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a.k. payne Receives Kemp Powers Commission Fund For Black Playwrights

The fund offers an annual commission and development support to an early-career Black playwright.

a.k. payne Receives Kemp Powers Commission Fund For Black Playwrights

City Theatre has announced its second artist selected for support for the Kemp Powers Commission Fund for Black Playwrights. The fund is made possible through the generous support of award-winning playwright Kemp Powers and offers an annual commission and development support to an early-career Black playwright.

The artist chosen for this year's commission is a.k. payne (she/they), a playwright and theatermaker with roots in Pittsburgh. As a two-time winner of City Theatre's Young Playwrights Contest (2010, 2012), a.k. is no stranger to City Theatre's stages. Their play burnbabyburn: An American Dream appeared in City Theatre's 2019 Momentum Festival: New Plays at Different Stages; and in 2020, she was one of four playwrights commissioned by City Theatre Company to create monologues inspired by the 2020 Census through support from the Census 2020 Philanthropic Fund at Grantmakers of Western, PA.

Through the Kemp Powers Commission Fund for Black Playwrights, a.k. will create a completely new piece of theatre with built-in developmental support as part of the process.

"I am so grateful for the space and time afforded by this commission to write a play in the city from which my family has been carving something of home over many generations, and in the theatre where I saw the first play I ever wrote when I was 12 years old-striving to find & remember my own voice and steeped in a deep curiosity about how to imagine worlds that might draw people together (my younger self so full of joy!)," said playwright a.k. payne. "I am always so grateful to have been honored and humbled with this work of some Black playwrights: of bearing witness, remembering, and imagining stories that embody the infinite humanity, radical refusals and spirit of joy and play towards survival that may be found in Black lives of the past, present and future."

Ty Greenwood, the inaugural recipient of the award, developed their play Dependency through the program culminating in a workshop as part of the theater's 2022 Momentum Festival.

"The Kemp Powers Commission Fund offers City Theatre a genuine opportunity to identify emerging and established Black playwrights and share in the exciting next step of their artistry," said Monteze Freeland, Co-Artistic Director at City Theatre. "Luckily for us, we didn't have to look far for the second recipient! a.k. payne's work has lived at City Theatre for over a decade since winning our Young Playwrights Contest twice. Her plays expertly illustrate the hidden gems of Black culture without trivializing our transgenerational trauma. a.k's rich writing style is imbued with poetry, nostalgia, and vibrant characters so much so that we eagerly await the poignant new work to come from one of Pittsburgh's next generations of cultural icons in the making."


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