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The Lark Names Xavier Galva and Ife Olujobi as 2019-20 New Voices Fellows

Lark News
Headshots of Xavier Galva and Ife Olujobi. Black and White.

(Left: Xavier Galva. Right: Ife Olujobi, photo by Shala Miller)

The Lark is thrilled to announce playwrights Xavier Galva and Ife Olujobi  have been selected as the recipients of the 2019-20 New Voices Fellowship, supported by the Jerome Foundation. This year long residency is designed to support extraordinary playwrights of color under 30, in order to help address the lack of inclusion of early career playwrights of color in the field. The Fellowship includes a cash award of $15,000, plus a $3,000 Opportunity Fund for the purposes of research, travel, or other expenses, as well as access to The Lark’s artistic resources and support. The New Voices program is part of a portfolio of Fellowships at The Lark, which aims to engage a diverse community of playwrights from around the world, at various places in their careers.

"We could not be more thrilled to welcome Ife and Xavier into the Lark fold as the next pair of New Voices Fellows,” said Andrea Hiebler, Director of Scouting and Submissions at The Lark. “Ife writes with such a stunningly precise feel for stage pictures that both coalesce and dissolve into provocatively knotty, violently immediate and darkly humorous plays that ache with humanity and a desire to connect the disparate pieces of personal identity and societal rifts. Xavier utilizes high-concepts and outrageous comedy in order to deconstruct familiar institutions and systems so that his work delights until it devastates by revealing painful truths about marginalization and inequity in truly surprising ways. It is our collective privilege to support their work at this critical stage of their artistry and I can't wait to watch them continue to kick down theatrical doors."

Xavier is a Dominican-American writer/performer/teaching artist, born in Washington Heights and raised in the Bronx. He first came to The Lark in 2018 as an actor, participating in readings of Franky D. Gonzalez’s Even Flowers Bloom in Hell, Sometimes and David Zheng’s The Years That Went Wrong (now titled Ching Chong Maka Hiya). Both plays dealt with the theme of incarceration, one that Xavier also addresses in his own work, and he cites the experience as part of what made him want to continue the conversation.

"Working at The Lark I felt a sense of community. I saw a company that had their artists back. I saw artists from all walks of life come together to protect a company they consider home,” he said. “My goal at The Lark is to develop a cycle of five plays that provoke conversations about institutional racism. The plays would be centered around the themes of the criminal justice system, public health, education, banking, and housing."

Xavier trained as an actor at the Atlantic Acting School. He is a founding member of The Rattlestick's apprentice company: The Middle Voice, a member of the 2014-2015 Clubbed Thumb Early Career Writers Group, and Gingold Theatrical 2017 Speakers Corner Writers Group. His plays have been developed by MCC Theater, Clubbed Thumb, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, The Lark, and The Middle Voice.

Ife, a playwright and editor from Columbia, Maryland, highlighted her goals for the Fellowship as well, stating, "The story of black women in this country has been one of load bearing. Lately I’m more interested in what’s unleashed when that load is cast aside. I think energy is like matter—when it’s not being used in an instance it doesn’t disappear, it just changes forms. In my own way, I want to document that transformation, particularly as it pertains to young black women and women of color, through writing and performance, with the help of The Lark.”

Ife is a member of the 2018-19 Emerging Writers Group at the Public Theater. Her work has been seen at the Charity Randall Theater (Pittsburgh, PA), Bishop Arts Theater Center (Dallas, TX), City Pier A (New York, NY), and the Abe Burrows Theater at NYU. She is the managing editor of The Supplements, a series of artists books created and published by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins in conjunction with Soho Rep. She also is the founder and editor of Townies, a zine exploring the experiences of POC and queer people who have a relationship to suburban and rural areas of the U.S. and abroad. She received her B.F.A in Dramatic Writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2016.

“I’m so incredibly grateful for this opportunity and beyond honored by The Lark’s belief in my work and investment in me as an artist,” said Ife. “This support means so much to me both professionally and personally.”

The 2019-20 cycle marks this Fellowship’s sixth iteration at The Lark. Past fellows include Donja R. Love (Fireflies), C.A. Johnson (All the Natalie Portmans), Brittany K. Allen (Redwood), Christina Quintana (CQ) (Scissoring), Erika Dickerson-Despenza (cullud wattah), and David Zheng (Ching Chong Maka Hiya).