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New Jersey Theatre Alliance Appoints Career Accelerator Program Fellows

originally published: 03/24/2023

New Jersey Theatre Alliance Appoints Career Accelerator Program Fellows

New Jersey Theatre Alliance (“the Alliance”), has announced their inaugural cohort of Career Accelerator Fellows: Amoria Burks, Jamie Goodwin, and Dez Wesley. The three Fellows will participate in a 6-month paid experience comprising placements with professional theatres and the Alliance itself to learn about theatre management in real-world contexts.

"New Jersey Theatre Alliance created this program because we know that there are many incredible early-career theatre makers of color not yet connected to the professional theatre community in New Jersey,” said Erica Nagel, Deputy Director of the Alliance. “We were thrilled with the response in this inaugural year, and it was very challenging to narrow down to just three fellows. The Alliance envisions a flourishing and equitable future for the arts in our state and region, and we know that Amoria, Dez, and Jamie wll be part of creating that future as leaders in our field."

The three Fellows, chosen from a pool of 35 highly-qualified applicants are: 

Amoria Burks (she/her), Senior at Montclair UniversityAmoria is a senior Theatre Studies major at Montclair State from Teaneck, NJ pursuing a career in entertainment. She is an experienced production assistant and aligns herself with projects that reflect diversity and inclusivity. She is very grateful for the opportunity to be a Career Accelerator Fellow and hopes to one day use her platform to elevate others much like the New Jersey Theatre Alliance. “If all the world’s a stage,” then theatre is an unmatched basis for greatness. She says “If I can make my mark in theatre then my possibilities in the entertainment industry are unlimited.” Ultimately her goal is to become a producer of Theatre, Television and Film. Amoria will be working with Luna Stage (West Orange), New Jersey Theatre Alliance, and Yendor Theatre Company (Newark).

“My experience so far has been very exciting,” says Amoria. “I have always been involved with theatre but seeing how it happens in a professional setting is an eye-opening experience. At Luna Stage I was able to see how a play is produced and marketed all within one month! It’s amazing to see how quickly you can make a difference with the power of collaboration. I’m looking forward to seeing what else is in store for me at my next placement.”

Jamie Goodwin (she/her), 2022 Princeton Graduate. Jamie, born and raised in NJ, is super excited to join the New Jersey Theater Alliance family as one of the three inaugural Career Accelerator Fellows. Goodwin is a 2022 Princeton graduate, majoring in philosophy and theater, her passion has always been for ideas and art-making. At the heart of both these passions lies her deep desire to create pockets of justice and restorative community even in a deeply unjust and oppressive world. For this reason, she is particularly drawn to devised and experimental theater-making, which she believes allows one to explore complex ideas through collaborative and anti-hierarchical artistic praxis. While at Princeton, Goodwin received the Toni Morrison Prize and the Award for Innovation in Theater Making for her senior thesis show, entitled Somebody: Infinite Identities, Troubled Wholeness and the Search for Self, a devised theatrical performance that tackled the complex reality of living in a marginalized body through poem, story, and movement. In addition to her time in theater, in 2020 she co-founded and led an education initiative in her hometown which attempted to reframe educational inequities through the lens of oppressive systems and ideologies, and ultimately support her community to become better questioners and dreamers. Currently, she works as the Youth Theater Director for Princeton University’s Trenton Arts at Princeton Saturday Morning Arts program and also works as a teaching artist at ArtsEmerson, a presenting theatre in Boston.  Jamie will be working with Mile Square Theater (Hoboken), McCarter Theatre Center (Princeton), and New Jersey Theatre Alliance.

“It’s been such a cool experience to be in service of an organization that really needs my support,” says Jamie. “I’ve been thrust into real work and my role was immediately integral to the functioning of the organization. I’ve been helping produce Quarter Rican at Mile Square Theatre. I feel a part of the team and I’m receiving real hands-on experience.”

Jamie’s mentor at Mile Sqaure, Artistic Director Kevin R. Free says, “I have loved the Career Accelerator Program so far! As a somewhat new administrator at Mile Square Theatre, I have been able not only to share what I have learned as a veteran theatremaker, but also to learn from my early-career colleague in residence at our theatre. The more we work together, the more equipped I feel to help her build a bridge between her education and her own theatremaking practice.”

Dez Wesley (they/them), Current Senior at Stockton University. Dez is a Creative Project Development major with a minor in Disability Studies at Stockton University, and is expected to graduate in May 2023. Dez studied film and creative writing at Fairleigh Dickinson University for their first year in higher education. When they transferred to Stockton University, they decided to go back to their roots in theatre. Dez directed Stockton Theatre Club’s annual Haunted Walk in 2022. They were also the stage manager for 3 One Act Plays by David Lindsay-Abaire. In addition to directing and management, Dez has contributed to multiple design projects during their time at Stockton. They were the costume designer for I Hate Shakespeare! directed by Merideth Keenan. They also were the assistant sound designer for a podcast play While We Wait by Charly Evon Simpson, and for a new play named Maximillien Robespierre Did Nothing Wrong by Nora Brigid Monahan.  Beyond their academic pursuits, Dez has worked in many sections of Stockton’s Arts and Humanities Department. They have worked as a costume attendant, front desk receptionist, and usher for the performing arts department. They are currently working as a monitor for Stockton’s art gallery and Arts and Science building. Dez will be working with New Jersey Theatre Alliance, Eagle Theatre (Hammonton), and Two River Theater (Red Bank).

“I’m currently working with Deonté Griffin-Quick, the Director of Program and Services at the Alliance,” says Dez. “I’m enjoying getting the opportunity to shadow him in meetings, and get a sense of the arts administration field. I’m learning that I’m interested in the marketing side of things as I’ve been given weekly tasks and we’re currently working on the upcoming Stages Festival.”

In addition to learning in the field, the paid fellows will participate in professional development seminars, one-on-one mentoring meetings, and check-ins with the Theatre Alliance staff. This program is part of the Alliance’s  ongoing commitment to moving the theatre field toward a more just, equitable, accessible, and anti-racist future.

As a mentor for the Fellows, and the Director of Program and Services at The Alliance, Deonté Griffin-Quick, explains his hope for the program, “I am super excited not only about the program itself, but the potential of the next future leaders of New Jersey theater. This program is a great way to showcase the homegrown talent we have here in New Jersey.”

Marshall Jones, III, President of the Alliance Board of Trustees and  Associate Dean for Equity, Associate Professor – Theater, Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers, the State University of NJ, adds, “As a theater professional and educator, I am so proud of this outstanding program on so many levels. First off, it's a great opportunity for emerging leaders of color who have a commitment to the great state of New Jersey.  Three lucky individuals have the opportunity to intern with 3 of our member theaters, and most importantly be duly compensated.  There's no doubt that the fortunate participants will have their career accelerated.”

The Career Accelerator Program is made possible in part by the support of The F.M. Kirby Foundation and an anonymous donor. 

Learn more about the program at https://njtheatrealliance.org/career-accelerator/

Founded in 1981, New Jersey Theatre Alliance was the first statewide service organization for professional, not-for-profit theatre companies in the United States, and is a leader in developing model programs that unite, promote, strengthen, and cultivate professional theatre in New Jersey. Funding for the New Jersey Theatre Alliance, a not-for-profit organization, is provided in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, New Jersey Arts and Culture Renewal Fund of the Princeton Area Community Foundation, and contributions from numerous individuals, corporations, and foundations including Amazon, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Grunin Foundation, MidAtlanic Arts Foundation, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, Bank of America, City National Bank, The Shubert Foundation, The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, The Hyde and Watson Foundation, The F.M. Kirby Foundation, E.J. Grassmann Trust, The Union Foundation, New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance, and OceanFirst Foundation.



 
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