Doris Duke Artist Award, 2015
New York, NY & Ashland, OR
Mildred Ruiz-Sapp is an actor, vocalist, poet, and playwright born and raised on the Lower East Side of New York. In 1995, she and her husband, Steven Sapp, co-founded UNIVERSES, a national/international poetic musical theatre ensemble. With UNIVERSES, she has developed and performed in Party People (2012-2014), about former Black Panther and Young Lords members untangling a traumatic past and unclear future; Spring Training (2013), using Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring to explore urban rites of passage; Ameriville (2009-2014), using Hurricane Katrina as an entry point to exploring race, class, poverty, and immigration; and Slanguage (2001- 2009) tracking a unique mix of language and culture that is life on American streets; among other plays. She was a founding team member of THE POINT, a nonprofit, arts and economic development organization revitalizing the South Bronx. Honors include a NEFA National Theater Project grant (2011), an NPN Creation Fund grant (2009), and a Ford Foundation grant (2006). UNIVERSES is the current and first ever Ensemble in Residence at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.