Works

Miss Julie, Clarissa, and John

Productions:

Pending

Angry Black Man Poetry

Productions:

January 2009, Wheeling Jesuit University
February 2009, Teatr Śląski, Katowice, Poland

A chronicle of the Polish production by cast member Carter Redwood.

I Nipoti

Productions:

March 2009, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre


Playwright's Notes
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Playwright's Notes

Halfway through writing this play the reality that there was a real possibility that a man of African decent could become our next president became more and more apparent. With that in mind I wondered how would the world's opinion of people of color change and how would this new world view affect not only this Culture Clash series and myself, but playwrights of African decent. Would our plays have to be labeled as period pieces? Pre Obama, post Obama?

I set the script aside for three months while thousands of thoughts roamed in and out of my conscious.

I finally returned to it fully dedicated to what the mission of the Culture Clash series is, which is to bring cultures together, here under one roof, to sit and laugh and cry, to rejoice and most importantly to learn about and from one another.

I dedicated this play to, well this is what it says in the script. "For the many wonderful and talented actors from my home town of Pittsburgh, whose mere appearance and nuanced approach to their craft, assist me in envisioning all of the theatrical possibilities that exist within our collaboration."

I hope you enjoy the evening and leave this place with some hope and belief that this country does have the possibility of a bright future. I certainly do. Oh, and just for the hell of it, go up and introduce yourself to a stranger at intermission. Shake hands and expand your repertoire.

Peace,

Mark Clayton Southers


James McBride

Productions:

September 2007, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre

The Exile of King Harold

Productions:

October 2006, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre

Hoodwinked

Productions:

May 2006, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre

Legal Alien

Productions:

December 2005, Bricolage Production Company's B.U.S., a 24 Hour Play Festival

Nine Days in the Sun

Won 2012 AAPEX Angel Effective Playwright Award and 2012 AAPEX Angel Masterpiece Award from African American Playwrights Exchange

Productions:

May 2005, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre
October 17 2011, African American Playwrights Exchange, Metro Parks Theatre Department, William Jenkins & Mary Coleman Theater Project, Nashville, Tennessee (staged reading). See video excerpts of two scenes. More press.

The Cure

Productions:

October 2004, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre

The Girls From Kankakee

Productions:

October 2003, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre

Ashes to Africa

Productions:

2001, Dayton Playhouse Future Fest
March 2003, Kuntu Repertory Theatre
May 2008, Ensemble Theatre, Houston
September 2011, Moja Festival, Art Forms and Theatre Concepts, Charleston, South Carolina

When the Water Turns Clear

Productions:

May 2001, ETA Creative Arts Foundation, Chicago
September 2003, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre

Ma Noah

Published in Best Black Plays: The Theodore Ward Prize for African American Playwriting, edited by Chuck Smith, Northwestern University Press

Theodore Ward Prize for African American Playwriting
First-Place Winner 2003-2004

An Appraisal by Literary Artist Tameka Cage Conley, PhD
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A Class All Its Own: How Mark Southers' Ma Noah Is Challenging Black Theater


One might best describe Mark Southers’ award-winning play, Ma Noah, as a story that merges the best components of 1970s African-American sitcoms, the legendary work of August Wilson, with the accessibility of Tyler Perry’s stage and theater productions. The play is at once wildly entertaining in its offering of side-splitting humor, yet Southers drops critical, conscious, modern thought into the script, as the characters explore race, class, and social issues that affect them individually and as a family. To have penned a script that challenges the socio-cultural environment that forces main character and mother “Rebecca Pratt,” to use extreme measures to keep her family intact in a way that demonstrates the seriousness of the family’s plight without being depressing is a worthy feat. With Ma Noah, Southers challenges the idea that Black theater exists on an “either/or” plane: either the brand of “high art” in the tradition of Wilson, Hansberry, and Baraka, or “low art,” in the tradition of the “after-church” plays of Perry and others.

In Ma Noah, there is something for all, rooted in Southers’ ability to create a unique, engaging plot that celebrates the Black mother, from her ingenuity and craftiness, to her heart-wide-open generosity and forgiveness, to her steeliness and unflinching sense of justice. Yet, this is a play about the human experience as much as it is about a struggling family headed by a determined matriarch, namely because of the focus on hope in the face of hopelessness, the triumph of the human spirit and, above all, the sacred bonds of family. The characters seem to be in a constant push-and-pull, caught between their past, present, and future and the trappings of their economically depraved environment, with “Rebecca,” masterfully played by Christal Bates, at the helm, guiding the family to success and teaching them, even in their adulthood, the difference between right and wrong and their glorious potential to be great in the world, despite their struggles.

In its own way, Ma Noah suggests that just as the Black mother keeps her family intact, so has the Black woman been the backbone of American society in a historical context. Take a look at the White House, then take a look at what’s happening at Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater. Many Americans love our President. Yet so many have fallen in love with Michelle Obama, who handles being a mother to her daughters and the role of First Lady—which, in essence, is like being “First Mother” to the United States—with unparalleled grace, beauty, elegance, class, and confidence. With every step of her purposeful kitten heel pump, we want Mrs. Obama to succeed. We applaud and cheer for her, just as we applaud “Rebecca Pratt,” who at the end of the play, stands wrapped in light, regal in red, cloaked in justice.

Go see this play and take someone you love. You won’t regret a moment, as you laugh, snap your fingers, and wonder how you, too, can make the world a bit more livable, a bit less gray with our blues and woes.

Tameka Cage Conley, PhD
Literary Artist
2013


Productions:

February 2004, Columbia College Chicago Theater Department
October 2004, New Horizon Theater, Pittsburgh
February 2012, Stockton Performing Arts Center, Pomona, New Jersey
April 2013, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre