a) My name means “awaken the people.”
b) Teaching is in my blood.
c) I carry within me a long line of educators – from a great grandfather, headmaster and first Black Superintendent of Schools on the island of Dominica, to my mother a dedicated public school teacher who served on Peel Board of Canada’s first Anti-Racism Task Force. I was that little Black girl who on the first day of summer vacation, in a pop-up tent in the yard, would assemble my best friend and our stuffed toys and play school. Any wonder then that I, working actor and published poet, say a joyful yes to teaching and guest artist opportunities when my creative schedule allows? I believe in education as liberatory praxis – that teaching is an art form, and acting studios, poetry workshops, seminars and classrooms, even Zoom rooms, can be sites of transformation.
Fall 2016, Nehassaiu joined Princeton University’s Lewis Center for The Arts roster of artist-practitioners, where she has developed and taught semester-long classes in Beginning Studies in Acting, Fundamentals of Theater (co-taught with Aaron Landsman,) as well as Guest Directing and Advising Senior Theatre Certificate Projects. She successfully pivoted her process-focused Acting curriculum to Zoom in Fall ’20 and was part of Princeton’s great return to in-person teaching in Fall ’21. Nehassaiu is next slated to teach at Princeton in Spring ’23 (pending no other commitments.)
Spring/Summer 2021, Nehassaiu served as Program Director and Voice/Text Faculty for Boston Co-Lab, a BIPOC Summer Acting Intensive initiated by Front Porch Arts Collective in collaboration with Commonwealth Shakespeare Co. "Tapped as Voice/Text Faculty for Co-Lab’s inaugural session in 2020, I was invited back, this time to build upon my 2020 offering to envision, staff and implement an overarching curriculum placing the works of language-rich playwrights of the Black diaspora in dynamic conversation with the works of Shakespeare. My approach went beyond Co-Lab’s seed vision to constructively elaborate for BIPOC actors how a grounding in Blues cosmologies can tune our instruments and imaginations to the works of August Wilson, Suzan-Lori Parks, Lynn Nottage and others in the same way keen attention to Elizabethan cosmologies can deepen a Shakespearean actor’s craft. To ground our exploration in the rich aesthetic legacies brilliant Black playwrights are reinterpreting and innovating upon frees us up to insightfully engage in joyous, rigorous play when approaching heightened language. "
(Boston Co-Lab will be on hiatus Summer ’22, while Front Porch Arts Collective settles into its exciting new residency at Huntington Theatre.)
How deeply satisfying it is to combine my MA in African American Studies research with my Acting training and real-world experience to offer an alchemical approach to Voice/Text. How exciting so many others find my work compelling. October 22 2021, I was at Boston University leading two back-to-back guest masterclasses on Blues Aesthetics: Wilson & Shakespeare to the BFA/BA students.
To enquire about Nehassaiu’s availability for masterclasses, workshops, curated conversations and artist residencies, please Contact us.
Based in NYC, Nehassaiu’s past teaching adventures include faculty, guest artist and teaching artist residencies at RISD, Rhode Island College, Brown University, University of The Arts, School One, ¡City Arts! Concordia University’s Simone de Beauvoir Institute, Goddard College, Mind-Builders in the Bronx, The Birch Wathen Lenox School on Manhattan’s UES, Shakespeare & Co. and Temple University.
(Nehassaiu's academic c.v. may be provided upon request)