The Drinking Gourd: a national artistic home for Black Voices

The Drinking Gourd: Black Writers at Work

True Colors Theatre Company and The Hansberry Project announce the pilot year of The Drinking Gourd: Black Writers at Work, a new play program that will create a network of Black theatres linked in the shared goal to co-commission, co-develop, and co-premiere the work of Black artists across the country. Jamil Jude, Artistic Director at True Colors, conceived of the idea in response to the dearth of Black work being produced on the American Theatre stage. This partnership with the Seattle-based Hansberry Project is the first step in engaging Black theatre companies from across North America to address this gap.

The Drinking Gourd: Black Writers at Work is a multi-year project that ultimately seeks to create a coalition of five Black theatres, with True Colors and the Hansberry Project piloting the program this year by presenting readings of four plays. The goal is to have all five member theatres produce staged workshops and readings, providing a path toward eventual full productions for the new work. This program looks to give Black artists an opportunity to work with theatres serving different communities of color across the country.

2023-24 Selected Playwrights:

Drinking Gourd 2023-24 Playwrights

Gethsemane Herron | 2023-24 Playwright

Gethsemane Herron is a playwright from Washington, D.C. She has developed work with Ars Nova, The Fire This Time Festival, The Hearth, JAG Productions, The Liberation Theater Company, The Playwright’s Center, Roundabout Theatre Company, and WP Theater. She was a 20-22 member of Ars Nova’s Play Group, a 20-22 member of the WP Lab, and a 21-22 Jerome Fellow/22-23 Many Voices Fellow at the Playwright’s Center. Winner of the Columbia@Roundabout Reading Series. Winner of the 45th Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival. 2022 Recipient of the Helen Merrill Award. Finalist for the Van Lier New Voices Fellowship at the Lark and the Founders Award at New York Stage and Film. MFA: Columbia University. Proud member of the Dramatist’s Guild. Gethsemane is currently under commission with Woolly Mammoth Theater Company, Mosaic Theater Company, and the Drinking Gourd Collective. She will work on a new play with the Playwright’s Center as a 2023-2024 McKnight Fellow. She’s enamored with Sailor Moon & other magical girl warriors. She writes for survivors.

james Ijames | 2023-24 Playwright

JAMES is a Pulitzer Prize winning and Tony Award nominated playwright, a director and educator. James’ plays have been produced by Flashpoint Theater Company, Orbiter 3, Theatre Horizon, Wilma Theatre, Theatre Exile, Azuka Theatre (Philadelphia, PA), The National Black Theatre, JACK, The Public Theater (NYC), Hudson Valley Shakespeare Theater, Steppenwolf Theatre, Definition Theatre, Timeline Theater (Chicago IL) Shotgun Players (Berkeley, CA) and have received development with PlayPenn New Play Conference, The Lark, Playwright’s Horizon, Clubbed Thumb, Villanova Theater, Wilma Theater, Azuka Theatre and Victory Garden. James is the 2011 F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Artist recipient, and two Barrymore Awards for Outstanding Direction of a Play for The Brothers Size with Simpatico Theatre Company and Gem of the Ocean with Arden Theatre. James is a 2015 Pew Fellow for Playwriting, the 2015 winner of the Terrance McNally New Play Award for WHITE, the 2015 Kesselring Honorable Mention Prize winner for ….Miz Martha, a 2017 recipient of the Whiting Award, a 2019 Kesselring Prize for Kill Move Paradise, a 2020 and 2022 Steinberg Prize, the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in Drama recipient and a 2023 Tony nominee for Best Play for Fat Ham. James was a founding member of Orbiter 3, Philadelphia’s first playwright producing collective. He received a B.A. in Drama from Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA and a M.F.A. in Acting from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. James an Associate Professor of Theatre at Villanova University. He resides in South Philadelphia.

Drinking Gourd 2023-24 Playwrights

Ngozi Anyanwu | 2023-24 Playwright

Ngozi Anyanwu is a multi hyphenated storyteller most recently seen performing in Nathan Alan Davis‘s THE REFUGE PLAYS at a Roundabout Theatre with New Theatre workshop. She’s a 2020 Steinberg Playwright Award winner. Her most recent play LAST OF THE LOVE LETTERS premiered at the Atlantic Theater Company fall 2021. Previous productions include GOOD GRIEF (Vineyard Theatre in NYC / Center Theatre Group in LA) and THE HOMECOMING QUEEN (sold-out world premiere run at the Atlantic Theatre). GOOD GRIEF was on the Kilroys List 2016 and a semi finalist for the Princess Grace Award, and won the Humanitas Award. THE HOMECOMING QUEEN was on the Kilroys List 2017 and was a Leah Ryan Finalist. Her play NIKE… (Kilroys List 2017) was workshopped at The New Black Fest in conjunction with The Lark and The Strand Festival in conjunction with A.C.T and Space on Ryder Farm. Ngozi also has commissions with NYU, The Old Globe, Two Rivers Theatre, The Atlantic Theatre, and Steppenwolf. Anyanwu has also received residencies from LCT3, Space on Ryder Farm, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, The New Harmony Project, New York Stage and Film and Page 73. She attended Point Park University (BA) and received her MFA in Acting from University of California, San Diego.