I'm heading to Boston! It’s my first trip back since the TCG Conference this past June. I’m leaving Gettysburg completely charmed by this town (and its ghost) and appreciative of the faculty, staff and students at Gettysburg College. The workshop and reading of Our Man Beverly Snow as part of Gettysburg College's New Play Festival was amazing, nurturing and productive. After such a wonderful experience, I’m so excited to be taking part in the readings and panel presentations at Boston Center for the Arts and Company One’s XX PlayLab Festival.
On Saturday, March 23rd at 10:00am, dramaturgs Ilana M. Brownstein and Tyler Monroe will host a conversation with Lydia R. Diamond (playwright), Kirsten Greenidge (playwright), Natalia Naman (playwright), Shawn LaCount (director), Megan Sandberg-Zakian (director), and Charles Haugland (dramaturg) about the life and career of the XX Playwright in Boston.
Then, on Sunday, March 24th at 12:00pm, I'll be taking part in a round table discussion, Where We Stand: Gender and Race in the New Play Sector. This will be a national conversation with industry professionals Anne Garcia-Romero, Hana Sharif, Otis Ramsey-Zöe, Lenelle Moïse and me.
This conversation about Gender and Race has a large part to do with why I started writing plays. In high school and college, it became painfully obvious that plays with roles for women of color would be few and far between. Instead of complaining about it and with the help of my mentors, Amparo Garcia Crow, Jill Dolan, Ruth Margraff, and Omi Olono Osun, I started writing plays. I endeavored to write rich, dynamic and exciting roles for women and people of color. I was young, but I was purposeful steadfast in this decision.
In D.C., the energy around race and gender parity in the American Theatre and especially in the new play sector is loud, demanding and explosive. Shifts in race/gender consciousness are happening in an important, but uneven way. Quite simply, not everyone is getting on board at the same the time. As seasons are announced, it’s fascinating to see how this awareness or lack of awareness plays out in conversations that are being had on our stages.
I strongly believe that race, gender, and even class parity are essential to the American Theatre. Until we get to a place where artistic leadership, administrative/educational staff, cast/production teams and artistic programming truly reflect our communities, it’s imperative that those who are passionate about such issues speak, dance, sing and shout about these issues. These efforts are essential not only for theatre artists creating the work, but for our audiences who come to theatre to see the human experience explored on stage.
What excited me about taking part in the XX Playlab Festival, was the opportunity to see great plays by women of color and to engage in a conversation about race and gender parity in the American Theatre. I'm particularly interested to see where the D.C. Theatre community stands in relation to other theatres communities across the country. If you're not in Boston, but would like to participate in the conversation, you can do so through #NewPlayTV!
I had a chance to connect with the smart, talented and passionate artists convening for the Where We Stand: Gender and Race in the New Play Sector roundtable discussion and will share those interviews with you shortly. For now, here's a little bit about each of us. Please enjoy!
Anne Garcia-Romero's plays include PROVENANCE (Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference); PALOMA; EARTHQUAKE CHICA; MARY PEABODY IN CUBA; LAND OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN; HORSEY GIRL; DON QUIXOTE DE LA MINNY; MARTA'S MAGNIFICENT MUNDO; DESERT LONGING; JUANITA'S STATUE; and SANTA CONCEPCION. Her plays have been developed and produced at the New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater, Summer Play Festival (Off-Broadway), Mark Taper Forum, Hartford Stage, South Coast Rep, O'Neill National Playwrights Conference, INTAR, HERE, New Georges, Borderlands Theater, Nevada Rep, Jungle Theater, East L.A. Repertory, National Hispanic Cultural Center, Open Fist Theater Company, Wordbridge Playwrights Laboratory, and LoNyLa Writers Lab. She's received commissions from the NYSF/Public Theater, The Taper and South Coast Rep. She's been a Jerome Fellow at the Playwrights Center of Minneapolis as well as a MacDowell Colony fellow. Ms. Garc’a-Romero has written for Peninsula Films, Elysian Films and Disney Creative Entertainment. She is the U.S. translator for the internationally acclaimed THE GRONOLM METHOD by Spanish playwright, Jordi Galceran. Her plays are published by Broadway Play Publishing, Playscripts and NoPassport Press. She's taught at numerous colleges, and is currently an Assistant Professor at Notre Dame. She holds an MFA in Playwriting from the Yale School of Drama, is an alumna of New Dramatists, and is a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists.
JACQUELINE E. LAWTON
Jacqueline E. Lawton received her MFA in Playwriting from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a James A. Michener Fellow. She participated in the Kennedy Center's Playwright's Intensive (2002) and World Interplay (2003). Her plays include ANNA K; BLOOD-BOUND AND TONGUE-TIED; DEEP BELLY BEAUTIFUL; THE DEVIL'S SWEET WATER; THE HAMPTON YEARS; IRA ALDRIDGE: THE AFRICAN ROSCIUS; LIONS OF INDUSTRY, MOTHERS OF INVENTION; LOVE BROTHERS SERENADE; MAD BREED; and OUR MAN BEVERLY SNOW. She has received commissions from Active Cultures Theater, Discovery Theater, National Portrait Gallery, National Museum of American History, Round House Theatre and Theater J. CINDER BLOCKS was published in EXPERIMENTS IN A JAZZ AESTHETIC: ART, ACTIVISM, ACADEMIA AND THE AUSTIN PROJECT (University of Texas Press). A 2012 TCG Young Leaders of Color, she has been nominated for the Wendy Wasserstein Prize and a PONY Fellowship from the Lark New Play Development Center. Lawton resides in D.C. and is a member of Arena Stage's Playwrights' Arena.
Lenelle Moïse is a current Huntington Theatre Company Playwriting Fellow. She won the 2012 Southern Rep Ruby Prize for her comedy MERIT. She also wrote, composed, and co-starred in the critically acclaimed drama EXPATRIATE, which launched Off Broadway at the Culture Project in 2008. Her other plays include METAMORPHOSIS (Serious Play Theatre Ensemble); LITTLE GRIOT (The Drama Studio); PURPLE (Kitchen Theatre Company); CORNERED IN THE DARK (Insight Out Theatre Collective); and THE MANY FACES OF NIA. Her solo performances WOMB-WORDS, THIRSTING, and ACHE WHAT MAKE have been presented at colleges and theatres across the USA. Ms. Moise was a 2010 Hedgebrook Women Playwrights Festival Fellow, the 2010 recipient of the Astraea Lesbian Writers Fund Award in Poetry, the 2011 Artist in Residence in Performance Studies at Northwestern University, the 2012 Visiting Performing Artist in African & African Diaspora Studies at UT Austin, and the fifth Poet Laureate of Northampton, MA. www.lenellemoise.com
OTIS CORTEZ RAMSEY-ZOE
Otis Cortez Ramsey Zoe is a Lecturer of Theatre Arts at Howard University,Future Classics Program Coordinator at The Classical Theatre of Harlem, Series Editor for NoPassport Press’s Dreaming the Americas Series, a freelance dramaturg, and a Company Member of banished? productions. He has developed new works with such organizations as The Sundance Institute, Kennedy Center, Arena Stage, Centerstage and Black Women Playwrights’ Group and by such writers as Colman Domingo, Tarell McCraney, Noah Haidle, Kirsten Greenidge and Tim Acito. He has directed readings including Jacqueline E. Lawton’s The Hampton Years and Blood-bound and Tongue-tied, James Webb’s The Contract and David Emerson Toney’s Kingdom. Previously, he was Literary Manager and First Look Coordinator at Centerstage and an Allen Lee Hughes Dramaturgy and Literary Senior Fellow at Arena Stage. Mr. Ramsey-Zöe holds degrees from New York University and the University of Notre Dame.
Hana Sharif has worked as a Director, Playwright, and Producer for fifteen years. She is currently Program Manager for ArtsEmerson's Ambassador Program, and for nine seasons, she was the Associate Artistic Director/Director of New Play Development, and Artistic Producer, at Hartford Stage. Hana also served as co-founder and Artistic Director of Nasir Productions, a theatre dedicated to bringing theatre to underserved communities. Her regional and international directing credits include: THE WHIPPING MAN; GEM OF THE OCEAN; GEE'S BEND; and NEXT STOP AFRICA. Hana has directed numerous developmental workshops including, most recently, Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder's THE CHAT AND CHEW SUPPER CLUB, and Marcus Gardley's THE HOUSE THAT WILL NOT STAND. Hana's plays include ALL THE WOMAN I USED TO BE; THE RISE AND FALL OF DAY; and THE SPROTT CYCLE TRILOGY. Hana is the recipient of the 2009-2010 Aetna New Voices Fellowship for her work as a playwright and director as well as the Theatre Communications Group (TCG) New Generations fellowship. She received a B.A. from Spelman College and a M.F.A from the University of Houston.
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!