Cristal Chanelle Truscott

Photo of Cristal Truscott
Visiting Professor of Community Engagement,
Theatre & Dance Program
Room #300, Annex Studio, Flagg Building
[email protected]


Cristal Chanelle Truscott is a playwright, director, scholar, culture worker, facilitator and founder of Progress Theatre (PT), a touring ensemble company using theatre as anti-racism engagement to encourage cross-community conversations, connections and consciousness. As a playwright and director she creates “NeoSpirituals,” or acapella musicals using, "SoulWork," the generative method she developed from generations-old African American performance traditions. Her plays blend pop-culture and academic conversations, fusing genre from Negro Spirituals and Folklore to Blues, R&B and Hip Hop to produce performances that span and straddle time between histories and the present to support the healing of communities. Learn more about her work at

Truscott’s artistic work has garnered recognition and grants from the likes of the 2019 Creative Capital Award, the National Theatre Project Grant (New England Foundation for the Arts), Ford Foundation, Theatre Communications Group, National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts, MAP Fund and the National Performance Network’s Creation Fund Grant. She is a recipient of the Doris Duke Impact Artist Award, which honors artists who are influential in the shaping of powerful creative movements in contemporary dance, jazz, theatre and related multidisciplinary work.

Research & Projects

Dr. Truscott is currently working on her book SoulWork: Methodology from the Cultural Conservatory, which traces the development, philosophy and practical application of her generative method for training artists, building ensemble performance and connecting communities. Soul Work is a comprehensive method and practice for acting, directing, playwriting, devising, ensemble building and community engagement designed to create heightened levels social and civic power in artistic expression.

New Musical In Development

Plantation Remix, a site-responsive acapella musical, will be performed at historic plantations and related sites to revisit, raze and reimagine the separatist genre of plantation tourism by rehabilitating the singular story of antebellum glory through shared histories and multiperspective narratives of both enslaved and slave-holding families and their descendants, with a central tenet that no American identity – across a multicultural range of experiences – is left uninformed by the systemic and sociocultural descendants of US Slavery.

Completed Original "Neo-Spirituals," acapella musicals

  • The Burnin', premiered 2013, touring 2013-present
  • 'MEMBUH: Confessions of The Only Generation, premiered 2003, toured 2003-2008
  • PEACHES, premiered 2000, toured 2001-2011

Scholarly Research

Dr. Truscott's scholarly research focuses on representations of spiritual diversity in African American Theatre before 1950.


  • Creative Capital Award, 2019
  • New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) National Theatre Project Grant, 2011 & 2018
  • Intercultural Leadership Institute Fellowship, 2017
  • MAP Fund Award, 2016
  • The Idea Fund Grant, 2016
  • Network of Ensemble Theater's Exchange Grant, 2015
  • Doris Duke Foundation for the Arts' Impact Artist Award, 2014
  • National Performance Network Creation Fund Grant, 2002 & 2013


  • “The 3rd Gift of The Negro” in The Routledge Companion to African American Theater and Performance. Eds. K. Perkins, S. Richards, R. Craft, and T. DeFranz. Routledge, 2018.
  • “SoulWork” in Black Acting Methods. Eds. Sharrell D. Luckett and Tia M. Shaffer. Routledge, 2016.
  • “Peaches #1” in Audition Monologues for Young Women #2. Ed. Gerald Ratliff. Meriwether, Ltd., 2013.
  • PEACHES in Plays from the Boom Box Galaxy. Ed. Kim Euell. Theater Communications Group, 2009.


  • PhD in Performance Studies, New York University
  • MA in Performance Studies, New York University
  • BFA in Theatre with a minor in Africana Studies (cum laude), New York University, Tisch School of the Arts

Professional Organizations & Affiliations

  • Network of Ensemble Theaters (NET) - Board Member 2007-2014
  • Black Theatre Network (BTN)
  • National Performance Network (NPN)
  • InnerCity Muslim Action Network (IMAN) - Senior Arts Advisor
  • Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE)
  • Alternate ROOTS: Intersection of Art and Activism (ROOTS)
  • Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP)
  • Arts x Culture x Social Justice Network (ACSJN)