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Artivist, Voice Artist, Director

does “inheritance” mean to you?





Joy Vandervort-Cobb, Associate Artistic Director at PURE Theatre and Emerita Associate Professor of African American Theatre and Performance at the College of Charleston, began her career in theatre more than 40 years ago as an actress with the Freedom Theatre in upstate New York.


Through her work with Festival Theatre USA, Ms. Vandervort-Cobb’s work was seen at the Edinburgh Arts Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, and many of her shows have toured throughout the United States and Canada. Directing credits include national tours of Jackie, Vi, & Lena; My Soul is a Witness; Black Broadway; MAHALIA; From the Mississippi Delta (first national); Dreamgirls; Purlie and for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf.


Regionally her work has included productions of FANNIE: The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer at Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre in Atlanta, GA., Actors Theatre of Louisville in Louisville, KY, and City Theatre of Pittsburgh (in collaboration with the August Wilson African American Cultural Center) and Ain't Misbehavin' at The Barter Theatre in Abingdon, VA, the world premiere of Boston based playwright Patrick Gabridge's Chore Monkeys; Buzzer; By the Way Meet Vera Stark; Stick Fly; Flyin' West; Long Time Since Yesterday; The Story; Some Girls; King Hedley II; Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom; Fences; Crumbs from the Table of Joy; Having Our Say; Wedding Band; C.O.T.O: Chocolate on the Outside; Funnyhouse of a Negro; Trouble in Mind; Blues for an Alabama Sky; Angels in America, Part I: Millennium Approaches; The Colored Museum; Red, Hot & Cole; Gospel at Colonus; Hair; and Airline Highway and Oil for Swine Palace.


Joy has collaborated on the creation of four dance-theatre productions, devised pieces she very much believes in: TORN with dancer Eliza Ingle from Anonymity, written by Vandervort-Cobb; WE JUST BEGUN with dancer Erin Leigh, co-written and conceived by Vandervort- Cobb; and student written, choreographed, and danced piece by Raqui Brown, called I HEARD THAT (NIG*A) and recently in response to an installation at the Halsey Gallery, SOUTHBOUND, she wrote and danced with Kristin Alexander, founder and Artistic Director of ANNEX DANCE.


She has served as Assistant Director on national tours of Little Shop of Horrors and One Mo’ Time and as production stage manager on national touring productions of Sophisticated Ladies (where she met her husband) and Ain’t Misbehavin’.


As an actor, Joy was recently seen as Clyde in Lynn Nottage’s Clyde’s at PURE Theatre; as 16 different characters in Nilaja Sun’s No Child, as Cynthia, in Lynn Nottage's award winning play Sweat, as part of the 2018 MOJA Festival, and as Esther Rollins in Randy Neale’s Last Rites. At PURE Theatre (where she is also a Core Ensemble member since Season X and Associate Artistic Director), Joy has been seen as the cantankerous but wise Scottie in Steven Dietz's This Random World and the equally combative yet graceful Nina, in Marco Ramirez's The Royale; the epic Father Comes Home From the Wars, Parts 1, 2, and 3; Citizen: An American Lyric; A Sudden Spontaneous Event; Vanya and Sonia and Masha, and Spike; The Birds; The Christians and The Mountaintop, an imaginative retelling of the last night of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life. Prior to joining PURE, Joy was seen in her self-created MOMENTS OF JOY, a one woman show based on her life and experiences as a parent, wife, teacher, and smoking-drinking-cussing new Christian during the Piccolo Spoleto Festival and an invited run in Baton Rouge, LA, at Louisiana State University's Department of Theatre. Other roles include Polonius in Hamlet, the Soothsayer in Antony and Cleopatra, the melancholy Jaques in As You Like It, and Prospero in The Tempest as part of the Shakespeare Project in residence at the College of Charleston. No stranger to "in pants" roles, Vandervort- Cobb has also played William in Kenneth Lonnergan’s Lobby Hero. A true lover of language, Joy waxed dramatic as Hecabe in Euripdes’ The Trojan Women on the mainstage at the College of Charleston. On television, she guest starred in the Emmy Award winning CBS series The Inspectors and played multiple characters over the years in the very popular Lifetime Channel/Touchstone Television series Army Wives, a beleaguered driver in a Savannah Auto Mile commercial and a very lucky homeowner in a national H.U.D. commercial (with her daughter, Jaymie).


Additionally, as a voice actor, Ms. Vandervort-Cobb is the narrator at Disney's House of Presidents (since 2017), in Philadelphia at the new and improved Museum of the American Revolution and, should you visit the US CAPITOL Building Tour or the Gettysburg Visitors Center or the new National Museum of African American Music in Nashville, TN, your tour will be guided by the voice of Ms. Vandervort-Cobb.


A proud and grateful recipient of the 2023 Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award and the 2018 MOJA Arts Festival Community Tribute Award for the Arts, Joy presently makes her home on James Island, SC. She has two adult children, one grandchild, and the same husband she met on a national touring bus in 1984.

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