Sabriaya Shipley Joins Theatre Philadelphia as First LGBTQ+ Black Executive Director

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

After an extensive search, the Board of Directors of Theatre Philadelphia is excited to announce that they have hired Sabriaya Shipley (she/they) as the organization’s new Executive Director. Shipley will immediately take the reins of the region’s theatre marketing and leadership organization as the 2022-2023 arts season is about to begin. Shipley is a Philadelphia-based playwright, poet, educator, storyteller, artist and community ethnographer who brings experience working with community organizations and theatre companies, including Theatre Exile, Power Street Theatre, Painted Bride Art Center, Colored Girls Museum, Mural Arts Philadelphia, Philadelphia Young Playwrights and many others. Named a 2019 A+ Educator by Philadelphia Family Magazine and a 2021 Black Lives Matter Philly Educator /Fellow, Shipley holds a BA in Theatre from Temple University and a MA in Social Justice and Community Organizing from Prescott College. A recipient of the 2021-2022 Philadelphia Foundation and Forman Art’s Initiative Art Works grant and the Rosine 2.0 Past Visions/ Future Archives Micro-Grant, Shipley is determined to cultivate performance art and archival spaces centered around the expressive freedom of Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities.

“As an LGBTQ Black artist, my journey in theatre in Philadelphia has met me with several opportunities to collaborate at the intersections of various communities,” said Shipley. “I look forward to the opportunity my leadership at Theatre Philadelphia gives me to create archives honoring a thorough and inclusive history of theatre in Philadelphia, rooms for radical collaborative action and fostering the next generation of theatre makers.”

“With this new role, I aim to cultivate programming, community discussions and ethnography that explores the intersections of the Theatre Philadelphia community in working with our youth, talking with our elders and fostering conversation centered around acknowledging problems with actions to meet solutions. In five years, I see Theatre Philadelphia operating even more as a hub where theatre and art makers can meet on neutral ground that is also radical in meeting the community where it is through resources, space, and time spent.”

Shipley added, “I am determined to continue to be open to studying, receiving, and cultivating decolonized art spaces. Spaces centered around preserving underrepresented stories. My artistic practice asks communities to participate alongside me in exploring their intersections through various art mediums such as poetry, digital media, archiving, playwriting, photography, and more.”

With the hiring of the new Executive Director, the board of Theatre Philadelphia is looking to the future as the theatre scene continues to recover from the pandemic.

“On behalf of the board, I would like to let you know how thrilled we are to have Sabriaya helming Theatre Philadelphia,” said Theatre Philadelphia Board of Directors President Jason Linder. “Her skills and experience offer an embarrassment of riches in organizing, production, education, and development. In particular, Sabriaya brings a community investment centered on outreach that is truly inspiring. We’re so excited to support their vision for the future of this organization.”

Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Shipley has now lived in Philadelphia since 2014. Shipley currently resides in North Philadelphia. They have collaborated as an educator, artist, and artistic advisor with several community based organizations and art spaces such as Theatre Exile, Power Street Theatre, the Painted Bride Art Center, the Colored Girls Museum, Mural Arts Philadelphia, Philadelphia Young Playwrights, New Voice for Reproductive Justice, Residency 11:11 in London, Girls Rock Philly, and Tree House Books where they served as a Literacy Program Director decolonizing access to literacy for Black & Brown North Philly Youth. Shipley is a co-founder of Griot Girls, a youth writing collective for young Black girls. Her first publication “Somewhere Between God & Mammy” was released in January 2022.

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