Pillsbury House Theatre is excited to announce the recipients of the 2020 Naked Stages Fellowship: Alia Jeraj, C. Michael Menge & Atlese Robinson. Naked Stages is a 7-month development program that provides time, financial support, and mentoring to three early career performance artists as they create an original piece of performance art.
The 2020 Fellows were selected by a panel of artists comprised of past Naked Stages recipients and other professional artists, including A.P Looze, Aamera Siddiqui and James Williams.
From left to right, Alia Jeraj, C. Michael Menge & Atlese Robinson.
About the 2020 Naked Stages Fellows:
Alia Jeraj (she/hers) is a singer, writer, and educator in the Twin Cities. A classically-trained vocalist, Alia has shifted her focus towards studying the folk and traditional songs of her ancestors. She performs with groups including Nanilo, a vocal trio rooted in traditional harmonies from Eastern Europe, Artemis, a treble vocal ensemble focused on experimentation and improvisation, and Mixed Precipitation, a theatre company that celebrates the harvest season through opera. Her writing appears in publications including Pollen, American Craft, and the Twin Cities Daily Planet. When she’s not working to help teens achieve their educational goals, singing, or writing, you can find Alia biking around the cities, learning to embroider, or sipping iced coffee.
Alia’s project will explore how memories are lost, maintained, and re-learned as people migrate across oceans.
Atlese Robinson (she/they) is a writer, performer, director, producer, and the founding artistic director of Ambiance Theatre Company. Hailing from Saint Paul, MN by way of Chicago, IL, Atlese grew up glued to the stories of her elders. As a result, Atlese’s writing style places an emphasis on the natural flow of speech as a means to preserve the integrity of oral history. As a performer, Atlese thrives most in ensemble settings where synergetic connection is the power behind compelling theatre. Her previous credits include ensemble in The Dutchman (Penumbra Theatre Company), The Garden (Ambiance Theatre Company), co-star in Contact by Simone Brookes LeClaire, and ensemble in Rebirth of Rabbit’s Foot (Mixed Blood Minneapolis). Atlese’s previous directing credits include Naked I: Self Defined (20% Theatre Company), The Spectrum of Blackness (Ambiance Theatre Company), and Waiting in Vain (Ambiance Theatre Company). Atlese prides herself on serving in roles from usher to director at theatre companies around the Twin Cities, as no job is too small for a leader. Atlese’s ultimate mission with Ambiance Theatre Company is to support Black dramatic writers through script development, produce new works, and center the need for engaging Black audiences. IG handles: @ambiancetheatre, @lele_robinson93. Facebook: Ambiance Theatre Company
Atlese’s project will explore the stages and various kinds of grief as it relates to the Black (American) experience.
C. MICHAEL MENGE
In non-pandemic times, C. Michael Menge (They/them & he/him) is an actor, improvisor, theater-maker, and playful young fool known for their work with the Jungle Theater (Hand to God; Little Women; Redwood), The Boys of the Year (BOTY Presents: Peter Pan and Wendy), Children’s Theatre Company (Snow White), the Black Ensemble Players (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), The Playwrights’ Center, Blackout Improv Comedy, and more. They are currently one of the co-coordinators of both the Black & Funny and Queer & Funny improv festivals at HUGE Improv Theater, and in 2019 were named Best Actor by City Pages.
C. Michael’s project is shifting as the world shifts, but what we do know: It is a party, a celebration that centers embodied joy, black joy, black trans joy, self-love, and self-exploration as a means of survival and healing.
ABOUT NAKED STAGES
2020 marks Pramila Vasudevan’s fifth year as Director of Naked Stages. A creative opportunity unlike any other in Minnesota, Naked Stages is a 7-month development program that provides time, financial support, and mentoring to three early career artists as they develop their unique voices as performance artists and creators. Twice a month, they also participate in workshops focused on the business side of art, from audience development to technical support, helping to develop their unique voice into a sustainable, artistic career.
The scheduled performance dates for the 2020 Naked Stages artists are December 10 – 19, 2020. We are continuing to evaluate the situation with COVID-19 and will keep you apprised of any changes.