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Aleshea Harris and Harrison David Rivers: "Black Arts and Activism"

March 11, 2021 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm


Photo of playwright Aleshea Harris, head and shoulders
Aleshea Harris. Photo: RJ Eldridge

A conversation with playwrights Aleshea Harris and Harrison David Rivers on Black arts, writing, activism, and performance. Moderated by English Professor Douglas Kearney. Presented by the Department of English EDI Graduate Workshops and open to all. Co-sponsored with Theatre Arts & Dance/HUB Engagement and African American & African Studies. Register for this Zoom event.

Aleshea Harris’ play Is God Is (directed by Taibi Magar at Soho Rep) won the 2016 Relentless Award, an Obie Award for playwriting in 2017, the Helen Merrill Playwriting Award in 2019, was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, and made The Kilroys’ List of “the most recommended un and underproduced plays by trans and female authors of color” for 2017. What to Send Up When It Goes Down (directed by Whitney White, produced by The Movement Theatre Company), a play-pageant-ritual response to anti-Blackness, had its critically-acclaimed NYC premiere in 2018, was featured in the April 2019 issue of American Theatre Magazine, and was nominated for a Drama Desk award. Harris was awarded a Samuel French Next Step Award in 2019, the Windham-Campbell Literary Prize and the Steinberg Playwriting Award in 2020, and the Hermitage Greenfield Prize in 2021. She has performed her own work at the St. Mary’s College, Edinburgh and Orlando Fringe Festivals, REDCAT and as part of La Fête du Livr at La Comèdie de Saint-Étienne.

Head and shoulders photo of playwright Harrison David Rivers
Harrison David Rivers

Harrison David Rivers is the winner of the 2018 Relentless Award for his play the bandaged place. His produced plays include When Last We Flew (GLAAD Media Award, NYFringe Excellence in Playwriting Award), Sweet, And She Would Stand Like This, Where Storms Are Born, A Crack in the Sky, Five Points, and This Bitter Earth. He has received McKnight and Many Voices Jerome Fellowships, a Van Lier Fellowship, an Emerging Artist of Color Fellowship, and residencies with the Bogliasco Foundation, the Siena Art Institute, the Hermitage and Duke University. Harrison was the 2016 Playwright-in-Residence at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Harrison is an alum of the Public Theater's Emerging Writers' Group, Interstate 73, NAMT, and The Lincoln Center Directors' Lab. He is a NYTW Usual Suspect and a member of the Playwright Center's Board of Directors.


Douglas Kearney is a faculty member of the Creative Writing Program and is a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Cy Twombly awardee and Cave Canem fellow. He’s published six books, most recently Buck Studies (Fence Books, 2016), winner of the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Award, the CLMP Firecracker Award for Poetry, and silver medalist for the California Book Award (Poetry). Kearney’s collection of writing on poetics and performativity Mess and Mess and (Noemi Press, 2015), was a Small Press Distribution Handpicked Selection. A librettist, Kearney has had four operas staged, most recently Sweet Land, which received rave reviews from The LA Times, The NY Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The LA Weekly. Kearney's poetry collection Sho (Wave Books) is forthcoming in April.