Aaron Mays

Aaron Mays

Playwright and director Aaron Mays is an award-winning theatre artist based in Chicago. His latest play BLACK SANTA was one of four finalists to receive its world premiere at the 2024 Obsidian Theatre Festival. The play's Southeast premiere will take place at Miami's Adrienne Arsht Performing Arts Center and City Theatre in December 2024.

STICKS AND STONES, a coming-of-age story about...
Playwright and director Aaron Mays is an award-winning theatre artist based in Chicago. His latest play BLACK SANTA was one of four finalists to receive its world premiere at the 2024 Obsidian Theatre Festival. The play's Southeast premiere will take place at Miami's Adrienne Arsht Performing Arts Center and City Theatre in December 2024.

STICKS AND STONES, a coming-of-age story about faith, trauma and bullying, was named a semi-finalist for Stage Left Theatre’s 2012-2013 Downstage Left Playwright Residency. His other plays include HUSH HUSH, PASS ME OVER, GOODNIGHT and an adaptation of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, which was commissioned by South Bend Civic Theatre.

His love for playwriting developed in high school under the guidance of his high school English teacher. However, it wasn’t until his college years at Northwestern University that he fully formed a passion for stage writing and theatre. While at Northwestern, Aaron penned several plays including THE SONS OF TENNESSEE, which was selected as a semi-finalist in the Agnes Nixon Playwriting Competition. His early work was widely recognized on campus, and he was commissioned to write a new play for the school’s African American Theatre Ensemble titled THE STREET CORNER.

In March 2021, his first fictional audio series Deep Shadows, co-written with Collette Cullen, premiered as part of Eclectic Full Contact Theatre (EFCT)’s podcast network. The Hear Now Audio Fiction and Arts Festival awarded the series with a Silver Selection. Other audio projections include audio adaptations of HUSH HUSH and BLACK SANTA. The audio version of BLACK SANTA was selected and produced for Possibilities Theatre Company's inaugural 12 Days of Holiday Festival in 2020.

As a director, Aaron focuses on stories of the African diaspora and marginalized voices. Some of his directing credits include MASTER HAROLD...AND THE BOYS (Irish Classical Theatre Company), AMERICAN SON (Ujima Theatre Company), TWISTED TALES OF POE (AstonRep Theatre), GEM OF THE OCEAN (South Bend Civic Theatre), 2 X 2 (Haven), WAITING FOR GODOT (Tympanic Theatre) with an all-Latinx cast and TUG OF WAR (CIRCA Pintig), a series of short plays on war, trauma and immigration. In addition, he has worked with Chicago’s top directors, serving as the assistant director for such productions as SWEAT (Goodman Theatre), MOSQUE ALERT (Silk Road Rising), TWO TRAINS RUNNING (Goodman Theatre), WAITING FOR GODOT (Court Theatre), SEVEN GUITARS (Court Theatre) and Kristoffer Diaz’s PEACE/WAR (American Blues Theater’s Ripped Festival). In 2022, he won two Artie Awards, presented by Buffalo Toronto Public Media, for his direction of AMERICAN SON: outstanding production of a play and the Katharine Cornell Award for outstanding contribution by a visiting artist.

Aaron has wore other hats throughout his artistic career. He worked as a teaching artist, serving as a playwright-in-residence for American Theater Company’s Bridge program. In 2013, he devised a play titled THE WATCHERS with high school students. He was also the community program manager at Chicago's Court Theatre. One of his main duties was producing the Spotlight Reading Series, a citywide program which presents readings of rarely produced plays by BIPOC writers as a way to redefine the classic theatre canon.

Aaron is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America.

Plays

  • A Christmas Carol
    In this adaptation of Charles Dickens' 1843 novella, the main story remains the same: three spirits visit an old miser who is persuaded to change his money-hunger ways. However, Aaron Mays’ retelling underscores socio-economic issues such as inequality and class, as well as universal themes of potential and legacy. Scrooge's redemption is spurred by his own self-reconciliation, as opposed to others,...
    In this adaptation of Charles Dickens' 1843 novella, the main story remains the same: three spirits visit an old miser who is persuaded to change his money-hunger ways. However, Aaron Mays’ retelling underscores socio-economic issues such as inequality and class, as well as universal themes of potential and legacy. Scrooge's redemption is spurred by his own self-reconciliation, as opposed to others, as he travels through the physical world into a surreal rending of the the future. The play is mostly faithful to the original text but its use of anachronisms adds modern-day humor to this classic story.
  • Black Santa
    Shortly before Christmas break, a third grader named Sharifa stands in front of her class and says, “Santa Claus is a black man from Detroit," sending the school into an uproar. To quell the storm, Patrice Patterson, the school's only black teacher, is asked to create an ad campaign to make Santa white again. As events unfold, Sharifa’s enrollment is placed in jeopardy, and Patrice must decide how to...
    Shortly before Christmas break, a third grader named Sharifa stands in front of her class and says, “Santa Claus is a black man from Detroit," sending the school into an uproar. To quell the storm, Patrice Patterson, the school's only black teacher, is asked to create an ad campaign to make Santa white again. As events unfold, Sharifa’s enrollment is placed in jeopardy, and Patrice must decide how to protect Sharifa and ultimately herself.

    This absurdist comedy examines how race and racial prejudice can have a foothold on one of the most benign figures—Santa Claus.
  • Sticks and Stones
    Jordan wants to run away so he can escape his bar mitzvah; he feels as if that event will seal his identity forever. But while Jordan plots his runaway scheme, he discovers that his best friend Matthew is the victim of a vicious bullying campaign run by upperclassmen at their school, Penbrook Academy. This news and Matthew's other secrets force Jordan to rethink whether he should run away at all. In this...
    Jordan wants to run away so he can escape his bar mitzvah; he feels as if that event will seal his identity forever. But while Jordan plots his runaway scheme, he discovers that his best friend Matthew is the victim of a vicious bullying campaign run by upperclassmen at their school, Penbrook Academy. This news and Matthew's other secrets force Jordan to rethink whether he should run away at all. In this interfaith coming-of-age story, two friends learn about God, tribulation and the bitter parts of human nature.
  • Goodnight
    The world is coming to end, according to seven-year-old Joey. How can he stop the world from utter doom? This short play looks at the simplicity and the imagination of a precocious little boy.
  • The Thirteenth Vote
    Two election cycles have passed since the Trump’s presidency. A new administration has taken control of The White House. However, a senator with ambitions to be president has a provocative campaign promise: to repeal the 13th Amendment.

    Paul, an eccentric and self-proclaimed prophet, tells of a disturbing premonition to his friends Karyn and Tommy. However, the newlyweds question whether they...
    Two election cycles have passed since the Trump’s presidency. A new administration has taken control of The White House. However, a senator with ambitions to be president has a provocative campaign promise: to repeal the 13th Amendment.

    Paul, an eccentric and self-proclaimed prophet, tells of a disturbing premonition to his friends Karyn and Tommy. However, the newlyweds question whether they can believe Paul. As these three black friends struggle on what to do and how to move forward, the country tallies the votes to determine if America will reinstitute slavery.