A Year with Dawn

Aurora’s Monthly Reading Group is now open to all!

Over the next 11 months, Aurora Theatre Company’s associate artistic director, Dawn Monique Williams, will host a series of seminar-style conversations on some of the most dynamic, controversial, lyrical, funny, topical, and heartwarming plays by Black women from the fifty years. We will explore plays by Lynn Nottage, Suzan-Lori Parks, Sonia Sanchez, Dominique Morisseau and more! Participation is free, registration required.



Dawn Monique Williams, Associate Artistic Director, joined the Aurora team in August 2019. A native of Oakland, CA, Dawn was previously the Artistic Associate at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival where she directed Merry Wives of Windsor in 2017. Her recent directing credits include Aurora’s Bull in a China ShopEarthrise at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, TiJean and His BrothersWomen on the Verge of a Nervous BreakdownThe Secretaries (Willamette Week’s Top 10 Portland Theatre Productions of 2018), Romeo & Juliet, August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson, and Lynn Nottage’s By the Way, Meet Stark. She’s directed a range of plays including the English language premiere of Gracia Morales’ NN12OthelloTwelfth NightIn the BloodSteel MagnoliasChildren of EdenThe 25th Annual Spelling BeeLittle Shop of HorrorsBurial at ThebesMedeaAntigone Project, and La Ronde; international directing credits include Edinburgh Festival Fringe productions of Scapin the CheatAnna Bella Eema, and The Tempest. Dawn was a 2016 Princess Grace Theatre Fellowship recipient, was awarded a TCG Leadership U residency grant, funded by the Mellon Foundation, and was a former Killian Directing Fellow at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She is an alum of the Drama League Directors Project and holds an MA in Dramatic Literature and an MFA in Directing. Dawn is a proud member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.

May 2, 2022 at 7PM PST
I'm Black When I'm Singing by Sonia Sanchez

April 4, 2022 at 7PM PST
Smart People by Lydia Diamond

March 7, 2022 at 7PM PST
Las Meninas by Lynn Nottage

February 14, 2022 at 7PM PST
Funnyhouse of a Negro by Adrienne Kennedy
In the upper rooms of a New York City brownstone, Sarah has created four different personas as a way to grapple with her own self-hatred: Queen Victoria, the Duchess of Hapsburg, Jesus, and Patrice Lumumba. With these four characters at her side, Sarah tries to make sense of her conception (from rape), her life without her parents, and the creeping insanity that she feels all around her. Also in the brownstone are her Landlady, a white woman who tries to talk to her, and Raymond, a Jewish poet interested in having a black girlfriend but not invested in Sarah’s well-being. Within this chaos are the images of Sarah’s mother and her father. Funnyhouse of a Negro is a macabre introspection of race and identity during the American Civil Rights Movement, sure to captivate and haunt audiences long after the curtain falls.

January 10, 2022 at 7PM PST
How to Catch Creation by Christina Anderson
In the mid-1960s, a young writer’s life turns upside down when her girlfriend drops some unexpected news. Even 50 years later, the reverberations of that moment, and its unexpected consequences, still echo in the intersecting lives of four individuals caught up in a rapidly changing world. This is a bittersweet story of finding and following our passions from Christina Anderson, winner of the Lorraine Hansberry Award. How to Catch Creation explores the universal act of creation—of life, of family, of art—spans space and time to inspire a new generation of makers and lovers. https://dctheatrescene.com/show/how-to-catch-creation/

December 6, 2021 at 7PM PST
Topdog/Underddog by Suzan-Lori Parks
A darkly comic fable of brotherly love and family identity is Suzan-Lori Parks’ latest riff on the way we are defined by history. The play tells the story of Lincoln and Booth, two brothers whose names were given to them as a joke, foretelling a lifetime of sibling rivalry and resentment. Haunted by the past, the brothers are forced to confront the shattering reality of their future. Topdog/Underdog is the 2002 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Drama.

November 8, 2021 at 7PM PST
Blue Door by Tanya Barfield
Lewis is a tenured professor of mathematics at a well-regarded university. Underneath his veneer of success, however, lies a soul troubled by questions of personal and cultural identity. When his wife leaves him, apparently due to the fact that he won’t embrace his heritage and attend the Million Man March, Lewis experiences a disorienting insomnia and inadvertently conjures his ancestors. Three generations of men (all played by one actor), from slavery through Black Power, challenge Lewis to embark on a night journey combining past and present. Infused with abundant humor and woven through with original songs, Blue Door is a tour de force for two actors, a vivid, exuberantly theatrical play about the African-American male experience.
October 4, 2021 at 7PM PST
Paradise Blue by Dominique Morisseau
Blue, a gifted trumpeter, contemplates selling his once-vibrant jazz club in Detroit's Blackbottom neighborhood to shakre free the demons of his past and better his life. But where does that leave his devoted Pumpkin, who has dreams of her own? And what does this mean for the club's resident bebop band? When a mysterious woman with a walk that drives men mad comes to town with her own plans, everyone's world is turned upside down. This dynamic and muscically-infused drama shines light on the challenges of building a better future on the foundation of what our predecessors have left us.

AUGUST 30, 2021 at 7PM PST

Yellowman by Dael Orlandersmith

Yellowman, a 2002 Pulitzer Prize in Drama finalist, is a multi-character memory play: Alma and Eugene have known each other since they were young children and as their friendship blossoms, their fates are tragically intertwined. Alma struggles to free herself from poverty and her mother's alcoholism, while dreaming of life beyond the confines of her small Southern town. Eugene must contend with the legacy of being "yellow"– more lighter-skinned than his brutal and unforgiving father. The play explores Black masculinity, and the effect these racial stereotypes have on Black women.

Please join us for the rest of A Year with Dawn this season:

August 30, 2021 | Yellowman by Dael Orlandersmith

October 4, 2021 | Paradise Blue by Dominique Morisseau

November 8, 2021 | Blue Door by Tanya Barfield

December 6, 2021 | Topdog/Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks

January 10, 2022 | How to Catch Creation by Christina Anderson

February 14, 2022 | Funnyhouse of a Negro by Adrienne Kennedy

March 7, 2022 | Las Meninas by Lynn Nottage

April 4, 2022 | Smart People by Lydia Diamond

May 2, 2022 | I'm Black When I'm Singing by Sonia Sanchez

June 6, 2022 | Crowns by Regina Taylor

July 11, 2022 | What to Send Up When it Goes Down by Alesha Harris