Samuel G. Roberson Jr. Resident Fellowship

Samuel G. Roberson Jr. Resident Fellowship

Supporting the work of Black Theatre Artists in Chicago

Overview 

The Samuel G. Roberson Jr. Resident Fellowship provides an annual grant to a Black theatre artist to fund a residency of up to one year at a host Chicago-area theatre. Each year, the Samuel G. Roberson Jr. Resident Fellowship focuses on a specific concentration in Theatre Art.

The Resident Fellow receives an award of $20,000 to support their work, and the Host Theater receives an award of $7,500 to support their work with the artist.

2021 Resident Fellowship was awarded to Kristiana Rae Colón, a Playwright, to fund a Resident Fellowship at Congo Square Theatre.

The Samuel J. Roberson Jr. Resident Fellowship is administered by the League of Chicago Theatres and funded by the McMullen & Kime Charitable Trust.

2022 Samuel J. Roberson Jr. Resident Focus:  DIRECTING

This year’s Resident Fellowship is open to early and mid-career Black directors who will work with their partner host theater to produce a workshop or full-scale production of a play or musical or engage in another meaningful collaboration.  Applications must be completed and signed by the Applicant (Director) and a senior representative of their Host Theatre.

Please note that each response will be limited to approximately 200 words. 

UPDATE: Applications are due by 5 pm on Wednesday, December 1st, 2021. Announcement of the 2022 Samuel G. Roberson Jr. Resident Fellow will be made by January 14th, 2022.

Artists Eligibility:

  • Identify as Black, or of the African diaspora;
  • Be an early to mid-career artist who is committed to directing as a profession;
  • Reside in Chicago or a suburb;
  • Be able to complete the duration of the Fellowship without significant interruption; and
  • Not enrolled in a full-time degree/certificate program at the time of participation.

Host Theatre Eligibility:

  • Open to all non-profit theaters in the Chicago area; membership in the League of Chicago Theaters is not required; theatres with a stated mission to produce work by BIPOC artists will be given priority;
  • Host Theatre must commit to providing the resources required to produce a workshop or full-scale production of the play or musical; and
  • The Host Theatre is expected to offer access to office and rehearsal space, as well as mentorship and networking opportunities.

Selection Process

An advisory committee composed of members of the region’s nonprofit arts and culture community will review complete and eligible applications.

Selection Criteria

The selection criteria will be based on the following:

Applicant/Director

  • Director’s vision for staging the proposed play or musical;
  • Belief that the directorial project will contribute to the Artist’s professional growth;
  • Evidence of the Artist’s commitment and ability to complete the proposed project; and
  • Demonstrated commitment to a career as a Director as evidenced by previous experience.

Host Theatre

  • A stated commitment and enthusiasm for producing the Director’s proposed project;
  • Commitment to provide the necessary support, guidance and atmosphere that allows the Director to develop their skills;
  • A desire for the Host Theatre to consider a full-scale production of the work, if it is initially workshopped; and
  • A demonstrated commitment to advocate for the Director within the Chicago arts community both during and after the fellowship is complete.

Notification of Recipients

Announcement of the 2022 Samuel G. Roberson Jr. Resident Fellow will be made by January 14th, 2022.

All communication regarding the application, including notification of award and distribution of grant funds, will be directed to the contact persons listed on the application. To avoid delays in receiving important communication or notification of the award, please contact the League of Chicago Theatres immediately if any contact information changes after submitting the application.

Applications Can Be Found Here

2022 Roberson Fellowship – Applicant/Director Form

2022 Roberson Fellowship – Host Theatre Form

If you have any issues using these PDF forms, please email jamie@chicagoplays.com and he will send you Microsoft Word files to use.

If you have questions about the grant please email info@chicagoplays.com.

About the Samuel G. Roberson Jr. Resident Fellowship

The Samuel G. Roberson Jr. Resident Fellowship honors the life of a beloved, brave, and committed storyteller.  After graduating from Howard University’s Theatre Arts Department in 2005, Samuel G. Roberson Jr. began his theatre career with an apprenticeship at The Children’s Theatre of Minneapolis, where he spent three years defining his desires for acting, writing, directing, and social justice theater. During this time, he began writing and using his artistry to draw attention to issues important to him. He successfully wrote and produced two plays, And They Said I Wouldn’t Make It: A story of Hope, an autobiographical one man show about his fight with cancer as a child. And Same Difference, a 2 man show that deals with black male identity, and the pressures one experiences to act, sound, and look a certain way in order to fit in to society.

After his success in Minneapolis, Sam made the move to Chicago where he continued pushing boundaries within the arts and within himself. Through his work with several prominent Chicago Theatres, including Steppenwolf, The Goodman, Northlight, Victory Gardens, Writers Theatre and Congo Square, as well as Spike Lee’s film, Chiraq, Sam made a name for himself not just as an artist but as an activist and leader within the theatre community. In addition to continuing to produce and perform his one-man show, Sam also founded the Make Me A Match Project (M3P), a non-profit organization focused on raising awareness about the need for bone marrow donors within the African American community. Through his efforts with M3P, he helped register donors that resulted in bone marrow matches.

In 2013 he was elected the Artistic Director of Congo Square Theatre. Under his leadership, Congo Square presented the world premiere and subsequent remount of Kelvin Roston’s award-winning and Jeff-nominated Twisted Melodies, both productions directed by Sam. He created Congo Square’s signature conversation series, Owning Our Worth, which has hosted culturally specific theater leaders of color in public dialogue for talks on issues relevant to the theatre community at-large. He felt very strongly that it was his duty as an influential member of the community to advocate for more diverse work and casting throughout the Chicago Theatre scene. He also helped bring together a cohort of artists to create Chicago Artists Against Injustice using his artistry as a way to start difficult conversations around issues that often divide us. Wanting to spread his work to Chicago’s youth, Sam founded Congo Square’s Education program, Y-BOOM (Young Brothers Owning Our Mission), a literacy-based leadership program that provides a safe environment for adolescent African American men. It was his work with Y-BOOM that garnered the attention of the 3Arts organization who awarded him a 3Arts award for service and leadership as an artist in his community.

For all of Sam’s accomplishments and contributions, there was much more that he had hoped to achieve before succumbing to pneumonia in 2017. But he lived everyday he was given to his fullest, and gave all that he could of himself in hopes of inspiring others to do the same. When asked once “What wakes you up in the morning?” he responded, “Knowing that at some point in my day, I am going to have a positive impact on someone, somewhere.”

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