The Wallis and Black Rebirth Collective's
A Theatrical Celebration of Black Women’s Liberation
Co-directed by Kimberly Hébert and Camille Jenkins
Premieres on Juneteenth, Saturday, June 19, 2021
Available for on-demand streaming through Friday, July 4, 2021
In celebration of Juneteenth, Unmasked features one-act plays by four of the country's preeminent voices in American theater: Dominique Morisseau (Tony Award-nominated book writer, Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations), Jocelyn Bioh (School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play), Ngozi Anyanwu (Good Grief), and Stacey Osei-Kuffour ("Watchmen"). Filmed inside The Wallis’ Lovelace Studio Theater, the plays include:
Jezelle the Gazelle by Dominique Morisseau: A clear-eyed coming of age story about a young girl who is ready to prove that she’s the best runner on her block: young, fierce, and definitely faster than any boy. But is she fast enough to outrun what life has in store and claim her greatness? CAST: Candace Thomas (Jezelle).
White-N-Luscious by Jocelyn Bioh: A Nigerian pop star and an Afro-British scholar are confronted with the controversy of self-representation and unattainable beauty standards all while on a sensationalist talk show. CAST: Makha Mthembu (Tiwa), Kelly M. Jenrette (Isha), Jonah Wharton (Richard).
G.O.A.T. by Ngozi Anyanwu: This play spotlights friends Jay, Bonita, and Row, who have gathered to perform a sacred ritual to summon victory for the true Greatest Of All Time. CAST: Kelly M. Jenrette (Bonita), Candace Thomas (Row), Makha Mthembu (Jay).
Madness by Stacey Osei-Kuffour: The protagonist, making a routine call to clean up a work issue, encounters a mysterious new colleague who offers her a unique brand of help. CAST: Kelly M. Jenrette (Girl), Jonah Wharton (Mister).
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, Union soldiers led by Major General Gordon Granger, rode into Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and slaves in Texas were free.
“With new interest and vigor, the country has been engaging in conversations and celebrations about this nationally forgotten moment in our collective history. The Wallis and Black Rebirth Collective have joined together to introduce to some and celebrate with many the triumphant spirit of this day through these plays by four extraordinary Black female playwrights. Dominique Morisseau, Jocelyn Bioh, Ngozi Anyanwu, and Stacey Osei-Kuffour reclaim the Black female perspective in American Theatre, and we celebrate the liberation of their voices.”
- Unmasked Co-directors Kimberly Hébert and Camille Jenkins
MEET THE CREATIVE TEAM
Kimberly Hébert (co-director) is a combination of undeniable humor, clarity, intelligence and strength, known best from her roles in HBO’s “Vice Principals,” ABC’s “Kevin Probably Saves the World,” “Better Call Saul,” “Two and Half Men,” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” She starred in two shows at The Geffen Playhouse, Barbecue and By the Way Meet Vera Stark, earning her an NAACP award for the former. Hébert has a host of New York theatre plays with Drama Desk and Lucille Lortell nominations to her credit. She holds two degrees, a BA in Psychology from Mount Holyoke College and a Masters in Clinical Social Work from The University of Chicago. She is an advocate for families and special needs children, and a voice for mental health services in underserved communities, as well as an actor, a thinker, an advocate, a mother, and a friend.
Camille Jenkins (co-director) is a producer, director, writer, and teaching artist whose work lives at the crossroads of multi-medium exploration, historical introspection, environmental connection, and personal reflection. Select credits include Unmasked: A Theatrical Celebration of Black Women’s Liberation (The Wallis and Black Rebirth Collective) co-director and producer; The Goddesses Guide: Adura for the Women of African Diaspora (Hollywood Fringe Festival) writer, director, producer; Spoken Perceptions: Interactive Poetry Showcase (Non-Fiction Gallery) producer and director; and Mama Metal (IAMA Theatre Company) associate producer. Jenkins earned a BFA in Performing Arts and a MA in Arts Administration at Savannah College of Art and Design. Currently she is the Programming Manager at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills.
Ngozi Anyanwu (playwright) is an overall Renaissance woman. She was trained at University of California San Diego's MFA acting program, Point Park University (B.A, Acting) The Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Barrington Stage, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, and The Mark Taper Forum. Among her TV credits are “Limitless,” “Deadbeat,” “The Affair,” “Law and Order SVU,” “Mysteries of Laura,” and the HBO show “The Deuce.” She served as a National Black Theatre Producing Fellow and Associate Artistic Producer of Now Africa's Playwrights Festival. She is also on the literary committee of the Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre. Among her director credits is She Gon Learn by Lisa Strum for the Emerging Arts Festival, United Solo Festival, and National Black Theater. Her playwrighting credits include Nike and The Homecoming Queenand Good Grief, which was presented as part of the Rising Circle Collective’s 6th annual Ink Tank. Most recently Good Grief won the Inaugural CTG/Humanitas Award, had its world premiere at the CTG/Kirk Douglas Theatre in the 2016/17 season, was listed in the 2016 annual Kilroy's List, and was a semi-finalist for the Princess a Grace. Her work, NIKE, was recently presented as part of the National Black Theatre’s Keep Soul Alive Monday Reading Series The NewBlack Fest in conjunction with The Lark Playwrighting Development Center. An excerpt of her work, The Homecoming Queen, was presented as part of The Fire This Time's Inaugural's Writers group. and most recently had a workshopped reading that was presented at Yale with Page 73 for its summer residency. The Homecoming Queen had its world premiere at The Atlantic Theatre in the 2017/18 season and was a Leah Ryan Finalist. Anyanwu is also a recipient of the Djerassi Artist Residency, The New York Stage and Film founders Award as well as Space on Ryder Farm and the LCT playwrights residency.
Jocelyn Bioh (playwright) is a Ghanaian-American writer and performer from New York City. Bioh’s plays include the multi-award-winning School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Playwhich debuted Off Broadway at MCC Theater in 2017 and has gone on to have over 20 productions throughout the country; Nollywood Dreams (postponed due to Covid-19) and the new musical GODDESS (Coming to Berkeley Rep Theater in 2022). Bioh’s acting credits include TV (shows like “Russian Doll,” “The Detour” and “Crashing”) and film (Ben Is Back) as well as extensive career both Off and on Broadway including the Tony Award-winning play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Her television writing credits include “She’s Gotta Have It,” “Russian Doll,” “AMERICANAH,” and the upcoming film adaptation of Once on This Island for Disney.
Dominique Morisseau (playwright) is the author of The Detroit Project (a three-play cycle) which includes the following plays: Skeleton Crew (Atlantic Theater Company), Paradise Blue(Signature Theatre), and Detroit ’67 (Public Theater, Classical Theatre of Harlem and NBT). Additional plays include: Pipeline (Lincoln Center Theatre), Sunset Baby (LAByrinth Theatre); Blood at the Root (National Black Theatre) and Follow Me To Nellie’s (Premiere Stages). She is also the Tony Award-nominated book writer on the new Broadway musical Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations (Imperial Theatre). Morisseau is an alumna of The Public Theater Emerging Writer’s Group, Women’s Project Lab, and Lark Playwrights Workshop and has developed work at Sundance Lab, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and Eugene O’Neil Playwrights Conference. She most recently served as co-producer on the Showtime series “Shameless” (three seasons). Additional awards include Spirit of Detroit Award, PoNY Fellowship, Sky-Cooper Prize, TEER Trailblazer Award, Steinberg Playwright Award, Audelco Awards, NBFT August Wilson Playwriting Award, Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama, OBIE Award (2), Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellowship, Variety’s Women of Impact for 2017-18, and a recent MacArthur Genius Grant Fellow.
Stacy Osei-Kuffour (playwright), born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, is a BFA graduate from NYU, where she studied acting, and an MFA graduate from Hunter College, where she studied playwriting. She is a writer and actress. Previous writing work includes: “PEN15” (Hulu), “WATCHMEN” (HBO), “The Power” (Amazon), “SOLOS” (Amazon) and “The Morning Show” (Apple TV+). Stacy’s newest play, ANIMALS, recorded through Williamstown Theater Festival (due to COVID) is currently available on Audible. Her goal as an artist is to bring untold stories to the stage and screen, stories that challenge our political, societal, and stereotypical views of the Black experience.