The Theatre Department will host a lecture by award-winning playwright Marcus Gardley on Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. in Robsham Theater, as part of the University’s Matthew R. DeVoy and John H. DeVoy IV Perspectives on Theatre Series.
Following the lecture, which is free and open to the public, Dawn M. Simmons, artistic director of The Front Porch Arts Collective, will lead a Q&A with Gardley.
Described by the New Yorker as “the heir to Federico Garcia Lorca, Luigi Pirandello, and Tennessee Williams,” Gardley has produced plays at some of the country’s most renowned theaters, such as Arena Stage, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Lincoln Center Theater, and Yale Repertory Theatre.
His recent work, “Black Odyssey”—which blends Greek mythology and African-American folklore to form a new vision of Homer’s eighth-century classic—received nine Excellence in Theatre Award nominations from the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle, and won seven Theatre Bay Area awards for its 2017 West Coast premiere at California Shakespeare Theater. “Black Odyssey” will have its Boston premiere this coming April, co-produced by Central Square Theater and The Front Porch Arts Collective—a black-led theatre company committed to advancing racial equity in Boston through theater.
Gardley, named one of “50 to watch” in 2009 by The Dramatist magazine, is a former recipient of the PEN/Laura Pels award for a Mid-Career Playwright, which honors a “playwright whose literary achievements are vividly apparent in the rich and striking language of his or her work.” He is a former United States Artists James Baldwin Fellow for Theater and Performance, which recognized him as one of “America’s most accomplished and innovative artists.”
His work often centers on African American history and allegory, challenging audiences by tackling complex social and political issues and he views it as a form of activism. In a 2015 interview with the National Endowment for the Arts, Gardley said, “What I intend for [the plays] to do, is cause conversation. From that conversation, [I hope] people are not only inspired to see more theater, but also inspired to do things in their community, so that the work is actually causing a spark for change.”
Gardley’s “Every Tongue Confess,” winner of the 2010 Edgerton Foundation New Play Award, depicts intergenerational tales of loss and redemption in the town of Boligee, Ala. His “The Gospel of Lovingkindness”— a drama about faith, family, and loss at the hands of gun violence—won the 2014 Black Theater Alliance Award for best play/playwright. “The Road Weeps, The Well Runs Dry,” concerning the myth, folklore, and history of the Black Seminole people in the first all-black U.S. town in Wewoka, Okla., was a finalist for the 2014 Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History, which honors plays or musicals that “enlist theater’s power to explore the past of the United States, and to participate meaningfully in the great issues of our day through public conversation.”
The DeVoy Perspectives on Theatre Series, a program made possible by a gift from the DeVoy family, annually brings professionals and creative forces in theater and the performing arts to Boston College, to share their experience and vision.
For questions about the event, e-mail Theatre Department Chair Crystal Tiala at firstname.lastname@example.org or Administrative Assistant Julie-Anne Whitney at email@example.com.
—Rosanne Pellegrini | University Communications