Sharing Black history on stage

Playwright Dominique Morisseau shares how she brings her stories to life

Sharing Black history stories is something we see every February, but for one Black woman, Black history means something else. She has shared her stories on stage, on Broadway, and around the country, demonstrating that Black History Month should not be limited to one month, but should be learned, celebrated, and recognized all year.

Dominique Morisseau, playwright, author, actor, and activist, spoke with “Live In The D” host Tati Amare about her love of Detroit history and how she brings her stories to life.

Morisseau created the Tony-nominated “Ain’t Too Proud,” about the Temptations, “Skeleton Crew,” about a Detroit family, and is now working on a Soul Train musical.

As a Broadway activist, she hopes to create work that opens opportunities for future black actors. She says she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in acting and theater performance from the University of Michigan when she was younger. She says that she was not required in school to study black writers of the African diaspora, therefore her speaking these stories today allows our city and younger artists to see a reflection of themselves.

Morisseau says that she is inspired by Black History because she stands on the shoulders of Black literature, and that is why she is so excited. She credits her Bates Academy teacher, Willie Bell Gibson, for introducing her to Maya Angelou, and it was from there that she began to perceive herself as a poet. Poets such as Sonia Sanchez and Nikki Giovanni have also influenced her work. She credits the Detroit poetry scene, as well as Café Mahogany, for cultivating her spoken word voice.

She says that the training she had in school in Detroit and among other artists in the city led her to pursue a career in theater, Broadway, cinema, and television.

The musical “Ain’t Too Proud” will be in Detroit in August. Watch the video above to hear more about Morisseau’s passion for Black history.

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