National Queer Theater in partnership with The Dramatists Guild Announce Inaugural Recipients of the New Visions Fellowship
Nick Hadikwa Mwaluko and Ayla Sullivan: New Visions Fellowship

National Queer Theater, in partnership with The Dramatists Guild, is pleased to award their inaugural New Visions Fellowship, an innovative and rigorous year-long professional development program created to support emerging Black trans and gender nonconforming (TGNC) playwrights, to Nick Hadikwa Mwaluko (He/They) and Ayla Xuan Chi Sullivan (They/Them). The program will be helmed by acclaimed Black and Filipinx playwright Roger Q. Mason (They/Them) along with Project Manager Jordan Stovall (They/Them)

The 2021 New Visions Fellowship playwrights will each be awarded $5,000, fully funded by National Queer Theater, to develop a play, musical, or performance experience of their design and choosing. National Queer Theater will host a professionally cast and directed reading of their play at the end of the program. They will also have the opportunity to participate in professional development sessions covering a wide range of artistic topics. In addition, they will receive a five-year complimentary membership to The Dramatists Guild including access to contracts, business advice, and career services, to help protect the artistic and economic integrity of their work. "We are honored to bring Nick and Ayla into the Guild to ensure, like all writers, they have access to the services they need for career longevity," said Emmanuel Wilson (He/His), Managing Director of the Dramatists Guild.

“What excites me the most about this fellowship is that Black and Transgender creativity is at the forefront and heart of New Visions,” said playwright Ayla Xuan Chi Sullivan (They/Them). “I never want my Blackness and my Transness to be a fun fact about me: my identity is not a product to be bartered or questioned, it is integral to my creative life because my specific experience as a Black and Transgender person is inherently creative when I have to navigate how to ensure the expression and protection of my livelihood. To truly have that welcomed and celebrated in a professional landscape is a gift of resistance. 

“I believe in the power of queer storytelling to liberate all of humanity,” said playwright Nick Hadikwa Mwaluko (He/They). “To tell the full queer Black truth; to birth justice from queer realities. The New Visions Fellowship marries the power of queer Black storytelling to theatrical performance and, in so doing, champions the two greatest loves of my life.”

Kilroys List honoree Roger Q. Mason (They/Them) will serve as primary mentor to the fellows, with master classes led by Tony Award-winning writer Lisa Kron (She/Her) and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Doug Wright (He/His), amongst other artists and activists.  “We, the POC TGNC playwrights of the American theatre, are the future, the new normal, and the ever-present constant of our country's storytelling cosmos,” said lead mentor Roger Q. Mason (They/Them).  “Nick Nwaluko and Ayla Sullivan are shining stars of our craft, and the New Visions Fellowship is honored to help them find the distinction and opportunity they rightfully deserve in our profession.”

Finalists for the 2021 New Visions Fellowship included Storm Thomas, Chantal Vorobei Thieves (She/Her), and Alexander Paris (They/Them). Honorable Mentions: Brei Brandy (They/Them), Nay Harris, (They/Them) Jahquale Mazyck (He/They), Jae W.B. (They/She), Chamari White-Mink (They/Them), Taylor Steele (She/Her), and Linda LA (She/Her)

Nick Hadikwa Mwaluko (He/They): Plays include: Silence Is A Sound about intimate partner abuse with Black trans femminity; comedy Cock Tales for Christmas; 37, a Black lesbian duet; S.T.A.R: Marsha P. Johnson; queer fantasia Waafrika 123 (National Queer Theater); QTPOC trans masculine THEY/THEM/THEIRS; queer apocalyptic Homeless in the AfterLife; Blueprint for an African Lesbian; SH/Ero; Asymmetrical We; Brotherly Love; Trailer Park Tundra; Once A Man Always A Man; Mama Afrika; Queering MacBeth; Life Is About the Kill; That Day God Visits You; Ata; To Dyke Trans; Gayze; Good Grief; Pence At The Border & many more. Residencies: Nationally recognized Resident Playwright Initiative with Playwrights’ Foundation (SF, CA 2019-2023); Resilience and Development Writers’ Lab with Crowded Fire Theater Company in SF, CA (2017-2018); New York City’s EWG (Emerging Writers’ Group) at The Public Theater sponsored by Time Warner Co.; New York City’s Groundbreakers Group, Djerassi Artist Residency in northern CA, Freedom Train Productions, Ragged Wing Ensemble & more. Nick is a 2018 finalist for Africa’s Gerald Kraak Award. Nick graduated Magna Cum Laude at Columbia University in NYC for undergrad and completed an MFA at Columbia University as a Point Scholar, the nation’s largest LGBTQIA scholarship fund, and was awarded a Columbia University Fellowship for theater at the same time. Nick attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop thanks to a Norman Felton Fellowship. XXY Queer Africa: More Invisible, a companion essay to WAAFRIKA 1-2-3 published in Juked, was in Best American Essays 2020. Another essay, A Letter to My Gay Black Brother, was recently nominated for a Pushcart Award (results pending).

Ayla Xuan Chi Sullivan (They/Them) is a Black and Vietnamese, non binary, interdisciplinary arts practitioner. They are an actor, a playwright, a director, a poet, an educator, and a co-founder of Shift 23 Media. They create and question the nature of performance through their desire to dismantle and disengage with the white supremacist commitment to the Hierarchy of Humanity. Sullivan’s work is often referred to as “love poems addressed to people in our community we are conditioned to forget”: Black, Indigenous, Asian, Queer and Trans People of Color, those experiencing homelessness, immigrants, and anyone who is (or has been) caged. In short, their politics begin and end with the Liberation of All Black People. Currently in Columbia University’s playwriting class of 2022, Sullivan is a budding new playwright of the Denver Metro Area. Their most recent production, Last Stop, was a semi-autobiographical, immersive nail salon experience at Denver’s Buntport Theatre. They also are the creator and star of You, Me, and the FAFSA (currently being taught in the television courses at Emerson College) and the short film D.A.M.E. They have also written librettos with composer Jack Frerer for the Arapahoe Philharmonic and the Albany Symphony. From 2016-2019, Sullivan served the Denver Metro Area as your second Denver Youth Poet Laureate. Their term ending Legacy Project brought Know Your Rights content to the youth of Denver by blending poetry with resources for police interactions.

National Queer Theater is an innovative queer theater collective dedicated to celebrating the brilliance of generations of LGBTQ+ artists and providing a home for unheard storytellers and activists. Founded in 2018, National Queer Theater amplifies queer stories and experiences to increase visibility within the broader NYC community. By serving our elders, youth, and working professionals, NQT creates a more just future through radical and evocative theater experiences and free community classes.

The Dramatists Guild of America is the national, professional membership trade association of theatre writers including playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists. The Guild was established for the purpose of aiding dramatists in protecting both the artistic and economic integrity of their work. We believe that a vibrant, vital, and provocative theatre is an essential element of the ongoing cultural debate which informs the citizens of a free society; and that if such a theatre is to survive, the unique, idiosyncratic voices of the men, women, trans and non-binary artists who write for it must be cultivated and protected.