Velvet Wells, Theatre Professional

Velvet Duke at INTERSECTION. Photo: Brent Robichaud

Velvet (they/them) is a Black, autistic, queer, disabled professional devised theatre artist living in Ottawa

In 2023, Velvet is writing “Anansi Discovers His Reflection” and producing “All Request Radio”

In 2022, “(Re)Tired Magical Black Man” earned three awards: Emerging Artist (Ottawa Fringe Festival); Most Accessible Show (Halifax Fringe Festival); and National Emerging Artist (JRG Society for the Arts); the show was nominated for five Prix Rideau Awards categories. Additionally, Velvet performed at three curated festivals: LuminaTO, Toronto Pride, and Fresh Meat. Velvet produced shows for Ottawa Fringe Festival and Halifax Fringe Festival, and developed another show on the Shenkman Arts Centre stage (ARTicipate project grant)

In 2020 and 2021, Velvet created virtually: “Divine & Conquer” (fringelivestream), “Boldly Blerd Trek” (Orlando Fringe), “Djinn Joint” (The Primetime Festival), and “Velvet Duke’s Family Friendly Comedy Concert” (Queen West Arts Crawl). “Personal Demon Hunter” (Toronto & Victoria Fringe Festival, 2019) was their first show

Facilitator

An agent of empowerment, Velvet’s improvisational workshops help people develop their performance excellence. Organizations include: Improv College, Edinburgh International Improv Festival, SC Johnson, and Guelph Pride

Organizations and Festivals
Art Gallery of MississaugaMontreal Improv
Black and Funny FestivalOakville Improv Theatre Company
Bright FuturesQueen City Comedy
Edinburgh International Improv FestivalSC Johnson
Everybody Get In Here FestivalStratford Festival
Guelph Black Heritage Society / Heritage Hall Theatre CompanyTheatre on the Edge
Guelph PrideVintage Improv Festival
Highwire ImprovMiles Nidal / Wagner-Green Center for Access & Inclusion

Community Leader

In 2022, Velvet joined the Black Pledge Collective as an Ottawa regional delegate and facilitator. Velvet co-led multiple-day Pre-Rehearsal Orientation workshops at the Stratford Festival, alongside other Black Pledge facilitators.

For their community building work during the pandemic, Velvet was recognized as a Quiet Hero and Community Builder by his international peers during the 2020 Everybody Get In Here Improv Festival. Velvet created musical jams, BIPOC and game-based duo shows, engaged in the community groups and supported others with their shows.

From 2020 to 2021, Velvet volunteered as part of (pre LLC community-led organization) Black Improv Alliance as an event producer (Black Joy Fridays and the Everybody Get In Here Festival 2020). In 2021, Velvet took on the the title of Operations Director and responsibilities expanded to creating and organizing the In Kindness free workshop program, managing logistics, platform support, document management, and website updates

Training

In addition to adult education training, Velvet is a conservatory graduate of The International Improv Station and Second City Toronto Training Centre. They continue to broaden their training through devised theatre performance master classes from organizations around the world, including Improv College

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