Donnetta Lavinia Grays

Donnetta Lavinia Grays

Donnetta Lavinia Grays – raised in Columbia, South Carolina - is a Brooklyn based actor and playwright. Her plays include LAST NIGHT AND THE NIGHT BEFORE (formerly SAM) (2017 Denver Center Colorado New Play Summit, 2015 National New Play Network New Play Showcase. 2015 Todd McNerney National Playwriting Contest Winner. 2014 Eugene O’Neill Theater Center National Playwrights Conference Semifinalist), LAID TO...
Donnetta Lavinia Grays – raised in Columbia, South Carolina - is a Brooklyn based actor and playwright. Her plays include LAST NIGHT AND THE NIGHT BEFORE (formerly SAM) (2017 Denver Center Colorado New Play Summit, 2015 National New Play Network New Play Showcase. 2015 Todd McNerney National Playwriting Contest Winner. 2014 Eugene O’Neill Theater Center National Playwrights Conference Semifinalist), LAID TO REST (2017 Ground Floor at Berkeley Rep, 2017 Space on Ryder Farm Creative Residency), THE REVIEW OR HOW TO EAT YOUR OPPOSITION (2013 Eugene O’Neill Theater Center National Playwrights Conference Finalist) THE NEW NORMAL, THE COWBOY IS DYING, THE B FACTOR and ABSENCE OF FAITH and a short story entitled PEACHES WITH KING. She is the inaugural recipient of the Doric Wilson Independent Playwright Award, a member of the is a 2016-18 Women’s Project Playwrights Lab and the Actors Studio Playwright/Directors Unit. She is a Civilians R&D Group and terraNova Collective Groundbreakers Playwright group alum. Her work has been read or developed by New York Theater Workshop, Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Portland Stage Company, Pure Theatre Company, [the claque], Naked Angels, Classical Theater of Harlem, Slant Theater Project, terraNova Collective, Theatre 4 the People, TOSOS, The Group Lab and Coyote REP. Acting credits include Broadway’s IN THE NEXT ROOM OR THE VIBRATOR PLAY and WELL. NY performance credits with The Foundry Theatre, Clubbed Thumb, Primary Stages, Ars Nova and The Civilians as an Associate Artist. Regionally she is a 2-time Connecticut Critics Circle Award recipient and Helen Hayes Award nominee. Performing at American Conservatory Theater, Portland Stage Company, Westport Country Playhouse, Arena Stage, Hartford Theaterworks, Centerstage, The Huntington Theatre, Barrington Stage, Oregon Shakespeare Festival and The Los Angeles Women’s Shakespeare Company. Film/TV credits include BOOK OF HENRY (upcoming), WILD CANARIES, THE ENGLISH TEACHER, THE WRESTLER, BLUE BLOODS, THE BLACKLIST, all LAW & ORDERS, MERCY, RUBICON, THE SOPRANOS and A GIFTED MAN. Proud member of The Actors Center Workshop Company, SAGAFTRA, AEA and The Dramatist Guild of America

Plays

  • On Break at L.L. Bean
    Ali, an 18-year-old Somali refugee grateful to his adoptive nation, wants to enlist in the Army. Jerome, Ali’s 65-year-old coworker who views him as close as a son, fears for this young Muslim man’s life in a nation increasingly resistant to him. Set in Freeport, Maine. About a half hour outside of Lewiston. A play about love of country and the love between men. Commissioned by Now Africa Playwrights...
    Ali, an 18-year-old Somali refugee grateful to his adoptive nation, wants to enlist in the Army. Jerome, Ali’s 65-year-old coworker who views him as close as a son, fears for this young Muslim man’s life in a nation increasingly resistant to him. Set in Freeport, Maine. About a half hour outside of Lewiston. A play about love of country and the love between men. Commissioned by Now Africa Playwrights Festival
  • The New Normal
    *Seeking Further Development Inspired by the life of 2009 Puget Sound Survivor of the Year Anna Warren Schumacher, The New Normal is a frank and, often times, witty play that tells the unique story of how a young woman finds humor and grace in the unexpected challenges of survival. Anna is a 34-year-old broke, clumsy, wine sippin’ southern hairdresser living in present day Seattle, WA. She is a trying...
    *Seeking Further Development Inspired by the life of 2009 Puget Sound Survivor of the Year Anna Warren Schumacher, The New Normal is a frank and, often times, witty play that tells the unique story of how a young woman finds humor and grace in the unexpected challenges of survival. Anna is a 34-year-old broke, clumsy, wine sippin’ southern hairdresser living in present day Seattle, WA. She is a trying desperately to raise her 2 and half year old son…and her would be rock star husband Kevin. In addition to a complicated marriage Anna is searching to make sense of her recent title of “breast cancer survivor.” She has just returned from a weekend of fun with her survivor support group to find the house a wreck, the bills unpaid and a mysterious stranger parked just outside of her home.
  • Laid To Rest (Working Title)
    *Seeking Further Development When his fatal shooting stirs a community into fevered protest, Vanda's son Clarence becomes yet another hashtag in the ongoing fight against police brutality. Social media overwhelms and recreates Clarence's story beyond even Vanda's recognition. While struggling to find a sense of peace, Vanda meets Grace - a well-meaning yet casual armchair activist- and the...
    *Seeking Further Development When his fatal shooting stirs a community into fevered protest, Vanda's son Clarence becomes yet another hashtag in the ongoing fight against police brutality. Social media overwhelms and recreates Clarence's story beyond even Vanda's recognition. While struggling to find a sense of peace, Vanda meets Grace - a well-meaning yet casual armchair activist- and the need to mourn Clarence's death and reclaim his story in the concrete offline spaces of the real world becomes ever urgent.
  • the cowboy is dying
    REVIEW ''the cowboy is dying is a fine model of a fully-developed story. It is a fusion of a great narrative, heartfelt drama, and original music dressed in soulful vocals. Grays captures our attention from the beginning, with bold claims of being able to start fires and thunderstorms even though her posture suggests uneasiness. However, that uneasiness folds neatly into the development of a...
    REVIEW ''the cowboy is dying is a fine model of a fully-developed story. It is a fusion of a great narrative, heartfelt drama, and original music dressed in soulful vocals. Grays captures our attention from the beginning, with bold claims of being able to start fires and thunderstorms even though her posture suggests uneasiness. However, that uneasiness folds neatly into the development of a socially uncomfortable character trying to find her niche....Grays links her dreams of being a preacher to her dreams of being an actor. When she struggles with integrating her lesbianism with her spirituality, her conflict is conveyed through her strong pipes (India Arie, watch out!) and intelligently written script. Grays is not afraid to get emotionally naked onstage either, singing "I know my body works even if you don't know. I know my body works even if you're through with it" to an unrequited love interest. The reasons for her isolation change throughout her life, but they all stem from a social root. She goes from being a outcast because of her connection to God to being confined within herself for fear of acting on her desires, and all of it is very gripping. She creates wonderful characters and anecdotes, and when she likens herself to the Marlboro man, it is not only hilarious, but also painfully tender. The cowboy may be dying, but unlike in the Westerns, we don't watch him go with sorrow. From his death springs the birth of a rising, talented artist.'' - Theater Talk's New Theater Corps
  • Last Night and the Night Before
    When Monique and her 10-year-old daughter Samantha show up unexpectedly on her sister’s Brooklyn doorstep, it’s the beginning of the end for Rachel and her partner Nadima’s orderly lifestyle. Monique is on the run from deep trouble, her husband Reggie is nowhere to be seen, and Samantha becomes ever haunted by the life in southern Georgia she was forced to leave behind. Poetic, dark and often deeply funny Last...
    When Monique and her 10-year-old daughter Samantha show up unexpectedly on her sister’s Brooklyn doorstep, it’s the beginning of the end for Rachel and her partner Nadima’s orderly lifestyle. Monique is on the run from deep trouble, her husband Reggie is nowhere to be seen, and Samantha becomes ever haunted by the life in southern Georgia she was forced to leave behind. Poetic, dark and often deeply funny Last Night and the Night Before explores the power, necessity, and beauty of loss. At the root of this play is the daughter of a small town that is lost to the current sweeping epidemic of heroin abuse in this country. She is a mother who tries desperately to break a cycle of despair for her own daughter. Last Night and The Night Before is a drama infused with laughter, lightness, poetry and hope. It speaks to so many small towns across this country that have lost brilliant children due to lack of industry and economic opportunity within those communities. Todd McNerney National New Play Award Winner. Eugene O'Neill Center National Playwright Festival Semifinalist.
  • The Review or How to Eat Your Opposition
    In the fall of 2001 the air has a marked change in New York City. Dana – a naïve yet self-righteous art critic - and her sports loving partner Kerri struggle to reconnect through its weight. This freshly weighted air, by contrast, provides new life for Naomi – an iconic visual artist - who, after years in the business, finally experiences the throes of financial success just as a debilitating disease threatens...
    In the fall of 2001 the air has a marked change in New York City. Dana – a naïve yet self-righteous art critic - and her sports loving partner Kerri struggle to reconnect through its weight. This freshly weighted air, by contrast, provides new life for Naomi – an iconic visual artist - who, after years in the business, finally experiences the throes of financial success just as a debilitating disease threatens both that success and her legacy. When Dana questions Naomi’s artistic integrity the stage is set for a sexy, emotional and intellectual game of football between critic and artist. Secrets are revealed, beliefs are shattered, hearts are broken and art is made in this fast-paced drama that explores loss and sacrifice.