Will Power


Doris Duke Artist Award, 2016
Theatre

Dallas, TX

Will Power is an award-winning playwright and performer who combines classic folklore with modern elements. His work sends audiences on a path of self-discovery by discussing complex themes and attempting to answer the questions people are afraid to ask. His musical Stagger Lee (2015) spanned the twentieth century, tracing mythical characters in their quest to achieve the American Dream. Its deep-seated themes of racism and power were translated through Joplin-inspired tunes, R&B, and hip-hop. Awards and honors include the Andrew W. Mellon Playwright in Residence Fellowship, a USA Prudential Fellowship, a Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical, and a Drama Desk Award nomination, among others. Currently, he is Artist in Residence at Southern Methodist University and working on Wade in the Water. He describes it as a “Nuvo-Gospel Musical,” or a work that brings a more contemporary viewpoint to a traditional Biblical or gospel tale. It is being commissioned and developed at Center Theater Group in Los Angeles.

  • Photo Credit: Adam A. Anderson
    Will Power
  • Will Power- Stagger Lee (2015): http://vimeo.com/161540399
    Stagger Lee (2015)
  • Will Power- Fetch Clay, Make Man (2010): http://vimeo.com/161540012
    Fetch Clay, Make Man (2010)
  • Photo Credit: Sara Krulwich
    The Seven (2005)
  • Photo Credit: Sara Krulwich
    Fetch Clay, Make Man (2010)
  • Photo Credit: Karen Almond
    Stagger Lee (2015)

What are the creative challenges you face as an artist?

I’ve never been able to rest in the comfort of knowing exactly who I am and what kind of art it is that I create-particularly when it comes to form. Over the years I have explored the mediums of hip-hop theater, solo performance, the “straight play,” as well as the traditional American musical. Through them all I have tried to illuminate authentic narratives that speak to the complexities of our time. I have attempted to rest in one genre, proclaiming, “I am now and forever a… (solo-artist, playwright, lyricist/composer, etc).” However, these titles never stay fixed with me. The need to tell new stories that demand different structural forms, shakes me from the sought after comfort and pressures me to continue to reach for different artistic terrain.