IN RESIDENCE:January 16 – 29, 2024

Nia Witherspoon’s new work, Priestess of Twerk: A Black Femme Temple to Pleasure + Wisdom School – inspired equally by the “bad bitches” of hip-hop, the reproductive justice movement, and the sacred sex workers that graced Egyptian temples – presents women and trans folks of color with opportunities to re-encounter their sexualities through the lens of the sacred, in the hopes of increasing bodily autonomy and dispelling toxic masculinity.

Nia O. Witherspoon is a Black Queer theatre maker, vocalist and composer, and cultural worker investigating the metaphysics of Black liberation, desire, and diaspora.

Described as “especially fascinating” by Backstage Magazine, and featured by NPR for her curation of BlackARTSMatter, Witherspoon is the Multimedia Writer-in-Residence at Fordham University, a Creative Capital Awardee, a Jerome New Artist Fellow, an artist in residence at HERE and BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange, and was a 2017-18 2050 Playwriting/Directing Fellow at New York Theatre Workshop.

Her works, MESSIAH, YOU MINE, THE DARK GIRL CHRONICLES, and PRIESTESS OF TWERK have been or will be featured by The Shed, JACK, La Mama ETC, Playwright’s Realm, BRIC, HERE, National Black Theatre, BAAD, Movement Research, BAX, Dixon Place, Painted Bride, 651 Arts, and elsewhere.

She holds a BA from Smith College and a PhD from Stanford University in Theatre and Performance Studies, and her writing is published in the Journal of Popular Culture; Imagined Theatres; Women, Collective Creation, and Devised Performance; and IMANIMAN: Poets Writing in the Anzaldúan Borderlands.

Witherspoon has held tenure-track professorships at Florida State University and Arizona State University, and, is currently working on a manuscript tentatively titled NATION IN THE DARK: A Black femme spell for justice.

Support Priestess of Twerk

NIA OSTROW WITHERSPOON’S PRIESTESS OF TWERK: A BLACK FEMME TEMPLE TO PLEASURE + WISDOM SCHOOL was developed, in part, through IRT’s Archive Collective in partnership with the HERE Artist Residency Program (HARP) (

IRT Theater is a grassroots laboratory for independent theater and performance in New York City, providing space and support to a new generation of artists. Tucked away in the old Archive Building in Greenwich Village,  IRT’s mission is to build a community of emerging and established artists by creating a home for the development and presentation of new work.

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York State Legislature; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in Partnership with the City Council; A.R.T./New York’s NYC Small Theatres Fund made possible with support from the Howard Gilman Foundation & support for ASL interpretation provided in part through funding from Access A.R.T./New York.

ACCESS: IRT is a fully wheelchair-accessible facility. Please reach out to Kori Rushton if you have any accessibility questions or concerns,