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Cristal Chanelle Truscott
Associate Professor
Performance Studies

Cristal Chanelle Truscott

Cristal Chanelle Truscott is a playwright, director, scholar, culture worker, facilitator, and founder of Progress Theatre (PT), a touring ensemble company using theatre as anti-racism engagement to encourage cross-community conversations, connections, and consciousness. As a playwright and director she creates “NeoSpirituals,” or acapella musicals using “SoulWork,” the generative method she developed from generations-old African American performance traditions. (See “SoulWork” in Black Acting Methods, Routledge, 2016). Her plays blend pop culture and academic conversations, fusing genre from Negro Spirituals and Folklore to Blues, R&B, and Hip Hop to produce performances that span and straddle time between histories and the present to engage communities across race, class, gender and spiritual identity.

Her artistic work has garnered recognition and grants from the likes of the 2019 Creative Capital Award, the National Theatre Project Grant (New England Foundation for the Arts), Ford Foundation, Theatre Communications Group, National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts, MAP Fund, and the National Performance Network’s Creation Fund Grant. She is a recipient of the Doris Duke Impact Artist Award, which honors artists who are influential in the shaping of powerful creative movements in contemporary dance, jazz, theatre, and related multidisciplinary work. For more about her work, visit

Dr. Truscott’s scholarly research focuses on representations of spiritual diversity in African American Theatre before 1950, most recently featured in The Routledge Companion to African American Theater and Performance (2018). She has served as assistant editor of the performance journal, TDR: The Drama Review; associate editor for Azizah Magazine; and on the editorial boards of the publications Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory and Black Masks Magazine: Theater and Entertainment.


PhD in Performance Studies, New York University

MA in Performance Studies, New York University

BFA in Theatre with a minor in Africana Studies (cum laude), New York University, Tisch School of the Arts, Experimental Theatre Wing (ETW)

Research and Projects

Dr. Truscott is currently working on her book SoulWork: Methodology from the Cultural Conservatory, which traces the development, philosophy, and practical application of her generative method for training artists, building ensemble performance, and connecting communities. Soul Work is a comprehensive training method and generative practice for acting, directing, playwriting, devising, ensemble building, and community engagement designed to cultivate emotional, social, and creative power in artistic expression.

New Musical In Development

Plantation Remix, a site-responsive acapella musical, will be performed at historic plantations and related sites to revisit, raze, and reimagine the separatist genre of plantation tourism by rehabilitating the singular story of antebellum glory through shared histories and multiperspective narratives of both enslaved and slave-holding families and their descendants, with a central tenet that no American identity—across a multicultural range of experiences—is left uninformed by the systemic and sociocultural descendants of US Slavery.

Completed Original “Neo-Spirituals,” acapella musicals

  • The Burnin’, premiered 2013, toured 2013-2017
  • ‘MEMBUH: Confessions of The Only Generation, premiered 2003, toured 2003-2008
  • PEACHES, premiered 2000, toured 2001-2011

Scholarly Research

Dr. Truscott’s scholarly research investigates and excavates oral traditions, cultural knowledge and community practices as performance methodology for use by artists/practitioners, educators, community-invested programs and arts organizations seeking to offer inclusive, dynamic artist training, curricula and/or programming. Her research interests also include examination and analysis of representations of spiritual diversity in African American Theatre before 1950, featured in The Routledge Companion to African American Theater and Performance (2018).

Selected Awards

  • Creative Capital Award, 2019
  • New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) National Theatre Project Grant, 2011 & 2018
  • Intercultural Leadership Institute Fellowship, 2017
  • MAP Fund Award, 2016
  • The Idea Fund Grant, 2016
  • Network of Ensemble Theater’s Exchange Grant, 2015
  • Doris Duke Foundation for the Arts’ Impact Artist Award, 2014
  • National Performance Network Creation Fund Grant, 2002 & 2013

Professional Organizations and Affiliations

  • Alternate ROOTS: Intersection of Art and Activism (ROOTS)
  • Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) – Senior Arts Advisor
  • Network of Ensemble Theaters (NET) – Board Member 2007-2014
  • Black Theatre Network (BTN)
  • Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE)
  • Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Arts (DDFIA)
  • National Performance Network (NPN)
  • Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP)
  • Arts x Culture x Social Justice Network (ACSJN)

Selected Publications and Presentations



  • University of North Carolina “SoulWork: Performance as Freedom” (Chapel Hill, NC — February 2019)
  • New York University “Remixing Theatre: Staging Ideas & Issues” (Florence, Italy – April 2018)
  • University of Virginia Plantation Remix: Site-Performance as Intervention, Dynamic Memorialization and Empathy-building Transformation” (Charlottesville, VA – October 2017)
  • MD Anderson Cancer Center “Rehearsing Diversity” (Houston, TX – July 2017 & November 2016)
  • Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Arts “Arts in Addressing Islamophobia” (New York, NY – March 2017)
  • Assoc. for Theatre in Higher Education, “SoulWork in Black Acting Methods” (Chicago – August 2016)
  • Rice University “Enter Faith: Practicing Hard Tolerance” (Houston, TX – 2013-2015)
  • Ashé Cultural Arts Center, “SoulWork: Singing for Movement Building” (New Orleans, LA – March 2015)
  • (X) Speaks, 50-year Retrospective: A Collaborative, Performance-based, Social-Practice Reading of Malcolm X’s Final Speeches w/ Artist Nsenga Knight. ( – February 2015)
  • Alternate ROOTS, “Decolonizing Aesthetics” (Arden, NC – 2014)
  • Network of Ensemble Theatres – Intersection Symposium: “Ensembles + Universities + Community” (New York, NY – 2014)
  • Assoc. for Theatre in Higher Education, Annual Conference “Ensemble Theatre And Pedagogy” (2013)