Tisch School of Arts NYU’s Graduate Acting Program. Since receiving his MFA in 2006, Andre has appeared in numerous plays, films, and television shows. His recent stage appearances include, All’s Well That Ends Well, Measure for Measure, Much Ado About Nothing and As You Like It (all at the NY Public Theatre/Shakespeare in the Park); The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet (with the Continuum Company); The Whipping Man (ManhattanTheatre Club); Wig Out (Vineyard Theatre); The Brother/Sister Plays (NY Public Theatre); Blue Door (Playwrights Horizons Theatre); Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (Lincoln Center: Broadway). Andre has also appeared on television in Burn Notice, 1600 Penn, Friends with Benefits and Law and Order, among others and recently co-starred in the Warner Brothers film “42” in which he portrayed sportswriter Wendell Smith who chronicled Jackie Robinson’s career. Andre just wrapped production on the first season of a new HBO/Cinemax series called “The Knick”, directed by Steven Soderbergh where Andre stars opposite Clive Owen.

THE CONVERT ZIMBABWE PRODUCTION

The Convert had its Zimbabwe Premiere in December 2013. Almasi welcomed Adam Immerwahr, American director and producer at Tony Award Winning Mcarter Theater, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ. Adam was the associate director of the World Premiere, Award winning co-production of The Convert in the US. The co-production premiered at Mcarter and moved on to be produced at the Goodman theater in Chicago and Center Theater Group’s Kirk Douglas in Los Angeles. The Convert is the multi award-winning play about colonial Zimbabwe written by ALMASI co-founder Danai Gurira. ALMASI was thrilled to host this Teaching Cultural Exchange, where the Zimbabwean actors, producers and designers involved in the Convert production were mentored by Adam while he directed the play’s first production in the land of its inception. Adam also mentored a Zimbabwean aspiring Director while in Zimbabwe who operated as the Assistant Director of the Production.

Here’s what Adam had to say about his most memorable moment in Zimbabwe: “I’ll never forget the first performance of THE CONVERT in Zimbabwe. I had seen American audiences respond to this play in Princeton, Chicago, LA, and Philadelphia. I have probably seen somewhere around 40 performances of the play, and my one night with a Zimbabwean audience was revelatory. Listening to what the Harare audience listened to, responded to, and discovered was thrilling. Scenes that in America function as exposition (where a US audience is learning about Zimbabwean history and the politics of turn of the century Zimbabwe) were transformed into character development in Zimbabwe (where the audience, knowing the history, learned something about the characters from the perspectives that they shared). It was an incredible experience to feel the play take on whole new meaning and resonance, and to watch with such pride as this extraordinary company of Zimbabwean artists brought Danai Gurira’s story to life.”

web-portrait-adam ADAM IMMERWAHR

Adam Immerwahr is a director and producer. Off-Broadway directing credits include: The Chimes (SPF—The Public Theater) Missing Celia Rose (SPF—Theater Row). Other world premieres he has directed include: Hannah (Premiere Stages); The Thing About Air Travel (Hangar Theatre); Spirit Sex (Ensemble Studio Theatre—Going to the River Festival); Bacteria, Ground and Some Old Black Man (Theatre Masters—The Wild Project and Aspen CO); Blood: A Comedy, Trenton Lights, Love and Communication, Slippery as Sin, Blessed Are…, and Roundelay (Passage Theater), and Not Just Surviving…, About Family, and You Win Some, You Lose Some (CWW On Stage). Additionally, he has directed productions and workshops for McCarter Theatre’s Youth Ink! and First Stage Festivals, Passage Theater’s Play Lab and State Street Festivals, Hangar Theatre, Philadelphia Artists’ Collective, Playwrights Theater of NJ, Luna Stage, PlayPenn, Princeton Summer Theater, Westminster Choir College, Interlochen Center for the Arts, and Brown University. Adam serves on the artistic staff of McCarter Theatre as the Associate Producer. He is the Resident Director at Passage Theater and the Artistic Director of CWW On Stage, an ensemble of senior citizens who collect and perform the stories of their community. Associate Director for Emily Mann (The Convert at McCarter, Goodman, and CTG; also assistant director for Miss Witherspoon at McCarter, Playwrights Horizons), Assistant director for Tina Landau (A Midsummer Night’s Dream at McCarter and Papermill Playhouse) and Michael Unger (A Christmas Carol at McCarter) | adam@almasiarts.org

ALMASI COLLABORATIVE ARTS PLAYWRIGHT INTENSIVE

Playwright Nikkole Salter worked with a selected number of playwrights who demonstrated great potential and talent. From the works they developed at her hand they garnered plays that were then developed by Almasi over the course of 2014, through Almasi’s New Zimbabwean Works Play Reading Series, an extension of Almasi’s Play Reading Series. Almasi proceeded to professionally produce the most developed and well-crafted work in the late part of 2014.

Almasi asked Nikkole, “What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far?” Here’s what she said:

It was an inspirational moment to reach our first week’s benchmark where participants presented their ideas for the plays they would begin to develop in the following weeks. After a jam-packed week of fundamentals, it was rewarding to see them all immediately applying their knowledge to their story outlines. It’s going to be exciting to see them manifest their explorations on karma, moral duty, romantic love, justice and dreams on the page… and eventually on the STAGE!
The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far is how much white supremacy and western values dominate my perspectives on the world and Africa… how American I am….and how important travel and first-hand experience helps to dispel (or to give a more thorough picture of) the stereotypes and single-stories perpetuated. It brings me shame to know I harbor such thoughts on a subconscious level and such gratitude for the opportunity to work with Almasi. I’ve also learned how technologically dependent I am – talk about withdrawal!

web-portrait-nikkoleNIKKOLE SALTER

Los Angeles-born, OBIE Award-winning actress and writer Nikkole Salter arrived onto the professional scene with her co-authorship and co-performance of the wildly successful play, IN THE CONTINUUM (ITC). For its Off-Broadway run and international tour, Miss Salter received an OBIE Award (2006), and the NY Outer Critics Circle’s John Gassner Award for Best New American Play (2006), the Seldes-Kanin fellowship from the Theatre Hall of Fame, and the Global Tolerance Award from the Friends of the United Nations to name a few its accolades. As an actor she has acted across the US in stage, film and TV. As a dramatist, Ms. Salter’s most recent work, CARNAVAL, was selected to be a part of The New Black Fest 2011-2012 season and received its world premiere production at Luna Stage to great acclaim. In 2012, her play REPAIRING A NATION was completed as a part of NYU’s 2012-13 Writer’s Roundtable and she mounted the workshop production of her piece OF GREAT MERIT (commissioned by the Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati, OH) at the Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati. She is currently working on commissions from Luna Stage and the University of North Carolina. Ms. Salter is the founder and Executive Director of THE CONTINUUM PROJECT, INC., a non-profit organization that creates innovative artistic programming for community empowerment and enrichment. She is an active member of the Actors Equity Association, the Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and the Dramatists Guild. She received her BFA in theatre from Howard University and her MFA from New York University’s Graduate Acting Program | nikkole@almasiarts.org

MEMBERSHIP PROGRAM AT MCCARTER THEATER

Co-founder and Zimbabwean based director/producer Patience Tawengwa traveled to the United States in August 2013 to shadow Tony Award winning director/producer and Artistic Head of the McCarter Theater, Emily Mann. This was one of the most valuable exchanges for ALMASI. Patience, who used to run the Zimbabwe operations of ALMASI received the opportunity to gain direct mentorship from one of the most iconic and decorated figures in American theater. Emily Mann is a multi-award–winning Artistic Director and resident playwright for the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, New Jersey, where she has overseen over 85 productions. This is her 23rd season as Artistic Director. Under Ms. Mann’s leadership, McCarter Theatre was honored with the 1994 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theater. A winner of the Dramatists Guild of America Hull-Warriner Award and the Edward Albee Last Frontier Directing Award, Ms. Mann is a member of the Dramatists Guild and serves on its Council. In 2002 she received an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Princeton University. In 2011 Ms. Mann was named the National Theatre Conference’s Person of the Year. Ms Mann directed the Award winning World Premiere production of Co-founder Danai Gurira’s ‘The Convert’ in 2012. Ms Mann directed Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Proof” by David Auburn during Patience’s stay. Under her mentorship, Patience honed her own directing and producing skills as she shadowed the development of dramatic work, direction of top quality productions, and methods of sustaining quality and excellence in an artistic institution.
Click here to find out more about the McCarter Theater.

web-portrait-patienceEMILY MANN

Multi-award-winning Director and Playwright Emily Mann is in her 23rd season as Artistic Director of McCarter Theatre. Under Ms. Mann’s leadership, McCarter was honored with the 1994 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theater. Most recently at McCarter, Ms. Mann directed the world premieres of The Convert by Danai Gurira (also at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago and CTG in Los Angeles; six Ovation Awards, including Best Director of a Play and nominated for thirteen; also nominated for three Jeff Awards including Best Production), Phaedra Backwards by Marina Carr, Sarah Treem’s The How and the Why, and Edward Albee’s Me, Myself & I (also at Playwrights Horizons). Among the plays she directed at McCarter are: Nilo Cruz’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Anna in the Tropics (also on Broadway), the world premiere of Christopher Durang’s Miss Witherspoon (also off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons), All Over (also off-Broadway at The Roundabout; 2003 Obie Award for Directing), Three Sisters, A Doll House, The Glass Menagerie, and Mrs. Warren’s Profession. Last spring, Emily directed A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway with Blair Underwood, Wood Harris, Nicole Ari Parker, and Daphne Rubin-Vega. Emily’s plays include Execution of Justice (Guggenheim Fellowship; Helen Hayes and Joseph Jefferson Awards; Drama Desk and Outer Circle Award nominations); Still Life (six Obie Awards); Greensboro (A Requiem); Meshugah; and Annulla, An Autobiography. Ms. Mann wrote and directed Having Our Say, adapted from the book by Sarah L. Delany and A. Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth (Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle nominations; NAACP and Joseph Jefferson Awards; Peabody and Christopher Awards for the screenplay). A collection of her plays, Testimonies: Four Plays, has been published by TCG. Her latest play, Mrs. Packard, was the recipient of the 2007 Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award and was published by TCG in spring 2009. Her adaptations include: three Chekhov plays (Uncle Vanya, The Cherry Orchard, and a free adaptation of The Seagull: A Seagull in the Hamptons) and House of Bernarda Alba (recently staged in London). A winner of the Dramatists Guild Hull-Warriner Award and the Edward Albee Last Frontier Directing Award, Emily is a member of the Dramatists Guild and serves on its council. She is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Princeton University and was named the 2011 Person of the Year from the National Theatre Conference | emily@almasiarts.org

web-portrait-patiencePATIENCE TAWENGWA

Patience Gamu Tawengwa is a leading Zimbabwean theatre and film director. In 2012 Patience was recognized and honored by the University of Zimbabwe theatre arts department as one of the most inspirational women working in the male dominated Zimbabwean theatre industry. In 2010 Patience was also profiled in the book “Theatre Sudlich de Sahara/Theatre in Sub-Saharan Africa” by Rolf Hemke as one of the emerging outstanding directors in Sub-Saharan Africa. Patience has won numerous awards, including the National Arts Merit Award (NAMA) Outstanding Theatrical Production Award (2009), Zimbabwe Theatre Association – Best Production Award (2011) and University of Zimbabwe Theatre Arts Award (2012). Her theatrical work, which includes the plays “Loupe”, “Allegations, Ebony & Ivory,” and “Comrades” have been showcased at the Harare International Festival of the Arts (2008,2009) to name a few… Patience has also won the Zimbabwe International Film Festival Best Short Film Project Award (2008) and the International Images Film Festival Short Film Award (2008) for her work in film. In 2008, Patience was one of 35 African filmmakers chosen to participate in the Berlinale Talent Campus in Berlin, Germany. She resides in Harare, Zimbabwe where she is the co-founder of a dramatic arts organization, Almasi Collaborative Arts.

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