In preparation for American Theater Company’s annual 10 x 10 Play Festival, I connected with the featured playwrights about their careers in the theatre, the relevant themes of the play(s), and the role of theatre as a tool for social change. Click here to learn more about the 10 x 10 Festival and please enjoy this wonderful interview with Dominique Morisseau.
Jacqueline Lawton: Why did you decide to get into theatre? Was there someone or a particular show that inspired you?
Dominique Morisseau: It was always in my bones. My mother exposed me to plays and performance art at a very young age. Anytime dance companies or shows came to town, she took me. I saw Stephanie Mills originate the role of Dorothy in The Wiz. I’m sure that seeped in me. I was hooked from youth.
JL: Next, tell me a little bit about your writing process. Do you have any writing rituals? Do you write in the same place or in different places?
DM: Music is always my ritual. I find music that speaks to the world, the time period, or the mood of the piece. It often gets used in the play itself. But even if not, it evokes something in me. But I write many different places. My living room couch. My kitchen counter while I’m standing. My desk. My bed. A random coffee table at a shop. The Lark Play Development Center Writers Room. Those are some of my fav places to write.
JL: Why was it important for you to be a part of American Theatre Company’s 10 x 10 Festival?
DM: If they hadn’t gotten to me first, I was sure someone would, and I would have to respond. We write because we are trying to articulate something or make sense of the world around us. It’s hard to make sense of our current system of injustice and social rage, but it’s important to give it voice and space.
JL: Tell me about your play. What do you hope the audience walks away thinking about after experiencing it?
DM: My play (there is just one for me) is called JEZELLE THE GAZELLE. It is a one-woman piece about a little girl who is running a race on her block. But it is really about her politics and how she sees the world from the point of view of being a girl/woman and what it means for her role in justice.
I hope they’ll take in the perspective of how the youth are impacted by these things, not just young Black men, but everyone who shares collective space and community with them.
JL: What role does theater have in advocacy work?
DM: Theater creates the emotional buy in to advocacy work. Without an emotional relationship to the work, the work doesn’t get completed.
JL: What next for you as a writer? Where can we follow your work?
DM: I’m working on a three-play cycle about my hometown of Detroit, called “The Detroit Projects”. You can find the first of the series, DETROIT ‘67, in Atlanta or Minneapolis next. The second play in the cycle, PARADISE BLUE, will be done at Williamstown Theatre this summer. And be on the lookout for the last play in the cycle, SKELETON CREW, coming to NY later this year. Outside of my 3-play cycle, my play SUNSET BABY will have it’s Chicago premiere at Timeline Theatre. And you can follow me on Facebook or twitter: @domorisseau
About the Playwright
Dominique Morisseau, Playwright and Actress, got her BFA in Acting from the University of Michigan and her start as a performance poet in the Detroit community of Harmonie Park. She has since become a noted award-winning playwright in NYC and is currently developing a 3-play cycle about her hometown, entitled “The Detroit Projects”. The inaugural play Detroit ’67, about the riots/rebellion in 1967, originated at the Public Theater in New York City and extended at Classical Theatre of Harlem with the National Black Theatre. The production was nominated for 8 Audelco Theatre Awards including Best Playwright. She is a Jane Chambers Playwriting Award honoree, a two-time NAACP Image Award recipient, honoree for the Primus Prize by the American Theatre Critics Association, and winner of the Stavis Playwriting Award. U of M has also awarded her with their Emerging Leader Award, and the city of Detroit has honored her with a Spirit of Detroit award. Most substantially, Dominique has recently been awarded the esteemed Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama. She is an artist that believes wholeheartedly in the power and strength of community.
10 outstanding playwrights tackle race, police brutality, and community in Ferguson, New York City, and around the world. 10 inspired directors bring their work to life.
Join us on March 9 at 7:30pm for a uniquely challenging one-night-only engagement at the American Theater Company, as we are proud to present our annual short plays festival, 10x10.
Tickets are free but seats will fill up fast. To make a reservation, send us an email at ATC10x10@Gmail.com. Due to high demand, we are only able to reserve up to two seats per request.
At the door, we suggest a $10 donation to help us cover the cost of supporting the festival, though we welcome you to pay what you can.
This Year's Playwrights:
Jeff Augustin. Kristiana Rae Colón. Matthew-Lee Erlbach. Jacqueline E Lawton. Bonnie Metzgar. Dominique Morisseau. Lucas Neff. A Rey Pamatmat. Akin Salawu. Aurin Squire.
Kaiser Ahmed. Grace Cannon. Amanda Delheimer Dimond. Matt Dominguez. Azar Kazemi. Reed Motz. Hutch Pimentel. Tlaloc Rivas. Samuel Roberson. Conner Wilson.
I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!