Black women are the backbone of our culture and in the theatre community, it is no different. They’re creating stories and spaces for us all. We could not be more blessed to have these voices filling the air with their words. These are not the only just FYI, these are just a few. Get into them!
Lydia R. Diamond is your author’s favorite playwright. After falling in love with theatre in high school, Diamond attended Northwestern University where she earned a B.A. in Theatre and Performance Studies. She’s best known for her adaptation of Toni Morrison’s coming-of-age story, “Bluest Eye”. Her work often reflects history and literature, and her writing is deeply academic in nature. Her newest play, “Smart People” is set to take the stage at New Haven, Connecticut’ s Long Wharf Theatre on March 15th.
Recommendations: Smart People, Bluest Eye, and Here I am…See You Can Handle It
Kirsten Greenidge is a poet and a playwright all at the same time. She’s known for her Obie Winning play Milk Like Sugar. The play follows 16-year-old Annie’s struggle to find happiness despite having a disconnected mother and a pregnancy pact to fulfill. Greenidge’s work constantly brings cadence to difficult discussions. Greenidge finds room for an impassioned language where we see awkward silence. Her work is akin to the choreopoems of Elizabeth Alexander and Ntozake Shange.
Recommendations: Milk Like Sugar, Yes, Please, and Thank You, and The Gibson Girl
Dominique Morisseau is Detroit through and through! Since her days at the University of Michigan, her work has propelled audiences into serious conversations about race and community. Her plays are celebrated for giving people of color a chance to take the stage. Morrisseau has won an Obie Award, been honored by the city of Detroit and even been awarded the Jane Chambers Playwriting Award. This award focuses on women playwrights that represent the feminist perspective and give performance opportunities to women.
Recommendations: Detroit ’67, Follow Me to Nellie’s, and Sunset Baby
Katori Hall is not only a playwright, but an actress, a journalist and an intellectual. After graduating from Columbia University in 2003, Hall made her way through Harvard’s American Repertory Theatre and Julliard’s Playwriting Program, earning her Masters by 2009. That same year, The Mountaintop premiered in London at Theatre503. The fictional retelling of Martin Luther King’s last night earned Hall a West End premiere, Broadway preimere, and Olivier Award. Hall’s excellence led her to the Pershing Square Signature Theatre’s Residency where her work is guaranteed three world premieres, two of which she’s already celebrated. Since The Mountaintop, she has brought more than six plays to audiences throughout the world. Did I mention she and Morrisseau are best friends and frequent collaborators?
Recommendations: Our Lady Kibeho, Pussy Valley, and Hurt Village
Finally, Lynn Nottage is the woman of the hour! Last year, Nottage won the coveted Sarah Blackburn Prize for her play Sweat. The play tells the story of camaraderie’s quick descent into chaos as factory workers deal with maintaining their livelihood amidst layoffs. Nottage is celebrated for telling the stories of African descendants, especially women. Her play Ruined focused on the Democratic Republic of Congo’s war and its target towards women. The play beat out Lin Manuel-Miranda’s In The Heights for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Nottage has written over a dozen plays that have been constantly produced regionally and off-Broadway. You can find more information about the Yale grad’s Broadway debut here.
Recommendations: Sweat, Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Udine, and Poof!
Who are some of your favorite black women playwrights? Sound off in the comments below!
Q&A: Kyle Beltran & Kristolyn Lloyd Talk Blue Ridge, Actor Growth, What Makes Them Smile & More!
Kristolyn Lloyd (Dear Evan Hanson, Paradise Blue) and Kyle Beltran (In The Heights, Head of Passes, The Cherry Orchard) are currently starring in Blue Ridge through Sunday, January 27th, 2019 Off-Broadway at Atlantic Theater Company in the Linda Gross Theater .
Get into the gems dropped by the pair in this Q&A below!
TW: From STOMP to Star Wars, Ahmed Best Opens Up About Suicide
Ahmed Best shares a story that discusses the effects of being bullied and harassed as a Black actor. He talks in detail about the racially motivated criticism from Star Wars fans about his portrayal of Jar Jar Binks that brought him to almost ending his life. Trigger Warning! This video discusses suicide, and it will bring you to be full of tears.
We all play a part in suicide prevention. If you are someone you know has suicidal thoughts or needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Call 1-800-273-8255 Available 24 hours every day.
Thank you for sharing your story, Ahmed. You’ve just saved more lives than you know.
“We talk a lot about things going viral and usually when things go viral it’s something negative. I didn’t feel like what I posted went viral. I felt like it went communal”
SoulPancake Presents That Moment You Open Up About Suicide
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