Kia Corthron, 1961 -
(The following narrative on Kia Corthron was revised/updated in Spring 2014 at the request of the Maryland Women's Heritage Center as part of an upcoming Fall 2014 exhibit on Women in the Arts.)
Kia Corthron was born in Cumberland, Maryland, in 1961, the second of three daughters born to Shirley Elaine Beckwith Corthron, a Cumberland native, and James Leroye Corthron, who grew up on a farm outside Farmville, Virginia, and who, after relocating to Cumberland, worked for the local paper mill. Kia attended Frostburg State College and earned her B.A. from the University of Maryland, College Park. She has lived in New York City since 1988, when she began graduate studies at Columbia University, earning her M.F.A. in Theatre Arts.
Her plays have premiered at various New York venues as well as theatres across the country (among them Baltimore’s CenterStage, Delaware Theatre Company, Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, Los Angeles’ Mark Taper Forum, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Manhattan Theatre Club, Connecticut’s Yale Rep and Alabama Shakespeare Festival) and in London. Awards include a 2014 Windham Campbell Prize, 2014 Honored Playwright at the Great Plains Theatre Conference, 2012 Lee Reynolds Award, Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Creative Arts Residency (Italy), Dora Maar Residency (France), Siena Arts Institute Visiting Artist (Italy), NEA, MacDowell Colony, Kennedy Center Fund, and in television two awards for HBO's "The Wire."
Corthron’s plays always have a sociopolitical impetus: water shortage (A Cool Dip in the Barren Saharan Crick), the 2008 financial crisis (Trickle), homelessness (Light Raise the Roof), environmental racism (Splash Hatch on the E Going Down), the relationship between the black community and the NYPD (Force Continuum), the death penalty (Life by Asphyxiation), landmines (The Venus de Milo Is Armed). Live! from this Candidate, winner of a Puffin Foundation Award, was performed as a benefit for the Southern California Library. Tap the Leopard was inspired by her trip to Liberia in 2004 as the nation was transitioning out of its civil war. She has also traveled to Nairobi, Kenya, with the Foundry Theatre for the World Social Forum (2007), and with a group of six playwrights to Palestine visiting theatres on the West Bank and Gaza (2002). She has voluntarily written short plays for specific urgent projects, such as Aftershock for the “Ki Jan Pou’n Geri? (How Do We Heal?)” program benefitting Partners in Health after the Haitian earthquake (2010) and Power Lunch in the “Middle East in Pieces” program soon after the Israeli bombing of Lebanon (2006).
Her plays have appeared in numerous anthologies. She is also the author of several essays, among them “Occupy Broadway!”, reporting on the theatre project of the Occupy movement in 2011; and “The Ethics of Ethnic,” regarding the issue of playwrights writing characters of cultures outside their own.
Annually she attends Alaska’s Last Frontier Theatre Conference as a respondent to early-career plays, and has taught workshops to adults, to graduate and undergraduate students, and to students of the high school for incarcerated girls on New York City’s Rikers Island.
...From: American Shorts, HBO: The Wire and New Dramatists
Text - Kia Corthron & Albert Feldstein
The photograph was provided by Kia Corthron.
Allegany County (Md.)--Biography; Allegany County (Md.)--Women.
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