BMP Fest : MEET THE FINALISTS

In December 2020, we announced our four finalists and two semi-finalists for the 1st Annual Black Motherhood and Parenting New Play Festival (#BMPFest). The four 10-minute play excerpts from each of the plays were read at the International PAAL Summit on December 4, 2020.

Presentation of 10-minute excerpts at PAAL International Summit: Actor – Nathan James, Blackboard Founder – Garlia Cornelia Jones, Actor – Jacob Heimer, Actor – Marjorie Johnson, Actor – Mia Smith, Actor – Camille Thomas, Finalist Playwright – Cynthia Grace Robinson, Finalist Playwright – Melda Beaty

The ensemble of actors that evening:

Amber Gray – Stage Directions

In “The Break” by Julia Taiwo Oni – Camille Thomas

In “What If…?” by Cynthia G. Robinson – Mia Kristin Smith and Camille Thomas

In “Justin’s Side” by Eureka Lewis – Jacob Heimer, Nathan James and Jasmine Rush

In “THIRTY” by Melda Beaty – Jasmine Rush, Camille Thomas and Marjorie Johnson


About the Finalists:

Melda Beaty is a passionate playwright, author, and assistant professor, who resides in Chicago, Illinois with her three gifted daughters. Melda has written five stage plays and a short film. Her first play, Front Porch Society, enjoyed a world premiere at The Ensemble Theatre in Houston, TX and was a finalist for Best New Plays by Houston Press.  She is also a freelance contributor to Black Masks magazine and the author of two books. Her latest play is an epic exploration of 19th century sterilization laws in America and the impact on Black women. Melda earned her B.A. in Broadcast Communications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her M.A. in English at Illinois State University.  https://meldacreates.com/

Eureka Lewis resides in New York, but is a native of Detroit, MI. She’s written & directed numerous plays, including (but not limited to) “Sorry If I Let You Down”, “Aunt Salley’s Remains”, “Finally Made It”, “Too Far To The Left”, “The Jagged Rose” & a 10-week run of “What They’ll Remember”; which received rave reviews in The Huffington Post &Broadway World. From hundreds of entries, she was twice selected a featured writer for Billie Holiday Theatre’s “50IN50” writer’s series. Her onstage credits began over thirty years ago at The Hilberry Studio Theater of Wayne State University, in “Portraits In Black”. She’s also had lead or pivotal roles in “Tambourines To Glory”, “Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope”, “God’s Trombones”, “For Colored Girls”, “Raisin In The Sun”, “In The City”, “One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show” & “Herstory” to name a select Few.  Eureka believes writing is one of the greatest platforms to evoke change.

Julie Taiwo Oni is a Los Angeles-based playwright, English professor, and proud boy mom with roots in Bakersfield, California and Nigeria. She sees her work as a playwright and educator as interconnected, for the stories that she creates are inspired by areas of focus in her research and teaching, including American pop culture, intercultural misconceptions, and the African diaspora. Recent works include Sown for MaiM Theatre Company and Son of Semele (2019), The Hotel Play with Playwrights’ Arena (2017), Bunk and Denim for Son of Semele’s Company Creation Festival (2014-2015), nat&EM for Company of Angels (2013), Tether for Doorway Arts Ensemble in Washington, D.C. (2011), and workshops, readings, and festivals across LA. Her current research and writing deals with Black albinism in the U.S. and Africa. Oni is associated with The Robey Theatre Company’s Playwrights’ Lab, Son of Semele Scribes, and Center Theatre Group’s Community Stories. She holds an MFA in Dramatic Writing from the USC School of Dramatic Arts, and teaches composition, dramatic literature, and playwriting at Pepperdine University. www.julietaiwooni.com

Cynthia G. Robinson Plays: DANCING ON EGGSHELLS (The Billie Holiday Theatre); PEOLA’S PASSING (New Perspectives Theatre Company); WHEN NIGHT FALLS (Eugene O’Neill semi-finalist); GOLD STAR MOTHER (EstroGenius Festival); ASCENSION (National Black Theatre Festival; NYC Fringe); THUNDER: A MUSICAL MEMOIR (NYC Fringe); NIGHTFALL (The Fire This Time Festival); ROME IN LOVE (48 Hours in…Harlem); FREEDOM SUMMER(North Carolina Black Repertory Company); IN THIS LIFE (in development); ROSES OF THE WILLAMETTE: A MUSICAL (in development); TV pilot (in development). Awards: Eugene O’Neill Theater Center Playwriting Conference (Semi-finalist); Rivers Writers Unit at The Lark; Playwrights of Color Summit/Quick Silver Theater Company; Rising Circle Theater Collective/INKTank Residency; AUDELCO Award Nominee; Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Finalist; Calvin B. Grimes Scholar-in-Residence Inaugural award (NYU); Tribeca All-Access Open Stage Inaugural award; Best New Play IRNE Nominee. Publications: SHE PERSISTED. Monologues from Plays by Women Over 40; The Book of Estrogenius 2012: A Celebration of Female Voices.


About the Semi-Finalists:

Marjuan Canady for Mama Noir Monologues

Marjuan Canady is a Caribbean-American writer, director, producer, performer, entrepreneur and educator. A native Washingtonian, her work spans theater, film, television, and children’s literature. Her original work has been seen at The Kennedy Center, Sesame Street, The Smithsonian, The Lincoln Center and the Miami Book Fair. She is the CEO/ Author of the children’s brand, “Callaloo Kids”. Her one-woman play, ”Girls! Girls? Girls.” has been seen on international stages and on Off-Broadway. Canady has held fellowships at The Schomburg Center, the Caribbean Cultural Center, Lincoln Center, Harlem Stage, and the Anacostia Arts Center. She is the founder of her company Sepia Works and non-profit, Canady Foundation for the Arts. Canady is a member of the Producers Guild of America and PAAL. She is a graduate of Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Fordham University and NYU Tisch. In 2019 she became a mom to her daughter, Savannah.


Nikki Brake-Silla for A.M.A. Against Medical Advice – Monologue

Nikki Brake-Sillá is a playwright and filmmaker. She is the Founder of DrAW (Dramatists At War) and an inaugural member of Jouska Play Works. Nikki’s full length plays include “Trouble of the World,” Finalist (Space on Ryder – Family Residency), Semi-Finalist (O’Neill, Bay Area Playwrights Festival), “Dear Ann,” Residency (The Mitten Lab), Semi-Finalist (Premiere Stages), “In Defense of Ourselves,” Commission (Philadelphia Women’s Theater), and “GTFOH.” Her full-length narrative, “A Weathering” was a Semi-Finalist (Middlebury Scriptlab) and Second Round Selection (Sundance Narrative Lab). She has received funding from The Princess Grace Foundation, the Leeway Foundation and the Regional Center for Women Artists. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild and Directors Gathering. www.ginifilms.com


Stay tuned for tickets to our festival, streaming at bmpfest.veeps.com between May 20 – June 17, 2021. In the meantime, support the BMP Fest on-line via our online campaign!

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