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Cornerstone Theater Company welcomes new Co- Artistic Directors, Charlotte Brathwaite and Sunder Ganglani

Cornerstone Theater Company is starting a thrilling new chapter in our history. With immense enthusiasm we welcome new Co-Artistic Directors, Charlotte Brathwaite and Sunder Ganglani. 

“On behalf of the Search Community, composed of Cornerstone Board, staff, ensemble, and community members, we are proud and excited to welcome Charlotte and Sunder to the company,” says Board member, Mark Valdez. “These are two artists of great talent and generosity who will lead us into a new epoch of community engaged art-making. As only the third Artistic Directors in our 37-year history, this represents a milestone moment for us, and we couldn’t be happier to enter this new era with these two wonderful humans.”

After 17 years as Cornerstone’s Artistic Director, Michael John Garcés stepped down in June 2023. Cornerstone’s Board of Directors engaged Tom O’Connor Consulting Group to assist in only the second Artistic Director search in our 37 year history. Working alongside TOCG, we assembled a Search Committee with representation from the board, ensemble, and staff as well as community members and outside stakeholders. The process of the search has been an occasion for collective reflection, learning and relationship building.  

After long-time collaborators Charlotte Brathwaite and Sunder Ganglani applied together to lead the organization, Cornerstone welcomed the opportunity to adopt a co-leadership model as an invitation for a new collaborative artistic process. They will be joining Managing Director Megan Wanlass in a leadership triumvirate. Cornerstone’s Ensemble structure is an intentional shared decision-making model, albeit not in all areas of responsibility. Charlotte and Sunder’s team application demonstrated their dedication to creative collaboration and desire to engage complex communication. 

Charlotte Brathwaite is a creator and director of original genre-defying works that illuminate the realities and dreams of those whose stories have been marginalized,  silenced and ignored. Her trans-disciplinary inquiry manifests as immersive rituals of the body, color and music in collaboration with artists such as Meshell Ndegeochello, Jacqueline Woodson, adrienne maree brown, Abigail DeVille, Justin Hicks, Ayesha Jordan, June Cross, Sunder Ganglani, Peter Sellars, Kyle Abraham and Malick Welli amongst others.  She has received major grants, awards and fellowships including Doris Duke, United States Artists, Art Matters, Creative Capital and the Princess Grace. Her work has been presented at festivals and venues across the globe in North and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. Charlotte is also an educator of the arts and has an MFA in Directing from Yale University.

Sunder Ganglani is an artist who works in collaboration between forms: music, theater, civil disobedience, pedagogy, performance. As a former Co-Artistic Director of The Foundry Theater in New York City his works with W. David Hancock, Ariana Reines, Claudia Rankine, David Greenspan, Melanie Joseph and many others have toured nationally and internationally, and won all kinds of awards. More recently his work has focused on music and justice – as a dramaturg he’s made operas and new experiments in music with Esperanza Spalding, Helga Davis, Charlotte Brathwaite, Justin Hicks, and Darius Jones. As a musician, composer, and organizer he’s grateful to have a creative home with The Stop Shopping Choir community in New York City where he works with Billy Talen, Savitri D, and the 45 member choir as chosen family. He’s received grants, fellowships and been awarded residencies, he studied Anthropology at UMass Amherst, Dramaturgy at Yale, and he was raised in Salem, Massachusetts by parents from opposite ends of the earth, and a sister and brother.

Cornerstone’s incoming Co-Artistic Directors, Charlotte Brathwaite and Sunder Ganglani shared, “We’re honored to be invited to join the Cornerstone community and excited to map its future. Cornerstone asks questions that shouldn’t be so radical but they are – what do we make when we really know each other, when our artforms are modes of care not commerce, when we put ourselves on the line and consent to being transformed by what we don’t understand? These questions are still radical and necessary to ask, and answer again and again – over and over again in as many ways as possible – right now, in real time. For over a decade, the center of our creative partnership has been asking questions that challenge understanding – of ourselves as human beings and the world at large. This work creates new worlds from collective inquiry, it dissolves boundaries of form and genre, and like Cornerstone’s work, it opens new ways of knowing each other. We’re filled with gratitude to find an institutional home at Cornerstone, to keep going, to question, to listen, to transform and be transformed, to imagine on beautiful and exciting terms our common liberation by rehearsing the worlds we imagine and making them real.” 

“Cornerstone’s ensemble tends to choose the most complex option when consenting to projects, partnerships and other big decisions,” says ensemble member and Director of Engagement, Paula Donnelly. “It’s fair to say that decisions that include less-than-obvious solutions are, for us, the most interesting, engaging and artistically satisfying. Inviting two excellent & thoughtful artistic partners to lead the company is on-brand for us. Does it sound both complex and rewarding? Yes, please, and welcome!”

Upcoming Cornerstone projects include: Body Politic, a theatrical work engaging with social change movements to explore the relationship between activism and the body in collaboration with choreographer Ana María Álvarez, Artistic Director of CONTRA-TIEMPO, and activists working for social transformation; and a project in development with the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. 

ABOUT CORNERSTONE THEATER COMPANY

Founded in 1986 by Bill Rauch and Alison Carey, Cornerstone Theater Company collaborates with communities. Our work reflects complexity, disrupts assumptions, welcomes difference, and amplifies joy. We aim to advance a more compassionate, equitable and just world. By combining the artistry of people with many levels of theatrical experience, we act upon the conviction that artistic expression is civic engagement and that access to a creative forum is essential to the wellness and health of every individual and community. 

Follow us on social media @cornerstonetheater on Facebook and Instagram, @cornerstonethtr on Twitter and youtube.com/CornerstoneTheater.

Charlotte Brathwaite photographed by Malick Welli

Sunder Ganglani photographed by Francisca Benitez


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