a.k. payne
a.k. payne

2023 Finalist


Synopsis: Amani’s father vows to make it to outer space, where there are no gangs to take his first love’s life, nor prisons to take Black boys’ best years. Amani grows up building a rocketship with her father. As she moves into adulthood, Amani seeks her voice and her own dreams; will they make it to the ‘moon’?

Cast Breakdown: This play spans the years 2004-2023. Everybody is Black.
SMITH, Amani’s father, he/him, 1970-2021
AMANI, a blck girl becoming grown, perhaps a woman dreaming towards more true language, she/ her/many, 1995-; *[this actor may identify as non-binary and/or as a Black woman; this actor also may just be themself i.e. this actor may refuse to subscribe to any label bout they body and instead may simply wish to breathe with the deep awareness of gender as an infinite spectrum & English as this tongue’s first prison ]
KOFA, a lover, 1995-, they/them, perhaps moving with many genders; *see bracketed note above
DASIA, a narrator, a spirit, Amani’s mother, 1972-1997, she/they; *see bracketed note above

Set/Costume Requirements: The front yard of a large yellow house & a void in which a Black girl lives


Agent: UTA: Ryan Lucas, Jamie Kaye-Phillips

Bio: a.k. payne (she/they) is a playwright, artist-theorist, and theatermaker with roots in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her plays love on and engage Black lives and languages beyond the confines of linear time to find/remember stories that might create conditions for our collective liberation(s). They hold a B.A. in English and African-American Studies from Yale College and will graduate in May 2023 with an MFA in Playwriting under Tarell Alvin McCraney from fka Yale School of Drama. Their work has been finalist for the L. Arnold Weissberger New Play Award, winner of the David Mark Cohen National Playwriting Award, and 3x semi-finalist for the O’Neill National Playwriting Conference. She is a current recipient of the Kemp Powers Commission Fund for Black Playwrights and Atlantic Theater Company’s Judith Champion Launch Commission. Her work has been developed with the New Harmony Project, Great Plains Theater Conference, and Manhattan Theater Club’s “Groundworks Lab.” They are a graduate of Pittsburgh Public Schools; grandchild of the Great Migration; descendant of a music teacher and a carpenter, who both march every year with their unions in Pittsburgh’s Labor Day parade; a queer & non-binary abolitionist affected in community by the ‘New Jim Crow;” and of a great lineage of Black women storytellers and living-room archivists; all of which deeply informs, uplifts and amplifies their work as a playwright, community organizer and spacemaker.