ABOUT THE ARTISTS
a.k. payne (she/they) is a playwright, artist-theorist, and theatermaker with roots in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Their plays love on and engage the interdependencies of Black pasts, presents and futures and seek to find/remember language that might move us towards our collective liberation(s). They hold a B.A. in English and African-American Studies from Yale College and an MFA in Playwriting under Tarell Alvin McCraney from the Yale School of Drama. Their work has been a finalist for the L. Arnold Weissberger New Play Award and the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. She is the current recipient of the Van Lier New Voices Fellowship, National Black Theatre’s I AM SOUL Playwrights Residency, the Kemp Powers Commission Fund for Black Playwrights and Atlantic Theater Company's Judith Champion Launch Commission. Their work has been developed with the National Play-wrights Conference, The New Harmony Project, Great Plains Theater Conference, and Manhattan Theater Club's "Groundworks Lab." They are a proud graduate of Pittsburgh Public Schools; grand-child of the Great Migration; descendant of a music teacher and a carpenter, who both march every year with their unions in Pittsburgh’s Labor Day parade; a queer & non-binary abolitionist affected in community by the ‘New Jim Crow;” and of a great lineage of Black women storytellers and living-room archivists; all of which deeply informs, uplifts and amplifies their work as a playwright, community organizer and spacemaker.
Tamilla Woodard (DIRECTOR)
Tamilla Woodard (she/her). Tamilla is the co-founder of the site specific international partnership, PopUP Theatrics. She proudly served as the co-Artistic Director of Working Theater in New York for the last year and was the Associate Director of Tony Award-winning Hadestown on Broadway in it's premier season. Prior to joining Working Theater, Tamilla was the BOLD Associate Artistic Director at WP Theater. Tamilla has directed at theaters nationally and internationally, including at WP Theater, Baltimore Center Stage, American Conservatory Theater, Classical Theater of Harlem, The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts with TheaterWorksUSA, and The Cleveland Public Theatre, among others. Recent highlights include Working, A Musical at the Alliance Theatre, the Lucille Lortel and Audelco nominated world premiere of Donetta Lavinia Gray's Where We Stand at WP Theater and Baltimore Center Stage, the Drama League nominated interactive digital immersive American Dreams by Leila Buck for Working Theater in collaboration with ASU and 9 theaters and performing arts organizations across the country, Caryl Churchill's Top Girls at A.C.T.'s Geary Theater, and the critically acclaimed immersive off-Broadway production of 3/Fifths, by James Scruggs. Currently, Tamilla is represented online by the concert film WEIGHTLESS by The Kilbanes produced by WP Theater; Where We Stand for Steppenwolf NOW; Theater for One's HERE WE ARE series by Nicole Salter and Delanna Studi, The Parsnip Ship and MCC's audio sci-fi THIS IS WHERE WE GO and the audio drama The House of the Negro Insane by Terence Anthony, produced by Contemporary American Theater Festival.
Tamilla is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama, where she currently chairs the acting department. Recently named one of 50 Women to Watch on Broadway, Tamilla is also a recipient of the Josephine Abady Award from the League of Professional Theatre Women.
Alicia Pilgrim was born and raised in Washington, D.C. She attended Duke Ellington School of the Arts. There she learned the sacred and moral obligations of storytelling. She then took her studies to SUNY Purchase Acting Conservatory where she grew an even deeper sense of community. Alicia's most recent credits include: Breaking The Binary festival collaborating on a.k. payne’s 'tia pray a sound', CULLUD WATTAH, RANDOM ACTS OF FLYNESS and A THOUSAND AND ONE. She thanks her friends, family, ancestors, and GOD for their endless love and support.
Abigail is a multi-faceted Nigerian-American theater maker who recently graduated from David Geffen School of Drama at Yale in acting. A few of her acting credits include Jocelyn Bioh’s JaJa’s African Hair Braiding at the Manhattan Theater Club; The Half-God of Rainfall and for the honey you gotta say when at the New York Theater Workshop. She is a graduated acting fellow of Lena Waithe’s Hillman Grad Mentorship Program and a 2022 Princess Grace Award winner. Abigail’s play, Jewel, was one of the 2021 Red Bull Theater’s Short New Play Festival winners, and her slam poems have been viewed worldwide.
Starr Kirkland credits include the recent world premiere of The Cotillion (TMTC/New Georges), Crying on Television (Everyman Theatre), Ink’dWell (NLTP/59E59), Black Feminist Video Game (59E59/CTG/OSF), New York Times Critics' Picks Zoetrope (Exquisite Corpse Co) and TJ Loves Sally 4 Ever (JACK), of the woman came the beginning of sin and through her we all die and Sons of the Prophet (Normal Ave), HOTTENTOTTED (The Tank), ALICEGRACEANON (New Georges), and Hephaestus (Theatre in Asylum) www.starrkirkland.com