The ten Fellows in the 2020-21 cohort were selected from an impressive pool of 190 applicants from more than 60 countries around the world, committed to addressing the most pressing issues of our time through the performing arts.
It is a tremendous thrill and honor to welcome this brilliant, courageous and visionary group of Fellows hailing from four continents and a wide range of countries, including Vietnam, South Africa, Kenya, Russia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Mexico, Egypt, the UK, and the United States. Taken together their work – as performers, writers, directors, producers, scholars, change-makers and leaders – could not be more diverse or expansive. But what excites us most is their appetite and generous energy toward being part of and contributing to a larger cohort, and to engaging deeply with a global network of artists. We look forward to the vital, innovative, and boundary-crossing work all of them are poised to do individually and as a powerful cohort.
This cohort builds on the successes of the inaugural cohort, which constituted an impressive group of ten international arts practitioners. Hailing from five continents, the inaugural cohort included Faisal Abu Alhayjaa, Jumana Al-Yasiri, Reem Alsayyah, Caitlin Nasema Cassidy, Chankethya “Kethya” Chey, Velani Dibba, Asif Majid, Devika Ranjan, Manuel Viveros, and Gideon Jeph Wabvuta. These Inaugural Fellows will continue to be active with The Lab and in engaging with this second cohort of Fellows. The second cohort will build on the experiences of the first cohort, demonstrating the transnational power of socially engaged artistic, political, and cultural work.
Taiwo Afolabi was born in Ilé-Ifè, Nigeria. He is a twin from a family of seven, the son of a clergy member and a retired primary school teacher. His performance experience started in church and school drama clubs. He received art training as an actor, director, and applied theatre practitioner at the University of Jos and University of Ilorin in Nigeria. … FULL BIO
Karishma Bhagani is a fifth-generation Kenyan of Indian descent, born and bred in Mombasa. Her ancestors migrated because of the British Raj, on dhows from Gujarat to East Africa, to seek greener pastures. Karishma was born in a “self-made” family: her father is a small-scale transporter, and her mother is a businesswoman. As a child, … FULL BIO
Jasmin Cardenas was born in a working-class neighborhood in Chicago to Colombian parents who immigrated to America in search of a better life. Being a first-generation American caught between two cultures, Jasmin is always trying to bridge the divide. First in her familia to graduate college she studied Theatre and began acting on stage and screen, … FULL BIO
Afshan D’souza-Lodhi was born in Dubai to Indian and Pakistani parents and was lost in Manchester. She is a queer (Muslim) writer of plays, prose, performance pieces, and passive-aggressive tweets. Afshan’s first degree was in Philosophy, and her Masters was in Post-Colonial Literature and Culture. Afshan writes from a place of anger, often trying to right the world’s wrongs through words and humor. … FULL BIO
Adam Ashraf Elsayigh was born in Cairo, Egypt to parents who were reluctantly doctors. When his parents moved to Dubai, Adam grew up in a religious Muslim household with American cable television, going to a British school in a Gulf state where over 90% of the population were migrant workers. This postcolonial reality made Adam aware of global inequity and political repression from a young age. … FULL BIO
Héctor Flores Komatsu was born in Cuernavaca, México. Flores is his father’s last name, while Komatsu comes from his mother’s family, originally from Nagano, Japan. At a young age, Héctor immigrated to the United States. An in-betweener of worlds, he was naturally drawn to the theatre. At age seventeen, he directed his first production, and he hasn’t stopped since. … FULL BIO
Princess Rose Zinzi Mhlongo was born in Emalahleni Mpumalanga, South Africa. She is the third of four children raised by her mother (a professional nurse) and father (a teacher) in a small mining town. In high school, she joined the community youth theatre that traveled every year to the National Arts Festival to present a show and also watched carefully selected productions that exposed the diverse culture of a post-apartheid nation. … FULL BIO
Ada Mukhina was born in what is known today as St. Petersburg, Russia, at a time when the city was Leningrad, USSR. Her family has been living in St. Petersburg for three generations, surrounded by the city’s revolutionary spirits (as a birthplace of the Russian Revolution), its historical traumas (as a city under siege for 900 days during WWII), … FULL BIO
Trà Nguyễn was born in Hanoi, Vietnam but moved to Ho Chi Minh City at a young age. Since then, she has called this vibrant city home. She discovered her penchant for the stage in elementary school with a minor role, and by high school had written and directed her first original play. Earning a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management, … FULL BIO
Lloyd Nyikadzino was born in the Makoni clan within Zimbabwe’s Nyati tribe. He was raised between the high-density suburb of Highfields and the other half, in the rural areas of Mhondoro. Growing up, he was never exposed to the performing arts, but imagined his future as a soldier. It was only in his sophomore year of high school that he fell in love with theatre. … FULL BIO