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"TO THE SEA" Devised Musical by Nik Whitcomb through the Stillwell Institute

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"TO THE SEA" Devised Musical by Nik Whitcomb through the Stillwell Institute
Sunday, August 18 and Monday, August 19, 6:30-7:30PM
Doors open at 6PM both nights. Free and open to the public - all are welcome!

A new musical about a people that create their own community and define their own freedom on their journey to bondage.

Nik described that his intent behind his work is to promote powerful shifts in the world by telling stories in an elevated format that have a personal impact and creating space for disenfranchised voices to share their truths and connect with one another in meaningful ways.

Nik is an artist-in-residence through the Stillwell Institute for Contemporary Black Art’s residency program hosted and supported by Experimental Station.

Multi-talented musical artist, Shawn Wallace, was paired with Nik to mentor him for his residency. Shawn will be leading a free master class for the public as an extension of their work together.

The residency and performances are supported by the Paul M. Angel Family Foundation and The Field Foundation.


The Stillwell Institute for Contemporary Black Art’s mission is to recruit, develop and support contemporary Black artist and to teach art making in the Black community as a healing practice, a vehicle for social change and a viable career opportunity. The core of this mission is to set emerging Black artist in the Chicagoland area on the path to broaden their reach and opportunities. The Fellowship program is an 8 week intensive that provides a modest stipend, rehearsal space, marketing and technical support and paid mentorship to allow the artists to begin to create a new work that helps build their portfolio and offers them exposure. For more information, visit:

Nik Whitcomb is a theatre artist and casting director born and raised in Omaha, NE. Nik recently relocated to Chicago to become the inaugural Artistic/Casting Apprentice at the Goodman Theatre. He is now on the casting team of Paskal and Rudnicke, Inc, an Artistic Associate with Kokandy Productions, and a producer with the Arts Leaders of Color Network. Nik has had the honor of working with a number of theatre organizations across the Midwest including the Performing Arts Collective at the Union for Contemporary Art in Omaha, NE, Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, MN, and most recently Northlight Theatre in Skokie, IL. Nik is thrilled to be joining the first cohort with The Stillwell Institute for Contemporary Black Art and looks forward to continuing to create space for diverse bodies through powerful storytelling. 

Shawn Wallace is a multi-talented musical artist in styles ranging from Gospel to Jazz to Hip-Hop and beyond; as keyboardist, Shawn Wallace has worked with luminary artists such as Common, Ice Cube, Bobby Brown, Dwele, Johnny Gill, Jon B., Bilal, Estelle, Julie Dexter, Erykah Badu, Rene Neufville, Rakim, Eric Roberson, Maggie Brown, Ugochi and Cherisse Scott. Arrangement and composition for theatre include Ifa Bayeza’s Amistad Voices (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre) Kid Zero (Chicago Center for Performing Arts) Charleston Olio (National Black Theatre Festival) Bunk Johnson Out of the Shadows (Shadows on the Teche 2018) Shepsu Aakhu’s Warm on the Cooling Board (MPAACT 2014) and Carla Stillwell’s Lawd the CVS is Burning…a Gospel Musical Stage Play (MPACT 2015), When Good Broccoli Goes Bad (MPAACT), Rutherford’s Travels (Pegasus Theatre Fall 2016) and Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery (Pegasus Theatre Fall 2017). His independent film score credits include Severed Ties (Showcase Productions/Lions Gate Films), Puzzle Love (Storybox Productions) and Son of America (Tanskin Productions/N’Spire Entertainment INC). Sound Design credits include Love Child (Live Bait Theatre/Chicago Theatre Company), and Love Talk (Chicago Theatre Company). Commercial credits include work for Jet Magazine, Mississippi Rick’s Restaurant, Huffy Bicycles, Arby’s and Sprint. Shawn has also served as Technical Director for the Russell Talbert Dance Studio/Chicago since 1998. A native of Chicago’s Beverly/Morgan Park neighborhood and proud alum of Morgan Park High School, Shawn studied Music Theory and Composition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is currently serving as Music Director for The Emmaus Center. Shawn has worked for several years as a Teaching Artist throughout Chicago schools teaching Record Production, Band, Choir and Technical Theatre to youth from 6th through 12th grades and first the last 4 years has served as a Music Director and Composer for Storycatchers Theatre. The versatile artist made his film producing debut with Robert Goodwin with the documentary film You’ll Be A Man (Testuvaman Filmworks, 2014) and composed music, recorded and mixed the audio book version of Rayla 2212 by acclaimed author Ytasha Womack.

Joshua Miller is excited to be working with such a creative and inspiring team. He is a Chicago native artist that loves to create impactful work for the audience. He has done a variety of work including A Raisin in the Sun, Blood Wedding, Sister Act, and an immersive theatre piece called 7 Fires just to name a few. He is grateful for this opportunity to continue to tell important stories on stage.

Ian Damont Martin is a theatre/filmmaker based in Chicago. He is the Artistic Director of Haven Theatre and the Program Manager of Enrich Chicago. Recent directing credits include The Ridiculous Darkness at Sideshow Theatre Company, Twelfth Night at Midsommer Flight and The Toilet at Haven, as part of the Directors Haven 3. Ian has also worked with Goodman Theatre, Middle Coast Film Festival, the Gift Theatre, Jackalope Theatre, the DuSable Museum, the National Society of Arts and Letters, Indiana University, Ivy Tech Community College, Bloomington Playwrights Project, Youth Theatre Journal and the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Cincinnati. He received his BA in theatre and drama from Indiana University and his diploma in drama from the School for Creative and Performing Arts in Cincinnati, OH. Ian gives love and thanks to the women of color who made him the man he is today.

Ashley Joy, a Chicago native, is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago and a founding member of Connective Theatre Company. She is honored to create with such a kind and enthusiastic group of artists and is especially happy and grateful to be apart of Chicago’s wonderful theatre community. In addition to acting, Ashley dedicates her time as a secular disciple of Shaolin Kung-fu, a poet, and dancer. Her most recent collaborations have been with Sideshow Theatre, The Agency Theatre, Pride Arts Center and Emerald City Theatre. 

Jemima Charles was born and raised in Miami, Florida. She received her Bachelors of Arts degree with a concentration in Acting and a minor in Black World Studies at Columbia College Chicago in December 2017. She has worked on several productions in the theatre department at Columbia College, and has collaborated with local filmmakers to produce independent content, along with producing her own work. Jemima would like to thank everyone involved in this project for making this a rewarding experience