In March of 2017 The Lab launched the Lab Fellows program. Funded in part by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this virtual global residency program brings together exceptionally promising professionals (performers, producers, directors, writers, scholars, activists) from around the world who are working at the intersection of performance and politics, including practitioners of international affairs and performance.
Among the key features of the Fellows Program are the networking and mentoring opportunities offered primarily through monthly virtual meetings and an in-person convening, hosted by the University of Edinburgh’s Institute for International Cultural Relations in August of 2017. The Fellows will continue to work within their own communities, spread out across the globe, as they learn online from each other and from mentors drawn from The Lab’s leadership and Think Tank, made up of thought-leaders, artists, and change-makers from around the world.
Faisal Abu Alhayjaa, the youngest of ten, was born in the Jenin Refugee Camp in Palestine. Faisal realized his passion for theater after watching the documentary Arna’s Children, directed by Juliano Mer-Khamis. When Juliano opened an acting school as part of the Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp, Faisal became one of the first students to join. … FULL BIO
Jumana Al-Yasiri was born in Damascus, Syria. She is the daughter of an Iraqi filmmaker and a Syrian-Palestinian actress. As a child, she enjoyed accompanying her mother to rehearsals; this is how she first learned that theater can bring understanding and answers to political and social issues, and that what happens on stage has the power to change the lives and perceptions of both the artist and audience. … FULL BIO
Reem Alsayyah was born in Damascus, Syria as the third of eight children. She studied networking engineering at the University, and in 2012, with only three exams left until graduation, Reem was forced to flee Damascus and was unable to complete her degree. The War in Syria forced Reem and her family to cross the border into Jordan and to take on a new name: “refugee”. … FULL BIO
Caitlin Nasema Cassidy was born in a suburb of Boston and raised between there and the Arab world. She is the daughter of seven-sea-sailing hippies Tom Cassidy Jr., the eldest of a large Irish Catholic family, and Joan Kelley, the youngest of a Lebanese and Syrian family. Caitlin fell in love with the performing arts early in life, … FULL BIO
Chankethya “Kethya” Chey was born in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The daughter of political figures, Kethya dreamt of being an ambassador or prime minister, but not a dancer. She began to study classical dance at the age of five, and was part of a tour to Europe at the age of nine. Since then she has never stopped dancing, … FULL BIO
Velani Dibba was born in Palo Alto, California to a West African immigrant and a first-generation Polynesian-American. She is the eldest of five children in a family of Muslim, Catholic, Mormon, Methodist, California-liberal, Texas-conservative, Polynesian, Caucasian, Asian, and African heritage, and is exceedingly grateful to this family for teaching her the importance of acceptance. She lived in California for the first ten years of her life before moving to The Gambia in West Africa for three years. … FULL BIO
Asif Majid was born outside Baltimore, MD. His mother grew up in Tanzania on the shores of Lake Victoria, and later became an avid gardener and public health expert. His father grew up in northern Pakistan as a poetry enthusiast and budding engineer. As an infant, Asif enjoyed playing pots and pans at his mother’s feet, … FULL BIO
Devika Ranjan is a first-generation Indian-American. Born in Nashik, Maharashtra and raised all over the United States, Devika found her roots in her family as they moved from the mountains, to the prairies, to the shining sea. Her first forays on stage were jugalbandis, entwined performances of Bollywood dance and classic American musical theatre to interpret her identities and cultural crossings. … FULL BIO
Manuel Viveros was born in Cali, Colombia. His single mother worked as a teacher in a rural school for over 25 years. His family was part of the Afro-Colombian migration to the cities in search of better living conditions. He grew up dreaming of being a professional soccer player, but theater was the space where he found himself. … FULL BIO
Gideon Jeph Wabvuta was born in Harare, Zimbabwe, the oldest son of an electronics technician and a former teacher. He grew up in Mbare, a ghetto in Harare, where his love for the arts was born. He grew up with dance and theater around him, but only participated briefly as a writer when he was 16. … FULL BIO