UNIVERSES Theater Company

UNIVERSES is a national Ensemble Theater Company, of multi-disciplined writers and performers of color, who fuse theater, poetry, dance, jazz, hip hop, politics, down home blues and Spanish boleros to create moving, challenging and entertaining works for the stage. The group breaks the traditional theatrical bounds to create its own brand of theater. Founded in The Bronx, New York in 1995, the members of UNIVERSES came together in the urban poetry and music scene of the late 1990s; quickly moving through the “down town” performance scene to built a home for themselves in American Theatre. In their 20 years, UNIVERSES has performed at venues throughout the United States and toured extensively worldwide.
*B.A., Bard College
(Mildred Ruiz-Sapp ’92 / Steven Sapp ’89 / William Ruiz ’03)

Theatrical History (USA):
(In Process)
Written by: Mildred Ruiz-Sapp, Steven Sapp, Gamal Chasten and William Ruiz a.k.a Ninja; Directed/Developed by Chay Yew; Sound Design/Collaboration: Aaron Meicht (of Broken Chord); Commissioned by: Playmakers Rep (Chapel Hill, NC); Developed at: ArtsEmerson.
AMERIVILLE 2009-2012
Written/Performed by UNIVERSES’ - Mildred Ruiz-Sapp, Steven Sapp, William Ruiz, Gamal Chasten; Directed/Developed by Chay Yew; Commissioned by The Actors Theatre of Louisville; Premiere: Actors Theatre of Louisville (Louisville, KY) 2009; Re-Mount for Touring: Curious Theatre (Denver, CO) 2009. Tour includes: Southern Rep./Junebug Prod. (New Orleans, LA); Victory Gardens (Chicago, IL); Round House Theatre (Bethesda, MD); ArtsEmerson (Boston, MA); The Public Theater – Under The Radar (NYC); DiverseWorks (Houston, TX); Hopkins Ctr. – Dartmouth (Hanover, NH); New World Theatre (Amherst, MA); Luckman Theatre (Los Angeles, CA)

Original NYTW Premiere 2004
Written/Performed by UNIVERSES’ Mildred Ruiz-Sapp, Steven Sapp; Directed/Developed by Chay Yew; Originally commissioned as EYEWITNESS BLUES by New York Theatre Workshop; Premier at New York Theatre Workshop Directed/Developed by Talvin Wilks Tour and Labs include: GALA Hispanic Theatre (Washington, DC); The Goodman Theatre (Chicago, IL); Emory University (Atlanta, GA); Modlin Center for the Arts (Richmond, VA); (EYEWITNESS BLUES) New York Theater Workshop (New York, NY); New World Theater (Amherst, MA); Dance Theater Workshop (New York, NY)
PARTY PEOPLE 2012-Present
Written/Performed by UNIVERSES’ - Mildred Ruiz-Sapp, Steven Sapp, William Ruiz (other actors include members of the OSF acting company); Directed/Developed by Liesl Tommy; Commissioned by The Oregon Shakespeare Festival 2009-American Revolution: US History Cycle); Premiered at The Oregon Shakespeare Festival - 2012 season. Re-Developed by Berkeley repertory Theatre with a New Premiere at Berkeley Rep (2014).
Written by UNIVERSES’ Mildred Ruiz-Sapp, Steven Sapp; Directed by: Dee Covington; Commissioned by Curious Theatre (Denver, CO)
Written by UNIVERSES’ Mildred Ruiz-Sapp, Steven Sapp; Directed by Bonnie Metzger; Commissioned by Curious Theatre (Denver, CO)
Written by UNIVERSES’ Gamal Chasten; Performance Space 122 (NY); Univ. Texas (Austin, TX). Directed by Dara Serber

Written by: UNIVERSES’ Mildred Ruiz-Sapp, Steven Sapp, Gamal Chasten, William Ruiz; Touring includes: College of Saint Benedict (Saint Joseph, MN). Flynn Center for the Performing Arts (Burlington, VT), First Works (Providence, RI), Trinity College (Hartford, CT), Overture Center (Madison, WI), California State University—LA (Los Angeles, CA), ProArts Collective (Austin, TX), Miami Light Project (Miami, FL) , University of California—Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, CA), Ferris State University (Big Rapids, MI), PICA Festival (Portland, OR), Bumbershoot Festival (Seattle, WA), Apollo Theater –Salon Series (New York, NY), Emory University (Atlanta, GA)
Original NYTW Premiere 2001
Written/Performed by Mildred Ruiz-Sapp, Steven Sapp, Gamal Chasten, Lemon Andersen, Flaco Navaja. Directed/Developed by Jo Bonney. Commissioned by New York Theatre Workshop; Premiere: New York Theatre Workshop; Early workshops at Performance Space 122 (PS122) in 1999. Touring includes: (Performance & teaching workshops) Mark Taper Forum – Ivy Substation (Los Angeles, CA), Actor Theater of Louisville (Louisville, KY), University of Denver (Denver, CO), Duke University (Durham, NC), The University of Maryland -Boston Center for the Arts with Company One (Boston, MA), California State University—Monterey Bay (Monterey Bay, CA), National Ensemble Theater Festival (Blue Lake, CA), Kutztown University (Kutztown, PA), Penn State Univ. (PA), Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN), University of California—Santa Barbara, (Santa Barbara, CA), University of California—Riverside, (Riverside, CA), The Egg (Albany, NY), Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago, IL), Lafayette College (Easton, PA), Emory University (Atlanta, GA), African American Cultural Center (Pittsburgh, PA), Washington University (St. Louis, MO), Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center (College Park, MD), Juniata College (Huntingdon, PA), Out North (Anchorage, Alaska), Williams College (Williamstown, MA), Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH), The Painted Bride (Philadelphia, PA), Diverse Works (Houston, TX), University of Texas (Austin, TX), Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, (Burlington, VT), Dance Space (Washington, DC), Everett Dance Theater (Providence, RI), New World Theater at the Univ. of Mass. (Amherst, MA), Teatro Pregones (Bronx, NY)
Written and Performed by UNIVERSES’ Mildred Ruiz-Sapp, Steven Sapp, Gamal Chasten with collaborating artists, Reg.e.gaines, Willie Perdomo, Rha Goddess and Reggie Cabico; Directed by Steven Sapp; Commissioned and presented at the Humana Festival 2003, Actors Theater of Louisville
Written/Performed by Mildred Ruiz-Sapp, Steven Sapp, Gamal Chasten, Lemon Andersen, Flaco Navaja. Directed by Steven Sapp. Touring Includes: The Point CDC (Bronx, NY); P.S. 122 (New York, NY) New York Performance Works (New York, NY) Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh, PA)
1995-Present Tour includes: The NuYorican Poets Café (NYC), HBO's Def Poetry Jam (Season 4- Episode 9, New York University , Harvard University, Princeton University, Rutgers University, Lehman College, University of Massachusetts, BARD College, Binghamton University, Sarah Lawrence College, City College, Pace University, Pace University, American Airlines Theater (Encore Awards), Joe’s Pub, Labyrinth Theatre, Symphony Space, Aaron Davis hall, Museum of Natural History, St. John The Divine, The Painted Bride (PA), The Brooklyn Tea Party, The Brooklyn Moon, The Newsroom, Bar 13, Sister’s Place, El Puente, Live From The Edge Theater, The Bronx Academy of Art and Dance B.A.A.D, Sing Sing Prison.
Resident Ensemble:
At The Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Artists in Residence:
Teaching “The UNIVERSES Aesthetic” - New World Theater (Amherst MA); Dance Theatre Workshop (NYC); Actors Theatre of Louisville (Louisville, KY); Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics at NYU (NYC).

Artistic Associates:
New World Theater (Amherst, MA) – Mildred Ruiz- Sapp and Steven Sapp

Theatre Experience (International):
  • SUDAN - LIVE FROM THE EDGE - Hosted by Sheikh Ali Mahdi Nouri and Emilya Cachapero (ITI and TCG) - Al Bugga International Theatre Festival in Khartoum, Sudan - March 2013.
  • COLOMBIA – LIVE FROM THE EDGE - Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics @ New York University's 7th Encuentro Conference - under the title ‘Staging Citizenship: Cultural Rights in the Americas’. Bogota, Colombia 2009
  • AFRICA/EUROPE- Ambassadors of Culture under the U.S. State Department and Jazz at Lincoln Center Rhythm Road Tour to MOROCCO, TUNISIA, ROMANIA, TURKEY, AMSTERDAM, U.K. - 2008
  • CHILE- THE RIDE - Teatro A Mil Festival at la Ex-Carcel (Valparaiso) and Teatro San Gines (Santiago). Directed by Steven Sapp (Performers included Mildred Ruiz-Sapp and Steven Sapp, Gamal Chasten, Lemon Andersen, Flaco Navaja)
  • POLAND- Alfred Jarry’s UBU Enchained – ArtsLink International Exchange with Teatre Polski (Poland/NYC). Directed by Steven Sapp (Performers included Mildred Ruiz-Sapp and Steven Sapp) Bydgosz, Poland 1995 and 1997
  • UNIVERSES: The Revolution will be Live!: Plays Poetry and Process (2015 release- TCG Books) 2015;
  • PARTY PEOPLE in The Manifest Anthology (Rain City Projects - Fall 2014);
  • SLANGUAGE in The Fire This Time (TCG Books);
  • BLUE SUITE in The Goodman Theatre's Festival Latino - Six Plays (Northwestern University Press);
  • Featured on the cover of American Theater Magazine 2004 and The Source Magazine 2000.
Grants & Fellowships:
  • New England Foundation for the Arts – National Theatre Project – Research/Development and touring grant for Party People.
  • Ford Foundation – Grant to OSF for UNIVERSES Party People to cover travel and accommodations for former members of the Black Panthers and The Young Lords to travel to OSF for community dialogue and Play participation.
Awards / Honors / Fellowships:
  • 2015 - Doris Duke Performing Artist Awards (Steven Sapp & Mildred Ruiz-Sapp)
  • 2012 & 2013 – PARTY PEOPLE - Kennedy Theater Prize – Nominee (Finalist) - NYC
  • 2012 – AMERIVILLE - Black Theater Alliance/Ira Aldridge Awards nominations (Best Ensemble, Best Actor in an Ensemble (Steven Sapp), Best Actor in an Ensemble (Gamal Chasten) – Chicago, IL
  • 2012 – AMERIVILLE - Jeff Awards Equity Nomination for Outstanding 2011-2012 Productions. -Chicago, IL
  • 2008 Theatre Communications Group (TCG) Peter Zeisler Award (Mildre Ruiz-Sapp and Steven Sapp) - NYC
  • 2008 – THE DENVER PROJECT - Henry Award Nomination – Denver, CO
  • 2006 Career Advancement Fellowship (Ford Foundation) through Teatro Pregones (Mildred Ruiz-Sapp) – Bronx, NY
  • 2002 TCG National Directors Award (Steven Sapp) - NYC
  • 2002-2004 and 1999-2001 TCG National Theater Artist Residency Program Award (Mildred Ruiz-Sapp and Steven Sapp) - NYC
  • 1999 OBIE Award Grant (The Point CDC & Live From the Edge Theater) - NYC
  • 1999 Bessie Award (The Point CDC & Live From The Edge Theatre) - NYC
  • 1998 Union Square Awards (Mildred Ruiz-Sapp and Steven Sapp) - NYC
  • BRIO Awards (Bronx Recognizes Its Own) (Mildred Ruiz-Sapp -2002/Steven Sapp -1998 and 2002) – Bronx NY
  • Van Lier Fellowship with New Dramatists (Steven Sapp) - NYC
Other Highlights:
  • 2012 – Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics – Private performance for Susana Baca (Mildred Ruiz) -NYC
  • 2011 – Ford Foundation - UNIVERSES Performance at the Ford Foundation 75th Anniversary celebration- “Beyond Conventions: Reimagining Human Rights in a time of Change” - NYC
  • 20011 – Ford Foundation – UNIVERSES Private performance for Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright - NYC
  • 2010 – William Inge Theatre Festival – Special Guest Steven Sapp – Independence, KS
  • 1995 Performance with YOMO TORO at The Point CDC – Bronx, NY
  • Current Resident Ensemble - Oregon Shakespeare Festival (UNIVERSES)
  • Co-Founders and Directors of The Point CDC and Live From The Edge Theater- Bronx, NY (Mildred Ruiz-Sapp and Steven Sapp) 1993-2000
  • Former Board Member of National Performance Network (Mildred Ruiz-Sapp)
  • Former Board Member of Network of Ensemble Theaters (Mildred Ruiz-Sapp)
  • New York Theatre Workshop Usual Suspects (UNIVERSES)
  • Members Ensemble Company - The Network of Ensemble Theaters (UNIVERSES)

Skills & Qualifications:
  • Extensive experience in the development and cultivation of diverse audiences; Creation and marketing of New Work; Ensemble building; Community Organizing.
  • Core Languages: English and Spanish
  • Core Company Makeup: African American and Puerto Rican

UNIVERSES 2014 @ The Oregon Shakespeare Festival


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