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The Crossroads Project

The Crossroads Project was founded in 2000 by Illinois State University (ISU) School of Theatre, Dance, and Film (SOTDF) faculty member Dr. Leslie Sloan Orr to promote diversity and inclusion in the theatre at ISU and the surrounding communities. The committee consists of faculty, staff, and students at ISU.

The Crossroads Project recommends plays to the SOTDF production committee that address the issues and experiences of underrepresented U.S. ethnic peoples and global cultures. In addition to promoting the work of U.S. BIPOC playwrights such as Elizabeth Wong, Lynn Nottage, Naomi Iizuka, and Suzan Lori-Parks, Crossroads has invited notable international theatre artists to ISU to work with students and engage with the larger community through guest lectures, public talks, and other events. Examples include Ugandan playwright and director Adong Lucy Judith (2018), Delhi-based writer Manjula Padmanabhan (2017), visiting choreographers Jack Gray (Māori) and Dåkot-ta Alcantara-Camacho (Guåhan) (2016), Canadian playwright of Indian descent Rahul Varma (2011), and Kabuki master Shozo Sato (2006).

Crossroads emphasizes community outreach for each theatre production it is involved in, especially seeking ways to promote theatre to underrepresented groups and immigrant communities. In 2013–2014, the Crossroads Project also hosted the Diversity Dialogue Series: Advancing Diversity Consciousness in the Arts, inviting leading BIPOC artists to speak to the campus and community about diversity, inclusion, and equity in the fields of American theatre and dance.

In 2020, The Crossroads Project launched the Diverse Voices Playwriting Initiative with the twofold goal of supporting the development of new plays by BIPOC playwrights and creating opportunities for the Illinois State University and Bloomington-Normal communities to interact with BIPOC professionals in the theatre. The winner of the inaugural program was Franky D. Gonzalez’s Even Flowers Bloom in Hell, Sometimes. The 2021 winner was The DePriest Incident by Charles White, followed by Dear Mr. C by Tidtaya Sinutoke in 2022 and Pink Man, or, the Only Indian in the Room by Marty Strenczewilk in 2023.

Crossroads Project: Bringing diverse voices center stage

Even Flowers Bloom in Hell, sometimes. A play by Franky D. Gonzalez poster. A white rose with drops of red blood behind jail bars.
The DePriest Incident by Charles White poster. A dark skinned hand and a light skinned hand each reaching for the same tea cup.
Dear Mr. C a memory play with music by Tidtaya Sinutoke poster. A blue sky with white clouds.
A bright pink human-like figure representing Nanabozho, the Trickster in Ojibwe culture, colored with yellow flowers, green leaves, and a strawberry in the middle of the chest standing next to a stool and holding a microphone stand.

2024 Diverse Voices Playwriting Initiative

The 2024 Diverse Voices Playwriting Initiative welcomes submissions for full-length, unproduced plays by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) playwrights in accordance with the mission statement of the Crossroads Project (see above). A diverse panel of judges including Illinois State University faculty, staff, students, and alumni, as well as members of the local community, will select one playwright as the winner.

To be eligible to win, the playwright must be available for a one-week residency in mid-to-late April 2024 (exact dates TBD). If the play has multiple writers/creators, we can only provide funding for one person during the residency. Other writers/creators are welcome to participate in the workshop by self-funding the trip or joining virtually for rehearsals and events.

The deadline for submissions is August 1, 2023 by 11:59 p.m. (central daylight time). There is no entry fee. We only accept electronic submissions in PDF format. Because our staff and resources are limited, we can only consider the first 100 submissions.

  • The winning playwright will receive:

    • An invitation to Illinois State University in Bloomington-Normal, IL, as a guest-artist-in-residence for a one-week new play development workshop, culminating in a public staged reading. This residency may also include class visits and other University events.
    • Travel (within the U.S.), housing, and meals during the residency.
    • An honorarium of $500 for the residency.
  • Please include in your submission:

    • A representative sample from your play up to 15 pages. These do not have to be the first 15 pages of the play.
    • A synopsis of the play (max. 250 words).
    • A character list with short descriptions for each character (age, ethnicity, gender, occupation, family relationships, etc.)
    • A playwright’s statement (max. 400 words). In the statement, describe your inspiration for writing the play, address where you are in the development process, and discuss how a workshop in a university setting can facilitate that process. Please include information about access and accommodation needs in this statement.

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