Kia Corthron is the author of the novel The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter which was released by Seven Stories Press in 2016. She is also a playwright whose works have premiered in New York and across the U.S. as well as in London. She was born and raised in Cumberland, Maryland, a valley in the Appalachians on the banks of the Potomac facing West Virginia. Her mother, Shirley Beckwith Corthron, also born in Cumberland, was a homemaker and school volunteer, at times in her younger years working as a nurse’s aid and house cleaner. Her father, James Corthron, born and raised on a Virginia farm, worked at the local paper mill planning shipments. Corthron attended state schools for her undergraduate degree (Frostburg State College and the University of Maryland in College Park), did a bit of editing in the D.C. area for a while, then relocated to New York City to earn her masters in Theatre Arts at Columbia University. As a playwright, Corthron has received numerous awards, including several for her body of work: the Windham Campbell Prize for Drama, the United States Artists Jane Addams Fellowship, the Simon Great Plains Playwright Award, and the Lee Reynolds Award. In addition, she has written a bit of television. (Edgar and Writers Guild Outstanding Series awards for The Wire.) Among the theatres that have premiered her plays are Playwrights Horizons, New York Theatre Workshop, Atlantic Theater Company, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club (New York City); Yale Repertory Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Center Stage, Hartford Stage, Children’s Theatre Company, Alabama Shakespeare Festival (regionally); Royal Court Theatre, Donmar Warehouse (London). She has taught playwriting in prisons for youth and for adults, and at universities and conservatories for undergraduate and graduate students. She has frequently contributed short plays to theatrical evenings curated to address specific current issues, such as the suffering of Iraqis under U.S. sanctions, the Israeli bombing of Lebanon, and as a benefit to aid Haitian earthquake victims. She traveled to the West Bank and Gaza as part of a six-playwright contingent led by Naomi Wallace to meet with Palestinian theatres, and she spent two weeks in Liberia as the country was beginning to transition out of its civil war and wrote a play inspired by the experience. In early 2016 she was part of a six-member delegation to South Africa - a reading tour sponsored by the University of Iowa's International Writing Program, meeting with South African writers and students. Since coming to Manhattan as a student in 1988 she has lived in New York City, mostly (since 1995) in Harlem.
The 2017 Kia Corthron Season begins with the timely FORCE CONTINUUM. An African-American police officer struggles with the contradictions of his race and profession while confronting the black community he is bound to protect and being haunted by his cop father’s violent death. A jagged, precarious journey whereby all gradually grasp that understanding comes not just through seeing others but hearing. Michael Aaron Pogue makes his Eclipse directorial debut.
Nineteen-year-old Tray loves his grandfather and loves caring for his infant daughter, hoping one day to marry the baby’s mother. But in the War on Drugs, a joint at a party becomes a major military provocation, and Tray unwittingly falls into a black hole of bewilderment, rearranging his plans and his life. Workshopped through New Works Brooklyn at Brooklyn College and New York Theatre Workshop.
The 2017 Kia Corthron Season concludes with Breath, Boom. A startling acute portrayal of Prix, a hardened female gang member in New York, whose only escape from her narrow, abusive life is an obsession with creating the perfect fireworks display. The play is based heavily on research into the lives of young women who choose to lead violent lives on the streets. It captures the tough and often poetic language that people who inhabit a world cut off from normal existence use to both mask and portray a perilous existence. Mignon McPherson Stewart makes her Eclipse directorial debut.
Learn more about the life and works of Kia Corthron with free readings and events throughout the season. Details regarding our Playwright scholar series events will be announced throughout 2017.