Velvet Wells, Theatre Professional

Velvet Duke at INTERSECTION. Photo: Brent Robichaud

Velvet (they/them) is a proud Black, autistic, queer, disabled, velvet-voiced creator, and an award winning, professional devised theatre artist living in Ottawa. 

Velvet’s professional break was Mr. Dressup (1988). They’ve honed their identity and purpose across multiple disciplines, ever since.

Velvet created Velvet Duke Productions, a transmedia company to feature their devised theatre pieces in live and virtual spaces. Velvet toured “Personal Demon Hunter” (Toronto & Victoria Fringe Festivals, 2019). Velvet created virtual experiences: “Boldly Blerd Trek” (Orlando Fringe, 2020); “Djinn Joint” (The Primetime Festival, Toronto Fringe, 2021), and Velvet Duke’s Family Friendly Comedy Concert (Queen West Arts Crawl, 2021). “(Re)Tired Magical Black Man” (Ottawa Fringe, 2022) earned the “Emerging Artist” award of excellence.

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

Facilitator

Velvet has lead musical, narrative, and equity workshops through organizations around the world — most recently, Stratford Festival and Queen City Comedy.

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

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.

In 2022, Velvet joined the Black Pledge Collective as an Ottawa regional delegate and facilitator.

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.

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.

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