Phenomenal Woman: Maya Angelou, is an inspiring journey of memory, song, poetry, dance, and wisdom that will bring Maya’s work into present relevance by engaging in questions sparked by long-simmering social inequities. The play is a lyrical memory-play, combining Dr. Angelou’s poetry and autobiographical writings, previously unreleased anecdotes from those who knew her well, original material, and music, to explore fundamental yet timely questions about human nature, giving the gift of Dr. Angelou’s brilliance and inspiration to the next generation.
Corstoria, LLC. has secured exclusive rights to key works, and has partnered with Branded Pictures Entertainment to develop the show for the Broadway stage. Guy Johnson, Maya’s only son, has signed on as Executive Producer and will contribute to the show’s development, providing first-hand insight into the life and personality of the late author.
“My mother lived an extraordinary life,” Johnson says. “She brought a sense of passion to living and invested herself wholly in it. What she wanted most was justice for all human beings, and the freedom to experience joy and laughter. We hope to capture her joie de vivre. We’re going to include some private anecdotes that will be a revelation to audiences. I’m pleased to be working with this team in bringing her story to life and can’t wait for the public to experience it.”
Phenomenal Woman: Maya Angelou is written by playwright Nambi E. Kelley (Native Son, "The Chi"). Previously, Ms. Kelley was chosen by literary legend Toni Morrison to adapt her novel, Jazz, for the stage (Baltimore Center Stage, Marin Theatre Company). Several of Nambi’s plays have had multiple productions across the country, including Nambi’s adaptation of Richard Wright’s Native Son. Notable Native Son productions include the Off-Broadway Premiere at The Duke on 42nd Street (Acting Company), Yale Repertory, and the world premiere at Court Theatre in Chicago where it is the highest grossing non-musical production in the theatre’s 65-year history. Nambi has also authored plays for Steppenwolf, Goodman Theatre, Lincoln Center (Director's Fest), and internationally. Nambi is a former playwright in residence at the National Black Theatre in New York and the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. She most recently served in residence at New Victory Theatre and as a Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellow.
Phenomenal Woman: Maya Angelou will have its world premiere in the spring of 2021 at the North Carolina Black Repertory Company before playing Hattiloo Theatre (Memphis) and The Ensemble Theatre (Houston). Phenomenal Woman: Maya Angelou, formerly known as Phenomenal Maya, was the recipient of the Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin Rolling World Premiere Award at North Carolina Black Repertory Company’s 2019 National Black Theatre Festival, which guarantees at least three regional productions over a two-year period.
"It is a dream come true to work directly with people who knew and loved Dr. Angelou, including her son Guy, her sister friend Ms. Lydia Stuckey, and the good people at Corstoria and Branded Pictures Entertainment,” says playwright Nambi E. Kelley. “It is especially poignant to present the world premiere of our collaboration in Dr. Angelou's chosen home city of Winston-Salem at North Carolina Black Repertory Company. This collaboration has truly been orchestrated by the heavens."
“Dr. Angelou was chairperson of the inaugural National Black Theatre Festival (NBTF) in 1989 and an international champion of Black Theatre,” says Jackie Alexander, Artistic Director of the North Carolina Black Repertory Company. “To have Black institutions, NC Black Rep, Hattiloo Theatre, and The Ensemble Theatre, be the birthplaces in developing a play inspired by her life for the Broadway stage, beautifully pays homage to her memory. It’s the reason the NBTF Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin Rolling World Premiere Award was created, and signals a much-needed return to Black Theatres having a voice in defining future classics of the genre.”