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Note From Playwright Kristen Adele Calhoun

Photo: My daddy's people.

Like the church folk say—“You could have been anywhere in the world today but you chose to be here.” And for that, we give thanks! Welcome to the Bayou.

I started writing this play in April 2020 when, like many people, I was consumed with the questions of:

  • What must change for humanity to thrive?
  • How do we co-conspire with nature for the good of the planet?
  • What ancestral practices can we reclaim in the name of healing?

I trace my roots at least seven generations back (on both sides) to Deep East Texas. We are of red clay, big sky, an illogical hope in better days, and the audacity to bring those days to bear. I am grateful to the people of this place—like my paternal grandparents, R.L. and Octeria Calhoun—for showing me that all of our survival is connected. I am grateful to the communities of care they created in the midst of unthinkable horrors. I am grateful for the shout, the rocking chair, the wail, the altar call, the belly laugh, the garden and all the tools they passed down with no name but deep power.

I hope you feel some of that power in this play. Here in this sacred space we call the theater, I honor the genius and generosity of the Black South and strive to be in conversation with the works of Dr. Barbara Ann Teer, Israel Hicks, Jeffrey Nickelson, Ebony Noelle Golden, Shay Wafer, Lorraine Hansberry, Dr. Ron Himes, vickie washington, Woodie King Jr., Tarell Alvin McCraney, Eric Lockley, Belynda M’Baye, Lynn Nottage, Lynda Gravatt, Katori Hall, Tricia Hersey, August Wilson, Dominique Morisseau, Jenny Koons, Nikki Vera, Marcus Gardley, Jonathan McCrory, Sade Lythcott, York Walker, Princeton James, Roberta Uno, Michael Thomas Walker, Rodney Hicks, Marshall Jones III, Cajardo Lindsey and all collaborators past, present and future who believe in the transforming power of the stage.

And while this play is hyperspecific to a culture and region, I hope no matter where you’re from it touches something familiar and unearths healing for you too.

If at any point during our time together, you should feel a quickening in your spirit—let it out. I invite you to laugh loud, cut up, carry on and let us know how you feel. Thank you again for being in our number.

Black Cypress Bayou

FEB 10 – MAR 17, 2024

Written by Kristen Adele Calhoun
Directed by Tiffany Nichole Greene
Featuring Amber Chardae Robinson, Brandee Evans, Angela Lewis & Kimberly Scott

On a hot summer night in Texas, Vernita Manifold summons her two daughters down to the bayou with a secret too big to keep. The richest, meanest man in town is dead, and the Manifold women know more than they’re saying. As secrets begin to surface, the bonds between the women, their town, and the legacy of their ancestors all come to a head. Black Cypress Bayou is a hilarious, suspenseful world premiere about loyalty, healing, and comeuppance.

Recipient of the Edgerton Foundation New Play Award. Major support for this world premiere production provided by the Edgerton Foundation New Play Production Fund. This production is made possible, in part, by support from Cast Iron Entertainment.



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