Suzan-Lori Parks 2015 Recipient

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Named among Time magazine’s “100 Innovators for the Next Wave,” Suzan-Lori Parks is one of the most acclaimed playwrights in American drama today. She is the first African-American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, and is a MacArthur “Genius” Award recipient.

She’s been awarded grants by the National Endowment for the Arts, Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts and New York Foundation for the Arts. She is also the recipient of a Lila-Wallace Reader’s Digest Award, a CalArts/Alpert Award in the Arts, and a Guggenheim Foundation Grant. She and is an alum of New Dramatists and of Mount Holyoke College.

Parks’ project 365 Days/365 Plays (where she wrote a play a day for an entire year) was produced in over 700 theaters worldwide, creating one of the largest grassroots collaborations in theater history. Her plays include Topdog/Underdog (2002 Pulitzer Prize winner); The Book of Grace; In the Blood (2000 Pulitzer Prize finalist); Venus (1996 OBIE Award); The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World; Fucking A; Imperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom (1990 OBIE Award); and The America Play.

Parks has written numerous screenplays including Girl 6 for Spike Lee, and adapted Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God for Oprah Winfrey Presents.

Parks’ first novel, Getting Mother’s Body (Random House, 2003), is a novel with songs and is set in the West Texas of her youth. Her adaptation of The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess won the 2012 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. Her newest plays, Father Comes Home From The Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3)—set during the Civil War—was awarded the Horton Foote Prize, the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama as well as being a 2015 Pulitzer Prize Finalist. Currently performing Watch Me Work, a free weekly writing workshop, open to artists of all disciplines, Parks teaches at New York University, and serves at the Public Theater as its Master Writer Chair.

Parks credits her mentor James Baldwin for starting her on the path of playwriting. One of the first to recognize Parks’ writing skills, Mr. Baldwin declared Parks “an astonishing and beautiful creature who may become one of the most valuable artists of our time.”

Selection Committee

Ella Baff, Chair – Ella Baff is the Senior Program Officer for Arts and Cultural Heritage at the Andrew Mellon Foundation, where she is responsible for grant making to art museums, performing arts organizations, art and conservation centers, and art programs within institutions of higher education. Prior to her work at the Mellon Foundation, Baff was the celebrated

Executive Director of Jacob’s Pillow. Under her leadership, the Festival received the National Medal of Arts and was designated a National Historic Landmark.

Baff has co-chaired the International Society for the Performing Arts Congress in New York and serves on the board of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. She has received several awards, including a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters from the French Ministry of Culture.

Russell Granet – Russell Granet is the Executive Director of Lincoln Center Education. Under his leadership, the Center was recognized for outstanding service to the arts and education in the 2013 Proclamation by the City of New York. Granet came to Lincoln Center after running his own international consulting practice and holding leadership roles at The Center for Arts Education—The NYC Annenberg Challenge, The American Place Theatre, and Creative Arts Team. He is on the faculty at New York University, where he teaches Drama with Special Populations.

Granet has served on the boards of many prominent organizations including of The Association of Teaching Artists, The American Alliance of Theatre Education, and The American Place Theatre, He was awarded the Founder’s Award from The Bronx Charter School for the Arts and the Arts and Culture award from the Turkish Cultural Center.

Kevin Moriarty – Kevin Moriarty is the Artistic Director of the Dallas Theater Center, where his directorial credits include: It’s a Bird … It’s a Plane … It’s Superman, The Who’s Tommy, The Wiz, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Henry IV, The Tempest, A Christmas Carol, Oedipus el Rey, Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure, Medea, and Colossal. Before coming to the Dallas Theater Center, Moriarty held leadership positions at the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca and Brown University/Trinity Rep MFA Program. He is an Associate Professor at Brown University.

Moriarty is the Vice-Chair of the Dallas Arts District and serves on the Board of Trustees for the Booker T. Washington Advisory Board, Theatre Communications Group, and the National Alliance for Musical Theatre. He was awarded a directing fellowship from the Drama League.

Mikki Shepard – Mikki Shepard is the Executive Producer for the Apollo Theater, where she manages Apollo Presents. Her visionary leadership is responsible for the Apollo’s artistic and institutional direction and shapes many of its program initiatives. Shepard was also integral in developing and presenting arts content that focused on African American and African Diaspora cultures.

Shepard is the board chairman of the Mertz Gilmore Foundation and has served on numerous boards including, the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn Community Foundation, and Creative Capital Fund. She has also consulted for top organizations including the Ford Foundation, Kaplan Fund, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and Opera America.

A.M. Holmes – A.M. Homes is the acclaimed author of works including, This Book Will Save Your Life, Music For Torching, The End of Alice, In a Country of Mothers, Jack, Things You Should Know and The Safety of Objects, The Mistress’s Daughter, and Los Angeles: People, Places and The Castle on the Hill, and several artists’ books in collaboration with renowned artists like Eric Fischl, Cecily Brown, Bill Owens, Carroll Dunham, Catherine Opie and Todd Hido. She has also created several original television pilots for HBO, FX and CBS, written and produced for The L Word, and written the screen adaptation for several of her own works. Holmes teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Princeton.

Holmes has served on several boards including Yaddo, The Writers Room, and PEN in addition to serving on the Presidents Council for Poets and Writers. She has been awarded fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, NYFA, The Cullman Center for Scholars, and Writers at the New York Public Library.