Ianne Fields Stewart

the free actorvist

   ©niqlewisphotography2017

©niqlewisphotography2017

Ianne Fields Stewart (in 50 Words or Less)

Ianne Fields Stewart (pronouns: they/them/their)  is a black, queer, and transfeminine New York-based storyteller working at the intersection of theatre and activism. Their work is centered in deconstructing mainstream media forms and rebuilding them to amplify and include the voices of marginalized people in our local and global communities.

Ianne Fields Stewart (in 300 Words or Less)

   ©mjo'toolephotography2018

©mjo'toolephotography2018

Ianne Fields Stewart (pronouns: they/them/their)  is a black, queer, and transfeminine New York-based storyteller working at the intersection of theatre and activism.  A native of Birmingham, AL, their work centers in creating radical stories that shift social narratives around the lives and experiences of marginalized people. As a performer, Ianne has worked consistently in productions at NYC venues such as Manhattan Rep, NYC Fringe Festival ’16, Shapiro Theatre, and more. In the spring of 2017, Ianne performed an excerpt of their one-person show, On the Train to Nowhere in Particular, at the legendary Joe's Pub. Ianne can also be seen on Buzzfeed LGBT, the You Had Me at Black podcast, the #Safewordsociety podcast, and the Is it Transphobic Podcast. When they're not in the theatre or studio, Ianne serves on the council of the group @Salon which is a monthly discussion group that invites thought-leaders to introduce LGBTQ-centered topics through personal narrative. One of Ianne's most transformative experiences occurred in the summer of 2017 when they were selected out of over 500 applicants to be one of the 15 US Fellows for Humanity in Action's 2017 John Lewis Fellowship. For the month of July, Ianne shared space with and learned from various historic and current civil rights leaders in Atlanta, GA in order to better understand the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement and develop strategies for implementing effective change in contemporary political and social movements. 


Ianne Fields Stewart (The Whole Story)

Having danced and performed since the age of four, Ianne attended Illinois Wesleyan University where they received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre.Their career shifted from traditional theatrical expressions in the summer of 2013 when they helped form a grassroots organization dedicated to bringing attention to queer youth voices in Alabama. From there, Ianne continued to balance the two worlds of theatre for entertainment and activism performing every semester in main stage productions at Illinois Wesleyan and centering their education and outside theatrical work on the experiences of marginalized communities. In the summer of 2014, Ianne returned to Birmingham to work as the assistant to the LGBTQ Youth Services Director at the Birmingham AIDS Outreach. There, they organized a non-binary fashion show called Label Not Found as the inaugural event at the newly built Magic City Acceptance Center that had been funded by the Elton John Foundation earlier that year. Label Not Found was dedicated to deconstructing the idea of a runway by idealizing the authenticity of the queer youth models’ sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identities, etc rather than their clothes.

In the fall of 2014 Ianne received the SOGIE Award from the Council for Social Work Education for an academic essay they co-authored exploring the dynamics of Safe Schools Coalitions in the deep south. The essay is currently in the final stages of publication with an academic journal. In the fall of that same year, Ianne also organized a #blacklivesmatter die-in at their university. Ianne graduated cum laude from Illinois Wesleyan in May 2015 and received the John L Clark Award in Literary Studies, an honor bestowed on graduating seniors who have demonstrated outstanding academic performance, particularly in historical and theory course as evidenced by scholarly ability and participation in the creative activities of the School of Theatre Arts.

After graduation, they moved to New York where they began their career as the Artistic Directing Fellow at Girl Be Heard, a nonprofit theatre company that brings global issues affecting girls center stage by empowering young women to tell their stories. They also became a co-founding board member of End Rape Now, a collective of artists, activists, academics, and uniquely skilled individuals dedicated to eradicating campus rape. They made their New York acting debut in the fall of 2015 in the world premiere of Daria Marinelli's Untameable as the Lady Queen. Since then, they have worked in productions at NYC venues such as Manhattan Rep, NYC Fringe Festival ’16, Shapiro Theatre, and more.

Their work as a choreographer and director with Girl Be Heard has been seen at various organizations in New York City, the United Nations, and the Pitchwise Festival in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Outside of Girl Be Heard, in early February, Ianne directed MacRorie Dean’s After, a play about the aftermath of rape that aims to restructure conversations and university policies to support survivors. In the summer of 2015, Ianne was accepted as one of 17 choreographers to the Stage Director and Choreographer’s Foundation ’15-’16 Observership Class. After a highly selective process, Ianne was chosen to work alongside Neel Keller, the artistic director of Los Angeles’s Center Theatre Group, on Sheila Callaghan’s Women Laughing Alone with Salad which opened March 13, 2016.

Ianne's play, A Dying Breed, which is a dystopian examination of the construct of gender in our society, premiered Off-Off Broadway at Judson Memorial Church on March 30, 2016 as a part of their Magic Time Series.

In the summer of 2016, Ianne expanded their work with young women as a teaching artist at Achievement First Brooklyn High School and co-director of the viBe stages mainstage production with viBe Theater Experience. Over the summer, Ianne also began developing In Theory: Notes on Home, Love Diaspora, and Failing Adulthood with Jackie Torres of Cracked Binding. The show premiered at the WOW Café Theatre and has been extended twice for a three show and 8 show run. In Theory is a spoken word-dance fusion about converting the pain of our past into the resistance of our future.

Ianne has also been featured on Buzzfeed LGBT (“Dressing Beyond the Binary”, "This is What Nonbinary People Want You To Know"), the You Had Me at Black podcast (“Black Cinderella”), and the Is It Transphobic? podcast (“Mixed Nuts”, "Danish Girl Pt. 1/2").

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In 2017, Ianne was in a reading of The Genius Project (False Stars) as Mykal (a role they originated and helped developed) with The Pack Theatre at Dixon Place on January 21st. A second closed reading occurred on May 21st at The Drama League. While Ianne was not able to participate in the final performance at Corkscrew Theatre Festival in September, Ianne facilitated two talkbacks for the production to great success.

Shortly after the January 21st reading, Ianne was cast in a nontraditional interpretation of A Chorus Line (directed by Rachel Broadwell) as Paul. The show premiered at the TADA! Youth Theater March 31-April 2.

In April, Ianne’s work with viBe Theatre Experience continued as a solo teaching artist developing and leading several of viBe's programs including: viBeSolos, viBeCompany, and viBeStages again in the fall of 2017.

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viBeSolos is an advanced performance program where girls craft and perform their own 15 minute “one-girl” solo pieces in collaboration with an ensemble cast. The program culminated with a performance at Irondale Theater entitled The Truth About Our World featuring nine original solo pieces about a range of societal challenges that black girls currently face, including beauty standards (and the struggle to find "beauty products" for darker skin), domestic abuse, LGBTQ identities, and the fear of living under the regime of the current administration.

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viBeCompany is viBe’s pre-professional group of young adult artists who receive ongoing training, paid performance opportunities, and who devise original theater for viBe's invited performances. viBeCompany produces and performs one full length show each year. Ianne was the choreographer and assistant director for Crown Heights: A Remembrance which was an original play that begins during the eve of the Crown Heights Riots of 1991, and takes us through the "riots" and "protests" that have happened since. The play invited a discussion about the protests and riots within our communities, our hearts, our bodies, and families.

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viBeStages is a collaborative performance experience in which 6-12 girls work with professional theater directors to write and perform an original show. in the fall of 2017, Ianne served as the solo teaching artist for the program which culminated in a performance of the participant's original show Through Our Eyes: A Black Girl's Perspective at HERE. The show was an imagining of a day in the life of the "Leesburg Girls," 12 African-American girls aged 13-15 who were detained in substandard living conditions and removed from contact from their families in Leesburg, GA for two months, in 1963.

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After finishing their work with viBeSolos in April, Ianne continued to perform as Sunday in Nicole Shanté White’s another goddamn lesbian movie/ a choreopoem. The show debuted at the Center for Performance Research on June 4th. After a successful one night performance, the performance was extended for another performance at Downtown Art on June 30 for another successful performance.  

 

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In July, Ianne joined Humanity in Action's 2017 John Lewis Fellowship in Atlanta, GA as one of the 15 US Fellows selected out of over 500 applicants. In partnership with The National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Inc.,, Ianne shared space with and learned from various historic and current civil rights leaders (including Congressman John Lewis) in Atlanta, GA in order to better understand the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement, restorative justice, and develop strategies for implementing effective change in contemporary political and social movements. The four-week inquiry and resulting blueprint for restorative justice involves a multidisciplinary approach. The Fellowship's restorative justice framework grounds the program and directs the Fellows’ to address specific, substantive, civil and human rights issues, such as education, public health, urban development, and policing.

 

  Ianne and their mother, Beth Stewart   ©CarolynSherer2013

Ianne and their mother, Beth Stewart ©CarolynSherer2013