This exciting new initiative supports artists in The Assembly's broader community to lead new theatrical projects that use and experiment with multi-perspective, multi-disciplinary, and collaborative models of creation. These Labs are an invitation to develop new work outside the typical fast-paced style of production, to kick-start projects that take artistic risks, challenge traditional hierarchical structures, and create new professional opportunities for the participating artists.

The Assembly launched the Deceleration Lab this year with two new projects by the 2020 Deceleration Lab artists: Nehassaiu deGannes and Matthew Paul Olmos. Their work is thoughtful, dynamic, and rich, and we could not be more thrilled that they are participating in the inaugural year of this program.

Nehassaiu deGannes: EBB & lo' (working title)

Nehassaiu deGannes in SEAGULLMACHINE 

Photo by Theo Cote for La MaMa

What If Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s father forbade her & all her siblings (brothers & sisters) from marrying, because he knew there was a black Jamaican ancestor or two swimming in their blood? EBB & lo' is a devised exegesis of love & (Caribbean) blackness, race & repatriation, taboo, erasure, literary genius, distance & otherness. 

Created by Nehassaiu deGannes 

Digital theater director/co-conceptual artist Shoshanah Tarkow

In collaboration with Toree Alexandre, Peter AndersonAdam BurnettDebbie BernsteinKimiye CorwinKelley FaulknerLynnette FreemanRobin Galloway, Lisa GreenLian-Marie Holmes, LaWanda Hopkins, Cloteal HorneRosamond S. King, Kate MacCluggageTanya Anderson Martin, Antonio MiniñoKate Mulley, Christianna Nelson, lisa nevadaRavin Patterson, Erin Margaret Pettigrew, Cristina Quintana (CQ), Kerrie SeymourDorcas Sowunmi, Michele ShupeMoira StoneCherry Lou SySandy York

NEHASSAIU DEGANNES is an actress and poet and has appeared at theaters in New York, regionally and internationally, including Stratford Festival of Canada, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Studio Theatre, DC, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Soho Rep, LaMama, Cleveland Play House and The McCarter Theater. She was cited as the "Best Performance In A Play 2017" by The Wall Street Journal for her portrayal of "Esther" in Lynn Nottage's Intimate Apparel at Shakespeare & Co. Her solo-show Door of No Return, originally produced by Rites and Reason Theatre at Brown University, has been presented at several theatres and colleges in NY and the Northeast.

Nehassaiu's first book-length collection of poems, Music for Exile, is being published by Tupelo Press in February 2021. Her publications also include Undressing The River, winner of the 2011 Center For Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Award, and Percussion, Salt & Honey, winner of the Philbrick Poetry Prize for New England Poets. Her poems have appeared in Callaloo, Poem Memoir Story, American Poetry Review, Caribbean Writer, Painted Bride Quarterly, Tuesday: An Art Project, TORCH, Encyclopedia Project, After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery AnthologyARAVA Review, and Cave Canem Anthology XII. Her work has been honored with poetry fellowships from Cave Canem, Vermont Studio Center, Rhode Island State Council on The Arts as well as The Berkshire Theater Critics Award for her 3-character “tour de force” in Liz Duffy Adams’ Or,. Her poem "To Find, To Be" was recently shortlisted for The Montreal International Poetry Prize. Nehassaiu received her MFA from Brown University, is a graduate of Trinity Rep Conservatory and this fall is teaching acting for Princeton University.

Matthew Paul Olmos: You Will Swim Oceans

Matthew Paul Olmos

You Will Swim Oceans is a theatrical piece in which a Mexican father attempts to teach a Caucasian mother a song for children, which was passed down in his family. Through the teaching of this song, we explore the perceived ownership of cultural identity and legacy, as well the fear which clouds the air between us as we attempt to embrace change as a country. The piece features an original composition by April Dawn Guthrie, is directed by Larissa Lury, and features Bernardo Cubria and Danielle Slavick

MATTHEW PAUL OLMOS is a three-time Sundance Institute Fellowship/Residency recipient, New Dramatists Resident Playwright, Center Theatre Group LA Workshop Playwright, Oregon Shakespeare Festival Black Swan Playwright, Princess Grace Awardee, selected by Taylor Mac for Cherry Lane's Mentor Project, and La MaMa's Ellen Stewart Emerging Playwright Awardee; selected by Sam Shepard. He spent two years as a Mabou Mines/SUITE Resident Artist being mentored by Ruth Maleczech; former New York Theatre Workshop Fellow, Baryshnikov Arts Center Resident, Dramatists Guild Fellow, Primary Stages Playwright, INTAR playwright; and is an Ensemble Studio Theater lifetime member, Echo Resident Playwright, and Kilroys nominator. His work is produced internationally and nationally, published by Samuel French and NoPassport, and is taught in university. Currently developing We Walk Along the Christmas Bridge, with composer April Dawn Guthrie, in part through Center Theatre Group’s LA Workshop, and a new piece inspired by Samatha Power’s “The Education of an Idealist” through the Geffen Playhouse.

Bernardo Cubria and Danielle Slavick in YOU WILL SWIM OCEANS

The Deceleration Lab is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

© 2019 by The Assembly Theater Project