Press Release | Winner announcement for the KSF Artists of Choice

Press Release | Winner announcement for the KSF Artists of Choice

The Kevin Spacey Foundation (KSF) has announced the winning recipients for its KSF Artists of Choice program – a pioneering funding and mentoring initiative for UK and US based emerging artists working in theatre, musical theatre, music, dance or film. Epitomizing KSF’s aim of ‘sending the elevator back down’ it will provide funding, year-round support and mentoring by industry heavyweights.  

Recipients of the KSF Artists of Choice will receive £10,000 or $10,000 in funding, year-round in kind support from the Foundation and an industry mentor. Applications were taken from emerging artists from the UK and US across film, theatre, dance,  musical theatre and music, shortlisted applicants were interviewed by a panel of industry experts. The winning recipients are as follows:

In the UK FILM category, Michael van der Put of Broken Hearted Youth. The company is currently working on its next short Rage, which takes place on a five-a-side football pitch and looks to explore political anger and apathy in the aftermath of the London riots.

In the US FILM category, India Dupré. The seven minute short film Stripped, is a true story of family survival, matriarchal sacrifice and forgiveness. The story follows a young British family on the run in Australia and questions what makes a home and what is considered a fit mother.

In the UK THEATRE category, artistic director Cressida Brown of Offstage Theatre. Their next project Re:Home focuses on the effect of austerity, regeneration, and the Olympics on the Beaumont Estate in Leyton, East London; and is sequel to the first play Offstage ever created, Home.

In the US THEATRE category, Ghazi Albuliwi of West Bank Brooklyn Productions. The grant will support their next project Highly Suspect, a tale of two mismatched roommates struggling with gentrification, race, and sex in New York City.

In the UK DANCE category, Robby Graham of Southpaw Dance Company. The grant will support them in creating Speakeasy, an exciting, mid-scale, indoor touring dance production. Speakeasy features a unique fusion of world-class breaking combined with Lindy Hop, Charleston, and swinging big band music, alongside incredible projection mapping effects that truly evoke the spirit of the roaring 20’s.

In the US DANCE category, Stefanie Batten Bland of Company SBB. Their next work Patient(ce) will investigate the eternal present structure of jazz and will consider physical and aural freedom within a framework — the critical relationship to time, within a sound, movement and kinetic sculptural performance.

In the UK MUSICAL THEATRE category, Chris Bush and Matt Winkworth bring us a new musical written in a faux-verbatim style. Documenting events following the assassination of a controversial public figure, it explores how heroes and villains are created, outrage is stoked, and questions our complicity as the public in all of this.

In the US MUSICAL THEATRE category,John McGrew, Jonathan Karpinos, and Joseph Varca of The Village of Vale. An original gothic fairy tale told through music, art, the written word, and performance. Their works focus on exploring the intersection of storytelling and music.

In the US MUSIC category, Izzy Gliksberg of The Writers Trilogy. A hybrid of music, film and literature that will be released in a form of short album and three short films. It will be an exploration of the relations between the audio and the visual, and an attempt to bring together the hypnotic quality film with the intensity of a live music concert.

Kevin Spacey, Founder of KSF said:

“These recipients represent the very best of emerging artists in the UK at present and as such, we are excited to support them and their projects..”

Steve Winter, Executive/Creative Director of KSF, said:

“We are excited to embark on this journey with our recipients and to work with all of them throughout the next year. As we see the projects develop, each with their own end goal in mind, we will be sharing updates and opening dates”

Film

Broken Hearted Youth is a film and theatre company based in South East London. The company is run by Michael van der Put whose debut short CALLUM screened at 26 festivals around the world, winning 15 awards.

The company is currently working on its next short RAGE, which takes place on a five-a-side football pitch and looks to explore political anger and apathy in the aftermath of the London riots. The film stars Percelle Ascott and Joivan Wade (Mandem On The Wall) who will be reuniting with Michael following roles in CALLUM.

Long term, Broken Hearted Youth is committed to working with young people who the company feels are at risk of missing out on training opportunities in the current climate.

“Winning the Kevin Spacey Foundation Award allows me to tackle my most ambitious short yet. It’s a film that I think has something important to say and now with the support of KSF I can articulate the idea to it’s full potential.”

STRIPPED, the short, is adapted from a feature written by India Dupré. In 1979, after being lured to Australia with the promise of a better life, then having her three young British children abducted by the government and placed in work camps as part of a “Keep Australia White” scheme, a shy yet determined mother becomes a stripper to survive, kidnaps her children back and flees across Australia while the government hunts them down. A true story of family survival, matriarchal sacrifice and forgiveness.

The 7 minute short takes place during the family’s life on the run, trying to create a sense of normalcy while living in a tent, and using their wits to stay together. STRIPPED questions what makes a home; what is considered a fit mother.  Four brick walls under the government’s care prayed on by predators or a flimsy canvas tent filled with an unconventional mother’s love.

“Winning the Kevin Spacey Foundation grant will take my story from a file on my computer to an actual short film. It has given me the boost of confidence to direct with my own voice, enabling my dreams to come true.”

Theatre

Offstage’s RE:HOME by Anna Jordan is the sequel to HOME – the first play Artistic Director Cressida Brown created exactly 10 years ago. In 2006, three 22 storey tower blocks which had dominated the skyline for 50 years were pending demolition as part of East London’s regeneration. This first play HOME was inspired by interviews Cressida conducted with former residents of the Beaumont towers and staged promenade around the tower blocks just prior to their destruction. (****Time Out Critic’s Choice, news on Channel 4, ITN, BBC London TV). Now, a decade later Offstage return to the Estate to discover where those they interviewed are now. These new interviews will inspire RE:HOME by Anna Jordan at the Yard Theatre which will primarily examine the impact of the towers coming down on the residents of Beaumont. What effect has the last 10 years of austerity, Olympics and  massive East London regeneration had on their lives?  Where are they now? As well as this RE:HOME will also question what right a theatremaker  has to go into a community like Beaumont and make a piece of theatre about their lives in the first place.

“Winning the Kevin Spacey Foundation Award will allow us to take more risks and be braver in the choices we will make. Offstage’s ambition is to challenge the assumptions theatre makes about itself. With this award we can be more challenging, more outspoken, and more honest. Thank you for making us brave.”

West Bank Brooklyn Productions is a New York based company specializing in cutting edge film, theater, and television. Founded by Ghazi Albuliwi, winner of numerous awards including best screenplay from Robert DeNiro’s Tribeca Film Institute, it has produced the award winning feature film ‘Peace after Marriage’ along with current television and theater projects in development. ‘Highly Suspect’ a tale of two mismatched roommates struggling with gentrification, race, and sex in New York City marks the company’s first feature length play production.

“Winning the Kevin Spacey Foundation grant in theater for my play introduced a legitimacy to my work that gives me the confidence to push forward with its birth.”

Dance

Southpaw Dance Company was set up in 2013 under the artistic direction of choreographer Robby Graham. The company creates dance theatre that has been called, “… witty, hard‐edged, sure in focus, and sizzling in energy” (Clement Crisp, Financial Times).

To date Robby has created a wealth of outdoor touring dance work including Faust, Carousel, and the large scale spectacular, Rush, as well as creating work for a conventional theatre context, notably having been commissioned for the Place Prize 2010.

Robby is delighted to be supported through Kevin Spacey Artist’s Foundation to create Speakeasy, an exciting, mid-scale, indoor touring dance production for 2016.

Told through the intense physical and narrative dance style that Southpaw Dance Company have become renowned for, Speakeasy features a unique fusion of world-class breaking combined with Lindy Hop, Charleston, and swinging big band music, alongside incredible projection mapping effects that truly evoke the spirit of the roaring 20’s.

“We are delighted to be selected as KSF Artist of Choice recipients. It is a very exciting time for us as a company and we are very grateful for the opportunity to develop a new, ambitious indoor work for 2016.”

Choreographic Artist Stefanie Batten Bland is a 2015 Alvin Ailey Foundation New Directions Choreography Lab Fellow, 2014 Joffrey Ballet Choreographer of Color, 2010-12 Baryshnikov Arts Center/Jerome Robbins NEW Fellow. In 2008, while head choreographer at the Paris Opera Comique in France, Stefanie founded Company SBB to create work that investigates the human condition and explores our relationship with the natural world. Her works in dance cinema and for stage have performed throughout Europe, the US and Asia. In 2015 SBB will premiere an evening length work entitled PATIENT(CE) at the Gatehouse, Harlem Stage in New York.  This piece will investigate the eternal present structure of jazz.  Through a collaboration with Burnt Sugar Arkestra Chamber and visual installation by Ms. Batten Bland, PATIENT(CE) will consider physical and aural freedom within a framework — the critical relationship to time, within a sound, movement and kinetic sculptural performance.

“Thanks to the Kevin Spacey Foundation my creative process is unburdened from budgetary weight.  I can create with assurance that my artistic collaborators are well compensated.  This frees me and allows me to do what I do best, create amazing dance art.”

Musical Theatre

Writer Chris Bush and composer Matt Winkworth’s winning project is a new musical written in a faux-verbatim style, exploring public outrage, mob mentality and media bias. The assassination of a controversial public figure pushes the country to the brink of revolution. Nobody knows anything, and everyone has an opinion. In a world of increasing online anonymity, what does it mean to put a face to our basest thoughts and fears?

Winning the 2014 Perfect Pitch Award for musical theatre with ODD, a contemporary adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey, they have also written The Bureau of Lost Things (Theatre503/Rose Bruford). Chris’s past work includes A Declaration from the People (National Theatre) and The Sheffield Mysteries (Crucible Theatre). Matt’s includes Hidden Spire (OFS) and The Odyssey (Oxford Playhouse).

“We believe that musical theatre can be just as interesting and innovative as any other form. We’re incredibly grateful to the KSF for giving us the confidence and resources to create a truly daring and ambitious show.”

The Village of Vale is an original gothic fairy tale told through music, art, the written word, and performance. Four actors and an eight-person live band create the stories of villagers and strangers in Vale – including a cursed woodsman, a haunted widow, a hermit with a dangerous secret, an obsessed bookkeeper who sacrifices everything for love, and a boy who watches over everything, caught between the village he knows and a world beyond that threatens to tear everything he’s ever known apart.

The Village of Vale is the creation of New York based artists John McGrew, Jonathan Karpinos and Joseph Varca and their collaboration is focused on developing new works exploring the intersection of storytelling and music.

“This incredible grant from KSF is allowing us to support a team of artists in developing The Village of Vale. We are so thrilled and grateful.”

Music

The Writers Trilogy is a hybrid of music, film and literature that will be released in a form of a short album and three short films.

The project is a series of audio-visual reflections on the legacy and literary work of 3 predominant 20th century writers who defined in their work what it means to be a man in the modern era: Paul Celan (1920-1970),  Frantz Kafka (1883-1924), and Gabriel García Márquez (1927 – 2014).

The Writers Trilogy is also is an exploration of the relations between the audio and the visual, and an attempt to bring together the hypnotic quality film with the intensity of a live music concert.

“Winning the KSF grant gave us confidence we are on the right track, and allowed us to further develop and materialize our concepts in a non compromising fashion.”

Notes to Editors:

ABOUT KSF

The purpose of The Kevin Spacey Foundation (KSF) is to use the esteem and position associated with its namesake to create initiatives that discover, train, fund and mentor emerging artists in drama, dance, music, and film and life enhancing theatre-in-education projects across the globe, in line with its vision statement to: ‘Send the elevator back down’

KSF’s recipients are those seeking a career in the performing arts and film predominantly – but not limited to – secondary school children, further and continuing education students, undergraduates (freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors), post graduates, graduates or those without formal education but the talent and drive to succeed.

Its inaugural project was Richard’s Rampage a global arts education initiative linked to the world tour of Richard III starring Kevin Spacey in the title role. Since then KSF has evolved into a scholarship and grant giving entity offering 13 full fully funded places per year to Regent’s University London and Pace University New York through KSF SCHOLARSHIPS and financial support to individuals and companies in the performing arts or film through KSF GRANTS. 2014 saw it formalize its offer further by introducing a third stand of activity: KSF LEARNING that uses theatre-in-education to improve aspiration through bespoke projects and workshops. It also hosted a third fundraising Gala in Washington DC – Kevin Spacey In Concert for an audience of 800 followed by an informal after-party for 350 luminaries from stage, screen, boardroom and podium co-chaired by Kevin McCarthy House Majority Leader and Steny H. Hoyer Democratic Whip

This year the Foundation launched HOME GROWN, a KSF Learning initiative in the UK, US and Middle East with the latter encompassing a talent search across 26 countries culminating in a performance in Sharjah of a new production showcasing ‘home grown’ talent that joined disparate and conflicting religions and cultures across the region. Its scholarship program also continued, as did its grant giving with support offered to 64 artists or companies seen by audiences of over 80,000 people.

That Grant program was recently repositioned to support fewer companies with larger sums and ongoing support, now called KSF ARTISTS OF CHOICE.

KSF Artists of Choice panel members included some of the most exciting and respected creatives working in the industry today, including:

Film

Director of Europe for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science Carola Ash, Pride writer Stephen Beresford, Radio 1 and 1Xtra Movie Critic Rhianna Dhillon, Weekend director Andrew Haigh, Head of BBC Films Christine Langan and double Oscar winning actor, director, singer and KSF founder Kevin Spacey.

Theatre

Playwright Samuel Adamson, producer and creator of The 24 Hour Plays Tina Fallon, actor and writer Cush Jumbo, actor Jenny Jules, theatre director Jamie Lloyd, Artistic Director Neil Pepe, actor Andrew Scott, theatre director Charlie Westenra, producer Kim Whitener and actor Rufus Wright.

Dance

ZooNation’s Carrie-Anne Ingrouille, Wayne McGregor | Random Dance’s Wayne McGregor, American Ballet Theatre’s Kevin McKenzie, New Adventures’ Etta Murfitt, English National Ballet’s Tamara Rojo, choreographer and producer Lee Smikle and Jasmin Vardimon Dance Company’s Jasmin Vardimon.

Music

Film composer David Arnold, Relationship Manager Music at Arts Council England Chris Bye, singer and songwriter Ella Eyre, producer, musician and educator Gregg Field, composer and conductor Patrick Hawes, Director of Music at Southbank Centre Gillian Moore and Grammy Award-winning singer Paul Phoenix.

Musical Theatre

Director and choreographer Warren Carlyle, actress and singer Cynthia Erivo, actor and singer Alex Hanson, director Tamara Harvey, musical director and composer Theo Jamieson, actress and singer Laura-Michelle Kelly, actor and singer Joe McFadden, artistic director, orchestrator and musical director Ted Sperling and Neil Marcus and Jane Semark for production company The Stable.

END