Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Owa is gone...

Owa Jackson

A force to be reckoned with has left the theatre. Absurdist* playwright and critic Owa Jackson passed on without fanfare or a standing-O without our knowledge. He deserved better. And he's going to get it on Saturday, October 18th as we celebrate Owa's life starting at 2pm at La MaMa, 74A East 4th Street. 

I met Owa, winner of the 2011 NAACP Theatrical Playwrights Award, at the 2nd reading of my dancical Jitterbug! at the Tada! Theater in Manhattan. He was sitting behind me and laughing out loud in all the right spots which I took as a good sign. But I didn't discover it was him until after the reading when he introduced himself to me. But I knew of him through his avant garde playwriting and criticism we were happy to publish on this website. He was very supportive of my writing and I will never forget his effort to show up that cold, cold night for my play. I stayed in touch since then on a more personal basis. Following his last procedure in order to win his fight against cancer, I emailed to see how he was doing and he said he was getting better. Follow up emails were not answered and I and Jaz Dorsey, his friend and founder of AAPEX, began to worry. Jaz made inquiries and that's how we discovered the bad news. 

I will miss him but I will never forget him because he's one of those kinda guys who leave a lasting, smile inducing impression. If any reader of this blog feels the same way and would like to post something about Owa on our comments section, please do. 

For those who would like to "read Owa," please click his name in the "Labels" section below. It will bring up years of his persona, his mind, and his writing on AAPEX. 

DC Copeland

*Owa's choice of words instead of African American which he felt were interchangeable... given the circumstances of living in a white world. Be sure to click "Owafest" in the Labels section to read his thoughts on the subject.


Owa was one of the first writers to join The African American Playwrights Exchange in 2007 and one of the first playwrights in the mix to offer up one of his plays, FUNNYLINGUS, for a reading (at the LGBT Center in NYC) The play was a startling look at the conflict between the theatre and the church. It's a play that I love dearly.

Another of Owa's plays, the title of which I forget, was running at one point when I was in NYC. It was about the Holy family - God, Mary, Joseph and Jesus - and again was highly irreverent. 

I read a few more of his wonderfully absurdist plays over the past seven years and talked with him endlessly about the strange world of the American theatre as it was viewed through his perspective and counted him one of my great friends.

Owa made a tremendous contribution to the American dramaturgy - the question is, what happens with his plays and other writings now?

Jaz Dorsey


So sorry to learn of Owa's passing; he was one of the several playwrights who collaborated with students in a popular course I developed at Ohio State's Lawrence and Lee Institute many years ago, and I always enjoyed our conversations. 

Alan Woods

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Diversity and Inclusion in the Arts Are Not Enough

Shawn C. Harris

Posted Sep 3 2014 by Shawn C. Harris in Crossroads and Intersections, The Marbury Project 

If you’re reading this, I’m going to assume three things about you. 

 *You care about women and people of color being involved in theatre. It bothers you when a show, season or organization is too male and too white. It doesn’t reflect the world you live in. It doesn’t reflect a world you want to live in. 

 *You need to hear from the people most impacted by how race and gender work in theatre. 

 *You want the truth, not what they think you want to hear because they don’t want to piss you off and lose an opportunity, a working relationship, or a friend or loved one. You are motivated to do something with the insight you gain. When we talk about race and gender in theatre, the words “diversity” and “inclusion” are not far from people’s lips and keyboards. In other words, the not-really-hidden question of where all the women and people of color are and how to bring more into the fold.

I know people are sincere and mean well, but there’s one big problem with “diversity” and “inclusion.” 

Put simply: it’s not enough.

To read more, please click here.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Benja Kay Thomas stars in BOOTYCANDY at Playwrights Horizons (NYC)

Phillip James Brannon, Jessica Francis Dukes, Benja Kay Thomas, and Lance Coadie Williams

BOOTYCANDY, a new play written and directed by Robert O'Hara, is being presented in its New York premiere at Playwrights Horizons' Mainstage Theater (416 West 42nd Street) as the opening production of the company's 2014/2015 Season. Opening Night is Wednesday, September 10, 2014. BroadwayWorld has a first look at the cast in action below! The cast features Phillip James Brannon, three-time Helen Hayes Award nominee Jessica Frances Dukes, Jesse Pennington, Audelco Award winner Benja Kay Thomas and Lance Coadie Williams. Sutter (Mr. Brannon) is on an outrageous odyssey through his childhood home, his church, dive bars, motel rooms and even nursing homes. A kaleidoscope of sketches that interconnect to portray growing up gay and black, Robert O'Hara's subversive, uproarious satire crashes headlong into the murky terrain of pain and pleasure and... Bootycandy. The production features scenic and costume design by Clint Ramos, lighting design by two-time Tony Award nominee Japhy Weideman, sound design by Lindsay Jones, projection design by Aaron Rhyne and hair and make-up design by Dave Bova. Production Stage Manager is Marisa Levy.