Cristal Chanelle Truscott

SoulWork: Devising Activism

Photo by Akintoye Moses. Courtesy of Progress Theatre.

Cristal Chanelle Truscott, PhD is an artist, scholar, educator, dialogue facilitator and founder of Progress Theatre (PT). She is a graduate of the High School for the Performing & Visual Arts (Houston, TX), holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Theatre with a minor in Africana Studies from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts where she studied at the Experimental Theatre Wing. She completed her Master of Arts and Doctoral degrees from NYU’s Department of Performance Studies with a research focus on representations of spiritual diversity in African American Theatre before 1950.

Cristal has been teaching and training artists using her acting and theatre-making methodology and pedagogy, SoulWork, in master classes, workshops and courses in university, professional, arts-based and international settings for over 15 years, offering this technique as a timely, necessary and useful tool for artists and ensembles creating their own work and for those seeking to dynamically, creatively engage and mount the work of fellow artists.

As a playwright, Cristal blends academic and pop-culture conversations to examine the concerns and struggles of our times. Her premiere play PEACHES is published in the anthology Plays from the Boom Box Galaxy: Theatre from the Hip Hop Generation  by Theatre Communications Group. In addition to her PT plays PEACHES and ‘MEMBUH, Cristal also co-wrote Notice Me, presented at NYC’s Fringe Theater Festival. Her newest piece, The Burnin’ is currently touring as part of PT’s repertoire. Most recently, she received the 2016 Map Fund and Idea Fund grants to support her next piece with PT, a site-specific project: Plantation Remix. Her artistic work has also garnered recognition and grants from the likes of the National Theatre Project Grant (New England Foundation for the Arts), Ford Foundation, Theatre Communications Group, National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts and the National Performance Network’s Creation Fund Grant. She is a recipient of the Doris Duke Impact Artist Award, which honors artists who are influential in the shaping of powerful creative movements in contemporary dance, jazz, theatre and related multidisciplinary work.

As a scholar, Cristal has served as  Assistant Editor of the performance journal, TDR: The Drama Review;  Associate Editor for Azizah Magazine; and on the editorial boards of the publications Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory and Black Masks Magazine: Theater and Entertainment.  She served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Network of Ensemble Theaters, where she helped facilitate dialogues in the service of the organization’s mission to advance ensemble theatre practice and participate in positive social change through the transformative power of collaborative theatre. Cristal also leads a series of workshops entitled “Enter Faith” to engage and promote multi-faith dialogues, and inclusive faith-based artistic and community events. She has been an invited artist participant in groundbreaking national and international conferences such as “Future Aesthetics: Hip Hop and Contemporary Performance” funded by the Ford Foundation and “Diversity Dialogues,” lead by the US Embassy to the Netherlands and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund.

As an educator, Cristal has been a lecturer and speaker at various universities and arts programs including San Francisco State University, University of Houston, Spelman College, NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Columbia University and internationally at Wits University in South Africa, and Albeda College, DOX Theater Group and  Theatre RAST in The Netherlands. She served as Theatre Program Director and Interim Department Head of Music & Theatre at Prairie View A&M University for 6 years before resigning to focus on a full-time return to her creative work as generative artist and community activist.

Cristal is passionate about contributing to the development of new artists, new aesthetics and diverse audiences for the next generation of American theatre, striving ultimately to be of assistance and service to efforts toward peace, healing, freedom and progress for all.

©2017 Celebration Barn Theater