Alapai will serve as Associate Artistic Director as part of DNA: Oxygen, an initiative dedicated to the development and production of new work generated by, led by, and featuring BIPOC artists.
PORTLAND, OREGON – January 23, 2023 Portland-based director and Resident Artist, Lava Alapai has been named Artists Rep’s Associate Artistic Director. This one-year artistic leadership residency is intended to prepare ART’s Black artists to lead an arts organization of comparable size. In addition to her responsibilities as Associate Artistic Director, Lava will receive mentorship with an eye toward preparing her for the next steps in her career. The Associate Artistic Director will serve as a member of the artistic team, collaborating closely with Artistic Director, Jeanette Harrison. Alapai was selected based on her breadth of directorial experience and her interest in making the transition from award-winning freelance artist to Artistic Director. “DNA: Oxygen disrupts systemic pipelines to power and creation by centering BIPOC artists as leaders, as thinkers, and as generators,” says Artistic Director Jeanette Harrison.
I’m excited to go on this journey with Artists Repertory Theatre, which has been my artistic home for the past few years as a Resident Artist. I look forward to connecting with the Portland community in my new role.
Alapai directed Barbie Wu and Bern Tan in The Chinese Lady by Lloyd Suh during the 2021/22 Season. Photo by Lava Alapai.
The residency was designed by Harrison and the original DNA: Oxygen group members whose purpose was to address inequities and provide an artistic home for Black artists within ART’s community while providing a safe space for all Black artists to share their stories. ART Resident Artist and original DNA: Oxygen member, Ayanna Berkshire said this about Alapai’s hire, “This is a wonderful step forward for DNA: Oxygen. Thank you Jeanette and ART for your commitment to this program. I am excited to witness what comes of this leadership opportunity and know that the program will take flight with Lava‘s wonderful and unique skills.” The group’s first devised project was a short film called See Me, describing a slice of life of three Black people in Portland during the pandemic.
Harrison continues, “Lava was a key part of why I was so excited to come to this community and get involved. Lava is an inspiring emerging leader, and I am so thrilled to foster her growth and have her join the Artistic leadership team. Lava will bring a deep knowledge of the community both locally and regionally, which is crucial for ART living out its promise as a community center for all.” Alapai’s work as a director includes a broad range of new plays and musicals. Alapai co-directed the highly acclaimed Artists Rep production of An Octoroon by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. Alapai has continued to flex her remarkable director style with The Revolutionists, The Chinese Lady (Artists Rep), School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play (an ART co-production with Portland Center Stage). Lava Alapai shares, “I’m excited to go on this journey with Artists Repertory Theatre, which has been my artistic home for the past few years as a Resident Artist. I look forward to connecting with the Portland community in my new role.”
This Associate Artistic Director residency, as part of the DNA: Oxygen program, allows ART to build upon the experiment in the radical transformation of a regional theatre into an institution rooted in anti-racist and anti-bias practices, allowing artists of color to find safety and community. Harrison emphasizes, “This work is ongoing, and we will eagerly learn from the past while continuing to move forward in building the future that is necessary for full equality, access, and justice for everyone in our community.”
Alapai co-directed Joseph Gibson and Alex Ramirez de Cruz in An Octoroon by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins during the 2017/18 Season. Photo by Russell J Young.