Sunday, September 30, 2007

Seeking 10-minute Scripts (Atlanta)

Forwarding an email from two young ladies in Atlanta who are very interested in working with AAPEX writers:





Tangela Harris

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Friday, September 28, 2007


The African American Playwrights Exchange invites you to join us on Sunday, October 21 at 4:30 pm at Mocha Hut on U Street in Washington DC for our reading of THE CHITTLIN THIEF by Ohio playwright Mike Oatman. Reservations required. To reserve or for more information about this script or The African American Playwrights Exchange, please contact AAPEX Dramaturg Jaz Dorsey at jazmn47@aol. com or by phone at 423-743-7904.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Actors Bridge seeks plays

Actors Bridge is now accepting play submissions for our 2008 New Works Lab to be held October 19 and 20 at our Neuhoff studio in Germantown. We are looking for full length plays (no screenplays, please!) that have not yet been produced and that do not require more than ten actors. We will take care of casting and playwrights will have an opportunity to meet with the actors for one or two readthroughs before performance. Each play will receive one reading, one on the 19th and the other on the 20th. Scripts should be sent in Microsoft Word format to Jessika Malone at jessikamalone@ you have any questions, please contact Jessika. Thanks!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Absurdism: African-American Style

Absurdism: African-American Style
It is always difficult, perhaps even culturally imperialist, to define black or African-American art, including theatre and drama, in essentially European terms. And the absurdist movement in the theatre, as the famed theatre critic Martin Esslin identified it almost a half century ago is, on the surface at least, European. In many historical ways this 1950s movement can be understood as a natural reaction to the centuries-old rigid and rule-ridden domination of European thinking by the Catholic Church since the middle-ages and by neoclassicism in the arts since the 16th century. After all, as we are nowadays pleased to forget, this age-old system of European hide-bound rules and regulations down to World Wars One and Two had, in fact, presided over almost a millennia of religious and political wars that make Osama Bin Laden and his so-called Islamic terroists look like school yard neophytes in the business of killing innocent people in absurdly large numbers. Given this history, it is quite natural then that a group of sensitive, mid 20th century European artists would feel it necessary to finally engage the fundamental aburdity of life as they and their ancestors had experienced it for centuries--a life that had long been hidden behind the pomp, ceremony, and the much-praised continued progress of European society.

However, African American absurdism--again, if such a term can be used and if it is not merely mimicking someone else's history and culture--comes from its own much older existential source of a cosmic duality, experienced in its most contemporary and concrete form as American racism. That the cosmos is a precarious place, apparently composed of inexplicably bound opposites or contradictions, life and death, good and evil, etc., appears to our merely mortal minds as the height of absurdity. Yet, this notion of duality is taken up in the world's oldest extant drama, ancient Egypt's Abydos Passion Play (1868BC), performed, or more accurately celebrated, at least 1300 years before the rise of classical Greek drama, and also taken up in Nigerian performances depicting the Orisha god Eshu whose face is half a frown and half a smile, an emblem of the seemingly absurd duality of human existence. The African American music forms, the Blues, Spirituals, and Jazz are also all emblematic of the kind of duality that has opposites so closely related that they lead us to the almost liminal space of the absurd. The Blues, performed properly, is both funny and sad, and a traditional New Orleans, black American funeral uses music to rejoice at death just as the ancient Egyptians rejoiced annually at the descent of the god Osiris down into the world of the dead.

Accepting, laughing at, and even celebrating the seemingly absurd contradictions of human existence is a staple of traditional African and African American culture and it is, at least up until now, one way, consciously or unconsciously, that black Americans have, for the most part, maintained their humanity and survived all the absurdities that arise from being both a descendant of Africa and an American at the same time, of being a human being and a piece of property at the same time, of living in a police state and a democracy at the same time, of fighting for your country in every war from the American Revolutionary war down to the Iraq war and still not quite becoming a full American cititzen at the same time.

In THAT WORD, as in the Blues, I encourage laughter at the absurd and sad truth that the black American theatre has always needed people outside of black culture to validate its value. It's sort of like the absurdity of a group of Japanese theatre-goers waiting patiently for me to arrive in Tokyo to give them the last word on Kabuki theatre. And, more importantly, I am encouraging the audience to laugh at what is the ultimate sad absurdity in this short play, which is that so many black Americans seem to accept only their historical oppressors' pejorative meaning for the word "nigger." The historically non-pejorative usages of the word within the framework of their own traditional cultural history has no import for them. "That's cool," "It's the death," "That's really bad, my man," "You, my nigga," "It's the bomb" are all emblematic of that traditional ancient African and Asian cosmos in which good and bad as we percieve them are inextricably bound and therefore sometimes interchangeable. An ancient Japanese proverb wisely reminds us of this relationship and its interchangeable nature: "For surely good must come from evil. For even the lily springs from the slime of the pond."

But the ancient origins and philosophical sublties of what is commonly (and often pejoratively) called "Black English" are apparently unknown to these contemporary black folks. All they know is that Massa Jeff said it was a bad word, used it as a bad word, so it must be a bad word, and this, of course, empowers not them but their oppressors yet again, and this time in the 21st century! This situation is so sad and fraught with so much politically correct ideology and with so little attention to human behavior and psychology that I think it is at present beyond rational argument. Only laughter has a chance of having us take a fresh look at this issue.

Henry Miller,

Friday, September 21, 2007

AAPEX in the University Classroom and more

I am delighted to learn and share that works by three of the writers on The African American Playwrights Exchange are being taught by Dr. Alan Woods in one of his courses at Ohio State University.

Again, I encourage everyone to get your plays in to the AAPEX archives at Ohio State. If you need more information on this, please contact me. Following is portions of his email to me:

Yes--I'm using them in a course; also two of Owa's, and one of Judy Juanita's. The course is an introduction to theatre for honors students through primary sources--each student is assigned a play, and then reconstructs how the play was written/shopped/produced/received as a way of learning about theatre production. The students are also organized into theatre companies and then have to promote their seasons. Many more details at
Alan Woods Director,
Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute
The Ohio State University
1430 Lincoln Tower1800 Cannon Drive
Columbus, Ohio 43210-1230
614/292-6614 vox office 614/688-8417 FAX office

Congratulations to

Jamal Williams whose reading of his play MISS LAURA MAE OF HARLEM played to over 100 folks in The Ellington Room of Manhattan Plaza, NYC on Monday, September 17 and to Tobi Kanter and Andrea Andreasakis for hosting the reading.

Onward & Upward

Jaz Dorsey
The African American Playwrights Exchange

A Note from Jaz...

First of all - please save the date and invite all your friends to our reading of THE CHITTLIN THIEF at Mocha Hut on U Street at 4:30 pm on Sunday, October 21. THE CHITTLIN THIEF is by Ohio playwright Mike Oatman. I can't say enough about this hysterical look at the stress of racism and prejudice in contemporary America, so I won't say anything at all except BE THERE ( We need a big turn out so Mocha Hut will want us back again with YOUR scripts.) And where better for us to be than on The Black Broadway, as U Street is historically known.

ANY EXCUSE TO GO TO NYC. But this is a pretty good one. Tuesday, November 13 should be a festive evening at the NYC Gay and Lesbian Center when Alan Sharpe and his DC actors run up to the city for a reading of Alan's excellent one act AULD LANG SYNE. "Auld Lang Syne" is all about the hassle of love - no wait - make that the HUSTLE of love. Alan and his cast will be joined by our man Owa and a reading of his short play FUNNYLINGUS which will star Topaz Leonard & Victor Ramasay under the direction of the enigmatic "Boss" Ewing. The evening will also feature a performance of LIES OF HANDSOME MEN by one of NYC's most amazing songwriters, the unstopable Francesca Blumenthal. Check out Cleo Lane's stunning recording of this brilliant song - but don't fail to be there when chanteuse extrodinaire TOPAZ lays out her own legendary rendition.

James Scruggs' "Disposable Men" 10/19-20th (Philly)

Hello All: My performance piece with video that I wrote and perform in, Disposable Men, will be at The Painted Bride in Philly on October 19, and 20. It would be good to meet some of you if you are close enough to make it.

Also... I am looking for other black box theaters with no raised stages in the Philly, Baltimore, DC area that do experimental, original and or African American theatrical works.
James Scruggs

Mark Clayton Southers' "James McBride" Pittsburgh Post-Gazette review

Stage Review: Irish culture clash with a comic wallop
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
By Christopher Rawson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Don't let the grim sound of "culture clash" put you off: In "James McBride," the second play in a thematic series of that name by Mark Clayton Southers, the clash has explosive potential, but the result is less bombshells than pinwheels and sparklers of comic sentiment.

This world premiere is a sweetly comic encounter between a young African-American poet and the word-spinning, Guinness-saturated curmudgeons of Galway, Ireland. The sweetness may seem improbable, but that's no great fault in a parable more about the similarities between cultures than the differences.
The play goes to some trouble to disguise the nature of its clash for the first few scenes, but I don't have that luxury. So here's your spoiler alert -- but I don't spoil anything essential.


'James McBride'
Where: Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre, 751 Penn Ave., Jackman Building, Downtown.
When: Through Sept. 29: Thurs.-Sat. 8 p.m.; Sun. 7 p.m.; also 2 p.m. Sept. 29.
Tickets: $20-$25; discounts; 412-394-3353.


James McBride is a Chicago poet, who, when a poetry society in Galway decides to open up its ancient annual contest to Irish expatriates, enters and wins. Actually his poem is submitted by his friend, Tyrone Reed, who's white but who raps and struts like a black wannabe, to the considerable joy of the audience.

McBride, however, is black, and when he and friend Reed arrive in Ireland to collect the $25,000 prize, there's some consternation, partially racist, partially just the orneriness of old men who've been squabbling for years. There are questions of procedure, and while McBride waits for resolution, there's time for a dalliance to develop with Darby, the barmaid -- and antagonism with her guy, Little Coogan, who owns the pub where they all hang out.

Eventually, it all results in a boxing match between McBride and the massive Coogan, reminiscent of the Cooney-Holmes culture-clash title bout. It's a measure of Southers' concept that it seems to make sense, this mix of competitive poetry reciting and fisticuffs, both drenched in male aggression, status, culture and race.
The play exudes a genuine love of poetry. Most of the poets cited are real (funny how the Chicagoan McBride knows a number of Pittsburgh poets), but most of the snippets of poetry recited are actually written by Southers.
In addition to the humor of the Reed character, Southers provides feisty cantankerousness for the three oldsters, who are played with zest by old pros Roger Jerome, E. Bruce Hill and Jay Keenan. The culture clash occasions humor: The Irish note other black Americans with possible Irish tint, such as Eddie Murphy, Donovan McNabb and Shaquille O'Neal, and there's comic confusion about slang, especially Irish "craic," pronounced "crack."

Thanks to Andrew Paul of the Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre, who directs with collaborative care, the cast is strong throughout. There's James Keegan's intimidating but sensitive Coogan (he plays the fiddle, too), Theo Allyn's wistful Darby and Joseph Martinez' hip-hoppin' Reed. Cheryl El-Walker plays a talk-show host on tape.
All provide a rich environment for the sweetest performance, Joshua Elijah Reese's McBride. Still an undergraduate at Point Park, Reese is the real thing, a sensitive actor who knows how to do very little and draw you in. Much of the play's emotion happens subtly on his face, and for his sake we are willing to overlook the play's shortcomings.

Mainly, it's a bit long. And there are improbabilities (a $25,000 prize from a society that is dependent on a free place to meet?) and loose ends (was this McBride a Golden Gloves fighter?).

Ultimately, the Irish discover that opening themselves up to expatriates allows culture to flow both ways, especially between cultures that have both known the heritage of segregation and racial hate. For a new comedy, "James McBride" provides a remarkable kick.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

"Countdown Unto Goodbye" premieres 9/23 (Philly)

The Breast Cancer Theatre
Arts Project/GPUAC
Broad Street Ministry
In Association With The
Kimmel Cancer Center

"Countdown Unto Goodbye"
(It’s about surviving, while you’re living)

Written by Douglas Rucker
Directed by Connie Norwood
Executive Producer: Teresa Lucas

October 23 (opening night, SOLD OUT), 24, 25, 26, 27, 2007
Broad Street Ministry Theater
320 S. Broad Street
(along the Avenue of the Arts)
Admission: $25.00

Countdown Unto Goodbye is an inspirational love story about a Cancer survivor and the care-giver who loved her unconditionally. If you or someone you know is living with Cancer, or have experienced a personal loss, due to this dreaded disease, this play is a ‘MUST SEE’. For Tickets and Information, please call – 267.257.2684, 215.955.8195, 215.849.2897 or e-mail Douglas Rucker at:

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Upcoming AAPEX related events around the U.S.

  • THAT WORD (Henry Miller) & HARRIET BEECHER STOWE : A LITERARY SOLDIER (Elizabeth Davidson) Full production Nashville 9/11
  • WHAT DOESN'T KILL US ONLY MAKES US STRONGER (Nicole Kearney) Cincinnati 9/15
  • MISS LULA MAE OF HARLEM (Jamal Williams) The Ellington Room Manhattan Plaza, NYC 9/17
  • THE KAYVON LADY (George Brome) The Players Club NYC 9/24
  • JUST SAY YES (Deborah Bishop) Nashville 9/24
  • LARK THEATER ROUNDTABLE with Owa and mark Clayton Southers NYC 10/11
  • BLIND TOM - film documentary by Andre Regan, The Southern Appalachian International Film Festival
    Johnson City Tennessee 10/11
  • THE CHITTLIN THIEF (Mike Oatman) Washington DC 10/21

Friday, September 7, 2007

"That Word: An Evening for Reflection" at Cafe Coco 9/11 (Nashville)

The African American Playwrights Exchange invites you to join us on Tuesday, September 11 for "THAT WORD: An Evening for Reflection" at Cafe Coco, 210 Louise Avenue in Nashville, Tennessee.

On a day when Americans now stop to remember and confront the nightmare of terrorism, this cabaret evening is a reminder that terrorism does not necessarily come from beyond and that bombs are not terrorists' only tools. In two short pieces, AAPEX writers Henry Miller and Elizabeth Davidson confront the "n" word. In her one woman show on Harriet Beecher Stowe, Davidson puts the word in it's historical context while Dr. Miller defuses THAT WORD in his highly acclaimed short comedy about two black performers and the steps they take to avoid using "that word." The two pieces will be bridged by the classic Billie Holiday song "Strange Fruit"

Helen Shute Pettaway directs Nubian and marc anthony peek in THAT WORD

The event will run from 6:30 until 8 PM and is free to the public.

Barry Scott stars in "AIN'T GOT LONG TO STAY HERE" 9/17 (Nashville)

Tennessee State University Cultural Affairs will present Barry Scott's provocative work AIN'T GOT LONG TO STAY HERE, A Tribute To Dr. Martin Luther King. This production stars Nashville performer Barry Scott, Producing Artistic Director of the American Negro Playwright Theatre.

A Tribute To Dr. Martin Luther King

Tennessee State University Performing Arts Center

Cox / Lewis Theater

Monday, September 17, 2007 at 7:00 PM.

For more information, please call: Barry Scott at 615-963-5742

About The American Negro Playwright Theatre: ANPT is a 503-C Non-Profit Organization that has as it main mission, "Telling Stories That Must Be Told". ANPT is the Professional Theatre in residence at Tennessee State University with Barry Scott as its Artistic Director.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

"James McBride" Opens in Pittsburgh 9/13

For longer than anyone can remember, the old men of the Galwegian Poet Society have bickered over their favorite poets, and each year, they reward a poet a $25,000 prize for best poem. This year is different: They've decided to open their contest to poets living abroad. This year's winner is an American named James McBride, a young stranger from Chicago. But who is McBride? And how will the youth mesh with the cantankerous curmudgeons of Galway?

James McBride marks the second part of Mark Clayton Southers' ambitious "Culture Clash" cycle, in which an urban Chicagoan and old-fashioned Irishmen battle over boxing, heritage, and the transcendent power of verse. Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theater's Artistic Director Andrew Paul directs a star-studded cast in what looks to be a promising collaboration.

James McBride

Written by

Mark Clayton Southers

Directed by Andrew Paul


Roger Jerome, Bruce Hill, Joshua Elijah Reese, James Keegan, Jay Keenan, Cheryl El Walker, Theo Allyn, and Joseph Martinez

September 13th through 29th, 2007

Thursday-Saturday at 8 PM and Sundays at 7 PM.

On Saturday, September 29th, shows are at 2 PM and 8 PM.

Tickets are $25 at the door, or $20 with a reservation (call 412-288-0358, then pay at the door).

Thursday and Sunday tickets are available for the special price of only $14.99 from ProArts: 412 394-3353 or
Seniors (60 and older), students and artists save $2.50 per ticket on Fridays and Saturdays only.

To support PPTCO's upcoming season, we will have a fundraiser on Saturday, September 15th, at 6:30 PM at the theatre. Just 44 seats remain of the original 99. Tickets are now only $50.00 each. Each ticket includes a Soul food buffet dinner, Guinness beer, music from a live Irish band, a silent auction, and an 8 PM performance of James McBride, PPTCO's first show of the season. After the show, enjoy a meet and greet party with the cast, director and playwright in the lobby.

Tickets are going fast, so buy yours today to ensure you're part of this one-time-only experience. You can use any major credit card, or mail your check to

Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre
542 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15222.

Casting news for James McBride
Thu, 08/16/2007 - 5:00am — admin
Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company is proud to announce the cast of its upcoming production of James McBride (opening September 13th), which includes three Equity actors. Included in the cast are Roger Jerome (Crabtree in PICT's School for Scandal last year), Bruce Hill, Joshua Elijah Reese, James Keegan (recently seen in Pittsburgh as George Tenet in PICT's Stuff Happens), Jay Keenan, Cheryl El Walker, Theo Allyn, and Joseph Martinez.

But PPTCO needs your help to make this work! We need to raise a minimum of $8,000 ASAP. Please visit our Donations page to contribute. Thank you for supporting Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company.

Mark Clayton Southers
Founder & Producing Artistic Director
Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company