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Where We Stand
2020 Drama League Nominee - Distinguished Performance 2020 Lucille Lortel Nominee Outstanding Solo Show 2020 World Premiere WP Theater and Baltimore Centerstage 2019 New Harmony Spring Conference 2018 Prelude Festival 2018 Brooklyn College / Public Theater Research Residency SOLO SHOW Where We Stand was commissioned by The Public Theater's Mobile Unit. It is a first of its kind commission created to develop an original piece specifically geared toward the diverse audiences the Mobile Unit serves. SYNOPSIS Where We Stand is a long form poem with humor, heart, and music that tells the story of a man standing before his town asking them for forgiveness after he has made a deal with a mysterious stranger on their behalf. More than a recounting of events, this piece both engages and implicates the audience in determining the man’s fate.
Last Night and the Night Before
2023 Production Steppenwolf Theater Company 2019 National Theater Conference Barrie and Bernice Stavis Playwright Award 2019 World Premiere Denver Center for the Performing Arts 2017 Kilroys List 2017 Denver Center for the Performing Arts Colorado New Play Summit 2016 Labyrinth Theater Company Barn Series 2015 National New Play Network's National Showcase of New Plays 2015 Orlando Shakespeare Theater's PlayFest 2015 Todd McNerney National Playwriting Contest Winner 2014 Eugene O'Neill Theater Center National Playwrights Conference Semifinalist Workshopped as part of Portland Stage Company's 2015 Little Festival of the Unexpected Presented as part of Classical Theatre of Harlem's 2014 Future Classics Reading Series. Developed partially under Naked Angels' 3-step development formula (Tues@9 and 1st Mondays) FULL LENGTH CAST: 4W 1M SYNOPSIS When Monique and her 10-year-old daughter Samantha show up unexpectedly on her sister’s Brooklyn doorstep, it’s the beginning of the end for Rachel and her partner Nadima’s orderly lifestyle. Monique is on the run from deep trouble, her husband Reggie is nowhere to be seen, and Samantha becomes ever haunted by the life in southern Georgia she was forced to leave behind. Poetic, dark and often deeply funny Last Night and the Night Before explores the power, necessity, and beauty of loss.
Warriors Don't Cry
SOLO SHOW Warriors Don't Cry is a co-comission for TheaterWorks USA and The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts. It was co-concieved by Tamilla Woodard and includes orginial music by Toshi Reagon. SYNOPSIS When a contemporary teen activist is on the brink of giving up the fight for justice, she finds inspiration in the story of the Little Rock Nine's battle for acceptance following the integration of Little Rock Central High School. Inspired by Dr. Melba Patillo Beals’s searing memoir of the same name, this production is a catalyst for deeper discussion about social responsibility, civil discourse, social media, community engagement, and freedom. Combining video projection, original music, spoken word, poetry, and prose, Warriors Don't Cry is a collaboration between The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts and TheaterWorksUSA.
The Review or How to Eat Your Opposition
Presented as part of WP Theater's 2018 Pipeline Festival Presented as part of Pure Theatre Company’s 2015 New Play Festival Presented as part of the 2014 [the claque] Reads Series. 2013 Eugene O'Neill Theater Center National Playwrights Conference Finalist Developed as part of terraNova Collective'sGroundbreakers Playwright Group FULL LENGTH CAST: 4W SYNOPSIS In the fall of 2001 the air has a marked change in New York City. Dana – a naïve yet self-righteous art critic - and her sports loving partner Kerri struggle to reconnect through its weight. This freshly weighted air, by contrast, provides new life for Naomi – an iconic visual artist - who, after years in the business, finally experiences the throes of financial success just as a debilitating disease threatens both that success and her legacy. When Dana questions Naomi’s artistic integrity the stage is set for a sexy, emotional and intellectual game of football between critic and artist. Secrets are revealed, beliefs are shattered, hearts are broken and art is made in this fast-paced drama that explores loss and sacrifice
Laid to Rest
2019 Premiere Stages Premiere Play Festival Semifinalist 2018 Eugene O'Neill Theater Center National Playwrights Conference Finalist 2018 Playwrights Realm Writing Fellow Finalist 2017 Kilroys List - Honorable Mention 2017 Space on Ryder Farm Creative Residency 2017 The Ground Floor at Berkeley Rep Summer Residency 2015 New York Theatre Workshop Mondays @ 3 Reading Series. Originally developed as a member of The 2014-15 Civilians' Research & Development Playwrights Group FULL LENGTH (In Development) CAST: 5W 1-2M SYNOPSIS: When his fatal shooting stirs a community into fevered protest, Vanda's son Clarence becomes yet another hashtag in the ongoing fight against police brutality. Social media overwhelms and recreates Clarence's story beyond even Vanda's recognition. While struggling to find a sense of peace, Vanda meets Grace - a well-meaning yet casual armchair activist- and the need to mourn Clarence's death and reclaim his story in the concrete offline spaces of the real world becomes ever urgent.
the cowboy is dying
Originally developed and produced with Coyote REP Theatre Company. SOLO SHOW CAST: 1W "Donnetta Lavinia Grays takes us on a trip through her Southern childhood into the confusing crossroads that is adulthood in the cowboy is dying via engaging storytelling and singing that come from that complicated, often painful place in between. Donnetta is told by God she is one of the chosen ones (her family are former Baptists on their way to becoming Jehovah's Witnesses). Only, she decides not too many years later, she's not so sure that's what—or who—she wants to be. What she wants is to fall in love, in the hopes it will help her find her rightful place. Grays, who is the dictionary definition of the word "vibrant," ably moves us through her story with both humor and heartache. There is one scene involving Grays and a chair that I will recall with a wry grin for the rest of my days." - NYTheatre
I Know What's Best for You
The best books of 2022, according to cultural tastemakers. - CNN "I particularly loved the play by Donnetta Lavinia Grays... It's mind-bending art that probes the relationships between new and existing bodies! For anyone who, as a matter of cognitive survival, might have tuned out the all-out bonkers craziness of the creation of new human life, this book will tap you right back into the magic." -Elif Batuman, author and journalist. Twenty-eight contributors examine issues both timely and, somehow, timeless: policing of women’s bodies, the choice to live child-free lives, the lack of access to reproductive health, the misogyny, racism, and other forms of bigotry inherent in the medical system, and the fear of what the future might hold." - McSweeney's
The Kilroy List Vol. 2
An exerpt of Donnetta's play Last Night and the Night Before is featured in this second volume of Kilroys List honorees.
Caffe Cino Issue 3
Donnetta's Short Play TAKE is featured in this third volume of work celebrating the legacy of Cafee Cino TAKE TEN MINUTE PLAY CAST: 2 W SYNOPSIS Two women sit on the edge of a dark coastal town.
The New Normal
Orginally developed and produced with Coyote REP Theatre Company. FULL LENGTH CAST: 3W 1M SYNOPSIS Inspired by the life of 2009 Puget Sound Survivor of the Year Anna Warren Schumacher, The New Normal is a hard hitting and, often times, witty play that tells the unique story of how a young woman finds humor and grace in the unexpected challenges of survival. Anna is a 34-year-old broke, clumsy, wine sippin’ southern hairdresser living in present day Seattle, WA. She is a trying desperately to raise her 2 and half year old son…and her would be rock star husband Kevin. In addition to a complicated marriage Anna is searching to make sense of her recent title of “breast cancer survivor.” She has just returned from a weekend of fun with her survivor support group to find the house a wreck, the bills unpaid and a mysterious female stranger parked just outside of her home.
Coming to You Live
Take a groovy trip with original music from some of your favorite Funk, Soul and R&B artists: The Fairy Queens! The Mechanicals! And more! A nationally televised interstellar soul-filled extravaganza. Coming to you live straight from your living room. ABOUT PLAY AT HOME: In March 2020 a bunch of theaters* (Baltimore Center Stage, Long Wharf, The Public Theater, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and Woolly Mammoth) were producing plays, business as usual, when a global pandemic had other plans. Prioritizing the safety of their communities, they made difficult decisions to cease or postpone programming for the remainder of their seasons. But the story doesn’t end there. With a spirit of resilience, adaptation, and invitation, they came together to create the Play At Home project, a series of short plays commissioned specifically for this moment of unprecedented isolation to inspire joy and connection for all. Each theatre has commissioned multiple playwrights to write ten-minute plays under the assumption that these will be read alone or aloud with loved ones, but never produced, allowing these playwrights to dream big and write joyful plays that may contain elements that could not be reproduced for the stage. Each play will be ten minutes or less.
On Break at L. L. Bean
Ali, an 18-year-old Somali refugee grateful to his adoptive nation, wants to enlist in the Army. Jerome, Ali’s 65-year-old coworker who views him as close as a son, fears for this young Muslim man’s life in a nation increasingly resistant to him. Set in Freeport, Maine. About a half hour outside of Lewiston. A play about love of country and the love between men. Commissioned by Now Africa Playwrights Festival
The B Factor
FULL LENGTH CAST : 3W Playing Multiple Roles/Genders SYNOPSIS Inspired stylistically in part by Robert O’Hara’s Insurrection and Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, The “B” Factor is a fantastical comedy that explores the lives of Duane and Anthony (both played by women) on their quest for sexual identity.
Absence of Faith
ONE ACT CAST: 3W 2M SYNOPSIS: Hear the opening monologue as part of Ep. 4 of the On This Island Podcast. It's the Fourth of July in what remains of the Former United States of America. Global warming has set in and the seasons have been reduced from months to days. The island of Manhattan is all that remains. There are only a handful of people who could survive this fluctuating weather and these survivors are all anxiously searching for their homelands and loved ones. Places and people that are fresh in their memories. As it is, they begin their search through local authorities. Others cry out for God but, because "public displays of faith" are now against the law they have all convened in one of the last remaining social institutions; the local police station. This small group is lead by a wisecracking street peddler named Solo who not only guides her compatriots but, also the audience through this odd and complicated world.
The More Things Change
The More Things Change Written at the request of and originally produced by terraNova Collective TEN MINUTE PLAY CAST: 2 W SYNOPSIS A little sister and a big sister share dreams, advice and disappointments as they age from children to grandmothers right before our eyes. A delicate yet playful drama played by two actresses over age 50.