Cristal Chanelle Truscott

Cristal Chanelle Truscott

She // Her // Hers

[ID: A Black woman smiles warmly into the camera. She wears a royal blue headwrap and large silver earring hoops.]

Portrait photo by Melanie Villegas and Muhammad Jibreel.

Ensemble Theatre Artist and Culture Worker
Chicago, IL
2023 USA Fellow

This award was generously supported by the Walder Foundation.

Cristal Chanelle Truscott, PhD, is a culture worker, scholar, educator, playwright, director, founder of the touring ensemble Progress Theatre, and creator of “SoulWork” — a generative method for making performance, training artists, engaging communities and framing analytical research that is rooted in generations-old African American cultural practices, theories, and performance traditions. Dr. Truscott is a recipient of the Doris Duke Impact Artist Award, the Creative Capital Award, and grants from the MAP Fund, NPN Creation Fund, and NEFA National Theatre Project.

Through SoulWork Studio, she offers training to empower artists and arts educators to engage the fullness of their identities by cultivating creative power through an inclusive and socially-conscious performance practice. With Progress Theatre, she writes and directs acapella musicals called “NeoSpirituals” that span and straddle time between histories and the present to explore identities, inheritances/legacies, and cultural movements to encourage connection, consciousness, and healing.

As a performance studies scholar, she researches and writes about cultural performance as an object and a method of inquiry tracing the arts’ essential role in movements for liberation using the theory she developed called the “Cultural Conservatory.” She received her PhD from New York University, and, as an educator, she has held positions at HBCUs Spelman College and Prairie View A&M University. Currently an Associate Professor of Graduate Acting and Performance Studies at Northwestern University, Dr. Truscott teaches SoulWork practice and Cultural Conservatory theory as a pioneering pedagogy that diversifies and decolonizes theater and performance training in higher education.

  • Artwork by Cristal Chanelle Truscott
    Image from The Burnin'. Photo by Melissa Cardona.
    [ID: A group of performers pose in period attire from the 1940s. Two women kneel in front with their hands reaching to the audience, while the performers behind them crouch in different positions. All look out towards an audience behind the camera.]
Artwork by Cristal Chanelle Truscott Artwork by Cristal Chanelle Truscott