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Columbia College Chicago
Cheryl Lynn Bruce
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Cheryl Lynn Bruce

Inaugural Spring 2006
Chicago, IL

photo by: Janna Giacoppo


Cheryl Lynn Bruce’s career as an award-winning actor, director, and writer spans nearly three decades. She has performed on regional stages across the country and in Europe, including: Goodman Theatre, the Kennedy Center, Lookingglass Theatre, Missouri Repertory, La Jolla Playhouse, Old Globe, Milwaukee Repertory, Victory Gardens, Louisville's Humana Festival, and Chicago Shakespeare.   She made her professional stage debut in Goodman’s production of Death and the King’s Horseman directed by its author, Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka. Ms. Bruce created the role of Elizabeth Sandry for Steppenwolf’s Tony-winning production of The Grapes of Wrath and toured with it to Broadway and the National Theatre in Britain.  Her performance as Ain’t Baby in From the Mississippi Delta won her a coveted Helen Hayes Award, a Joseph Jefferson Award, and a Connecticut Critics’ Circle Award.


In Spring 2006, as the Institute’s Inaugural Fellow, Ms. Bruce began the long-range investigation of the life, work, and times of African-born, American slave poet Phillis Wheatley which will serve as the foundation for a cross-discipline performance piece she will direct. 


April 2011 Ms. Bruce begins a three-week long residency at Yale University, utilizing its vast libraries and unparalleled collections of art and letters for unrestricted research in any area of her choosing.  In April she will also begin rehearsals for Freedom, NY, her debut with Teatro Vista.  On October 25, 2010 Ms. Bruce, along with eleven other accomplished local artists and educators, received a coveted 3Arts Artist Award, an unrestricted $15,000 grant in support of her process and practice in the field of Theatre.  In April 2010, Ms. Bruce received the Jane Addams Hull House Association's Woman of Valor Award.  Recent performances include: Harriet Jacobs at Kansas City Repertory Theatre and The Old Settler at Writers' Theatre.

Staged readings include: As Ever, Jenny (10 x 10 Festival) and Déjà Vu (Silver Project) both at the American Theatre Company; Undone in Victory Gardens Theatre's Ignition Festival 2010, Excerpts from Studs Terkel's Will the Circle Be Unbroken at Georgetown University; and Having Our Say at Evanston's Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre. 

Last summer Ms. Bruce and her husband, the artist Kerry James Marshall, were interviewed by Madeleine Grynsztejn, Director of the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Chicago, about creativity, productive failure, and working together, among other topics for the National Endowment for the Arts magazine. An excerpt of their lively conversation "No One Can See Like I See" was published in NEA Arts, Number 3/2010 (See full edited interview at www.arts.gov) Ms. Bruce was the subject of the Chicago Tribune feature article “Power to the Arts,” (On The Town section, February 5, 2010)  and in the Washington Post article “An Afterlife for Studs Terkel".

In 2009, Bruce directed the Institute’s co-production of Milkweed, written and performed by Misty De Berry (Winter 2007 Fellow). She also co-created text and narrated the Congo/Women photography exhibition that premiered in Chicago and has toured to Washington, D.C., the United Nation, and other national and international venues. In 2009 Bruce also directed, Daniel Beatty’s Resurrection, for ETA Creative Arts Foundation.  

Past performances include Intimate Apparel at Steppenwolf Theatre, The Story at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Race at Lookingglass Theatre, The Snow Queen at Victory Gardens Theatre, and Mary Zimmerman’s production of Trojan Women at Goodman Theatre. Bruce’s work in The Voice of Good Hope at Victory Gardens received a Best Actress Jeff Nomination.  

She is a member of Chicago-based Teatro Vista, Chicago’s premier Hispanic theatre company, and sits on Chicago Children’s Theatre’s Artistic Council.