Residency: Zola Dee and Derek Dubrae Jackson

Artist-In-Residence Workshop
November 28-December 16, 2022

CNP welcomes playwright Zola Dee and director Derek Dubrae Jackson to develop a new work entitled Rain – River – Ocean at CalArts.

Rain – River – Ocean is an exploration into Black Americana and mysticism. Drawing upon mythologies and folklore such as mermaids, the boo hag, and haints, Rain – River – Ocean digs into the histories that bind folks of the African diaspora together while birthing new mythologies in the devising process. Excavating the playwright’s ancestral connections to Hoodoo, the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, and South Carolina’s lowcountry, the creative team gives voice to what has been long forgotten and ignored by history.

About the Artists

Zola Dee is a playwright, poet, and vocalist whose works are deeply invested in exploring Black Americana. Her most notable work Gunshot Medley: Part I was Ovation Award recommended and published in Routledge’s Contemporary Plays by Women of Color. Her other plays include Smile, Goddamnit, Smile; Rain, River, Ocean; and Father, Father. Her work has been seen and/or developed with Rogue Machine Theater, Collaborative Artists Bloc, The Playwright’s Center, Hi-Arts, CalArts Center for New Performance, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Zola was just recently granted the NEXT commission from Antaeus Theatre Company in Los Angeles. While most of her artistic career has been based in Los Angeles, she is currently living in Minneapolis where she is a Jerome Fellow at the Playwright’s Center. She is a current member of East West Players Playwright’s Group. Other accomplishments include: member of Many Voices Fellow 2021-2022, CTG Writer’s Workshop 2019-2020, 2017-2018 Core Apprentice at The Playwright’s Center, and the 2018 Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights Diversity Fellow. 

Collaboration and community building are foundational to Zola’s mission as an artist. She currently works in the performance wing at the Walker Arts Center. She has also worked for institutions such as The Guthrie Theater and Pasadena Playhouse, The State Theater of California, where she worked as the Artistic Associate under Danny Feldman. She is a graduate from California Institute of the Arts with a BFA in Acting and a minor in Creative Writing. And she is currently managed by Management 360 in Los Angeles.

Derek Dubrae Jackson is a Los Angeles based teaching artist, director, actor, and the proud recipient of the Best Male Lead, NAACP Theater Award, for his work in Gunshot Medley: Part I. Derek has performed at some of the most beloved and important theatrical spaces, both nationally and internationally. Derek believes in the transformative, healing power of art and feels a great sense of responsibility in telling stories that matter and push communities/narratives forward.

Derek is a graduate of California Institute of the Arts, with a degree in Acting. He has established a career in devised theater and adapting text as an actor, writer, and director. He is most interested in exploring the creative process as a spiritual and intuitive experience. His work consistently pushes artistic boundaries, examining the world beyond text, movement, and other external elements. His process involves the investigation of how one’s own awareness of self and energy can be an integral collaborator, within the practice of storytelling.

Derek’s upbringing and current beliefs as a Christian very much influence and parallel the spaces he cultivates for others creatively. The rehearsal room as sanctuary, the script as biblical, and the work as sacred. Artists are then led to discover and reveal the God that lives inside each of them, uniquely. Derek pursues a conscious effort to inspire freedom and healing, as a way to return to art’s primal intention of community.

Beyond Derek’s national and international theatrical experience, his work has also been featured on Netflix and Prime Video. As an actor and collaborator, he is currently in preparation to revive his leading role in Dahlak Brathwaite’s Try/Step/Trip, which is set to perform at the Wallis Annenberg in Beverly Hills. He is also workshopping Black Box written and directed by Hip-Hop Theater pioneer Rickerby Hinds.

As a director, Derek is currently developing Zola Dee’s Rain – River – Ocean. He is also workshopping Inobe’s Black Beautiful, which seeks to educate audiences on a brief history and the current state of the Black community, while offering a creative take on steps African Americans can take to regain control of their narrative and thereby regain control of their collective future.