Stephanie Ansin and Fernando Calzadilla
Since writer/director Stephanie Ansin and writer/designer Fernando Calzadilla began working together in 2007, 166,000 multigenerational audience members have experienced their work, which includes their original plays Inanna and the Huluppu Tree, The Red Thread, and Everybody Drinks the Same Water; their adaptations of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Three Sisters (Silver Palm Award for Outstanding Creative Staging and Production, 2013); and Nilo Cruz’s adaptation of Gabriel García Márquez’s A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings). Their imaginative, critically acclaimed productions have earned Ansin and Calzadilla the status as national leaders in innovative theater for young audiences. Their work has been featured in American Theatre and TYA Today, and their productions have received support from organizations including Carnival Foundation, Funding Arts Network, Herman Abbott Family Foundation, The Kirk Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs; North Dade Medical Foundation, Peacock Foundation, Ophelia and Juan Js. Roca, and The Shubert Foundation.
Ansin earned a BA at Brown University and an MFA at Columbia University. Calzadilla holds a BFA in Scenic Design and a MA/PhD in Performance Studies from New York University.
Why Stephanie Ansin and Fernando Clazadilla are appropriate to be the recipients of the Ellen Stewart Award?
Our plays promote positive social change by featuring strong female protagonists grappling with issues of religious tolerance, environmental awareness, and coming of age. We would be very grateful to receive the opportunity to increase awareness of this work on an international level.
Over the course of eight years, we have developed a stage language that intricately interweaves virtuosic performances, stunning visuals, original sound design, dynamic staging, and uncluttered dialogue to create productions that transfix, transport, and transform audiences. We begin creating a show by engaging in extensive research that fuels a rigorous, multi-layered process of distilling a vast range of ideas, images, and inspirations. The seed of our 2014 production Everybody Drinks the Same Water was our interest in writing a play about Jewish history. Our research led us to Cordoba, Spain, the first place in the Western world where Christian, Muslims, and Jews coexisted. We chose the early 13th century as the time period because we wanted to dramatize the moment when Christians took power from the Muslims. We consulted with musicians, scientists, clergy, and doctors on the various elements of the murder mystery we scripted. All of the elements synthesized to create a rich atmosphere for the actors who performed on a giant raked, rotating Arabic tile.
Key accomplishments and impact of the work
From a contemporary adaptation of a Victorian fairy tale to brand new adventures inspired by ancient folktales and myths to an accessible interpretation of a dramatic Russian masterpiece to a riveting mystery based on medieval history, these artists are constantly challenging and reinventing themselves and their collaborators. They have taught actors how to fly, how to dance, and how to sing. They have brought a wide range of colors, stories, sounds, and images to the young people of Miami-Dade County.
Since 2007, Ansin and Calzadilla have created seven original productions for multigenerational audiences. 166,000 people of all ages and abilities have experienced 620 performances of their productions, and audiences have frequently engaged in lively post-show Q&A sessions with the cast. 80% of these attendees were from underserved communities, and thanks to generous individual, corporate, foundation, and government support received free admission and transportation.
Their work has been featured in numerous publications including American Theatre, TYA Today, The Miami Herald, Miami New Times and Biscayne Times and has received support from Carnival Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, Peacock Foundation, Ophelia and Juan Js. Roca, The Shubert Foundation, and others.
Ansin and company create hand-tooled productions noted for sophisticated visuals, original scores, evocative projections, calibrated choreography, elaborate costumes, puppetry, masks, computer animations, and a virtuosic ensemble of performers.
Bill Hirschman, American Theatre
Four thousand years of history literally walked into the room, stood in front of these children and spoke to them with honesty and sophistication. The magic of this performance: the entire production!
Neil De La Flor, KnightsBlog
Co-writers Stephanie Ansin (who also directs) and Fernando Calzadilla have created a wholly original fantasy rich in Chinese mysticism, magic, and wonder. We are transported to a different country and culture thousands of years in the past, but ultimately we discover the story is really about us all.
Chris Joseph, Miami New Times
Utilizing multicultural casting and deliberately embracing such anachronistic touches as a tender snippet of a duet by LeGette and Batsford on ‘Embraceable You,’ Ansin and Calzadilla have crafted a Three Sisters that has as much to say to 21st century Miami as Chekhov’s original did to Irina’s beloved Moscow more than 100 years ago.
Christine Dolen, The Miami Herald
This is inspired theater for kids, for adults, for the masses. Never has children’s theater looked so good.
Michelle Solomon, miamiartzine.com
Stephanie Ansin & Fernando Calzadilla
9806 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami Shores, FL 33138