The title of Parks’ talk, which is free and open to the public, is “One Million Suggestions.”
Named one of TIME Magazine’s “100 Innovators for the Next New Wave,” Parks is one of the most acclaimed playwrights in American drama today. She is the first African-American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize in Drama for the Broadway hit “Topdog/Underdog” and is a MacArthur Fellow.
Parks has taught at the California Institute of the Arts and Yale School of Drama and holds honorary doctorates from Brown University, among others. She credits her writing teacher and mentor, James Baldwin, for starting her on the path of playwriting. One of the first to recognize Parks’ writing skills, Baldwin declared her “an astonishing and beautiful creature who may become one of the most valuable artists of our time.”
Parks has been awarded grants by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation and numerous others. In 2000 and again in 2017 Parks was awarded the PEN/Laura Pels Award for Theater.
Parks’ project “365Days/365Plays” was produced in over 700 theaters worldwide, creating one of the largest grassroots collaborations in theater history. Some of her more well-known plays include “Topdog/Underdog,” “The Book of Grace,” “In the Blood” (2000 Pulitzer Prize finalist) and “Venus” (1996 OBIE Award). She’s written screenplays for Brad Pitt, Denzel Washington and Spike Lee, and adapted Zora Neale Hurston’s classic novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” which premiered on ABC’s Oprah Winfrey Presents. Currently, Parks is adapting Richard Wright’s “Native Son” for film.
Parks’ visit is co-sponsored by the Ruth E. Flournoy Theater Endowment.
The Mudd Center was established in 2010 through a gift to the university from award-winning journalist Roger Mudd, a 1950 graduate of W&L. When he made his gift, Mudd said that “given the state of ethics in our current culture, this seems a fitting time to endow a center for the study of ethics, and my university is the fitting home.”
For full details on this series, visit www.wlu.edu/mudd-center.