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(PDF) (DOC) (JPG)July 19, 2000

(Mahwah) — Demetria Royals, professor of media arts at Ramapo College of New Jersey and a documentary filmmaker, is the recipient of a $25,000 Multi-Arts Production Fund (MAP) grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. The funding will support the creation of a multi-media theater production based on Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children, from the perspective of African American females. Royals will collaborate with choreographer Anita Gonzalez, an assistant professor at Florida State University and a Fulbright Scholar, and Robbie McCauley, a performance artist who won an OBIE Award for best new American play for Sallie’s Rape.

McCauley and Gonzalez were featured in Royals’ 1996 film, Conjure Women, a performance-based feature film documentary that had a national screening on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS). That film explored the artistry and philosophy of four African American female artists. During a residency at the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue (IACD) at Harvard University last summer, the three artists participated in a project to explore Mother Courage from the artists’ disciplines of dance, theater and film. In the process of exploration of the text, each discovered that the text mirrored their personal exploration as African American women artists.

In a joint artists statement the three write: “In the process of a line by line discussion of the play, we began to see Brecht’s text within the specificity of our own lives – upper to middle to lower income class, northern, urban and southern experiences – yet also within a larger global and historical context.” The IACD residency concluded with a workshop presentation under the direction of Royals of two scenes from the play with five actors, with McCauley in the role of Mother Courage and Gonzalez in the role of her mute daughter, Kattrin. Introducing and linking each scene were short segments of slides with an audio ‘track’ (sound mix) edited by Royals.

With the Rockefeller Foundation funding, the artists will take the next step in the collaborative process. They will create a new text and using images, performance, music, movement and sound, attempt, through their different disciplines and experience, to look closer and deeper at the complexity of African American women.

Royals, who could aptly be referred to as a Conjure Woman herself, is an award-winning visual artist. She is the recipient of a three-year W.K. Kellogg Foundation Fellowship. In addition to the grants mentioned above, she has received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Black Programming Consortium, New York State Council on the Arts, and the American Film Institute. In addition, Royals was appointed a research fellow of the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, College of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University, where she completed work on a CD-ROM video, “Report to the Ancestors.” Her films have been shown at the San Francisco Film Festival, the Chicago Women’s Film Festival, the American Film Institute, the New York Film Festival and on PBS. A member of the Directors Guild of America, she heads her own production company, Diamond Royals Productions, Inc.

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Ramapo College of New Jersey is the state’s premier public liberal arts college and is committed to academic excellence through interdisciplinary and experiential learning, and international and intercultural understanding. The College is ranked #1 among New Jersey public institutions by College Choice, has been named one of the 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America by CondeNast Traveler, and is recognized as a top college by U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger’s, Princeton Review and Money magazine, among others. Ramapo College is also distinguished as a Career Development College of Distinction by CollegesofDistinction.com, boasts the best campus housing in New Jersey on Niche.com, and is designated a “Military Friendly College” in Victoria Media’s Guide to Military Friendly Schools.

Established in 1969, Ramapo College offers bachelor’s degrees in the arts, business, data science, humanities, social sciences and the sciences, as well as in professional studies, which include business, education, nursing and social work. In addition, the College offers courses leading to teacher certification at the elementary and secondary levels, and offers graduate programs leading to master’s degrees in Accounting, Business Administration, Creative Music Technology, Data Science, Educational Technology, Educational Leadership, Nursing, Social Work and Special Education, as well as a post-master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice.

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