The North Carolina Black Repertory Company (NC Black Rep) has commissioned a new play on the life of Dr. Maya Angelou by Nambi E. Kelley for its 2019-2020 Season. The play will be directed by NC Black Rep’s Artistic Director Jackie Alexander.
Dr. Maya Angelou was one of literature’s most treasured voices and a key figure in the creation of NC Black Rep’s world renowned National Black Theatre Festival. Dr. Angelou was a long-time resident of Winston-Salem, home of NC Black Rep, and Artistic Director Jackie Alexander considers the company commissioning a play on her life both a labor of love and an immense responsibility, stating: “Dr. Angelou was one of NC Black Rep’s most ardent supporters and a beloved member of the community. I cannot imagine this play being birthed anywhere other than Winston-Salem, a place internationally recognized as Black Theatre Holy Ground. The biggest challenge is how to dramatize a life so grand in scope, and that’s why I’m thrilled to have Nambi Kelley on board as the writer. I believe she is the perfect choice.”
Nambi E. Kelley is a celebrated playwright who has penned plays for Steppenwolf, Goodman Theatre, and Court Theatre/American Blues Theater in Chicago; Lincoln Center and the National Black Theatre in New York; and internationally with LATT Children’s Theatre/Unibooks Publishing Company (South Korea) Teatri Sbagliati (Italy), and The Finger Players (Singapore). Her adaptations of Richard Wright’s Native Son and Toni Morrison’s Jazz have received critical acclaim nationally, with productions at theatres including The Court Theatre in Chicago, Center Stage in Baltimore, and Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven. A lifelong admirer and a writer who draw’s inspiration from Dr. Angelou’s work, Kelley shared: “Dr. Angelou’s example of her brilliance, her eloquence, her fearlessness in the constant reinvention of who she was is the epitome of what it means to be free. I am deeply awed by her, and eternally grateful for the great honor that has been bestowed upon me to create a piece of art that is reflective of her freedom.”
Dr. Angelou’s longtime assistant, friend, and confidant Lydia Stuckey joins the team as Creative Advisor. A leader in the mission to preserve and share Dr. Angelou’s legacy, Ms. Stuckey considers Maya to be an essential theatrical project, commenting: “Dr. Angelou’s words touched and inspired people the world over; we must do everything in our power to ensure her legacy is never forgotten.”
Maya will have a First Look Celebrity Staged Reading at the 2019 National Black Theatre Festival, July 29-August 3, 2019. The world premiere production of Maya will take place in May 2020 as part of NC Black Rep’s 2019-2020 Mainstage Season.
For more information on NC Black Rep, please visit www.ncblackrep.org.