Announcing the 2016-17 Continuation Grant


Network of Ensemble Theaters Awards $10,000 NET/TEN Continuation Grant
to Pangea World Theater & Carlton Turner

PORTLAND, OR -- Network of Ensemble Theaters (NET) is pleased to award a $10,000 NET/TEN Continuation Grant to Pangea World Theater (Minneapolis, MN) and Carlton Turner of M.U.G.A.B.E.E. (Utica, MS). The two partners will continue the artistic development of River Sols, an extension of a collaboration between Pangea and Turner to disrupt the narrow and didactic framing of race in America as a black/white paradigm. The NET/TEN Continuation Grant is part of Network of Ensemble Theaters’ Travel and Exchange Network (NET/TEN), and is designed to sustain and move forward relationships previously funded by NET/TEN Exchange Grants.

The NET/TEN program is supported by lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. In the past five years of the program, NET has received approximately 720 applications for Travel and Exchange Grants, and has awarded close to $650K to 140 projects to support relationship building and knowledge sharing between NET members and project partners. The awarded projects have occurred in 34 states and 26 countries.

“The NET/TEN program is designed to prioritize relationships and knowledge sharing rather than final products,” shares Park Cofield, NET Field Resources Manager. “We added the Continuation Grant component to the program in 2015 to address the significant number of potential projects that have come out of previously funded Exchange Grant activities, and the many indications that project partners want to keep working together.”

The 2017 NET/TEN Continuation Grant recipients -- Pangea World Theater and Carlton Turner -- will continue a relationship that started last year as part of a 2015-16 NET/TEN Exchange Grant. Their previously funded activities resulted in three separate residencies of exchange and engagement with Meena Natarajan, Director and Executive Director of Pangea World Theater; Dipankar Mukherjee, Actor and Pangea’s Artistic Director; and Carlton Turner of M.U.G.A.B.E.E., a Mississippi-based performing arts group. Together they gathered diverse communities in Mississippi, Minneapolis, and Philadelphia for story circles exploring race through the lens of African American and immigrant (specifically South Asian) experiences. These stories directly informed their collaborative work on River Sols, a performance under development for production in 2018.

The $10,000 award will support three artistic residencies over six months to complete the writing for River Sols and further develop the performance. Pangea World Theater and Turner will continue to explore Race: North and South on the Mississippi between African Americans and immigrant communities as they continue to devise the new production. The Continuation Grant allows the three artists to deepen their relationship, continue to learn from each other, and share best practices with the field. Activities will occur in Mississippi as part of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation; in Dallas, TX at Southern Methodist University; and at Pangea World Theater in Minneapolis, MN.

More information about their previous collaboration can be found in the NET Shareback Library in “A Workshop of Collaborative Politics,” an article that came out of their work together. The NET Shareback Library is a compilation of articles, videos, recordings, exercises, and other resources provided by grantees following their NET/TEN grant activities. It is available at:


River Sols has been in development since 2015, and is under the direction of Meena Natarajan, Director and Executive Director of Pangea World Theater. The project examines race from the perspectives of African American and South Asian communities along the Mississippi River, from the Twin Cities to Utica, MS; and from the U.S. to India. Weaving a tapestry of stories, songs, movement, and language, River Sols will become an Afro-Indo futurism Sankofa sci-fi journey of devised theater spanning two countries and flowing down two great rivers, encompassing many people and cultures, spaces and times.

Through River Sols, audience and performers will journey to a baptism on the banks of the Mississippi River in the Deep South and a funeral ritual on the Ganges river. It features transactional interactions between individuals from both African American and South Asian communities, songs about rivers, a series of encounters with a cryptic Yogi, and takes the view on board a spaceship in the we-don’t-know-when future as the present becomes the future’s past. Through this project, artists Dipankar Mukherjee, Meena Natarajan, and Carlton Turner will harness personal narratives infused with community stories of identity, culture, faith, and family.

River Sols is an NPN Creation Fund recipient and is commissioned by Ignite Arts (Dallas, TX), Asian Arts Initiative (Philadelphia, PA), and the Mississippi Center for Cultural Production (Utica, MS).


Pangea World Theater (Minneapolis, MN) -

Founded in 1995 and led by Dipankar Mukherjee and Meena Natarajan, Pangea World Theater produces, commissions, and presents cross-cultural ensemble based collaborations that are defined, programmed, and led by people of color. Pangea produces work written by people of color, Indigenous, and immigrant playwrights with more than 75% of their work written by women of color. Pangea creates theater and programming with a multi-ethnic ensemble of actors and community artists. In order to set the work in a social, historical and cultural context, they present performances in conjunction with workshops, master classes, discussions, and outreach to schools and local social justice organizations. Their performances, workshops, community dialogues, and other events serve 8,000-10,000 youth and adults annually.


Carlton Turner is co-founder and co-artistic director, along with his brother Maurice Turner, of the group M.U.G.A.B.E.E. (Men Under Guidance Acting Before Early Extinction). M.U.G.A.B.E.E. is a Mississippi-based performing arts group that blends jazz, hip-hop, spoken word poetry, and soul music together with non-traditional storytelling. Carlton Turner is also Executive Director of Alternate ROOTS, a regional non-profit arts organization based in the south supporting artists working at the intersection of arts and social justice. Carlton is currently on the board of Appalshop, First People’s Fund, and Imagining America. He is a member of the We Shall Overcome Fund Advisory Board at the Highlander Center, a steering committee member of the Arts and Culture Social Justice Network, and a former Network of Ensemble Theaters steering committee member.

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The peer panel for the 2016-17 round of Continuation Grants included: Bear Hebert, Co-Artistic Director, NEW NOISE & Core Organizer, Last Call (New Orleans, LA);
Michael Premo, Artist, Executive Producer, Storyline (New York, NY); Christine Suarez, Artistic Director/Choreographer, SuarezDanceTheater (Los Angeles, CA).

The NET/TEN grant program is supported by lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Download a PDF version of the press release

Contact: Park Cofield, Field Resources Manager / 323.638.4870

Posted by: 
Thursday, September 21, 2017
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