Discipline: Theatre – playwriting

Ifa Bayeza

Discipline: Theatre – playwriting
Region: Silver Spring, MD
MacDowell Fellowships: 2022

Ifa Bayeza is an award-winning playwright, director, novelist, and educator. Her work is driven by a passion to convey the full humanity of Black People and champion the nobility of their struggle against enslavement and its historic and pervasive legacies. Described as “breathtaking,” “staggering,” “extraordinarily lyrical,” and “triumphant,” Ifa’s literary style and transcendent themes veer from the intimate to the mythic and compel us to re-examine the deeply embedded ideas we attach to race and gender. Plays include the Till trilogy (The Ballad of Emmett Till, That Summer in Sumner, and Benevolence), reimagining the saga of 1955 Civil Rights icon Emmett Till; String Theory, giving voice to the 1839 Amistad slave ship survivors and their allies; Welcome to Wandaland, a childhood memoir and Infants of the Spring, adapted from Wallace Thurman’s classic Harlem Renaissance novel. She has written two musicals: the World War I love story, Charleston Olio, a Fred Ebb Award finalist; and Bunk Johnson, a Blues Poem on the legendary Jazz originalist, commissioned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Her novel Some Sing, Some Cry was co-authored with her sister Ntozake Shange.

A finalist for the 2020 Herb Alpert Award in Theatre and for the 2020 Francesca Primus Prize, Bayeza in 2018 was the inaugural Humanist-in-Residence at the National Endowment for the Humanities. Honors for The Ballad of Emmett Till include the Edgar Award, the Backstage Garland Award, and development fellowships from the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center and Brown University's Committee on Slavery and Justice. A graduate of Harvard University, she received her M.F.A. in theatre from University of Massachusetts Amherst.

At MacDowell, Ifa completed a new draft of That Summer in Sumner, the middle play of the Till trilogy, which will make its world premiere at The Mosaic Theater Company of Washington, D.C. in October 2022.



Ifa Bayeza worked in the Heyward studio.

The Lodge Annex, a wing on the west side of the men’s dormitory (The Lodge), was completed in 1926. Initially intended as an apartment for a caretaker, the space was soon repurposed as a live-in studio for writers. In recognition of a major endowment gift from the DuBose and Dorothy Heyward Foundation, Lodge Annex was…

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