Lisa B. Thompson

Lisa B. Thompson

Lisa B. Thompson is an award-winning Austin based playwright whose work has been produced across the United States and in Canada. Her work has been produced and/or developed by New Professional Theatre, Brava Theater Center, Theatre Rhinoceros, New African Grove Theatre Company, Black Spectrum Theatre, The Out of Ink Festival, Company of Angels Theater, FronteraFest, The One-Minute Play Festival, and the...
Lisa B. Thompson is an award-winning Austin based playwright whose work has been produced across the United States and in Canada. Her work has been produced and/or developed by New Professional Theatre, Brava Theater Center, Theatre Rhinoceros, New African Grove Theatre Company, Black Spectrum Theatre, The Out of Ink Festival, Company of Angels Theater, FronteraFest, The One-Minute Play Festival, and the National Black Theatre Festival. Her critically acclaimed off-Broadway two-woman show SINGLE BLACK FEMALE (Samuel French, 2012), a nominee for the 2004 LA Weekly Theatre Award for best comedy, uses rapid-fire comic vignettes to examine the lives of thirty-something African American middle class women as they search for love, clothes, and dignity in a world that fails to recognize them among a parade of stereotypical images. The San Francisco native’s other full-length plays include the one-woman show DREADTIME STORIES: ONE SISTA’S HAIR, a romp through black hairstyles from pigtails to dreadlocks; MONROE, a period drama about the afterlife of a lynching in a southern community; THE MAMALOGUES, a comedy that considers black middle class motherhood during the age of anxiety; and UNDERGROUND (Vortex Repertory), winner of the 2017 Austin Critics Table David Mark Cohen New Play Award, a drama that explores the limits of black political radicalism in the Obama era. Thompson is also the author of several short plays including WATCH, I DON’T WANT TO BE, BLACK LIVES MATTER: THREE WORDS, LEGACY, SECOND GRADE, NIGHT, and the satirical afro-futuristic comedy MOTHER’S DAY, which was featured in the anthology show, Black Women: State of the Union. She is currently writing DINNER, a comedy about the first meeting between Nigerian and African American parents planning their children’s wedding.

Thompson is also on the faculty of the University of Texas at Austin where she is Associate Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies and affiliate faculty in the departments of English, Women and Gender Studies and Theatre and Dance. The centerpiece of her scholarship is her book BEYOND THE BLACK LADY: SEXUALITY AND THE NEW AFRICAN AMERICAN MIDDLE CLASS (University of Illinois Press, 2009), which received Honorable Mention in competition for the 2010 Gloria E. Anzaldúa Book Prize from the National Women’s Studies Association. Her work has appeared in THEATRE JOURNAL, THEATRE SURVEY, HASTINGS WOMEN’S LAW JOURNAL, AND CATCH THE FIRE: A CROSS-GENERATIONAL ANTHOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY AFRICAN AMERICAN POETRY. Thompson’s work has been supported with fellowships and awards from a number of institutions, including Harvard University’s W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, the University of Texas at Austin’s College of Liberal Arts, the University of California’s Office of the President, Michele R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University, UCLA’s Center for African American Studies, the Five Colleges Inc., and Stanford University’s Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity.

Plays

  • The Mamalogues
    Three African American single mothers experience the absurdity of trying to raise privileged children during the black lives matter era.
  • Underground
    Underground reunites Kyle and Mason, a pair of old college friends who have gone from radicals in their youth to successful professionals approaching middle age. When Kyle unexpectedly shows up at Mason's door, the two have a chance to catch-up, reminisce and, as the evening goes on, engage one another in a battle of intellects over the best road to black liberation. As their argument becomes increasingly...
    Underground reunites Kyle and Mason, a pair of old college friends who have gone from radicals in their youth to successful professionals approaching middle age. When Kyle unexpectedly shows up at Mason's door, the two have a chance to catch-up, reminisce and, as the evening goes on, engage one another in a battle of intellects over the best road to black liberation. As their argument becomes increasingly passionate and more personal, news reports reveal a police search for the leader of a black radical political movement. From flashbacks to their first meeting to the final game of chess that could change their lives forever, Mason and Kyle each pose to one another the central question of Underground: how far would you go to protect your people?

    Reviews:
    https://www.austinchronicle.com/arts/2017-03-31/underground/
    http://www.broadwayworld.com/austin/article/BWW-Review-UNDERGROUND-a-Taut-Psychological-Political-Thriller-20170327
  • Dinner
    What happens when an African American middle class woman and a wealthy Nigerian immigrant man, meet, fall in love and decide to marry after only knowing each other for six months? What will their parents think of this cross class, intercultural and transcontinental union? In Dinner, these characters come together for a meal in Oakland, California that highlights the pleasures and dangers of loving and misunderstanding in the Black Diaspora.
  • Monroe
    A mysterious pregnancy, a lynching and dreams of California haunt Cherry, a domestic who believes that God told her to leave the south. When her friend, Clyde, invites her to go along with him to California, Cherry must decide whether being the keeper of her family’s roots and cultural traditions justifies living under Jim Crow. Set in rural Louisiana during the of middle of the Great Migration, MONROE reveals...
    A mysterious pregnancy, a lynching and dreams of California haunt Cherry, a domestic who believes that God told her to leave the south. When her friend, Clyde, invites her to go along with him to California, Cherry must decide whether being the keeper of her family’s roots and cultural traditions justifies living under Jim Crow. Set in rural Louisiana during the of middle of the Great Migration, MONROE reveals how the threat and aftermath of racial terror occupied the psyches of young African Americans.
  • Single Black Female
    SINGLE BLACK FEMALE (Samuel French, 2012) is a two-woman show that uses rapid-fire comic vignettes to examine the lives of thirty-something African American middle class women as they search for love, clothes, and dignity in a world that fails to recognize them among a parade of stereotypical images.

    Reviews:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/20/theater/reviews/20fema.html?_r=0
    ...
    SINGLE BLACK FEMALE (Samuel French, 2012) is a two-woman show that uses rapid-fire comic vignettes to examine the lives of thirty-something African American middle class women as they search for love, clothes, and dignity in a world that fails to recognize them among a parade of stereotypical images.

    Reviews:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/20/theater/reviews/20fema.html?_r=0

    The New York Times pronounced that SINGLE BLACK FEMALE is “a socially significant and very entertaining . . . show that manages to be simultaneously self-deprecating and proud.” The San Francisco Examiner called Single Black Female “a testament to Thompson’s sharp wit.” The Los Angeles Times enthused, “Thompson stands her stereotypes on their heads, to apt and funny effect. These right-on feminist sisters want equal rights and equal pay, but they also yearn for steamy romance and Jimmy Choo shoes, not necessarily in that order.” The LA Weekly proclaimed SINGLE BLACK FEMALE “a bracing, funny, bittersweet . . . show that is both bigger than life and wondrously small, with plenty of notes in between.”
  • Mother's Day
    MOTHER’S DAY is a comedy where Afro-futurism meets motherhood. What happens when a black woman tries to “lean in” but first has to find adequate childcare? In this one-act play the search for a nanny for one professional couple forces them to confront a litany of black maternal stereotypes. Review:
    http://www.laweekly.com/arts/theater-reviews-bohemian-cowboy-tartuffe-black-women-state-of-the-union-2158521
  • I Don't Want to Be . . . (Mamie Till)
    An elegiac theatrical short play where a chorus of black mothers mourn the loss of their children to police violence.
  • Watch
    What happens to the last black woman on earth? Enter the Lab and find out.